Open Adoption Blog

Texas Changes Course on LGBT Adoptions

In Texas, the Department of State Health Services has revised its policy to recognize same-sex adoptions.

19gwsux46qsebjpgAs of August 12th, LGBT couples can now receive amended birth certificates for their children with both parents names listed. This reversal in policy comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was ordered to appear before a judge at a contempt of court hearing. Paxton came under scrutiny after he advised Texas county clerks that they could refuse to issue vital documents (like a birth certificate) if it violated their personal religious beliefs. The contempt hearing has been postponed until September while the state implements the policy changes.

Here is the text of the revised policy issued last week by Texas:

For any adoption ordered on or after June 26, 2015, supplementary birth certificates for children born in Texas will be issued/amended for the adopted child to include same-sex couples whose names are listed on the court order or formal certificate of adoption as the adoptive parents. Documentation must be provided to this effect, along with other standard documentation required for issuance/amendment of a supplementary birth certificate for an adoption.

For adoptions ordered prior to June 26, 2015, amendments to supplementary birth certificates previously issued, will be processed and issued, as requested, to list the names of both persons of the same-sex couple if both are named as parents in the court ordered adoption. Documentation must be provided to this effect, along with other standard documentation required for issuance of an amendment to a supplementary birth certificate for an adoption.

Currently the amended birth certificate will still list parents as “Mother” and “Father”, but the software that is responsible for printing this language is being updated, according to the Texas DSHS.

At Independent Adoption Center, we welcome with excitement these important policy updates. We also acknowledge with gratitude the advocacy groups, citizens, and lawmakers who fought to make this possible: State Representative Rafael Anchia, Lamda Legal and Ken Upton Jr, John Stone-Hoskins, Daniel McNeel Lane Jr, and many others.

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Creating Your Own Adoption Video

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by hopeful adoptive parents, David & Ana Ogilvie, with tips on doing your own adoption video.

My husband, David, and I are a waiting adoptive family with IAC. One of the ways we’ve decided to break up the wait AND help get us out there a little further was to make an adoption video. We definitely knew we wanted to do it, but we were intimidated by the process and didn’t know how to start. Not to mention, we were embarrassed and a little self-conscious about the whole idea. BUT! We got ‘er done and IT WAS FUN! We highly recommend it!

It was so fun in fact, that I decided to write a blog post about it to hopefully inspire a few fellow “waiters” out there in IAC-Land to make one too. It feels good to DO something and it feels good to reach a place where you feel proud of yourself, the life you’ve built, and express the love you already feel for your future child and his/her first family. Take a chance and go for it. I promise you, it’s worth it!

Plus, I’m here to support you and offer you some pointers to start you on your way.

First off, let’s talk equipment. You don’t need anything special. We used a point and shoot camera with video function. But you can also use your standard iPhone just as easily. Regarding video editing software, we used Windows Movie Maker which was a part of the regular Windows package. You’re going to want access to a laptop or desktop computer to do the editing as working from your phone would be a total headache. Windows Movie Maker wasn’t the “coolest” editing software around I’m sure, but it was simple to figure out. Once we completed the editing, we uploaded to YouTube and that was it!

Now that you know what programs to use, let’s talk content. David and I introduced our video via a short interview. This was by far the hardest part. At first, we included waaaayyyyyy too much dialogue because we felt we had so much we wanted to express to our future child’s first family. It was long, it was emotionally heavy, and it was… boring. I’ll admit it. We learned a lot by the time we got to what seemed like our 75th take.

Let me save you some time and frustration and give you some tips right out of the gate:

  1. Keep it short (about 1 minute) – Say only what you need to say and let the rest of the video speak for itself.
  2. Take a few deep breaths and get comfortable – Try and be as natural as possible. Our animals were in the frame and it totally worked (I hope!). One was invited and the other was a total photo-bomb.
  3. Allow yourself to be animated – BE HAPPY! BE EXCITED! – Let yourself be yourself. You will shine if you do.
  4. If you’re hoping to adopt with a partner, speak equally – Nothing shows commitment like speaking up.
  5. Do as many takes as you need – You know what your best is and if what you have isn’t it, do it again. You owe it yourself to get this part right.

