Open Adoption Blog


What You Need to Know About Creating an Adoption Portfolio

Have you ever wondered what an adoptive parent profile should really include, or maybe even what it shouldn’t?

It’s best to avoid these types of photos.

From photos to text, this interview discusses what it takes to build a successful parent profile, and much more. Host Dawn Davenport, of Creating A Family, delves deeper into the details of parent profiles on the weekly radio show/podcast, Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Infertility. Creating A Family is a national adoption and infertility education and support organization.

For this topic, Dawn interviewed Madeleine Melcher, an adoptee, mother of three through adoption, and author of How to Create a Successful Adoption Portfolio: Easy Steps to Help You Produce the Best Adoption Profile and Prospective Birthparent Letter and Aki Parker, the National Marketing and Design Associate at the North Carolina branch of the Independent Adoption Center. Aki has also worked with adoptive families providing consultation on their letters and online profiles.

Click here to listen to the full-interview.

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Adoptee Rights in New Jersey

In most states in the US adoptees do not share equal rights with non-adopted persons in one important aspect: access to their original birth certificates. This document is important because its the key to understanding ones family medical history and ancestry. A bill in New Jersey that aims to fix this is heading to a vote in the State Assembly on Thursday.

An unlikely coalition is opposing the bill, including anti-choice groups and the NJ chapter of the ACLU. They argue that a birthparents right to privacy trumps an adoptees right to their original birth certificate. However, with open adoption now the norm, and with internet search engines and social networks available, the concept of a hidden and anonymous birthparent is largely an anachronism. As the Donaldson Adoption Institute revealed in a recent study, the internet makes openness in adoption inevitable.

Independent Adoption Center urges legislators in New Jersey to pass this bill and grant equal access to birth records to all citizens. You can read more about the bill here.

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Philomena: Lessons About Adoption

“Adoption policies and practices have not yet progressed sufficiently,” says Adam Pertman, president of the Donaldson Adoption Institute. And he’s right. In a recent opinion piece in the Huffington Post, Mr. Pertman draws upon lessons in the Oscar-nominated film, Philomena, to advocate for reforms in national adoption policies and practices.

Philomena and Judi Dench

First and foremost, shaming or coercing parents into parting with their children or, worse, removing their children without consent (even when that’s necessary), inflicts profound and lasting psychic wounds.

There unquestionably are circumstances in which children need new families, especially if remaining in their original ones puts them in harm’s way; furthermore, there certainly are women and men who willingly place their infants for adoption. Given what we know about the enduring repercussions of being separated from one’s child, however, policy and practice must do a better job of ensuring that families can stay intact when possible, and that parents receive the help they need when that goal cannot be met. Moreover, women and men who do consider adoption for their children should be enabled to understand all of their options beforehand, so that they make genuinely informed decisions, and should receive pre- and post-placement counseling and support as well.

Mr. Pertman is correct, in far too many instances women considering adoption are not given counseling about all their options. Others are not supported during and after placement. While national legislation to correct these issues is needed, adoption agencies should take the lead in utilizing known best-practices in adoption counseling.

Read the full article here.

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What is Transracial Adoption?

What is transracial adoption?

The basic definition of transracial adoption is an adoptive placement in which the child’s race/ethnicity is different from the adoptive parent’s race/ethnicity.

A few years ago, IAC developed an online training for our families considering this type of placement when working on their adoption profile. We found that many of our adoptive families wanted an open profile in the hopes that they would find a placement more quickly, but they were not adequately prepared for parenting a child whose race/ethnicity did not match their own. In fact, in one of my earliest cases I had a couple that was Mexican American and they adopted a child who was Caucasian. It was not acknowledged (at the time) that they had a transracial placement and there were some situations that they faced as a result. Often times when transracial adoption first comes up one thinks Caucasian parents adopting children of other ethnicities.

Perhaps the biggest part of being properly prepared for a transracial placement is not an individual’s beliefs about race and ethnicity, but being able to view the world through their child’s eyes. While it is important to be open-minded, that is just a starting point. This is why it is so important to look at cultural diversity in your neighborhood, church, schools, kids activities, as well as amongst your friends and family. Not to mention looking at your own ethnic identity.

