Open Adoption Blog

Healing After an Adoption

It took us a while to heal after my husband and I adopted our son. One would think after waiting for four years that we would be elated and all our deep wounds of infertility and childless sorrow would instantaneously go away. Well, it didn’t. We had been through the infertility roller-coaster and were still trying to recover from that when we got the call that we were going to be parents. The whole adoption experience was a whirlwind and then we had our newborn in our arms.

Healing After AdoptionWe experienced joy and love for this new little baby like never before, but we also experienced pain and anger that it took so long for him to come into our lives. We felt elation and excitement to finally have our dreams fulfilled but also resentment and jealousy that we did not get to carry our baby in the womb and give birth to him.  We were so grateful to his birth mother and that she chose us, but also wished we had been allowed to give birth and experience this for ourselves.

As a social worker I struggled with feelings I was not prepared for. Both my husband and I realized we needed to open our hearts and heal after our adoption. After many hours of holding our son, sharing his pictures with his birthmother and having open communication with each other about how were feeling, both my husband and myself started to heal.

Healing after an adoption needs to happen for all involved. Certainly the birth parents are grieving and need to heal as they take on a new role as birth parents and figure out how to have a relationship with their child and his or her parents. This takes time, patience, and courage; three things that birth parents have as they make the decision to place their child. Adoptive parents need this too, and so often we forget that we too are in the process of healing. As an adoptive parent, it took time for me to feel connected completely to this little baby and feel like he was really my son. It also took time for my relationship with the birth parents to take shape and for us to find a comfortable pattern of communication and connection. It took patience with myself to realize I also was grieving the loss of carrying my son in my own womb. I needed to allow myself to grieve and find peace as I accepted that I was a mommy now and forever. It also took patience as I realized my husband’s process of grieving and acceptance was at a different pace than mine. Finally it took courage on both our parts to trust that this new family formation of parents, birth parents and child was really OK and all of us would always stay connected in whatever way we felt comfortable with.

Healing after an adoption is different for everyone involved. Acknowledging you are in need of healing is sometimes the first step. Getting the help you need takes time, patience and courage. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you: family, birth parents, and counselors. Allowing yourself to heal helps to open your heart to accept more love from those who love you the most. Finding peace and acceptance helped my family become closer and created a place were our son would be nurtured, accepted and loved by all his parents.


8 Simple Ways to Make Your Birthmother Letter Stand Out

For families seeking to adopt, it can be hard to decide what to focus on when writing a Birthmother Letter. For birth mothers, reading through multiple profiles while considering the options for her and her child’s future can be similarly challenging. Here are a few tips to help adoptive families develop a letter that rises to the top of the stack and connects with birth parents.

Standing Out from the Crowd1. Use concrete examples.

One of the best ways to paint a picture that helps a potential birth mother visualize the sort of parent(s) you might be is to provide vivid concrete examples. Instead of simply describing your daily routine, mention how you’ll incorporate your child into the things you do. Are there fond experiences from your childhood that you look forward to sharing with your little one? Perhaps birth mom can relate. Use sensory language to describe what you may see, hear, feel, taste, or see, to make your words come to life and communicate warmly.

2. Show empathy.

Reach out to birth mom directly, especially at the beginning and ending of your letter. While you don’t know exactly what she may be dealing with while considering open adoption, acknowledge that this is a special time in her life and that you want to be there for support if she needs it. Each birth mom’s story is different; so don’t make assumptions. We don’t know that this is the most difficult thing she’s ever done before, and even if it is, she doesn’t need anyone to add pressure by telling her that. Continue reading »

Leave a comment

Are Babies Too Distracting?

The Murphy’s are a current IAC adoptive family from San Leandro. They’ve been to several support groups, and Donal Murphy has written a modest proposal for future meetings:

My wife and I have been attending the monthly support group meetings at our adoption agency, Independent Adoption Center (IAC), to keep fresh and up-to-date on some of the important issues in open adoption. It also helps provide a sense of momentum in our journey and an opportunity to connect with other adoptive parents in-waiting. And of course it doesn’t hurt that there’s always bowls of candy in the IAC lobby. I find it very satisfying that regardless of where I plop down, there’s a bowl within arms-length. Thank you IAC candy fairy!

Each time we go there’s usually a guest adoptive couple at the meeting who’ve brought their baby along to give their perspective on whatever the topic is that night. At a recent meeting, there were not one, but three couples present who had recently adopted, one baby as young as eleven days old.

But I’m very displeased! Those babies are an absolute and utter distraction and I urge the IAC to ban them from these meetings! I’m transfixed. I’m mesmerized. I’m spellbound by these tiny bundles of cuteness. So captivated am I that in Charlie Brown fashion, the facilitator’s words at the meeting sound exactly like those of Charlie’s teacher: “Wah, wah, wah, wah…” How am I supposed to learn and stay up-to-date with all of this distraction? It’s unacceptable!