Now it’s time to demonstrate bits and pieces of your life. You can do this by showing video clips with dialogue in between or like we did, splicing video clips together with volume silenced and music added in over the top. We really liked this method and felt like it provided a great overall glimpse into who we are as a family. We shot all our video on one Sunday doing exactly what we would have normally done that day. This doesn’t have to be difficult! But what it does have to be is honest. If it’s not honest, it won’t be a good video. Also, don’t feel like you have to have a “videographer” with you following you around; you don’t have to be in every shot. Feel free to have just one of you starring in each scene and remove that pressure.

Here are some tips for shooting good clips:

  1. Introduce activities you like to do – Take some footage of that intermural soccer tournament you’re spending your entire Saturday at, your latest knitting creation, cooking dinner or working from your home office. Who cares! Visual details are interesting, no matter what!
  2. Introduce your other kids (if applicable), your extended family, friends, and/or your pets – Panorama shots and close ups are great for this.
  3. Try to capture your whole home environment to give a “sense of place” – A simple walk through your neighborhood can be so heart-warming and informative for a birth parent to see.
  4. Showcase the natural beauty of where you live – Do you live near gorgeous mountains, a river, lake, ocean, farmland, or an incredible city skyline? Think about it and really take advantage of the beauty inherent to where you live.
  5. If you use music, choose a song that means something to you – One that represents some aspect of how you feel about the adoption process, the birth family you plan share yours with, or your future child.
  6. Take as much video as you want – You’ll edit out HUGE chunks later.
  7. Keep your total video length to about 3-4 minutes – Too long is just that… too long.

Okay! So now you have a bunch of hard-earned pointers from us. Go forth and video! You’ll be glad you did. Good luck!

To see our FULL video (4:58), please feel free: or read more about us here:

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How to Refocus Discouragement During a Long Wait

How did I get here?

A Long WaitIt’s a question you may be asking yourself a lot lately. With this question can come the feelings of discouragement, disappointment and even at times, deep sadness. The fact that you may feel like you keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep ending up in the same place is frustrating! But feeling like this is okay! Remember we are all human and feel pain.

Taking time to reflect, refocus and even nurture yourself is something we all need to do because it is worthwhile. There is a purpose in what you are currently experiencing. To learn from it will only help you move in the direction of your goal, to not only become a parent but a parent that never takes their child for granted.

Remember everything you are going through is preparing you to ultimately achieve what you are seeking. The fact that you are reading this article is proof that you are looking to turn your current feelings into hope and possibility. All you may need is to be reminded of the tools to do so.

I am sure you have heard that although you can’t control everything that happens to you, you can control the way you respond to what happens. Well it’s true! How you feel corresponds to your thoughts that “you” are responsible for. If you are ruminating, complaining, blaming or focusing on just yourself, you put yourself in a downward spiral.

When you find yourself filled with negative thoughts replace them with reaffirmations. Ask yourself constructive questions and give yourself positive answers instead of negative ones. If what you have tried hasn’t worked then change your strategies to pave the way for positive action. Sometimes changing directions and taking the smallest steps can put things in motion.

Never stop visualizing your child and what it will be like to be his/her parent. Remember accomplishing your goal is positive and the wrong mental attitude can push away all that you are hoping for. Worse yet, it can sabotage your dreams. Keep replacing any negative thoughts regarding not matching yet by reminding yourself that every day you are one step closer. Be grateful for all the gifts that you have been given and know that patience, persistence and faith are the keys!


Today Marriage Equality, Tomorrow Adoption Equality!

In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court cleared the way for LGBTQ marriage equality across the United States! In their 5-4 decision, the Justices declared that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional because they violate the 14th Amendment which provides equal protection under the law.

