Open Adoption Blog


The Blessing Wait: A Ceremony for Adoptive Mothers

Here is an excerpt from a post by Cindy McPherson, a current IAC client. She writes about how she decided to do a ceremony to inspire her as she continues along the adoption journey.

The Blessing Wait ceremonyLast week was the week before my 44th birthday. I had hoped to become a mom this year. A year ago James and I signed on with the Independent Adoption Center, and it’s nine months since we leaped through the hoops required for us to go into circulation and begin waiting to bring a baby into our family through open adoption. Last week also a baby was born to a Berkeley couple that contacted us in November when they for a few moments considered adoption. (I was especially tickled at the synchronicity of their due date, nine months from when we went into circulation. But after we met them, they decided to parent.)

The arrival and passing of these milestones created rough interior weather for me. I realized I needed to let go of the expectations and hopes that we would be different: we wouldn’t wait long; that a baby would come in nine months and before my next birthday. One night I went to bed inexplicably sad and woke up the next morning feeling exactly the same way. Grateful to connect with a good friend, I tried to articulate what motivated so many tears:

“Sometimes I want to give up; I’m afraid it will never happen. It’s like if it wasn’t in nine months it might not be for three years… I want to know people are with me… I want a ritual… I want reassurance… like when women come together to create a Blessing Way, nourishing an expectant mama on her way to birthing and motherhood… I want a blessing… Oh, it will be a Blessing Wait!”

To continue reading how the Blessing Wait went, please visit Cindy’s blog.

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Breastfeeding Jasper: An Adoptive Mother’s Story

For the last five months, I’ve been feeding my adopted son Jasper at my breast, something that surprises many people, and which even still surprises me occasionally. But the experience has been one of the most rewarding of my life, and I would like to share what I’ve learned with others who might be contemplating the possibility, or who might contemplate it after reading this! I am so, so glad I did it; I would really strongly recommend adoptive breastfeeding to any adopting mother.

In this article, I will describe what we did and are doing. I don’t endorse our particular path for anyone else–it was pretty haphazard–but the end result has been very rewarding. We did make some trial-and-error discoveries which I’ll describe as I go along. At the end I reflect a bit on why I find it so wonderful, despite the effort required. Continue reading »

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Adoption: What is the Red Thread of Fate?

Some may wonder what really brings those that we’re closest to together in life. This can especially be true with adoption and the special way that families are brought together.  An interesting and thoughtful explanation is the Red Thread of Fate from Chinese culture. Adoptee and adoptive parent Meika Rouda shares the wonderful way she first learned about the metaphor of the Red Thread and how it relates to adoption. Read Meika’s story and learn the meaning of the Red Thread of Fate here:  http://thenextfamily.com/topics/family/adoptive-families/

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End Discrimination in Virginia Adoption Law

Last week Virginia Governer Bob McDonell announced the Virginia Adopts Campaign, an effort to find permanent homes for 1,000 of Virginia’s approximately 4,000 children in the foster care system.

Virginia Adopts Campaign

Virginia Adopts: Campaign for 1,000

Independent Adoption Center supports this effort, but we must also point out that Virginia’s “Conscience Clause” law prevents otherwise eligible families from adopting. Signed by Gov. McDonell in February, 2012, the law allows private adoption and foster care agencies to determine their own eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parents. This has led to discrimination against qualified families based on their sexual orientation, marital status, age, political and religious beliefs.

In 2013, Virginia’s current law is not only anachronistic in its discrimination, it prevents children in the foster care system from placement with loving and dedicated parents. IAC joins the ACLU of Virginia, the Family Equality Council, and others, in urging Gov. McDonell to end this policy of discrimination, and to revise adoption law in Virginia to truly put the best interests of the children first.

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Georgia’s HB-21 Signed Into Law

May 6th was an important day in Georgia state law: HB 21 was signed into law by Governor Deal, making post adoption contract agreements legal in the state of Georgia. This endeavor began earlier this year when Representative Mary Margaret Oliver introduced the bill after being approached by Judge Michael Key of Troupe County. There was much controversy in the adoption community over this bill in the beginning. However, after much discussion, research and testimony, it gained acceptance and understanding, passing the House and Senate before becoming law.