Your child will face situations and comments as he or she grows up, and even if those comments are not derogatory in nature, they can still reinforce to your child that he or she is “different” than many of his/her peers. As a parent it becomes your responsibility to give your child the tools to handle this type of situation. It could be a simple question like, “Why do you have a sister who is black?” In the early years, you will more than likely be with your child and you can model how to appropriately respond.

I always like to tell new clients that they are becoming “Ambassadors for Adoption,” even if they do not adopt transracially. This is because we cannot guarantee that if the adopted child is the same race/ethnicity as the adoptive parents that the child will actually look like their biological offspring! Think of the blonde hair/blue eyed couple that adopts a full Caucasian child who has brown hair and brown eyes. So, for someone just starting the process, it is a good idea to prepare for a transracial adoption just to get insight about how to address comments or questions from other people.

I often reflect back to my own experiences in being part of a mixed-race family. I am biracial Caucasian/African American, as is our adopted daughter, and my husband and son are both Caucasian (yet our kids have the same birthmom).

There was the time in the grocery store when all four of us were checking out and the kids were still very young, and the checker thoroughly checked us out (not just the groceries) and then asked me if my daughter was my husband’s child! I responded “Of course she is,” but the experience was quite unnerving.

Another time when the kids were school-aged, we were ordering lunch inside a fast food restaurant and our (biracial) daughter ordered a chocolate shake and our (white) son ordered a vanilla one. This was followed by laughter from the cashier who replied, “Well, that makes sense!” All four of us found the humor in his observation, but not everyone would have.

Of course, as an agency we cannot teach you everything because your individual experience will be unique. Part of your preparation is to develop a better awareness for the world around you that will become your child’s world. Also, remember to take advantage of the expertise and support of your counselors, as well as peer support from other adoptive parents as you prepare for living as a multicultural family.

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5 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Adoption Letter

You’ve joined an adoption agency and completed the paper work. Now it’s time to get the word out about your adoption! Your Adoption Letter (AKA Dear Birthparent Letter) is one of the main tools that you’ll use to reach out to birthmothers and start building your family. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you navigate the process and craft an effective message.

Do Use Positive Language
Though you probably mean well, the words that you use to communicate to birthmothers may not come across as favorably as you think. Get in the habit of using positive adoption language. To present yourself/yourselves as warm and inviting people to a potential birthparent, be mindful of words that may have unintentional connotations.

Don’t Use Presumptuous Language
It’s natural to want to find the right words to say to a birthmother, however, don’t assume that you already know their story because they are considering open adoption. Every birthmother’s story is different.

Do Let Your Agency Know if You Have Concerns; They’re Here to Help
Your adoption agency shares your goals of getting into circulation as quickly as possible, so that you can adopt. Work together as a team! If there is feedback that you are not comfortable with, or you feel that your letter doesn’t sound like you, then let your counselor or staff member know so that they can work with you to bring more of yourself into the letter. Don’t wait until after your letter is distributed to raise any questions you may have.

Don’t Rush Through the Process
It can be tempting to rush through the process, in order to get into circulation as quickly as possible, while overlooking important items. Did your agency suggest trying another shoot for your photos? If so, then there may be some rationale behind that suggestion. If it’s feasible for you to do so in a reasonable amount of time, then take the time to get the best photos possible to help your letter shine. If it may be a stretch, talk to your agency about the comments, and see how they can help you to best make your existing content work for your budget and schedule.

Do Take Plenty of Photos to Illustrate Your Story
As you’re writing your letter, think about the activities that you mention sharing with your child. It’s great to talk about these in the letter, but you could strengthen your message if you can show it. It’s not always easy to get a great shot of you in action, so be sure to take plenty of photos to help you get a great shot. After your photo shoot, go through the photos, and select the best ones to send to your agency. Action shots work best. Also, if you have photos of you and a child, be sure that your faces are visible and that there are great smiles on everyone’s face.