SCOTUS Rules Marriage Bans UnconstitutionalPresident Obama quickly delivered a speech from the Rose Garden, in which he said, “Sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt. This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so they have reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to equal protection of the law, that all people should be treated equally regardless of who they are or who they love.”

The Justices used a lot of ink in penning their opinions on the matter, coming to a total of 103 pages worth. Each of the four dissenting Justices (Chief Justice Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) wrote their own separate dissenting opinion. All four seemed to hinge on the belief that the right of states to discriminate in their laws was of higher importance than equal protection guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. At IAC we, and thankfully a majority of the SCOTUS, strongly disagree with that belief.

The fight for equality will continue. While this ruling paves the way for the protection of LGBT families in all states, there are still plenty of laws that discriminate in how those families can be formed. In states like North Dakota, Louisiana, and Ohio, LGBT adoption has been de facto blocked by denying marriage equality, and requiring joint adoptions to be filed by married couples only. These knots of legal discrimination remain to be untangled.

However, it may be that this ruling provides a valuable precedent in the struggle to establish equality in adoption law. As the decision invokes the 14th Amendment, providing equal protection under the law, it seems that if states must recognize the right of marriage for all, then the right of family formation for all would logically follow. To borrow an example from Chief Justice Roberts, if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, either one is now legally able to marry Joe. Absent any other differences in the lives of Sue & Joe vs. Tom & Joe, they both should be legally allowed to adopt.

Independent Adoption Center celebrates today’s decision, but we are not blind to the struggle that lies ahead. We stand committed in our mission to advocate for true equality for all Americans.

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Taking a Look at Laws on LGBT Adoption

In honor of pride month, you may be thinking a lot about LGBT legal issues. While same-sex marriage is the hot topic that the Supreme Court plans to make a decision about this week, you may be wondering how opinions about LGBT families and adoption will play into this decision, and how such a ruling will affect the rights of the LGBT community. As is true with other issues surrounding LGBT equality, the adoption laws in each state are different.

lgbt-lawWhen looking at the legalities of same-sex couples’ ability to adopt and what is in the state’s statute, we’re asking two questions:

1) Who is allowed to adopt?

2) Are second parent adoptions allowed?

A couple of things to note are first that the laws are constantly changing, and second that there is vague language in many states’ statutes that allow for judges to make rulings on a case-by-case basis. Let’s take a look at the states where there are some barriers in allowing same-sex couples to adopt:

Mississippi is the only state whose law expressly prohibits same-sex couples from adopting.

Same-sex couples used to be unable to adopt in the state of Utah because the statute says, “a child may not be adopted by a person who is cohabitating in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage under the laws of this state.” Same-sex marriage did not become legal in Utah until October of last year when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed marriage bans to be overturned in Wisconsin, Virginia, Indiana, Utah, and Oklahoma. Now, same-sex couples can adopt in Utah as long as they are married.

In other states, marriage may actually be an obstacle to adopting. In Wisconsin, for example, same-sex couples are allowed to marry but only an unmarried adult or a husband and wife can jointly adopt. Wisconsin also does not approve second-parent adoptions. There are several other states in which the statute says that any unmarried adult can adopt, but married persons must petition to adopt jointly. These states include North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, and Ohio. However, same-sex marriage is not legal in any of these states nor is second-parent adoption meaning that only one parent can legally adopt.

Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Georgia allows for any individual to adopt, but second-parent adoptions are approved only in the lower courts. Approval may depend on the county and the judge. In other words, approval of both parents having legal rights over the adopted child is not guaranteed.

As you can see, same-sex adoption laws are incredibly varied by state. The looming question is, if the court approves same-sex marriage as a federal constitutional right for same-sex couples, how will that affect their ability to adopt? Will certain states, such as Wisconsin, still be able to enforce that only heterosexual married couples be allowed to adopt, and thus deterring same-sex couples from marrying? Will second-parent adoption still need to be a necessary protection in cases where a same-sex married couple is filing to adopt jointly? Will they face other barriers?

