Monthly Archive for August, 2010

Where are the Birth Fathers?

Each time I put together a panel of birth mothers to speak at one of our workshops for prospective adoptive families, I’m painfully reminded that I rarely have been able to have a birth father present on our panel.. It saddens me to think that so few birth fathers are able to come forward to present their viewpoint, feelings and experience of placing a child for adoption and what it is like to be a birth father in today’s society..I recall one birth father I worked with who for years came to Kinship Center’s Open Adoption Support Group..the group adored him . He helped to educate all of us, especially the new and waiting adoptive families who rarely thought about adoption from a  birth father’s point of view…The adoption system is often not “user friendly” to birth fathers..they tend to be pushed out of the process, marginalized or seen as a mere  legal inconvenience or impediment.. I recall how happy this birth father was after visiting with the adoptive parents and his birth daughter..he’d return to the the group beaming with love and happiness and eager to share photos of recent visits  he had with the adoptive family and his birth daughter..Sadly he left the area several years ago and moved to the mid west– he emailed me  and said he was trying his best to start a support group similar to ours that included both adoptive families and birth parents..I hope it happened..the world needs less shame, guilt and pain for birth parents..In the meantime I’d like to recommend a great book that will put you in touch with the depth of feelings that birth fathers do have.. “Out Of The Shadows, Birthfathers’ Stories” written by Mary Martin Mason deals with this very issue.  Who are birth fathers ? And where are they?…it’s hard to find the book new ..click below to link and consider purchasing a used copy..Well worth it….Hats off to birth fathers who have courageously and lovingly placed a child for adoption…. You are welcome at Kinship Center’s support group or even better contact us to speak at a workshop …. The adoption community needs you to come out of the shadows…

http://www.amazon.com/Out-Shadows-Mary-Martin-Mason/dp/0964625911

“The Open Adoption Experience”…A must read for birth and adoptive families.

For the past 10 years I have had the privilege of working with one of the Authors of the “Open Adoption Experience”, Sharon Roszia at the Kinship Center…Sharon and Lois Melina wrote what is considered one of the most comprehensive and insightful books on the subject of open adoption. It offers both birth and adoptive families a road map for developing  real relationships. It is thought provoking and helps families to push themselves to really look at the benefits of what openness can do for them as well as the adopted child..It points out the challenges that birth and adoptive families may encounter as they develop meaningful relationships beyond just a courteous exchange of pictures & letters…This book is highly recommended for any woman considering placing a child and hoping for a” relationship” built adoption…Prospective adoptive parents should keep a copy handy to refer to especially as they navigate their relationship with birth family members…click below to read reviews and consider ordering..

http://www.amazon.com/Open-Adoption-Experience-Complete-Adoptive/dp/0060969571

Post Adoption Services available to support Open Adoption

Birth and adoptive families involved in open adoption have often told me that the relationships they have often go through many stages.   Families, both birth and adoptive,  need advice and help in navigating these relationships throughout their lives…For the last 15 years Kinship Center has run an Open Adoption Support Group for birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees.  The group meets the 1st Wednesday of the month from 7 to 9 pm at our Tustin,Ca office.. Collectively the group has “big” shoulders for all to lean on , many tears have been shed at the group as participants know better than anyone else that loss and grief are at the core of adoption…Also much joy has been shared as well as problem solving especially when differences or disappointments occur because either adoptive or birth families have not kept up commitments they made to be open..It hurts to think that this happens but often old myths and fears creep back into the adoption ..and sadly both birth and adoptive families stop communicating…we especially invite birth parents to attend to share their experiences. They help to remind  us and continue to educate all of us as to how tender and special these relationships are and how difficult and hurtful it can be when communication stops..ultimately the child will lose if these relationships are not tended to..So please join us… Kinship Center is committed to having a safe place for birth and adoptive families to gather and to respectfully share their feelings and viewpoints…Post adoption support services are an important  part of the adoption process…adoption is a life long experience and the journey does not stop when the decision to place an infant is made it is just beginning…Hope to see you at our group…..Call 714 979 2365 for more details.

Openness in Adoption: a Fact Sheet for Families

Open Adoption requires flexibility and a commitment to building relationships and sharing the joys and challenges that these relationships can bring…The Child Welfare Information Gateway offers birth and adoptive families a  straight forward fact sheet full of ideas to assess what level of openness might be right for you..The fact sheet also has  resources , books and links to the latest research regarding the benefits of openness..This is the one of the most straight forward  balanced perspectives on openness I have found.  I hope you find it helpful…click to link.

http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_openadopt.cfm#backdlink

The pioneers in open adoption..

I recall experiencing my first relinquishment signing as a social worker..It was 1978….I was a graduate student of social work at Boston College . My internship was at an established Boston children’s agency..I’ll never forget looking into the eyes and hearts of Sherry and Paul–19 and 20 years old and sadly placing their infant son for adoption..Sherry wept..Paul kept his eyes fixed straight ahead only periodically nodding Sherry on..at the end the Director handed them a sheet of paper..it was only about two paragraphs describing the adopted couple the agency had  chosen to adopt the baby…it was generically written not giving a trace of real information other than that the adoptive parents were both well educated Attorneys..Sherry and Paul left clutching the paper..I went back to my desk feeling numb and hollow..asking myself all kinds of questions.. could I have done what they just did? ..could I  have handed my child over to the agency and to complete strangers barely described on a piece of paper??..the practice then was based on secrets…..secrets that were intended to be in the best interest of the child and all concerned…At the same time two open adoption pioneers were emerging.. social worker Annette Baran and  a brave little known author Loraine Dusky..Annette was the 1st social worker to publicly question secrecy in adoption and later with social worker Ruben Pannor  wrote the 1st book about the ills of closed adoption and the need for openness in adoption…the book was” The Adoption Triangle”.. .they truly paved the way for what we today call fully open adoption… adoptions based on real relationships between birth and adoptive families…relationships that serve to connect children rather  than disconnect……sadly Annette died this past July..I thank her and Ruben as well as Lorraine Dusky a birth mother who bravely in1979 wrote about her journey  as what was then called the biological mother. She wrote in detail about her feelings and pain in her book entitled” Birthmark.”…..click below to link to a writeup about Annette’s life and accomplishmnets and also click on the link to order Lorraine’s book… although written in 1979 it is relevant and compelling..I learned of the book on Kelsy Stewart’s blog referenced in an earlier post..I think of you often Sherry and Paul  especially as I take relinquishment’s you  inspire me to work harder and if adoptions must occur that they be open..  I hope you have found peace and were reunited with your birth son.. 

http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/abaran/homepage.aspx

http://www.amazon.com/Birthmark-Lorraine-Dusky/dp/0871312999