Open Adoption Blog

Try, Try Again

Editor’s Note: IAC’s hopeful waiting adoptive parent, Ana Ogilvie, shares how her and her husband never gave up on trying in the face of adversity.

lR5DV7lPu1IY2Dk5j2vYUcFamI2S-dis-BDSUd-ipZEMy husband, David, and I have a love affair with TRYING. No matter the disappointment, we have always found ways to pick ourselves up from the fall, grasp hands in the dark, and put the puzzle pieces of our life back together again. Even I’m not sure how we do it much of the time, but we do. It’s a gift we share and one neither of us takes for granted. This is not to say that this seemingly “innate” ability to recover from tremendous loss isn’t very hard work, because it is. In fact, it’s utterly soul-grinding. But somehow, we survive with our ability to hope, imagine, and believe still intact. We can always find one more new way to keep on trying for the things that are most important to us. I know in my heart of hearts, that building our family is our try of a lifetime.

So far, creating our family has been a marathon of experiences, with many “ins and outs and what-have-yous” to quote “The Dude.” Where and how we’ve focused our efforts has changed a lot over time and circumstance. Like so many others, we began our journey unable to conceive on our own. We practically beat down the doors of our nearby university infertility clinic by the time that year was up. We needed help and we knew it. We were so hopeful and it was so easy for “tryers” like David and I to wholeheartedly embrace all the procedures, calendars, injections, and instructions. We believed it could work. But with all of this hopeful action and “doing,” came the inevitable passage of time and constant doubt.

I experienced a whole slew of intense negative emotions like isolation, jealousy, and self-absorption to name a few. Things I can say I never felt before. I don’t regret this time because it paved the way to our daughter, Molly, and it constituted a momentous chapter in our life story. However, I realize it was also a time when we lost very important parts of ourselves as well; the lovely parts that made us, US. By the time we experienced our fourth pregnancy that ended with a third and final loss, we were devastated and we were done. We wanted OUT.

I cannot describe the depth of love we feel for our Molly; she is our dream come true. But in our very deepest core, we know she is not the only child who lives in our hearts. We closed the doors of the infertility clinic one final time and with a great heaving sigh of relief, we set forth on a new journey: Open Adoption.

It’s amazing how a simple phrase like “open adoption” can embody so many emotions and so much hope: for your life, your family’s life, a birthmother’s life, and the lives of many others. Talk about a shift in gears. David’s and my definition of “trying” was instantly re-framed the moment we left the IAC office after our very first orientation meeting. Outside in the hallway, we locked eyes with each other at once, did a quick check to make sure no one else was around, and gave each other the biggest, high-flying high-five EVER. I’ll never forget what David said at that moment. He said “SLAM DUNK.” And it was. We wanted this. We wanted free from the shackles of infertility and pregnancy; we wanted to be free to breathe. And, we wanted to be free to love, to hope, to imagine, to believe again. Open adoption was it.

Whatever this journey requires; we will do. We will try our very best. And I’ll tell you, this kind of “trying” has been a gift for us. It has allowed us to find those lovely parts of ourselves again. It’s been about thinking of others before ourselves, and reaching out to accept help from loved ones, new friends, and strangers, then turning around to offer it back again. It’s been about rediscovering the innate goodness in all people and humbly walking miles in another person’s shoes. This process has encouraged us to get BIG, BIGGER, and hopefully, become the BIGGEST we’ve ever been. All I have to say is… thank goodness.

David’s and my legacy to our children will be “TRY your very best with everything you do. Try even harder for the things that mean the world to you. And never give up on your dreams. We didn’t, and we found YOU.”