Don’t Forget that One Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
Be sure that the photos you use in your letters do not contain any questionable backgrounds or objects that may not viewed favorably, such as signs or banners in the background, drinks, or containers of alcohol. In photos with children, be sure that the child looks comfortable with you. Nothing makes this more obvious than a smile! If the child looks like he or she is trying to run away from you or looks afraid, that might send an unintentional message.

Do Read It Aloud
Once you’ve written your text, read it to yourself. Read it to your friends. Read it to a young person. Does it sound conversational and down to earth? Could a young person aged 18-25 clearly understand what you’re talking about? Does it use appropriate grammar and punctuation? If your letter sounds like a textbook or real estate ad, consider revising.

Don’t Be A Downer
Don’t mention issues of loss, hardship, or infertility in the letter. This could take away from the overall warmth of your letter and make it a pain to read. Remember that the point is to welcome the birthmother, help her to feel at ease, and encourage her to contact you. If there is a family member that has passed on that you want to mention, give it a more positive spin. For example, mention honoring or celebrating that person’s memory through the activities that you take part in, rather than dwelling on their loss or sadness.

Do Follow the Guidelines
Be sure that you have followed your agency’s guidelines for preparing your letter, and submitted all of the necessary components in order to avoid extra steps, or having to go back and repeat parts of the process. If there is a certain part of the process that you’re waiting for feedback on, ask what else you could be working on in the meantime so that you continue making progress.

Don’t Do It All By Yourself
If you’re a couple, the letter should be a team project. Work together! Even if you choose to play to one another’s strengths during the process, be sure that the text, including your contact information, reflects both of you, and doesn’t cause a potential birthmother to see you as two entities rather than one family. For example, instead of using JohnDoe@gmail.com, use JohnandJaneAdopt@gmail.com or TheDoeFamily@gmail.com.

If you don’t have expertise in designing publications, consider consulting a graphic design professional. The Dear Birthparent Letter is such a vital outreach tool that it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Now is not the time to test out the spiffy new software that you just bought for your home computer or to realize your dreams of becoming an artist. If you’ve never done professional level work, then more work will be required of the agency to help make your letter presentable, and this could contribute to your wait time. Ask your agency if it has free design templates available, experts on staff that can assist you, or a referral list of professional designers that may be able to create a custom-design for you at a discounted rate. Independent Adoption Center offers all of these resources to our clients. To get started on your adoption give us a call at 800-877-OPEN.

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Indiana’s HJR-3 is a Step Backwards

Lawmakers in Indiana will vote Monday on whether to send a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to the voters of the state. The anti-equality measure passed the House Elections committee on Wednesday, after it was moved from the House Judiciary committee due to being stalled without a vote.

This clip about the amendment from WTHR Indianapolis features IAC alumni Ben & Eric:

In an era when increasing numbers of Americans are recognizing the need for marriage equality, this amendment would be a step backwards for Indiana. Amending the Indiana state constitution would not only be an anachronism, the language of the bill would cause harm to single parent families, domestic partnerships, and other unmarried couples. The ambiguous second sentence reads:

A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

Independent Adoption Center stands in proud opposition to HJR-3. And we’re not alone. Also opposing are the mayors of Indianapolis, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, and dozens of universities and businesses based in Indiana. For the well-being of Indiana families and children, the Indiana legislature must vote No on HJR-3.

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Surviving the Adoption Wait

Ready? Set? Wait! Sound familiar?

The beginning stages of the adoption process are full of activity. You are learning about adoption, getting to know your counselor, attending workshops, taking online classes, working on the plethora of home study paperwork, taking the perfect front photo, and refining your Dear Birthparent Letter text for the umpteenth time, and creating your online profile. Finally, finally, you submit everything to your Adoption Coordinator and receive the green light to order your letters and go live.

Surviving the adoption wait

The wait can feel like this.

Now what?