Ideally, if the Supreme Court’s decision is to allow same-sex couples to marry, this will be a positive and more inclusive shift toward eliminating all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the adoption world and beyond.


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Top 10 Things To Do While You Wait

After making it through the home study documents, home visits with your social worker, and spending hours on your Adoption Letter, it can feel amazing to finally have it all completed. Your home study is approved and your Adoption Letter is finished. You’re live. Congratulations! Now what?

  1. Take a vacation, read.

    Don’t be afraid to take some time off.

    Review the Client Resource Page & Client Binder: Especially the “Getting Noticed” and “Contact” sections. Even if you do not take on additional networking, it is good to know the resources out there. When a potential birthparent calls or emails you, it might feel nice to know the dos and don’ts of the first contact.

  2. Spend time with friends and family: I cannot say enough that life should NOT be put on hold while you wait for a contact. Keep living your life, and you may just have more fun stories to share with your child when s/he asks about the adoption process. At the very least, it will keep you happy and distracted during the wait. Go out to dinner, attend the summer barbeques, join a bocce league, etc. You cannot think about adoption all of the time!
  3. Plan a vacation: Large or small, having an event/adventure/activity to look forward to can help take your focus off of the wait. Again, your life should not go on hold while you are waiting for a potential birthparent to call or email you. Once you are parenting, your vacations may look a bit different – so choose to take that trip you’ve always wanted to take.
  4. Accept the promotion: This can be a great way to stay busy and save some extra money. When you match, you will figure out the job logistics. Until then, enjoy the rewards of your hard work.
  5. Practice setting boundaries: Clients often express frustration with friends and family asking about the wait. Whether you are dealing with nosy colleagues or with friends that mean well, you may not want to share everything. It is within your right to say, “I appreciate you asking, but I will let you know when I have any updates. Let’s talk about something else.” Boundary setting can be helpful practice for when you are parenting. You will likely get questions about your child – who s/he looks like, who the “real parents” are, what ethnicity he/she is, or a myriad of other (sometimes inappropriate) questions. If you get comfortable setting these boundaries now, you will be more confident doing so in the future.
  6. Attend support group: There is something powerful about sitting in a room with people who know what it feels like to wait. Everyone’s adoption journey will be different, but at least you will not have to explain what “match”, “unmatch”, or “reclaim period” means.
  7. Network: Talk with friends and family about your plans to adopt. You do not need to go into all of the details with everyone. However, it can be helpful to educate your support system about openness and birthparents before you’re parenting. Besides, you never know who may be a good resource for birthparent referrals. Talk with your Adoption Coordinator if you have questions about this.
  8. Take a class: Learn a new language, explore a new culture, brush up on your crafting skills – do something productive! For some, this may also be a good time to take a baby care class. Ask your Adoption Coordinator if s/he has referrals for a local parenting workshop.
  9. Read: There are many wonderful books about adoption, transracial adoption, transracial families, and parenting. Ask your Adoption Coordinator for referrals.
  10. Talk with your Adoption Coordinator: Your Adoption Coordinator will reach out to you, but know that s/he always wants to hear from you! Call us to talk, even if you are not sure what exactly you are calling for. We enjoy being a support to you – and we may help you feel better.

Tips on what NOT to do:

  1. Set up a nursery: Some may disagree with me, but I believe that this can be one of the most painful parts of the wait: Walking past an empty nursery every day, even if you close the door, is a constant reminder of your wait. When the time comes, you will be able to get everything you need immediately. Diapers, formula, onesies and car seats are all available across the country. Do your research now if you’d like, but please – don’t buy it just yet!
  2. Tell your entire circle about a potential contact/match: Remember that with every person you tell about a contact/match, you may need to later tell them about a potential unmatch. It is great to have supportive people in your life, but choose wisely. Contacts are wonderful; just be careful with this information. This is also a wonderful opportunity to process with your Adoption Coordinator and support group members.
  3. Share “intake” details about a potential birthparent contact with everyone you know: If you do not want your child to hear about her birthmother’s substance use at a family party/picnic/holiday 10 years later, perhaps it is best not to tell the chatty cousin about your potential birthparent’s reported alcohol use now.
  4. Stare at your phone all day: It will happen, but you need to continue living your life in the meantime!