To learn more about Ana & David you can visit their iheartadoption profile


Benefits of Ongoing Contact

Why open adoption? Why ongoing contact? Why invite strangers into your life and make an agreement stating you will have contact with them for the next 18 years? Won’t they come back and take the child? What if your child wants to go live with them? Won’t your child be confused about who their parent is? Why, why why…?

ongoing-contactI’m sure some of you have had these, and many other, questions from those around you as you pursue your open adoption journey. As well-meaning as your loved ones are, sometimes their questions can become tiresome. When you embark on an adoption journey, and specifically an open adoption journey, you often need to field these questions and (when you feel it’s appropriate) take the time to educate others about the benefits of openness and ongoing contact. It is important to dispel rumors and falsehoods so that our families, our children’s birthparents, and our children will not face scrutiny, discrimination and prejudice because of adoption.

While openness can be scary at first, the benefits of ongoing contact are numerous. I think the true benefits come when our children are adults and when we can all look back – the parents, birthparents, and the child – and see the magnitude of what having an open adoption really meant for everyone involved. The true benefits can only be felt by those involved. And those are the people that matter the most.

Ongoing contact means answers. Answers to your child’s many questions of, “Who am I? Where did I come from? Who do I look like? Why didn’t my birthparents raise me? What’s my medical history? Do my birthparents ever think about me? Do my birthparents love me? Do I have birth siblings? Do my birthparents want me back?”

Ongoing contact means comfort. Comfort for the adoptive parents when they ask, “Do my child’s birthparents regret their decision? Am I doing as good a job as I promised? Do my child’s birthparents hate me for raising their child? Are my child’s birthparents planning to come take my child back? What is my child’s medical history? How do I answer my child’s questions? Do I know my child’s birthparents loved them so I can explain that love to my child? How do I help my child through their grief?”

Ongoing contact means healing. Healing for the birthparents who selflessly and courageously placed their precious child into a family better suited to care for him or her. Healing for when they ask, “Did I make the right decision? Does my child hate me? Is the family happy? Is my child healthy? Does my child know I love them? Does my child know why I couldn’t parent? Does my child know how much care went into choosing the perfect parent/s for them? I have new information to share, where can I find my child? Does my child know I think about them all the time?”

I can only imagine the questions are endless. However, when you have openness and ongoing contact, you actually have answers, comfort and healing. You can have ongoing discussions and share new information as it develops rather than filling out one history form before the child is even born. You can get to know each other and develop a loving, natural relationship. You can affirm, validate and embrace relationships and feelings rather than hide them away in secrecy. You can focus on moving forward and what the future holds instead of worrying and wondering about the past.

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What is Post-Adoption Depression?

Many people have heard of Postpartum Depression, a clinical diagnosis characterized by symptoms of depression that occur after a woman gives birth to a child. What many people may not know is that a similar type of depression can also frequently occur with new parents of all types, including adoptive parents.

Depressed womanIt is estimated that Post-Adoption Depression affects 18% – 26% of mothers who become parents through adoption. The research has yet to be done on adoptive fathers, but the fact that the path to becoming an adoptive parent is similar for both mothers and fathers, the likely conclusion is that the numbers would be similar.

Many researchers point to factors along the path towards becoming an adoptive parent as likely factors contributing to developing depression. These include the extreme fatigue that occurs after becoming a new parent, unrealistic expectations of parenthood, a lack of community support, and adjustment to a profound life change.   All of these factors can seem magnified to a parent who may have the added stress of having dealt with the chaos of emotions associated with an adoption placement.

On top of becoming new parents, many adoptive parents have experienced the emotions associated with infertility, birthparent relationships, legal uncertainties, and in some cases failed adoption efforts along their path to becoming parents. This often leaves a wave of emotions that adoptive parents must sort through at a time when they are trying to redefine their life roles and adjust to the demands of caring for a newborn.

Dr. Karen Foli, an Associate Professor and researcher from Purdue University notes that, “a common thread in my research has been the assumption that if the mom didn’t carry the child for nine months or go through a physical labor, the parents don’t need help in the same manner as birth mothers do.” This assumption may leave many adoptive parents without the help they need to begin their lives as parents.