While the beginning stages of the adoption process may hold their own unique frustrations, the waiting phase is often the most difficult time of the process for adoptive families. In the beginning of the process, you have some control over how quickly to work on the required documents, when to schedule your appointments, how much time should go into your autobiography, what photos to consider and what important things you want to include in your letter.

When you are waiting, you are…waiting. There is no set guideline to tell you exactly what to do and when. There are less forms to be constantly working on. The sense of lacking control in the process is often amplified during the wait. You have essentially fixed up, cleaned, and painted your home, and now you are waiting for the perfect family to find it and want to buy it. You can let everyone know you are selling your home, you can hire a trusted realtor, and you can do additional advertising of your gem. But until the right person or family finds it, it’s not going to sell. Each time you have a showing, you clean and put everything in order again and you get excited that this might be the right one. If an offer does not come through, you are inevitably disappointed. You cannot make someone buy your home. And you cannot make a birthparent find you and contact you.

So how do you cope with this?

I suggest continuing with your life as much as possible while waiting for the right contact. If you have a contact and it doesn’t work out, try to use it as a learning experience. When you get feedback on your home, you may choose another paint color or fix something someone commented about. Try to review how you handled that particular contact or reconsider what you are truly comfortable with. Chances are that you didn’t say or do anything wrong at all. It just wasn’t the right one for you.

If you have plans to travel, remodel your home, or go back to school, do them! Try to not put your life on hold. If you are waiting to do something until you have a placement, your wait is going to feel that much longer and more difficult because you have put your life on hold. It is understandable that waiting with no definite end is difficult. It’d be easier to wait 15 months if you knew in 15 months’ time, you’d have placement for certain. Try to remain positive and remember that it only takes one contact to lead to your child. Yes, some families have multiple contacts before placement, but others have few or none before the right birthparents find them.

What else can you do while waiting? Dream! Yes, dream about the day you will become a parent. You will be a parent through adoption, we just don’t know when. It’s ok to fantasize about being a parent and working through a list of things you want to have done before then. There are many important things you can do while waiting. Focusing on specific items while waiting can help with the loss of control many adoptive parents experience during the wait. It is also productive. We don’t want to assign you busy work, but productive work.

Other productive avenues we encourage adoptive parents to consider are through networking. Networking is an effective and productive way to potentially find birthparents through your own efforts. Yes, you are paying an agency, or attorney, to do this for you, but you never know where a lead can come from. In over 7 years of adoption experience, I’ve heard some good stories about how a birthparent found just the right adoptive family! Common networking techniques include talking to others about your journey, sending emails, passing out adoption cards, creating a social media page and advertising on profile hosting sites. Networking can help give you a bit of control back into the process, which often helps with the wait. It may also really find the right match for you! If you are interested in networking, please talk with your counselor to find a plan that makes sense for you. If you are not interested in networking, that is ok too!

The most important thing to do while waiting is to try to stay optimistic. You are allowed (and even expected) to have difficult days or weeks. During these times, rely on your support network and your counselor for support and encouragement. If your counselor does not know you are having a hard time, there isn’t anything he or she can do to help you. Come to agency events and functions. Participate in support groups and forums either in person or online. Adopting is not easy. Waiting is not easy. Allow yourself time to be sad, mad, frustrated, hurt, and rejected. But also allow yourself time to be happy, optimistic, excited, and eager. Your time will come.

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For Adoptive Siblings

Editor: This post comes to us from one of our readers, who wanted to share his experiences as a child with adopted siblings.

When I was 13 years old, my parents approached me and my siblings and told us that they were going to adopt. We approved unanimously. The younger ones didn’t quite understand the concept, and my older sister and I were both used to adding children to the family—what did it matter if the 7th child came the “normal” way or through an adoption agency?

Adopted siblings playingThere isn’t a lot of material out there for and about adoptive siblings. Most adoption articles and news revolve around birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child who is being adopted. But if adoptive parents have biological children, those children are an integral part of the process too.

