Heartfelt Mother’s Day

It is almost here.

That day of the year that we buy cards, flowers, gifts, and go to brunch will be here on Sunday. Do you have your plans made yet? Have you spent your $180.00 on your mother, or will you be spending more? (According to the National Retail Foundation, projected Mother’s Day sales will total more than $23 billion this year, or an average of $180.00 per person.)

Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that retailers love, but a portion of women dread. If you have experienced fertility problems or had a miscarriage or a still birth, Mother’s Day can be a reminder of significant loss. If you have placed a child for adoption, you may feel as if you have no claim to Mother’s Day at all—it’s simply something else that the adoptive mother gets that you miss out on.

The “mother” of Mother’s Day never intended for this day to become so commercialized.

Anna Jarvis began advocating for a national day or recognition for mothers in the early 1900’s, and in 1908 held the first official celebration in West Virginia. She lobbied for greater recognition and acceptance of this day, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. But she was a proponent of the sentiments of love and gratitude to be shown to mothers—not that any type of company use the day for profit. Rather than sending store bought cards, she believed a mother would best be honored with a hand-written, heart-felt note.

Based on the actions of Miss Jarvis later in her in life, it is doubtful she would have wanted any woman to feel slighted or uncomfortable or sad on that Sunday. She never had children herself, and she died completely destitute from her efforts to have the holiday removed from the national calendar.

So how are you celebrating Mother’s Day?

Are you taking your mother out to eat? Men, are you giving your children’s mother flowers and candy? Do you all have your brunch reservations made? More personally, are you going to focus on your losses rather than celebrating the love women have for their children?

However you choose to celebrate Mother’s Day, remember the story of Anna Jarvis. Whether you are a waiting mother-to-be, a birth mother, an adoptive mother, a foster mother, or someone who mentors someone along the way…think love and gratitude—and then go out and show the world the same.


Open Adoption: For Better, For Worse

Defining what an “open adoption” is can be tricky.

It’s that little word “open” that seems to cause all the confusion. Does open mean both adoptive and birth parents share the care taking responsibilities of the child? Does it mean the birth family comes to all the child’s events—soccer games, birthday parties, and dance recitals? Does it mean the birth family is able to drop in on the adoptive family anytime they would like? Does it mean only that the child knows their adoption story and the names of their birth parents? Or is it somewhere in the midst of all these things?

The problem with definitions is that all too often definitions come with rules. For example, if open adoption for one family means the adoptive parents promise to send monthly updates and photos, as long as they are doing this, they believe they are upholding their end of the bargain. If the birth mother asks for a visit, the adoptive family may believe they are justified in denying this request because it is not what they agreed to do.

Maybe it would be more helpful to look at open adoption less as a definition and more as a relationship. And it’s not one relationship, it’s many relationships! There is the relationship you have with your child and the relationship your child has with you. There are the relationships you and your child have with extended family members. And also of great importance, there is the relationship between you and your child’s birth family.

All relationships that work well take time and effort to nurture.

The initial stages of a relationship are fueled by excitement and possibility. It’s as time goes on that prove if the relationship will survive the differences and troubles that are certain to come. That’s why traditional marriage vows include these familiar words, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” What would happen if you gave the same consideration to your child’s birth parents? Could make similar promises?

As your relationship with your child’s birth family grows, you will want to celebrate the joys—the “betters”. And the worse will come along—maybe you will lose contact with your child’s birth family. Maybe you will remain in contact, but your child’s birth parents find themselves incarcerated or moving across the country.

Remember, your child’s birth parents chose adoption because at that moment in time, they did not believe they could give the care your child deserved to your child. Time will change. Your child’s birth family may encounter great successes and great setbacks. You may encounter great successes and great setbacks. As will your child!

Are you ready for an open adoption?

Are you ready to love a child for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health? And are you ready to love your child’s birth family in the same way…because they are also a part of your child?

If so—then welcome to adoption!


Livin’ on a Prayer

It’s quite common to hear people voicing their prayers, asking for prayers, and sending thoughts and prayers. Whether it’s from the pulpit of a church or a shared post on Facebook, it seems as though prayer is pervading every part of our lives. Those associated with the world of adoption hear prayer requests all the time. Even those who do not think of themselves as religious or even particularly spiritual seem to both seek and offer prayer when an adoption situation is mentioned.

So, if you are praying for an adoption situation, what exactly are you praying for?