Many adoptive parents may be confused or frustrated when, instead of feeling the immediate bliss they anticipated once a new baby was placed, they find themselves feeling emotionally drained, overwhelmed, tired, and less supported by their community than they did when actively working towards an adoption placement. It is important for adoptive parents to be aware that Post-Adoption Depression exists, and if it occurs they should be comfortable seeking out help.

Symptoms of Post-Adoption Depression and anxiety can include feelings of fatigue, sadness, anger, or numbness.  A person experiencing this type of depression may also struggle with brain fog (the inability to focus, multi-task, or recall the right word when speaking), scary thoughts (often imagining the worst case scenario and attempting to mitigate risks), insomnia, obsessions, compulsions, and even physical symptoms including headaches, nausea, and panic attacks.

Treatment for depression usually includes a combination of therapy and medication and is typically very effective at resolving the problem. In fact, research shows that the quicker a person seeks treatment, the more likely they are to make a full recovery. Individuals who believe they may be experiencing depression after an adoption placement should contact a licensed counselor for assessment and treatment.

See the links below for more information on this topic:

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Sound Investments

Editor’s Note: IAC’s Adoptive Parent, Cory Rayborn, shares how his hobby turned into a way to help fund adoption for him and his wife.

My after-hours “hobby” for the last fourteen years has been the operation of an independent record label. The label grew out of my love of music and, in part, an interest in record collecting. I love scouring the used bins at record stores and music sections of antique shops. There have been many times over the years when I have had the opportunity to pick up copies of particularly collectible records at good prices. I’ve stashed those finds aside for what I assumed would be future use as trade bait for other records, sale items, or low-stakes “investments.” I never would have imagined when picking these titles up over time that they would eventually play a direct role in our adoption quest.

It most likely won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this blog that private infant adoption requires some decent-sized upfront costs. One day it dawned on me that our adoption adventure would be the perfect occasion to liquidate some of the extra titles I had accumulated over time, as well as a few other noteworthy items that could be weaned from my personal record collection. To date, we have sold a little more than $6,000 of rare and otherwise collectible records, an amount that has significantly lightened the load that would have otherwise come out of pocket. Pretty impressive for an accumulation of experimental and avant-garde records!

Our funding methods have been unique to our particular situation, just as every adoptive family will have their own methods that make the most sense for them. The key is to find what makes the most sense for your family while also being worth your time. For some ideas of methods that might work for you, I suggest this in-depth read on different financing alternatives that Vanessa McGrady assembled for Forbes.

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An Open Letter to Santa Claus

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by IAC’s hopeful adoptive parents, Jason Hedden & Danny Yuska, writing for their one Christmas wish.

Dearest Kringle,

letter-to-santaI know it has been years since my last letter in which I requested He-Man action figures and a Cabbage Patch Kid. You always came through for me as a child and now as an adult I’m seeking your help once again. Through all the commercialism of the holiday, I have never stopped believing in your spirit and I know it resides in all of us.

My husband, Danny, and I have been married legally now for over three years. We both agreed early on in our relationship that we want a large family. We both come from large families and together we have seven nephews and two nieces who we love and adore very much. In watching our siblings’ families we’ve decided to take the step toward open adoption.

This has been a long journey in the making. We spent one year researching different agencies, visiting their offices and reading anything we could get our hands on. We felt best connected to the Independent Adoption Center and their philosophy surrounding open adoption. We fully understand that “openness” is different in every match and ours won’t be defined until that moment. But, we know the vital importance of openness and how everyone involved benefits.

After selecting the IAC we spent another five months filling out mounds and mounds of paperwork, hours spent on our Adoption Letter, references and home-studies, and vast amounts of reading and parenting classes. We have overly exposed our iheartadoption webpage to all our friends, associates and clients to help maximize our exposure – I’m certain we’ve been unfriended. We simply want the universe to know we are out here to be found.

