Monthly Archive for March, 2011

Answers to “Tough” adoption questions…

Kinship Center is dedicated to educating both birth and adoptive families about life long adoption issues as well as grief and loss issues that are a part of the adoption equation whether you are an adoptee, birth parent or adoptive parent… Over a lifetime adoptive parents , adoptees and birth parents can be expected to have to answer  difficult, thought provoking and sometimes painful questions about their adoption experience… I witnessed this first hand at our training session for prospective infant adoption families titled  “Adoption Through the Eyes of the Birth Family” Two birth mothers spoke of their experience of placing a child for adoption and what had transpired over the years …One of the birth mothers presenting invited her 19 year old son that she had placed as an infant to attend the training with her…She spoke honestly of her love for her child but her desire to give him something through the adoption that she felt she was not capable of giving him where she was  in her life 19 years ago…I watched his  face  throughout her presentation his eyes were fixated on her… He waited on her every word …She spoke of the intense loss, her families reaction to the loss… the feelings of shame and guilt she had to deal with over the years but also the satisfaction of knowing that he was safe and thriving in his adoptive family…He told the group he was open to questions and the audience asked him question after question…He  responded with candor, and humor about growing up adopted and being united with his birth family two years ago… He praised his adoptive family for their openness and the love and values he had been given by them…He said he felt lucky to have so many people in his life to love him…Together this birth mother and birth son healed …as well, because of their insight, courage and willingness to publicly handle difficult questions they helped to educate a group of prospective adoptive families to the realities of adoption and the intense emotions that members of the adoption constellation experience…I  came upon a posting from birth mother blogger Kelsey Stewart… She writes in her blog about tackling a question a reader asked her that she found particularly difficult to answer but, one she felt compelled to answer .. Kelsey placed a daughter at birth and  also at a later time  placed a set of twins  …She  is now parenting  two boys with her husband… The question from the adoptee was… Why did you feel it was okay to raise some of your off springs and not the others?…and how would you explain it to the adoptee?…click below to read the answer that she gave …again like the birth mother  who presented at Kinship Center Kelsey displays courage and love… and a commitment to educating others… I admire her as well as any birth mother  or birth family member who comes forward and shares their experience in order to educate others on the realities of adoption…

An honest look at the joys and challenges of open adoption…

Are you dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and wondering what your options are? Could an open adoption work for you?  Open adoption will not erase the pain , grief and loss inherent in adoption but if an adoption must take place openness can help the adoptee as well as the birth and adoptive family… Open adoption takes courage , risk taking, and hard work…Like any other intense relationship in life it needs to be nurtured… Both adoptive and birth families must be educated and prepared for the experience..Once involved in a relationship  help and counseling may be needed in order to navigate through intense emotions, and to keep the adoption “child centered”… Would you like to get the ongoing viewpoint of woman who have placed and who are living an open adoption..Would you like to know the issues that birth mothers live with on a daily basis? …The joys, challenges  and ongoing feelings associated with placing a child for adoption while maintaining an open relationship with the adoptive family and your child…Would you also like to hear the views of an adoptive family involved in maintaining a relationship with the birth family? …It could help you better understand open adoption from the adoptive families view point,..if so then I’d like to recommend two blogs for you to consider reading on a regular basis….It’s our belief  and best practice at Kinship Center that a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy should look at all options and be fully informed from multiple viewpoints as she makes her own personal decision of what will work for her regarding an unplanned pregnancy  both in the short term and for the long haul… Open adoption is a life long commitment from both the birth and adoptive family to deal with uncomfortable and overwhelming feelings…feelings of grief and loss will not just go away because the adoption is open …but openness might help in the management of these feelings….. Both these blogs were voted by Adoptive Families Magazine April 2011 as being one of the 20 best adoption blogs…The first is “The Chronicles of Munchkin Land”  Written by Jenna, a birth mother in a fully open adoption…She is also raising two boys..She shares stories about all three of her children, her thoughts on adoption and what constitutes ethical adoption practice and as Adoptive Families Magazine describes, powerful memories about her first pregnancy and the relinquishment of the “Munchkin”…. the loving name she gave to the child she relinquished…This blog is gritty, loving , humorous and full of courage  and honest emotion…I’d recommend it to both birth and adoptive families…Jenna is straightforward and frank especially about the ongoing feelings she deals with as a birth mother…The second blog  is titled “Write Mind,Open Heart”… it is written by Lori, a mother of two adopted children,when she started blogging, her family had an open relationship with her daughter’s birth mother..Now ,all four birth parents are part of their lives…this blog will give you insight into the challenges adoptive families face when involved in real relationships with their children’s birth families..again it’s written with humor ,  compassion for the birth parents and gives us insight into the questions and concerns adopted children might experience….. Both blogs are worth checking out…click below to link and check out their archived postings..