(Or to keep the grammarians happy, for what are you praying?) As an adoptive couple, are you praying the woman who just gave birth will sign those papers so that you can take the baby home? Are you praying the baby is healthy? Is the prayer to keep away a family member who wants to take the baby home instead of you? Maybe your prayer is a little more personal. Maybe your prayer is a little more along the lines of “please don’t let me be hurt again. I can’t handle any more disappointments.”

But wait! Is there anything wrong with asking an adoption go smoothly? Is there anything wrong with praying for the birth parents to sign a consent, for a healthy baby, for the storybook ending? Maybe not. Yet maybe there is something truly limiting in this type of prayer.

What about prayers for the woman who has just given birth?

Even more challenging, what about prayers for the woman whose children just entered foster care? How about praying for the extended biological family of that baby who are losing their chance to be grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins? Where do the siblings of the baby fit in? Is a prayer for your happiness and ease all that matters?

It has been said that prayer is a conversation. There are always two parts to any conversation—speaking and listening. The speaking comes easily. The listening often takes more work. And in an emotionally charged situation, like adoption, the listening gets crowded out by our own wants, hopes, and dreams.

So here’s a challenge.

When you ask or are asked for prayers regarding an adoption, pray for strength and peace for the birth family, and for joy in the life of the baby. And then be prepared to listen—even if it’s an answer you don’t like. Listen to the voice inside that says you were meant a part of this other family’s story, for just a little bit. Listen to the voice that says you made this woman’s last part of pregnancy a little easier. Listen to the voice that says your example showed her children they have value and worth.

When you do get to bring your baby home, don’t let the prayer conversation end. Let the prayers you speak reflect gratitude. And let the prayers you hear result in actions that show the world that same gratitude.


Agency or Attorney?

Adoption is one of those topics about which everyone seems to have an opinion or story. If you mention that you are thinking about becoming an adoptive parent, you will likely hear those opinions or stories, whether you want to or not. Within that conversation, there is also a good chance you will hear the agency versus attorney debate. Should you trust this very important step in your life to an adoption agency or just use an attorney?

The thing is, agencies and attorneys BOTH have a place in the world of adoption.

As an institution, adoption is a legal process that allows for the creation and expansion of a family. Because it allows for the creation and expansion of a family, it is also involves relationships. Opening your heart to adoption means you are opening yourself to new relationships. There is a relationship between you and your child, and there is a relationship between you and your child’s birth family. Your child will always have a relationship between themselves and you, and also will always have a relationship between themselves and their birth family. Yes—let’s repeat that one. Adoptees will always have a relationship between themselves and the family who created them and gave them life. They may not always have a day-to-day relationship with their birth family, but nothing can change the fact that the first relationship in their lives will be with those whom they share a genetic link.

Can you imagine how complicated this can all be?

And if it’s complicated for you, imagine how the children of adoption feel? That baby you are hoping for is going to grow into a toddler, then elementary school kid, and then teenager, and then into adulthood. Along the way, questions will be asked. Will you be ready to answer them?

An adoption agency can navigate all those relationships with you. The people working for adoption agencies see and understand the pieces of those relationships that go into adoption. You know—those things like unexpected pregnancies. Infertility. Physical needs. Emotional needs. They have experience in working through the good and the bad, ups and downs, joys and sorrows that are a part of adoption.

Where does the lawyer come into this? The goal of the lawyer in adoption is to represent either the person placing the baby or the person adopting the baby. The lawyer is there to make certain the legal process is understood and the rights of the party they are representing are upheld. If the lawyer is representing the adoptive parents, the goal is to make certain the adoption is finalized in a court of law and an adoption decree is issued.

Adoption is a lifelong commitment.

If you are going to make this commitment to a child, make certain you have the resources to do honor the commitment well. Know the resources available to you—both for legal support and for emotional support. The best of all worlds in adoption uses both an attorney and an agency. Let them help you create a happy story for your family.

To find out more about the history of our agency, click here.

 

 

 

 


Do You Have a Secret?

 

What happens if you have a secret? A secret that is so terrifying you know you can’t possibly share it with anyone? What if your secret literally has life or death consequences to any decision you make about that secret, and you just can’t imagine how to make any choice? If you put yourself in that place, it’s likely that all you can feel is fear. That fear is so deep it is paralyzing you.