Kris, this brings me to the point of my letter. Danny and I have only one Christmas wish this year. We are asking for an expectant mother to come into our lives and create a match. If a mother finds that adoption is the route they decide to go down, we are asking that you point them our way. Let them know that there is a large loving family waiting to greet them with open arms. Grandmothers and grandfathers, vast amount of aunts, uncles, and cousins are awaiting their arrival. Our lovable little pup, Linus and his sister, Snooki the Cat are anxious as well to have another member they can love upon unconditionally. This, too, is their Christmas wish.

Typically this time of year our home is decorated fully for the season – trees, wreaths, lights, ornaments and figurines – both classy and tacky. However, this year we have made a conscious decision to forego the event now and until you bring into our life a little bundle of joy. When that happens, we will decorate and celebrate so over the top it’ll feel like the North Pole right in our home. We will live up to our old motto: Too much is too much, but way too much is just right!!

In the meantime, we are taking advice from our agency and other adoptive parents and we are traveling. We are going to spend the week of Christmas in Puerto Rico with friends to help take our minds off the holiday and that one piece that is missing. Although, nothing would make us happier than having to cancel our trip because you granted our Christmas wish and brought an addition into our family this season.

I know contained within your powers is the ability to make this happen. In our efforts to grow a large family, we must start with one. And, we are wishing you could bring that one to us very soon.

Please send our regards to Mrs. Claus and all the others. Have a very Merry Christmas.

Jason & Danny

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Transgender Parents Report Positive Parenting Experience

A new report from UCLA’s Williams Institute found that many transgender adults are parents, and they mainly report good and positive experiences as parents, despite discrimination they face. The report examined the findings of 51 studies and also found children raised by transgender parents have good outcomes, with no impacts on developmental milestones.

Williams InstituteThe findings of the report support IAC’s policies of non-discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

Some of the highlights of the report include:

  • Between 25% to 50% of transgender adults are parents, compared with 65-74% for cisgender adults.
  • Transgender parents reported “having children” more often than “living with children”, most likely because of efforts to limit the contact of transgender parents with their children.
  • Studies on the outcomes for children with transgender parents found no evidence linking a child’s gender identity or sexual orientation with having a transgender parent.
  • Transgender parents report facing discrimination from both the other parent and the court system in child custody and visitation arrangements.
  • Transgender adults are also at risk of discrimination from adoption agencies.

None of these findings were surprising to us at Independent Adoption Center, where we’ve worked with members of the LGBT community for decades. We welcome everyone interested in adoption, and encourage you to learn more about our adoption services.

You can read the full report here:

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Common Fears During the Wait

Editor’s Note: The following is a post written by IAC’s adoptive mother, Kim Fagan-Wiseman about many fears that come up during the wait to adopt.
Close-up portrait of the scared woman.

There’s no doubt about it. Most of us fantasize during the waiting period. We think about their first birthday party, family holiday gatherings and how much we will give and love our child. After we linger in those blissful moments, there’s a notion that we couldn’t possibly be happy. Then, like a turbine wind tunnel, we are swept into the fears of open adoption. The more we think about our fears, the more we tend to believe them. As I’ve talked about before in previous blog posts, fear is nothing more than a repeated thought. So, with this in mind, let’s have a candid conversation about those fears and how we can learn to trust our guidance to know the truth behind open adoption.

Fear: I’m afraid that the birth parents will change their mind.
Yes, there is always the chance that the birth parents can change their mind. However, I want to encourage you to look at the possibilities rather than fear itself. In fact, the birth parents may be just as concerned that you will change your mind. We are always trepidatious when the future seems uncertain. One way to better understand each other’s intentions is to have an open and honest discussion about how you are feeling. Transparency will provide a clear and honest direction of strengths and opportunities for growth within the relationship. Reach out to your Social Worker to share your concerns and fears. It’s important that you realize that there is a support system available to you. You are never alone during this process.