Another reason to support open adoption…

If an adoption must take place having the vision and courage to keep the adoption open is something that all birth and adoptive families should strive to do..history shows us the downside of closed adoptions… Adam Pertman of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute presents a compelling argument for supporting the current practice of open adoption pointing out at the very least openness can serve as a vehicle for conveying critical medical and genetic history from the birth family to the adoptive family/ adoptee…Equally compelling is his rationale for opening closed records/ access to original birth certificates, which would give millions of adoptees trapped in closed adoptions the opportunity to search and hopefully gain critical life saving medical information as well as  empower them  to manage their health care in the same way non adopted persons do owing to the fact that they have access to genetic and medical family history…..Click below to read Adam’s blog

unplanned pregnancy advice…

Facing an unplanned pregnancy can seem overwhelming…if you are turning to an agency to help you explore your options what should you look for?…How can you know if the agency is ethical and trustworthy?…. Will they listen to you and give you the time to really explore your options…It is a very vulnerable time in your life… you need answers as well as sometimes the questions to ask yourself… and permission and encouragement to struggle with the decision… you need the freedom to explore all available options…the choice must be yours…the following is a suggested list of things to look for when considering working with an agency…

1. How responsive was the agency to your initial call…was a social worker readily available to meet with you..Also does the agency supply you with ways to reach your social worker day or night?

2.How does the agency use the term birth mother do they label you immediately? Remember until your baby is born , placed with a family, and adoption papers completed you are a pregnant woman considering your options.

3. Do they ask  you about parenting and encourage you to explore parenting or is it counseling  just geared towards adoption? Remember if adoption is going to be your choice you need to fully explore parenting in order to be sure adoption is the right choice.Do they offer help or referrals for help if you decide to parent?Are you given permission to change your mind at any time during the process? Is a full explanation and review of your legal rights and responsibilities given to you?

4.How is the topic of open adoption presented? …Does it appear that they entice you with it as a way to avoid pain and make the adoption seem easier?..Remember being involved in a truly open adoption takes commitment, courage and hard work.. ultimately it may make  your decision a little easier but it can never erase the pain and loss that comes with making an adoption plan. Adoption is a life long  and life changing decision.

5, Do they offer counseling and help for the baby”s birth father if he is available or involved.?. Do they treat him with dignity and respect or is he just viewed and referred to as a legal problem only?

6. Does the agency offer counseling and help to your family?…they may be struggling with supporting your choice and may need help with their own grief and loss issues.

7.Does the agency offer ongoing  grief and loss counseling before during and after you have placed your child? How is this done and how long will the agency provide help to you after your baby is placed? Is it  individual counseling, or support groups? Will they refer you to outside adoption competent  therapists if more intensive help is needed?

8.Does the agency allow you to view as many families profiles that meet your criteria?..Or are you only given a few families to choose from..Or only ones that the social worker chooses? Remember finding the right family to adopt your baby is a huge step. It’s your choice….it is a permanent life long decision… you should be offered as many choices of families available that meet your criteria for the type of family you want to parent your child. 

9. Are you encouraged to meet with families to interview them and spend time really getting to know them or are these meetings controlled or time limited?