For some women and girls, this fear and this secret are the realities of an unexpected or unplanned pregnancy. Whether the pregnancy is the result of what some would call carelessness and irresponsibility or the result of something tragic like rape, the emotional fall out can be devastating. To reveal the pregnancy may result in further trauma. What kind of trauma? Maybe the fear and likelihood of being kicked out of her home is a reason to keep the secret. Maybe the trauma is the fear and likelihood of being physically abused for “getting knocked up”. Pregnancy is not always met with joy and happiness.

If pregnancy is not always met with joy and happiness, especially if the pregnancy is kept a secret, the arrival of the baby just heightens the fear. Now instead of protecting only herself, the scared new mother must protect that baby. She must find a resolution to her dilemma.

Sadly, the “solution” she sometimes finds happens to tragically make the evening news. There are stories of babies found in dumpsters, in creeks, and in snowbanks. These babies do not survive. There is no ‘happily ever after’ for these children. And yet, can you imagine the guilt and shame the mother carries? While we all might want to point fingers and demonize her, not many of us have been in her place.

Thankfully, dumpsters and snowbanks do not have to be the solution. The Indiana Legislature and Governor Holcomb have authorized the use of “Baby Boxes” which expands the Indiana Safe Haven laws. Under Safe Haven laws, women are able to leave their babies in fire stations, police stations, and hospitals without fear of being prosecuted for neglect. If the fire station is equipped with a “Baby Box”, the baby can be placed completely anonymously and remain warm and safe until rescue personnel arrive.

Currently there are only two official “Baby Boxes” in Indiana. Hopefully the new 2018 legislation will encourage the placement of more boxes throughout the state. In the meantime—here’s to courage and compassion. Courage to find a fire station or police station to take care of the baby and protect the secret. Courage to allow a child to live. And compassion to allow the baby’s mother to heal and be loved for the courage she has shown.

If you find yourself in a unplanned pregnancy, we understand! You can always call or text someone from the Adoption Support Center to discuss your options. We are available 24 hours a day!
Call: 317-255-5916
Text: 317-560-4523
If you or someone you know needs immediate emergency help, fire stations, police stations and hospitals are trained to be a Safe Haven for your newborn when you just don’t know what else to do.
To reach the 24-hour Safe Haven Emergency Hotline, please call 866-99-BABY1

To read more about the Safe Haven Baby Boxes, click here.

Monica Kelsey and the town of Woodburn, Indiana, dedicated the first Safe Haven Baby Box of its kind on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, at the Woodburn Volunteer Fire Department. The box, which is temperature controlled and has a padded inside, is electronically monitored and sounds an alarm to the fire station whenever the door is opened.

 

 

 

 


Is visitation after an adoption a good idea?

Once you start exploring the idea of adoption, you begin to face lots of decisions. One of those decisions is whether or not to ask for visits with your child after the placement is done and baby is home with the adopting mommy and daddy. And like most things in adoption, there is no one size fits all answer. Every adoption creates a unique relationship. But for most women, visits with your child are a very good idea.

Look at it this way. You’ve spent a lot of time searching for the exact right family. You’ve thought about whether or not adoption is the best choice for your baby. You’ve worried about whether or not the adoptive family will do what they promise. You’ve worried about what your child will think of you someday. Having visits with your baby as they are growing up is very healing. It helps take some of those worries away. You can see for yourself how things are going.

On the other hand, visits can be hard. You may feel anxiety, or anger, or sadness when thinking about a visit. And that’s ok too. You may not be ready. No one knows you better than you. You might find comfort in pictures and video chatting. It’s back to the no one size fits all approach!

So what is the biggest reason to have visits with your child after the adoption? Because children who grow up knowing they are adopted deserve to know about their history, and that history includes the people who created them! That history includes you! The adoptive parents can tell your child all about you, but telling about someone and actually knowing someone are completely different things.

Adoptive families working with the Adoption Support Center understand that a child’s history is important to a child who joins their family through adoption. They also understand your connection to your child. As your relationship develops, you and the adoptive parents will navigate the visit decision together. Is visitation after an adoption a good idea? You be the judge.


I’m Not a Quitter

Ever since I started talking about adoption, people have been giving me all kinds of grief.

The most common thing I hear is “how can you give up your baby?” Just because I’m considering an adoption plan, doesn’t mean I’m giving her up. It’s not like I’m throwing her up into the air and just waiting for her to be caught by some nameless, faceless, and soulless stranger out there!