For some children, welcoming a new sibling into the home can be difficult. This is true whether the new addition is biological or adopted, however, and there is no standard for how children will react. Levels of jealousy, excitement, and acceptance will all vary depending on the size of the family, the age and background of the new child, and how the parents deal with the adoption. Every situation is different — there is no step-by-step manual for preparing children to add a new child to the home.

Understand Your Children
For parents, adopting a child is a long and arduous journey. My mother always said that adopting a child was far more stressful than carrying and giving birth to one. But ultimately, the adoption process is an exciting and wonderful time. Although parents might be nervous about bringing a new child into their home, excitement and joy surely outweigh the doubts; they understand that adoption is a miracle in its own right.

For children, however, it can be a different story. Telling a young child that he or she is going to get a new sibling is an abstract concept. It’s like giving a near-sighted child a pair of glasses for the first time, or getting eyeglass lens replacements after your prescription has changed—you don’t know how dramatic the change will be until it actually happens.

That being said, it is important to understand where your children are coming from.

Communicate with your biological children. Let them tell you what they think about your decision to adopt. Let them tell you their fears or concerns, and make sure they know why you are adopting, what might change, and that adopting another child doesn’t mean you’ll love them any less. Make sure they understand that it might not be easy to adapt to a new brother or sister, but that you are excited for the opportunity to adopt a child who needs a family. They will be this new child’s siblings and main support group, and they have a vital role in helping a new child feel welcome in the family.

Keep your children up-to-date with the entire process. Show them pictures of their new future siblings. Let them pick out clothes and toys for infants or prepare bedroom space for older children. Help them be involved in every way you can, so that when the adopted children actually arrive it won’t be as much of a transition.

Involve Them in the Decision. Adoption impacts the entire family, and so to some extent it should be the entire family’s decision. Children should not be discounted because they do not understand the particulars of adoption; they should feel that their opinions are valid and appreciated. Ultimately, however, it should be up to the parents to decide what is best for both their biological and potential adopted children.

I don’t remember my parents asking me or my siblings if we wanted a new brother or sister, but I do remember them asking us how we felt about it. If we had protested, my parents would have taken the time to either reconsider their decision or prepare us better. However, like most large families, we were more than happy to welcome another child.

Consider Birth Order. Sibling dynamics are fairly stereotypical no matter where you go. Oldest children are used to being at the top of the food chain, middle children are more responsible and diplomatic, and youngest children are often spoiled.

Inserting adopted children into the pecking order can be difficult on all of the children involved. If you adopt a group of biological siblings, the oldest child who may no longer be the oldest will have a hard time fitting into a new role. Youngest children who now have younger siblings will have difficulty adjusting to different responsibilities and having someone else “take their place”.

This wasn’t an issue for my family—all three children were infants when we adopted them, and so fitting them into the sibling dynamic was no different than my mother giving birth to 7, 8, and 9. But be aware of how the dynamic among your children may change, and be patient with them as they struggle to figure out where they belong in the family.

Trust Your Children
Trust that your children will be more accepting and loving than you might expect them to be. Kids aren’t perfect, and adoption might not be easy, but as you show the same kind of love for both your adopted and biological children, they will follow your example.

In my experience, family is family. It doesn’t matter that my three youngest siblings aren’t related to me biologically—they are related to me through shared experiences, love, and a mutual need and respect for each other. Some transitions are harder than others, but with the proper care and attention to all of your children’s needs, adoption can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences your family will ever have.

About the author:
Connor Adkins enjoys helping people stay fit and healthy. He enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, and in his spare time he blogs about health issues he learns from companies like Replacement Lens Express.

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True Stories of Open Adoption

What is it like to adopt a baby or place your newborn in an adoption? Find out with this new collection of firsthand accounts of real adoption stories.

Cover of True Stories of Open AdoptionEach family that is created through open adoption has it’s own unique story. Preparation time, wait time, the length of the match between adoptive and birthparents, the hospital experience, and ongoing contact between the birth and adoptive families are different for everyone. In an effort to educate the general population and prospective birth and adoptive parents, Independent Adoption Center has compiled True Stories of Open Adoption from past clients and staff members who agreed to share their stories of how their families came to be. The reader will be touched by these moving stories while learning about the depth of these distinctive relationships.