For longtime readers of our blog, this is a familiar topic. If you’re interested, you can find more resources on managing your wait here:

Things to Do While Waiting

Surviving the Adoption Wait

Waiting for Adoption

Handling the Wait

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Open Adoption on Raleigh’s CW

IAC Raleigh’s Branch Director, Niketa Frazier, recently appeared on the CW network to explain Open Adoption.

During the segment, she lists some of the ways in which open adoption is different from traditional adoption. Open Adoption:

  • Creates a relationship between birthparents and adoptive parents.
  • Allows birthparents to choose the family to raise their child.
  • Includes some amount of ongoing direct contact after placement.
  • Provides a chance to continue the relationship however they want, ideally in an ‘extended family’ model.

After this brief introduction, host Bill LuMaye asks, who are the women who choose adoption?

Birthparents can be anyone anyone who might face an unplanned pregnancy. They are a diverse group.
Birthparents usually want to parent, but circumstances are such that they can’t.

Next they discuss the importance of counseling. At IAC we do non-directive and non-coercive options counseling, to ensure they’re aware of all options. This means all options (parenting, abortion, adoption) are presented as equal and valid choices.

If a woman chooses adoption, grief and loss counseling then begins to process grief before placement. Mrs. Frazier says that birthparents really choose adoption twice, they choose when they’re pregnant, and they choose again after they give birth and meet the child. Therefore, they need the tools acquired during counseling in order to process the grief.

Finally, IAC’s non-exclusionary policies for adoptive parents is discussed. Mrs. Frazier explains that, at IAC, its birthparents that choose who will be the best parent for their child, not us. At Independent Adoption Center, we recognize that things like age, sexual orientation, marital status, and religion don’t determine whether you’ll be a good parent. We want those options available to birthparents. Additionally, we want the opportunity to adopt available to people who will be great parents, regardless of what their family looks like.

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New Study: Open Adoption is Best!

For almost 30 years, the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project has been studying the effects of openness on adoptees, birthparents, and adoptive parents. In an article published earlier this year, MTARP lead researcher Dr. Grotevant reports the findings show open adoption to be beneficial for all members of the adoption triad.

MTARP LogoThe MTARP study began in 1987. At that point in time, Independent Adoption Center had already been doing open adoptions for five years, but many experts in the adoption field were hesitant about this new arrangement for families. The most common fears were that open adoption would cause the birth mother to experience increased grief, lead to confusion in adoptees about the nature of their relationships, and that adoptive parents would face more anxiety about the motivations of the birthparents. All of these fears have been shown to have no basis in the lived experiences of the adoption triad members.

On the part of adoptees, an open adoption arrangement does not produce confusion. They remain firm in their understanding that the adoptive parents are their real parents, and they also understand the role of their birthparents. Furthermore, open adoption contact helps adoptees understand their identities more fully. It should not be surprising that adoptees want to know who their birthparents are, and having them be a part of their life allows them to understand who they are in tangible ways. As a result the child does not have to resort to fantasies, overly positive or negative, about their birthparents and why they chose adoption.

For birthparents the expectation in the 80s was that ongoing contact would perpetuate the grieving process. On the contrary, the findings on MTARP show that it is birthparents in closed adoptions who more often have unresolved grief decades later. Birthparents in the study reported being comforted by knowing for sure that their children were safe, happy, and cared for.