Fear: My child will love their birthparents more than they will love me.
Just take a moment and think about this. When you remove the “insecurity” from the equation, is this really the truth or fear talking? This “undeserving feeling” of love can be very deceptive. If you peel away these insecurities, you will realize that your child will love you with no hesitation. Through open adoption, your child will also have a healthy understanding of who their birth parents are and their unconditional act of love, in choosing you as their parent. Remember, adoption is something that “happens to your child” and isn’t “who they are.” Children internalize the feelings around them. If you allow fear to dominate your experience, how do you think your child will feel? Therefore, allow acceptance into your life and believe that love has no boundaries, if you permit it. Embrace this amazing gift you have been given and stop questioning your intrinsic value.

Fear: Open adoption will confuse my child and family.
Let me be blunt here. The only thing that will confuse your child is your own confusion of what family is. “Family of choice” are those who love and accept you for who you are. Family is filled with acceptance, understanding, compassion and of course, unconditional love. It is up to you and the birth parents to find common ground and follow through with your commitments and agreed boundaries. By doing so, you allow your child to know that they are loved, wanted and cherished without wanting to possess them. Of course, everyone has a different definition of what family is. Yet, universally, it is the love for your child and acceptance of their birth family, which will help shape the strength and longevity of the relationship. Both the birth parents and adoptive parents have something magnificent to offer one another. Teach your child by the clarity of your own example. Be transparent, caring and most importantly, be consistent in your actions.

Fear: I’m afraid that the birthparents will try to undermine or replace me.
This fear is so very common and understandable. In fact, those who have childcare often think that their child will be emotionally “taken” from them. Here’s the truth – no one will replace you. They can’t. You are their parent – their soul connection. You wake up in the middle of the night for feedings. You wipe the tears away after they have scraped their knee. Additionally, your presence in your child’s life does not and should not negate their feelings for their birth parents. When you have a healthy relationship with the birth parents, there is no need for “replacement.” There certainly is enough love in your child’s heart for everyone. In fact, you might even grow to love the birth parents as well. After all, love has no limitations and fear has no grounds for permanence.

Fear: I’m afraid my child will want to live with his/her birth parents when they grow older.
Prepare yourself. Children will say ANYTHING to get your attention. Yes, they may even say, “I want to live with my birth parents” when they get older. But, they will also say:

  1. “Can I get my belly button pierced?”
  2. “You just SO don’t understand me!”
  3. “Do NOT add me on Facebook.”
  4. “Are you going through menopause or something?”
  5. “I won’t gain weight like you.”
  6. “When I’m 18 years old, I’m an adult!”

Oh, the list goes on. Sure, your child will likely say these things and more. That is what children do. What is important to remember is to choose to “respond” to the situation and not “react” to it. It’s easy to get hurt and let our emotions get the best of us. We do it all of the time. There’s no doubt about it. Raising children can be challenging. But, with challenges comes opportunities to learn, grow, and better understand each other and our selves. Be open to learning more about yourself and not let fear control your actions. After all, a family has been made. Hold on and enjoy the ride. It’s worth every moment, even the teenage years!


An Adoptive Parent Nightmare

Editor’s Note: In this reflective post, Traci Pirri, an adoptive mother, shares what it’s like to experience her child longing to be with her birthmother.

The day my oldest decided to tell me she wished she could live with her birth mother just about broke my heart, but, thankfully, wound up bringing us closer together.

You know it’s coming. It’s natural for kids to be curious or to fantasize about what life is like somewhere else. It’s normal for them to get angry and look for an escape. Or to explore what statements push our parent buttons. Most kids do this sooner or later. But for adoptive parents, there is extra pressure towards attachment with your child and to be a good parent—not just for your child, but also to uphold the expectations of the woman or couple who placed that child’s life in your hands. It can feel so overwhelming—the responsibility of accepting a child for adoption. So, you hold this child while he cries and you wipe away her tears and you share in his joys and her sorrows—all the while knowing that one day, this day will most likely come.