10.If the adoption is presented as open and built on a true relationship do you have full access to the adopting  parents names and identifying information… are you encouraged to go to the family’s home…if you asked to meet their families would they be open as well as open to meeting your family? Do they define open adoption as a relationship not just an exchange of an occasional picture or letter?

11. Are you encouraged to meet and ask questions of other woman who have placed to hear from them directly what their journey has been like ? Can you attend educational classes for the adoptive families as well as support groups while you are considering your options? In addition is a list of relevant articles and books offered to you to help you explore your feelings and options?

12. What kind of training does the agency give to adopting families and is it mandatory..does it involve open long adoption issues and grief and loss issues for adoptees? Are fully open adoptions encouraged and supported?

13.What is the mission of the agency? find families for children or children for families?..there is a big difference!Strong,  stable adoptions are “child centered”. Family preservation should be at the core of the agency’s values..

These are some important things to ask yourself  when considering working with an agency to help you explore your options for an unplanned pregnancy…the highest ethical standards must be adhered to by the agency…

Options for an unplanned pregnancy…

A brave and loving women writes about her journey and the option she chose for her unplanned pregnancy with the help of the Kinship Center …It is a beautiful and heartfelt story titled the “Book of Sara”….

The Book of Sara

I have the honor and the privilege of being a Birth Mom to a special baby girl named Sara Nicole. My decision to place her for adoption has been the hardest I have ever had to make. It was made worse by the fact that I did not know I was pregnant. When Sara decided it was time to come out was when I realized that there had been a baby growing in my womb.

Sara is perfectly healthy and happy. She has quite a few of my characteristics and physical looks already. The one thing I knew was that I wanted the best for her and knew that I could not provide it. I was scared of adoption but with the loving care of my nurses and the hospital social worker I realized that Sara’s adoption would not be as traumatic as my own adoption.

Kinship Center helped me identify what I wanted in a forever family and then gave me family albums to look through. In one day I identified two families and demanded that I get to interview them that night. My social worker and all of her colleagues are angels. They made it happen and before Sara’s forever family even made it back to their house I was calling to tell them that they needed to bring a car seat with them when they arrived at noon the next day. I jokingly said they won’t let you take Sara home without the car seat. Sara’s Mom and Dad had to pull over and we cried and laughed together.

We have been meeting up for lunch and a love filled visit about every two weeks. We have a wonderful relationship. In fact, I didn’t lose a daughter, I gained a family. We are taking this one day at a time but so far it is amazing. Sara’s mom is wonderful and she is always willing to sit and chat with me on the phone when I need to ease my fears. What an amazing women she is. We each wear a necklace with a tear drop birthstone for December in honor of beautiful Sara. When she is old enough, she will get to wear one of her very own.

This brings me to how Sara got her name. I relied heavily on my faith in the hospital and asked to speak with a pastor. He read scripture that touched my heart and I felt that this baby needed a biblical name. I went through several baby books and had a boy’s name picked out but was having a hard time with a girl’s name. I kept coming back to Sara and decided to follow my instinct and chose Sara without an H on the end. Silent letters are hard for young children to understand and it makes learning to spell quite an adventure. I also wanted my baby to have my middle name and so I had decided Nicholas for a boy and Nicole for a girl. When the doctor said it’s a girl and she immediately opened her eyes and cried, I knew then that the world had just welcomed Sara Nicole.

I have an album of pictures from Sara’s birth right to today and I call it the book of Sara. When I am alone at night and my body aches for her I pick up “The Book of Sara.” I see her smiling face, her loving family members and the love all around her and I know that I did the right thing. I will always miss her. I will miss her smell, the softness of her perfect cheeks, the dimples, the perfect bow shaped lips, how she hiccups and how she cries. I will be nearby always though. She will have me in her life as Aunty April. What a wonderful gift she has been.

I have learned through this process that I will always be special to Sara. She will always be special to me. Her family will have a place in my heart forever. Adoption is about giving the gift of love and life. I didn’t know that I would also be given the gift of forever love.