Is he kidding? You’ll have to read the whole post to find out.

Leave a comment

Saying Farewell to the Crib and Hello to the Big-kid Bed

Most toddlers can physically climb out of their crib by the time they’re 35 inches tall, although some adventurous toddlers master crib escape sooner. Dr. Mark Widome, professor of pediatrics in Hershey, Pa., encourages parents to transition climbing toddlers out of their crib and into a toddler bed for safety reasons. You’ll also want to move your growing child out of the crib when his body grows too long for the crib or when you need the crib for a new baby. No matter why you need to make the transition, remember these six tips that help your toddler adjust to the move.

1. Ask for Help Assembling the New Bed

Let your toddler wipe off the crib mattress before storing it or prepping it for the new baby. He can also assist you in assembling his new bed. As he helps participate in the transition, he gains a sense of accomplishment. Those feelings encourage your child to embrace his new big-boy bed.

2. New Sheets for His New Bed

Choosing a mattress is an important step of this process. If you choose to do a twin bed, your child will likely be sleeping on it for years to come, so it needs to be able to stand the test of time. After examining Macy’s mattress selection, buy a comfortable one and let your child choose new bed linens. You can easily find a selection of character toddler bed sheets for under $20 at your local department, baby or consignment store. In addition to new sheets, a light-up or musical stuffed animal provides comfort as your child adjusts to a new sleeping environment.

Continue reading »

Leave a comment

Instagram – Picture Open Adoption

Do you love pictures of babies, families and everything open adoption? Well now you can see all of that right on your phone! The Independent Adoption Center recently became hip to the wonderful world of Instagram and we have created an account. We will be posting everything open adoption related, from family pictures and adoption quotes, to pictures of our events. We welcome all alumni (adoptive parents, birthparents and adoptees) to send us pictures they’d like to post, along with your user name if you’d like us to follow you back. Our user name is iacadoption, feel free to tag us in any of your photos that are adoption related! Please send photos to and let’s get this picture party going!

Leave a comment

What’s So Important About Positive Adoption Language?

Positive adoption language (PAL) means more than just being politically correct, or in the know, about adoption language.  It really does have deep seated roots and evokes emotions that affect each member of the triad in a different way.  However, the overall consensus is that PAL embraces the true spirit of adoption, particularly open adoption, and uplifts the members of the triad, building self-esteem, confidence, and healing.

Positive Adoption LanguageCommon adoption terms that are confused are:

  • Placing your child for adoption VS giving up your child for adoption
  • Deciding to parent the child VS deciding to keep the child
  • Birthmother/birthfather VS real parents
  • Adoptive parents VS not the real parents
  • My birthson/birthdaughter VS my real or natural-born child

Using positive adoption language in your home and around your child will have a positive impact on your child’s self esteem.  It is important for your child to know the love, care, and concern that went into their adoption plan.  Using simple terms such as, “chose to place for adoption” can convey that care and concern.  Negative terms such as, “gave up for adoption,” conveys that there was not much thought that went into the decision.  It also implies that there was something wrong with the child and that is why they were “given up.”  Typically, we give up things that are bad for us: smoking, drinking, gambling, etc.  Children are not “given up for adoption.”  The birthparents take painstaking effort to  choose the parents they believe will be perfect for their child.  There is a lot of love in that process, more than most can imagine.

Continue reading »

1 Comment

Tax Reform Must Preserve Adoption Tax Credit

Our friends over at Save The Adoption Tax Credit working group have put out an action alert in response to upcoming tax reform efforts in the Senate.

Adoption Tax CreditIn late June Senators were informed that the Joint Committee on Taxation would be starting their work with a blank slate, and were asked to submit their own priorities for tax reform. Senators were told that to be included in the revised tax code, each provision must:

  1. help grow the economy,
  2. make the tax code fairer, or
  3. effectively promote other important policy objectives.

In response, Save The Adoption Tax Credit is asking everyone to reach out to their Senators and urge them to preserve the credit in the reform process. You can read their recommendations for action, and look up your Senators contact information on their blog.

1 Comment

Adopting Families Find Friends and Mutual Aid

During the adoption wait, many waiting adoptive families feel somewhat isolated from their close friends and family as they deal with the complex emotions that are brought up by the wait. One of the ways people cope with this is to reach out to other waiting families via support groups and online communities.

Mutual AidTwo current IAC families, Holly & Heather and Kim & Scott, have formed a special friendship during this time. They have decided to help each other by writing in their respective blogs about the amazing parents the other family will be. We agree, and present below excerpts from their innovative networking efforts.

From Heather & Holly:

We first met Scott & Kim during our “weekend intensive” with our adoption agency – a weekend-long introduction to the world of open adoption that was indeed, intense. There isn’t much we remember about that weekend; our heads were spinning, our hearts were pounding, and the excitement made much of it a blur. We do remember Kim & Scott though and the genuine warmth that radiated from them. They were so authentic and friendly that we were delighted when Kim reached out to us 5 months after we went live, to ask how our wait was going. Read the rest at their blog.