In the early years of open adoption, critics claimed that adoptive parents would suffer from increased anxiety, with the fear of “someone looking over their shoulder” often being cited. As it turns out, adoptive parents are less anxious in open adoptions. This is often a result of direct communication with the birthparents about their ongoing feelings about the adoption. For adoptive parents, personally knowing the birthparents helps prevent the formation of negative stereotypes that can cause additional anxiety. They know there is nobody lurking in the shadows, contrary to popular portrayals in movies and television.

Here at Independent Adoption Center, we’ve seen these results firsthand for decades. We are grateful to the researchers at MTARP for providing qualitative, longitudinal data that debunks the negative stereotypes and supports open adoption.

You can learn more at the Child & Family blog, and in this research article.

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When to Prepare the Nursery

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by one of IAC’s waiting adoptive couples, James & Darian Turner.

Us in Nursery 1“When to prepare the nursery?” It’s a question every hopeful adoptive parent must answer during the adoption wait.

For some families, nesting right away feels natural and can even be therapeutic. The adoption process is so full of uncertainty that creating a nursery offers some control and concrete progress on the journey to having a complete family. For others, the thought of having a dedicated nursery sitting empty for the months or years it will take to finally bring a little one home is just too painful.

When my husband and I first went active with our agency, we were firmly, and confidently in the second camp. We knew which sunny bedroom we would eventually turn into a nursery, but that was the beginning and end of our nesting thoughts.

All of that changed when we became eligible for our agency’s “Last Minute Hospital List.” Suddenly, we could at any moment receive a call to come meet our child! This was a very exciting but somewhat intimidating situation for us. Knowing that last-minute placements are a whirlwind of activity and decisions and changes, we decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and prepare our nursery; that way if we do have a last-minute placement there will be slightly fewer things for us to worry about.

Once we made the decision to prepare the nursery, we threw ourselves into it. We meticulously researched everything we could: the perfect crib (must be lower in front so my short little arms can gently lower in baby!), the ideal crib placement (not too close to a window!), the right mattress and bedding (organic cotton and no bumpers!), and the best rocking chair (no pinched little fingers or toes!) – we were definitely nesting in overdrive.

We spent long hours in the nursery making it into a cozy haven. Everything we placed in the nursery – every piece of furniture, every onesie, every toy, and every picture — was chosen with a little vision of its future owner. What would they like; how would they use the space; would this plush octopus or that crinkly panda bear be their favorite toy?

We arranged a little gallery of ethereal, fairytale-like images on one of the walls, imagining the bedtimes ahead when we’d make up stories about the adventures of the characters. We filled the nursery with things we love, things we hope our child will love, too.

We knew ahead of time that having this uninhabited room in our home could be a source of sadness for us. We were a little surprised to find that it’s really not. Along the way we realized it’s not empty at all; it’s full of our hopes, our dreams, and our wishes for our child and our family’s future.

James & Darian Turner live in Northern California. They are hoping to adopt their first child soon. To learn more about James & Darian, visit:

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Mother’s Day Series: A Letter to You

Editors Note: The following is a post for our Mother’s Day series, written by adoptive parent, Sara, to her daughter’s birthmother.

13a772f8-516e-48b7-97ec-ec7fa12639caTo Our Daughter’s Birth Mother,

This was the first Mother’s Day I celebrated, and it is because of you. I know the decision you made to place your daughter with us wasn’t for me. It was because that was the best decision you could make for her out of love. Still, because you made that decision, my dream of becoming a mother came true. Not only did I get to become a mom, but you allowed me to be as much a part of your pregnancy as you could. I got to see our daughter’s ultrasound, I got to feel her kick, I got to be there when she was born, and I got to be by your side. And now, I get to care for her every day, watch her grow and learn, shower her with hugs and kisses (and I give her extra for you), hold her, and just be amazed by her. There are no words that are adequate enough to tell you the depth of my gratitude to you, or to describe the bond I feel to you. All I can do is tell you that I try my hardest to honor you every day. I try my best to be the kind of mother that our daughter deserves, to be the kind of mother that would make you proud. I also want to tell you that on Mother’s Day, I will be thinking of you and celebrating you.

With all of my love,

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