The thing is, right now my life looks overwhelming. I have two toddlers—and I love them—but when one gets sick and can’t go to daycare, I can’t go to work. My boss says she understands, but she’s written me up twice for being late when my car died. I’m literally one write up away from being fired. My ex is no help and right now he’s living with his new girlfriend. I’m not a priority, and he says he doesn’t care about the baby I’m carrying. He’s not even sure she’s his.

So I’m planning. I’m thinking.

I’m working things through in my head. I love this baby—like I love all my babies. The two at home need me to be strong and to get them fed and get them to bed at night. They need me to be able to read their bedtime stories. They need me to get them ready to go to the sitter’s and play in the park on the way home. I can’t give them a father. But I know they deserve the best of me that they can get!

So I’m making a plan. I’ve been talking to Alli, an adoption coordinator at the Adoption Support Center. She’s introduced me to this family and we had lunch together. I can’t put it into words, exactly, but it’s like I’ve known them forever. My baby is not going to be put up for random people to become parents! I’m not going to just “adopt her out”.

I’m making a plan. Right now, that plan includes adoption. I may follow through on that plan. I may not follow through on that plan. Whatever I decide, it will be what is best for this baby, my kids at home, and me. I’m not going to quit being a parent, even if I do place my baby with the family I met. I’ll be her parent in a different way, but I’ll always be connected to her.

I am not a quitter.

And then there’s HIM…

Did you know that an individual’s fingerprints are formed and set around the halfway point in pregnancy? Those little ridges on the tips of your fingers are completely unique. No one has a set that looks like yours, and there will never be another set the same as your baby’s in the future.

Every person is unique—as we know from our fingerprints. Even identical twins do not share the same fingerprints! Not only is each person unique, each pregnancy is unique. Every situation, every aspect, every set of family members, every set of friends, every job, every home, well, pretty much EVERYTHING, is unique. This includes the father of the baby…who he is, how involved he is, what he thinks of the relationship he is in and what he hopes for the baby. Fatherhood can be a scary proposition, and talk of adoption only makes what is sometimes a tough situation more difficult.

Brittany, Taylor and Heather all chose to place their children for adoption. The relationships they share with the children’s fathers, however, are completely different. Just like their fingerprints, all three women had different answers to the question “What about the birth father?”

Brittany began considering adoption when her boyfriend, Tyler, left her and their other two children to move in with someone else. Taylor and her boyfriend, Lamar, were just out of high school and struggling to make their relationship work. Heather was not certain who the father was and was afraid people would judge her for the way she lived her life.

So what about the birth father? There is no “one size fits all” answer.

What about the birth father? There is a legal answer and there is an emotional answer. The best place to find answers to the legal question is through a lawyer. An adoption lawyer can help navigate the ins and outs of any particular situation.

What about the birth father? The relationship question — that one that involves all the emotions — deserves thorough deliberation. Sorting through the feelings about relationships during a confusing and tricky time with an impartial listener is an excellent place to start to gain clarity.

The Adoption Support Center talk with women like Heather, Brittany and Taylor as they sort through the questions and emotions that are a part of an unexpected pregnancy. They also talk with men like Tyler and Lamar. They approach every person who comes through the door or makes a phone call as uniquely and individually as their fingerprints. In adoption, there is no “one size fits all” answer. The ladies of the Adoption Support Center are ready to listen.


But What About Me? (Do grandparents count?)

“I know this is Taylor’s story, but I’m hurting too.”

Have you ever stopped to think that becoming a parent involves a series of “the first time…” events? One of the most exciting parts of becoming a mom or dad is experiencing all those “firsts”. It brings a feeling that the world is new and exciting. Do you remember the first deliberate smile from your baby? The first words, first steps, first time sleeping through the night? And then your baby starts becoming a little boy or little girl. The first day of school. The first sleepover. The first sports event. And then your little one is a teenager—and you experience the first dance. The first job. The first time driving a car.

There is a flip side to all those fun firsts. There are other firsts that aren’t so fun. The first fever. The first scraped knee. The first fight between best friends that has your darling crying herself to sleep. The first broken heart. And what if life doesn’t go as planned? You might learn that your daughter is having a first unexpected pregnancy and that your grandchild may become someone else’s grandbaby. These not-so-fun firsts may lead to personal feelings of sadness, regret and worry.