The book contains stories of twelve families (birth and adoptive) who worked with IAC to make an adoption plan. The stories were chosen in an effort to show the diversity of experiences families have in their adoption journeys. Each adoption story is unique, yet there are common themes you’ll find in all of them: courage, compassion, and love.

The book is volume one of what IAC hopes will be an ongoing series. It is currently available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book. The print edition will be available soon. The price of $3.99 was set so cost would not be a barrier for anyone wanting to read these stories.

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SIDS Facts: Countering the Myths

Editor: Please be warned that this post contains potentially triggering content about SIDS. We feel its important to discuss this issue in order to prevent myths from being perpetuated.

The bottom line: Infants must be placed on their backs to sleep. Do not let your baby sleep on his/her stomach.

SIDS FactsMy best friend Sunny and I were so excited when we found out that we were going to share the joy of becoming parents together. I found out I was pregnant two weeks after she made an excited phone call to me to tell me that she was expecting. Her son, Brody Andrew King, was born just two weeks prior to my daughter. We often talked about what good friends our children would be. I remember laughing over her story about a major diaper blow out in the mall while feeding my daughter carrots that she spit all over my shirt. The messes that our babies were making seemed never ending, and despite all the dirty diapers and sticky fingers, we loved being mommies.

I never for a moment thought I’d get the call that I got one August morning on my way to work. Sunny called and when I answered I could only hear sobbing on the other end. It had to pull my car over on the side of the road and let her words sink in, “Brody isn’t breathing!” she told me over and over and over.

That morning when Sunny went to check on her son, he was blue, stiff, and lifeless. She called me on the way to the hospital. The paramedics had taken him after she had tried relentlessly to breath life back into him by doing infant CPR. I was not able to soak in the reality. Somehow I kept thinking he would be okay. I asked her to call me back after she spoke with the doctors because I truly believed that he would be revived and okay because the alternative was unthinkable. Babies aren’t supposed to die I reasoned. I prayed and I drove on to work awaiting the call that he was fine. By the time she called me back I was almost shocked again to hear that Brody was dead.

The events that followed were a culmination of every parent’s worst nightmare. I had to hold my friend up when she passed out at the sight of a tiny coffin. I had to help her plan a tiny funeral. I held her hand while she picked out a gravestone, burial plot, and outfit for her son’s funeral constantly muttering to myself that no parent should ever have to go through this. No parent – especially not my friend. She was a loving, involved, responsible, and attentive mommy.

During this time I replayed a conversation I had with my friend several months earlier over and over in my head. She told me she was placing Brody on his stomach to sleep. “He just doesn’t sleep as soundly any other way,” she told me. The risk of SIDS crossed my mind during this conversation. I religiously placed my daughter on her back at night. I am a social worker so I was taught about SIDS a lot during my career. I was also a sleep-deprived mommy of a very fussy 5-month-old. I thought about discussing the SIDS risk with my friend that day, but opted not to. I chose not to because I was a nervous first time mom myself. I had no idea if my way was the right way. I was simply following my pediatrician’s advice and the advice I had learned through my professional training. I reasoned that her son had rolled over on his own already. He was strong, his mom checked on him often during the night, and she knew him best. Basically, I was in no position to pass judgment on her parenting style, so I said nothing about the risk of SIDS that day. I often wonder if I could have changed the course of events if I had simply stated my reasoning for placing my daughter on her back during that phone call. Perhaps I could have reminded my friend that doctors typically make recommendations for safe sleeping arrangements based on a mountain of empirical research. Maybe I could have changed her mind by simply stating that I felt that stomach sleeping was unsafe. I will never know because I was silent. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20 and I cannot re-visit that phone call. Life is cruel in the way that it often does not give you the chance to re-do certain situations.