HB21 Signing Ceremony

IAC’s Michelle Keyes at the signing ceremony (2nd to the right of Gov Deal)

There are numerous advantages to having legally enforceable post adoption contracts, while the disadvantages are hard to determine. Adding a legal backing to the agreement between adoptive parents and birthparents validates their commitment to each other and helps ensure the genuine commitment to an open adoption plan. Adoptive parents will have peace of mind, knowing the commitment that their child’s birthparents have made and having an outline of what the contact will look like filed with the courts. Birthparents are often skeptical that the adoptive parents they choose will cut them out of their lives after the placement. Having their contact agreement filed in the courts and seen as a legally enforceable contract will solidify the commitment the adoptive parents are making with the birthparents. The children of open adoption are going to benefit knowing that all their parents cared about them and loved them enough to take the time to outline their commitment to each other. Birthparents will likely be more willing to choose Georgia adoptive parents, creating more families in Georgia. In addition, this bill helps validate and protect the work that open adoption agencies perform.
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Talking to Family About Adoption

It is important to talk to your family about adoption because they can become your support system. In order to get their help and support during this exciting and difficult time, they need to fully understand your situation and the steps you want to take. Even though you’re confiding in your family and close friends, it is important to know that this is ultimately your and your partner’s decision. You’ll need to make the decision that you feel is best for both you.

Talking to family about adoptionWhen a couple chooses to adopt, the decision of when and how to break the news is complicated, given that adoption can be a long process filled with uncertainty. Many people seem to have an opinion or some preconceived notions about what it means to adopt and are not afraid to voice those feeling upon hearing a couple’s news. The following are a few things to keep in mind when telling the family and friends about your adoption and some reactions you might receive.

Decide who you want to tell and when to tell them. Once you’ve begun the adoption process, it can last for months or even years. Having the support of family and friends during this exciting and anxiety provoking time can be a comfort. Some prospective adoptive parents choose to tell their closest friends and relatives about their decision early on. Others prefer to wait until the later stages of the process when they are more certain of the outcome. There are ultimately no right or wrong answers about whether or when to tell people. The choice is a personal one that will depend on your circumstances, the details of the adoption, and your relationships with those around you. Phone calls, e-mails, and written letters are great ways of announcing your decision to adopt.
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South Korea and Open Adoption

Last week, a production company that produces educational documentaries for a well-known South Korean cable company, YUGA TV, contacted me to discuss open adoption. This was particularly surprising given the history of adoption in South Korea.

South Korea on the world mapThe producer explained that historically, domestic adoption has not been a common practice in South Korea. Additionally, stigmas related to placing a child for adoption or being an adoptee have kept adoptions that do transpire under wraps.

Last August, the Korean government passed legislation promoting transparency in adoptions by asking birthparents to register their identifying information when placing a child for adoption. On a broader scale, there is a movement to educate South Koreans on domestic adoption practice, and May 11, 2013 will mark the nation’s first Adoption Awareness Day.

The production company interviewed me about the benefits of open adoption practice and the reasons adoptive parents and birthparents choose openness. They also joined us for the Saturday portion of the Adoption Workshop to film Ali Desmond, one of IAC’s birthparents, and Matt and Christiana Simpson, an alumni adoptive family, share their stories with our new clients.

It was a great experience to watch the producers from South Korea engage in learning about open adoption practice, and to see their wonderment and surprise in learning how birthfamilies and adoptive families create strong bonds that last a lifetime. I know that social stigmas are still very real in South Korea, and that it will take time to break down misconceptions and fears, but I am proud that IAC was able to participate in such an important project, and look forward to seeing adoption practice in South Korea continue to shift towards transparency in years to come.

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Texas HB201: Same-Sex Adoption Birth Certificates

IAC stands in support of Texas House Bill 201, which would amend birth certificate requirements for adoptees. LGBTQ and same-sex families may adopt under current Texas law, but they face a problem at the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics. Because of a change made to the law in 1997, supplemental birth certificates (used for adoptions in Texas) must be signed by a male and a female.