For me, it happened just the other day. We recently had a visit from my daughter’s birth mother. Afterwards, my daughter’s behavior took a turn south. When I say a turn south, I mean my sweet little well-behaved daughter was suddenly taking on characteristics of a horned beast. She was systematically doing everything she could to provoke, taunt, and irritate myself and her little brother. It was very unlike her. After many deep breaths and countless redirections, I finally sent her to her room for some think time. I needed to think about how I wanted to handle this (the visions of throttling her that were going through my head were NOT okay) and she needed to think about whether she would talk this out or continue her current path of familial destruction.

You can read the rest of her blog at

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Handling the Wait

Editor’s Note: The following is a post written by IAC’s adoptive mother, Kim Fagan-Wiseman about the wait and open adoption.

KimFaganThe room is put together. The teddy bears are sitting patiently to be cuddled. You are ready to pack your vehicle in less than an hour. Yes, it’s that one moment; the moment you realize that all of the waiting, frustration, and introspection was worth every possible second you have invested. In other words, you are not only getting ready physically, but emotionally for the arrival of your child. Then it happens. You wait. And when you are not waiting, you wait some more. The process of adoption takes time. Typically there is a 12-16 month waiting period before a “match” can take place. This type certainly can vary. But, even when you have the most perfect “match” there are still a few considerations while you wait.

Worry is NOT the new Black
It’s inevitable that you will worry. You may be concerned that the birth parents will change their mind. You may fret about the adoption agreement you and the birth parents set into place. You may even find yourself jealous of the birth mother’s delivery experience and worried that you will never be good enough for your child. Seriously. You will worry about lots of things and you are not alone. In fact, the birth parents may be worrying as well. One thing to remember though is that “worry” or “fear” is just a repeated thought. None of those negative experiences have to be your experience. Therefore it’s important to educate yourself about the myths about open adoption and communicate with your counselor. Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel where you are in that moment but do not get “stuck” in it. Ultimately, love is not the result of biology, but rather the time, commitment and constant acknowledgement that your child is loved unconditionally.

Birth Parents are NOT a threat
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people tell me (1) What IF the birth mother drives by your house? Or (2) What IF the baby loves them more than they love you? Or (3) What IF the birth parents come and try to take the baby away from you? Again, all of these thoughts are based on fear. Fear can never drive your decision to participate in an Open Adoption. The relationship and boundaries between you and the birth parents should be clearly and legally defined. However, defining boundaries on paper doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t develop a comfortable relationship with the birth parents. When we look at situations with gratitude, we are reminded that all of our experiences have a purpose – always blessings, never losses.

Breathe deeply & take in the experience
Most adoptive families have said that the wait time they had experienced just seemed to disappear when they looked into their newborn baby’s eyes; and, it’s true. The moment you receive the call that your baby is being born, time seems to slow down and zoom by, all at once. Phone calls have to be made to the agency, your attorney and most certainly those who are important to you. In fact, I urge you to make a checklist of items that you need to take care of before leaving the house and/or work. Having gone through this, I strongly encourage you to skillfully embrace each tender moment. Take photos of the baby room. Enjoy remembering when you met the birth parents. It’s easy to get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent and forget to be present in the experience. Your life is about to change as you know it. It’s important to breathe deeply and realize the mutual gift of life and family you are about to be a part of.

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How to Discuss Birthparents with Your Child

Last month Dr. Jennifer Bliss was the featured guest on the Creating A Family radio show covering the topic of talking with children about their birthparents.

Dr. Jennifer Bliss

Dr. Jennifer Bliss

As IAC’s National Associate Counseling Director, this is a subject Dr. Bliss is very familiar with. Some of the questions answered in the course of the conversation were:

  • At what age is it appropriate to begin talking about birthparents?
  • What terms should be used and why? Birthmother? Tummy Mummy?
  • What about the potential for difficult subjects, like drug use or rape? Should they be explained or avoided?
  • How does one manage varying levels of contact and openness between birthmother and birthfather, or between siblings birthparents?

This was an extremely informative episode of the Creating a Family show, and it comes highly recommended. You can get the answers to these questions and a whole lot more by visiting their website here.

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