What I can do now is use my experience to help others. What I’ve learned in both my personal and professional life is this: when it comes to the safety of a child no amount of caution is too much. Thus, I have compiled my thoughts on those all too often repeated SIDS myths in hopes that it will help other parents along the way to try and make safe decisions for their babies.

Amidst piles of diapers, sleepless nights, loads of baby gear, and the whirlwind of changes that accompany everyday life for a family of a new baby comes a myriad of decisions that must be made for an infant. New parents have the huge responsibility of making each and every arrangement for a new human being while simultaneously attempting to do the right thing for everyone in their household. When and how should my baby be fed, changed, bathed, held, vaccinated, taken to the doctor, or placed in a childcare setting? Bewildered, tired, new parents often turn to friends, relatives, or the Internet for help in figuring out how to navigate their way through such an impossible jungle of decision making. Unfortunately, when it comes to infant sleep safety there is a slew of bad information readily available to new parents. Friends and relatives will often advise that “babies sleep better on their stomachs”. The Internet contains millions of documents written by people from all over the world. Some information is accurate and based on factual information, much of it is not. Often it is very difficult to filter out factual literature amidst an array of viewpoints, some based on little more than personal opinion. Because of that, I wanted to share some myths and realities about SIDS in hopes of providing some accurate information for those parents seeking to make good decisions for their babies. I hope that this will help tired parents make the right decision for their babies because no amount of sleep is worth your baby’s life.

MYTH 1: Nobody knows what causes SIDS, so preventing it is impossible.

While there is a lot of ongoing research about the cause of SIDS, the research on the best ways to prevent SIDS is clear and convincing.

Most researchers believe that SIDS is likely multi-causational. Thus, SIDS is probably caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. One thing that is certain is that stomach sleeping increases a baby’s risk for SIDS related death. Some research indicates that stomach sleeping could increase a baby’s SIDS risk by as much as eighteen percent. When that is combined with genetic factors or other environmental factors (such as crib blankets, pillows, crib bumpers, a hot room, etc.) it can place a baby in danger of SIDS death. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be placed on their backs to sleep. They should be placed in a crib with a firm mattress, and their crib should not have any soft bedding (i.e.) pillows, blankets, or crib bumpers. Since the “Back to sleep” campaign began in 1994 the SIDS rate has decreased by fifty percent. So, while research on the “cause” of SIDS is on going, there is clear and convincing research about how to prevent SIDS from occurring. Place your baby on his back to sleep in a crib free from hazards.

For more information reference the American Academy of Pediatrics:
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/10/12/peds.2011-2284.full.pdf+html

MYTH 2: Our parents and grandparents all placed their babies to sleep on their stomachs and we all turned out just fine, so there is no reason to place a baby on his back to sleep.

While we may be fine, there are many babies (approximately twice as many as today) that died from SIDS related deaths during this time. We don’t hear the point of view of those children because they are not here to comment.

Our parents and grandparents did what they felt was best for their children. This included following the recommendations of their pediatricians. Those recommendations were made based on the available research at the time. The recommendation to place babies to sleep on their stomachs was made because there wasn’t any research available on SIDS risks. Thus, most doctors told parents to place babies on their stomachs to assist the baby in expelling spit-up (if that should occur during the night). Research completed in the last 30 years has shown that babies have a natural reflex to expel spit-up from their mouths. It has also demonstrated that babies are less likely to choke if they are on their backs since their windpipe is above their esophagus when placed in that position. Basically, a baby placed on his or her back to sleep is in a better position to keep food (or spit-up) from passing into their windpipe. Research has also consistently demonstrated that stomach sleeping increases a baby’s likelihood of SIDS. Thus, you can prevent SIDS AND decrease the likelihood of choking by placing your infant on his or her back to sleep.

The truth here is that your parents and grandparents followed their doctor’s recommendations for their babies. You should too. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that babies be placed on their backs to sleep.