Rep Rafael Anchia

HB 201 Author Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas

The law as it stands today only hurts the rights of children in Texas by preventing them from obtaining a single document listing both of their legal parents. In some cases, the Texas BVS has refused to issue a birth certificate at all! By fixing this administrative roadblock, adoptee’s would be able to travel with either of their legal parents, register at school with either parent, and be able to legally inherit from both parents. These are all human rights that must be given to all adoptee’s without discrimination.

In summary, this bill will correct the current injustice done to adoptees of same-sex parents in Texas. The HB201 fact sheet sums it up perfectly: “It is wickedly wrong to use children as pawns in a political game.”

We couldn’t agree more. Texans, please contact your representative and urge them to support HB201.

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In Memory of Ellen Roseman

We are sad to announce that Ellen Roseman passed away on April 20, 2013 after a long battle with liver cancer. Ellen was an adoptive mother and adoption facilitator in Northern California.

Ellen RosemanShe was a dedicated advocate for open adoption for 30 years. She helped educate the world about open adoption (I fondly remember doing many workshops with Ellen at adoption conferences over a 20 year time period), and she brought many families together through open adoption. Ellen’s vibrant spirit touched everyone she met.

We send our condolences to her family, including her three daughters.

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How to Pick an Adoption Agency

When you begin to look for adoption agencies, how do you know which agency is right for you?  There is a great deal of variation between agencies: their services, their costs, and their philosophies about adoption.  Here are a few things that you should consider when making your decision.

1. Know the differences in the types of adoption services available.

How to choose an adoption agencyMany large adoption agencies don’t specialize in just one type of adoption.  For instance, they may have a domestic adoption program (adopting a child born in the United States), a foster care program, and an international adoption program too.  You should make sure the agency you choose is well versed in the type of adoption you want.  Any agency that attempts to persuade you to choose another type of adoption may not have adequate resources in that area, or they may be attempting to fill gaps in their programs.  Another thing to note is that not all agencies can provide services in all regions.  Most international agencies complete adoptions in only certain countries, and many domestic adoption agencies cannot process out-of-state adoptions.  This is important because you want an agency that can meet the needs of both birthparents and adoptive parents living in different areas.

2. Learn the difference between open and closed adoptions.

There are closed adoptions (situations where birthparents and adoptive families do not have any information about each other), semi-open adoptions (in which all communications between birthparents and adoptive parents go through the agency), and open adoptions (where everyone communicates openly, honestly, and freely without the agency’s intervention).  As research on adoption has progressed over the years, it has become clear that open adoption is the healthiest form of adoption for everyone involved.  Still, some agencies offer closed and semi-open adoptions as part of their program.  If you have doubts about how or why open adoption works the way it does, contact an agency to get more information. There are many myths about open adoption that are easily dispelled, and a good adoption counselor can help you learn about this.

To find an agency committed to openness, be sure to ask questions regarding how communication between birthfamilies and adoptive families is handled. Birthparents wanting an open adoption should look for agencies that are comfortable with open adoption and do not have policies that limit their communications with their adoptive family.

3. Be aware of the policies of your potential adoption agency.

Many agencies have exclusionary policies that limit what types of families are able to adopt through the agency.  For example, some place limits on who they will accept into their program based on age, religion, marital status, or sexual orientation. Equality is an important and traditional value. Make sure your agency reflects the same values you have.

Find out what the agency will charge for their services. The fee’s at some agencies can limit adoption to only the very wealthy, while others will offer a sliding-scale fee structure to make adoption available for more families. At the same time, make sure the agency you choose offers all the services you will need to complete your adoption. If there are drastic cost differences, make sure the cheaper option is not at the expense of full service.

4. Research the support and services offered by your potential agency.

Adoption is a big decision, and birthparents should be offered professional counseling to assist them throughout the adoption process.  Make sure your potential agency offers counseling and support to the birthparents they work with.

Adoptive parents also need professional & caring staff to assist with the paper work, legal process, and emotions associated with adoption.  A qualified counselor is paramount to the success of an adoption placement.  Make sure to find someone who is knowledgeable, and can support you when you need to talk through a problem or question.

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