From Scott & Kim:

We discussed what it would mean to be older parents. While having different infertility experiences, we were able to share them easily, knowing that there would be understanding. We talked about our nurseries and how they wouldn’t be Pottery Barn beautiful but charming and artistic and perfect for our families. We were able to discuss how strange and unnatural it felt for us to have our lives on display and photographing and writing about our lives continuously for our online presence. We talk about how hard the wait can be sometimes. But mostly, we laugh. Read the rest at their blog.


5 Useful Tips for Effective Adoption Networking

Networking is one of the best tools one can utilize on the journey to adopt.  So what are some ways to really get the most out of networking and how can it be done?  With so much ground to cover, we wanted to focus on just the 5 most useful tips for effective networking:

1.  Set Networking Goals.

Create a plan or goal that works for you, and reach for it!  Where do you see yourself being in the next few weeks with networking?  It’s important to know where you want to go before you start moving.  There are a lot of tools and resources available, so it’s very helpful to understand your options as well as setting goals for what you want to do.

2.  Utilize the Internet.

There are so many great online resources that can help you on your networking journey.  There are free tracking tools like Google Analytics that you can use to track your progress along the way.  It’s also great to utilize social media resources like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.  Create a page or video specifically for adoption and tell your story to really reach out to birthparents.  This also will give you an extra avenue to connect with birthparents in addition to your online profile and printed letters.

Blogs are also a wonderful tool to gain exposure in the online communities.  If you do create a blog or any social media pages, it’s also important to keep them current so that your page is active.  That way, your visitors will know that you do actually visit your media page or blog on a regular basis and that it’s current.

3.  Get involved with community outreach.

Try reaching out locally, whether it’s via the newspaper, a magazine, flyers, bulletins, radio, or even television.  It’s so important to make as many connections as possible.  Are you affiliated with any specific organization or institution?  Think of advertising anywhere that you can place advertisements there, just be sure to have permission in advance.

4. Try paid online advertising.

These are tools you can use to help advertise your online profile or if you have a personal website.  Google and Yahoo Ads are paid per click and appear on the Internet in two very distinct areas: one is called “search” and the other “content.” Search ads are the advertisements on the Internet that appear at the top and down the right side of a search results page.  Content ads are those that appear on websites related to the “content” of the ad.  Learn more and see detailed tutorials at:



5.  Be Consistent.

Keep at it to accomplish your goals and don’t give up!  Also it’s important to reevaluate along the way once you’ve tried to see what works vs. what hasn’t been working as well for you so that you can work to make it more effective.  Don’t be afraid to try new things and be creative, but most importantly keep at it.


Leave a comment

Opening up to Open Adoption

Here is an excerpt of a blog post from North Carolina hopeful parents Ethan & Angela. They write about their journey from skepticism regarding openness in adoption to welcoming the idea:

Ethan & Angela: waiting parents

When *A* and I first started researching adoption, we had a couple of notions in our heads about what the adoption process and raising an adopted child might be like.  Collectively, we’ve known a few people who were adopted, and have known at least one family who adopted.  Prior to cracking a few books on the subject of adoption, we didn’t have a whole lot to go on, other than the always reliable media (*snort*) and any other information we’d managed to gather for ourselves over the years.  Undoubtedly, unless you and/or your family have a specific tie to adoption, this is probably how you came to your understanding of the process, too.  The topic of adoption is certainly discussed by lots of people…but the information we all  gather from how it’s discussed is usually pretty fragmented.  Paste the fragments together—and you end up with a sort-of outdated idea that’s generally not all that accurate. In fact, what you “learned” as “fact” (substitute air quotes here to lighten the tone at your will)  might have actually be downright derogatory and/or offensive to adoptive parents, to adopted children, and to birthparents.

Since we made our decision to adopt, we’ve become super-conscious of how adoption is talked about, especially after we talk about our own hopes and the way we’ve chosen to go about the process. Everyone has an opinion and a hairy, scary story of someone’s aunt’s-brother’s-cousin’s-nephew’s-friend’s-next-door-neighbor-and-her-husband, and advice on how we should be careful.  Media representation ranges from snide remarks about celebrities adopting because it’s the “in” thing (?!) to refrences to various Lifetime worst-case-scenario movies.  These instances are no help at all, but they have informed our thinking to some extent, so to counter-act them, that’s another reason we’ve been reading like mad (more book reviews to come, don’t you worry!) about open adoption, specifically.   I have to admit that I’ve been avoiding this post because I wanted to make sure I could fully articulate what open adoption means for all parties involved.  I’m by no means an expert–keep that in mind as I stumble through an explanation about the adoptive parents’ side of open adoption.

To read the rest of their story, visit their blog: The Littlest Brooks-Livingston

1 Comment


Copyright 2010 Independent Adoption Center. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by WordPress