If that argument isn’t convincing enough please consider that many of our parents and grandparents carted their children around in cars without seat belts. During that time many pregnant women took over-the-counter medications that have since been deemed unsafe. They were also not tested routinely for gestational diabetes. They gave their babies aspirin out of a medicine bottle that did not have a childproof lid. Children during those days played with toys coated in lead paint, and they would often go to the shoe store and get an x-ray of their feet just for fun without a second thought about the risk of exposure to radiation. Many infants and children exposed to those hazards turned out just fine, but likewise many did not. We know now that may of these things are not safe and thus we have changed the way we do things in order to provide safer care to our children. If your parents had the information available to them that you have available to you today, they likely would have done things a bit differently because everyone wants to provide the very best care to their baby.

See: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Profile-of-SIDS-Risk-Shifts-After-Launch-of-Back-to-Sleep-Campaign.aspx

http://www.firstcandle.org/grieving-families/sids-suid/about-sids-suid/sids-suid-faq/#11

MYTH 3: My baby won’t sleep on her back.

The truth is that babies, like all human beings, will eventually sleep no matter what position they are in. Babies are amazingly adaptable and able to acclimate themselves to sleep in whatever position they are placed. Some people believe that babies sleep longer and more deeply on their stomach. This is probably true for some babies, and for those babies, back sleeping may be particularly important. Some researchers believe that deep sleep is actually a contributing factor to SIDS since it seems that SIDS deaths often occur when babies re-breath uncirculated air instead of moving their faces to get fresh air. Re-breathing uncirculated air lowers a baby’s overall oxygen levels and places him or her at higher risk for SIDS. Babies that sleep soundly on their stomachs may keep sleeping on despite the need for fresh air. I’ve heard many mothers rationalize that a rested mommy is better for a baby’s overall health, so placing a baby on her stomach will help her sleep longer and give her tired parents more time to sleep too. The problem with this idea is that it places the baby in a dangerous environment at a vulnerable time when their caregiver is asleep. A baby in this situation is not only sleeping in a hazardous environment, but their parent may not be inclined to check on them as often because they are expecting their baby to sleep for an extended period of time. The truth here is that if you begin by placing your baby on her back to sleep, he or she will become used to sleeping in this position and both mommy and baby will be safe and well rested.

See Also: http://sids.org/nprevent.htm

http://www.firstcandle.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Rebreathing_Carbon_Dioxide.pdf

MYTH 4: The SIDS rate is really low so it is unlikely that my baby would ever be affected.

From personal experience, Brody is not the only baby I know that has died a SIDS related death. I also have a family member that last a baby to SIDS and during my career I have encountered two SIDS related deaths among my clients.

SIDS is not rare. According to the CDC, SIDS is the number one cause of death among babies ages 1-12 months in age. This means that for this age group, SIDS is statistically more likely to affect your family than accidents, communicable diseases, or other environmental factors that new parents worry about. When it comes to protecting your baby, the risk of SIDS should not be minimized. Take precautions to prevent SIDS by following the AMA’s guidelines for infant sleep safety.

In order to lower the SIDS rate, education is key. A recent survey by Parent’s Magazine indicated that 18 percent of their readers responded that they placed their babies under 12 months of age on their stomachs to sleep. Please help lower the SIDS rate by placing your infant on his or her back to sleep and also by educating friends and family about the risk of SIDS, and ensuring that babies are provided with safe sleeping arrangements.

See: www.CDC.gov
For additional information please visit the following credible sites:
The American SIDS Institute conducts research and offers education and round-the-clock support to pediatricians and families. Call (800) 232-7437. http://www.sids.org/

The Back to Sleep Hotline, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health,
offers information, support, and referrals. Call (800) 505-2742

The CJ Foundation for SIDS is the largest nongovernmental funder of SIDS-related programs in the United States. Visit the foundation’s website for news about SIDS http://www.cjsids.org/

First Candle (formerly SIDS Alliance) provides information and supports research aimed at preventing SIDS and stillbirth. It also offers grief counseling to those affected by the death of a baby. http://www.firstcandle.org/

The National SIDS/Infant Death Resource Center provides information sheets, annotated bibliographies, and referral services to parents, caregivers, and researchers. http://www.sidscenter.org/

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