Taylor’s mom recalls that feeling well. When Taylor approached her with the news of both the pregnancy and her fears about raising a baby, it was time for some gut wrenching, heart breaking, soul searching. Taylor talked about adoption, and all her mom could think was “my baby is having a baby!” Her next thought was “What does she mean, adoption? This baby is part of us!” But as Taylor’s pregnancy progressed, and the adoption talk became more frequent and more certain, her mom wanted to become a part of the process. No one was going to take advantage of her daughter!

As Taylor looked at adoption, it became very clear there was no shortage of people wanting her baby. Taylor and her mom got phone calls from people who knew someone who had a cousin who was infertile, or who wanted a baby, or who knew someone who had adopted. All of them expressed interest in the baby…very few expressed interest in Taylor or her well-being. And Mom knew that handing over the baby to just anyone was not going to happen.

Being the mom of a woman experiencing an unexpected pregnancy is a tough role. Suddenly your voice becomes secondary. You can be an influence, but you can’t be the final decision maker. Taylor’s mom knew it, so she set about gathering information and learning what she could about Taylor’s options, rights, and responsibilities. Like any other major life choice, she sought the opinions of people she knew and trusted. She wanted to make certain that the adoption was done legally. She wanted to know that no one would be taking advantage of Taylor. She wanted to know that promises made would be promises kept.

The Adoption Support Center was there to answer the questions from Taylor’s mom and to help alleviate her fears. While they could not talk specifically about Taylor, they talked about what an adoption could look like—for Taylor, for herself, and for the baby. When Taylor contacted ASC herself, she found compassionate, listening women who were interested in her, not just her baby. Together Taylor and her mom found a family who wanted to adopt a baby, but also wanted to have a relationship with Taylor and her family. Taylor’s baby is growing up knowing that she is loved by many.

Taylor is one of the many “birthmomstrong” women who chose what she believed to be best for her child. Her mom also showed how strong women love their children through the tough things in life. The Adoption Support Center is honored to have been a part of their journey.


The Ties that Bind

“Your son would have brought much honor to your family.”

There’s something about a pregnant belly that invites commentary, advice, judgment, and opinion. Suddenly, everywhere you turn, there are people wanting to tell you their own pregnancy story, their friends’ pregnancy stories, and the latest rumor on the web about which celebrity is pregnant. And after the stories and rumors comes the questions. “When are you due?” “Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” “Do you have names picked out?”

Taylor remembers having this conversation with the nail tech while getting a pedicure. The woman was thrilled to hear she was having a boy. She exclaimed, “Your son will bring much honor to your family.” And then in the interest of honesty, Taylor confided her adoption plans to this woman. As Taylor said, “It just felt like a lie to let her think I was bringing this baby home.” The woman’s response was less than thrilled. She became more quiet and then said “your son would have brought much honor to your family.”

Let’s face it. Adoption sounds wonderful from the adoptive parents’ point of view. All their friends and family members get to be excited about a new child coming into their lives. But from your side? You are much more likely to get “How can you do that? How can you give your baby away?” Taylor also heard such comments as “just give your baby to me!”, and “I know you. You won’t be able to actually go through with it”. She had family members tell her that her baby was her “blood” and she had no business “giving it away”.

So how do you respond? First of all, you are never under any obligation to talk about your pregnancy—big belly or not. Random nosy people at the store or park or nail salon may be well intentioned, but they do not have the right to know your story. Taylor says in looking back she wished she had simply answered the questions about boy or girl and due date, and then simply said “thank you” to the part of bringing honor to her family.

Of course, to have people in your life that you know and trust is a blessing. They may not understand or agree with your decision to place the baby. Family pressure to parent is often real and very strong. Taylor says her answer to the question “How could you do that?” became “How could I not?” She goes on to tell it like this: “Good parents put the needs of their children before their own needs and desires. My choice is no different. I am just in a different circumstance.” She adds, “I want the very best for my son, but I am not able to provide that for him at this point. I didn’t feel right about dragging my son along for the struggle.”

Whatever your circumstances, your reasons, or feelings, the choices you make for your child belong to you! Whether you become the every day mommy or the mommy who loves your child in a different way, there is no breaking the bond you have with your baby. The people who know and love you will come to understand your decision. Still struggling with how to tell and who to tell? The ladies of the Adoption Support Center are ready to help you find the words.