My heart is full.

Today I watched the beginning of a miracle. Working in adoption is hard. It’s filled with joy, but it’s also filled with grief and brokenness. 

So much of the work done in adoption is done prior to the delivery of the baby.

It’s careful consideration on the part of the expectant mother. It’s looking at all the options and who is on her team. Who will be there to help with parenting, survival, emotional support?  

It’s equally careful consideration on the part of the adopting parents. Is adoption a calling? Is adoption a choice because of infertility? Do the adoptive parents-to-be understand that the child will always be a part of the birth parents, even if they do not see them often (or even at all)?  

And then there is placement.

One family says “good-bye” to a child they have only met, and another says “welcome home”. “Bittersweet” may be the word that best describes the emotions swirling around placement time, but it only begins to scratch the depths of the emotions involved.  

 Then time passes and life happens.

The child grows and matures, as do both sets of parents. From toddlerhood to adulthood, adoption remains with the both families, and is always a part of the child’s identity.  Emotions ebb and flow.  

As an adoption professional, I’ve been on the preparation end of the process for more years than I care to admit. As an adoptive parent, I’ve watched my girls navigate the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence, and then I’ve watched them become mothers. But I’ve seldom had the privilege to be a part of an adoption reunion. 

That is changing.

Today I watched two mothers come together after more than 20 years apart. The foundation is being laid for the child who is now an adult to meet the family that created her.  

Questions will be asked. Answers will be given.  

Maybe—just maybe—some of the broken pieces will be made whole.  

Wishing you all grace and peace — Diane 


Ah, The Holiday Season

The sounds—bells ringing, the laughter of children, the radio stations playing non-stop Christmas music. The scents—pine trees, cinnamon, the turkey roasting in the oven. The tastes—freshly baked cookies, candy, the pumpkin pie. The feels—soft cozy socks and throws. The sights—lights on the trees and houses, Christmas trees, Hanukkah menorahs, Santa and his sleigh, Nativity scenes with the Baby in the manger. The experiences—visiting Santa, caroling, exchanging presents, Christmas Eve church services, dinner at Grandma’s house.

Are you in the mood? Are your senses taking in all that the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day has to offer? Are you social media ready? Does your holiday season look like everyone else’s on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram?

The holiday season is supposed to be the best, most exciting time of the year.

Remember Have a Holly Jolly Christmas? According to that song and many others, “it’s the best time of the year!”

But for many people it’s not.

For anyone who has had a loss, the holiday season is one of the toughest times to navigate emotionally. And for anyone who has had a loss that is not widely recognized or understood, it can be even trickier to navigate. Adoption and infertility are two of those losses that make the holidays especially challenging.

For women who have placed their child for adoption or who are considering placing their child, the holidays may be a reminder of profound loss. No matter her reason for placing her child, there is a piece of her that had wanted things to be different. That she could give her child the life she believed her child deserved. Adoption may have been the way in which she did give her child the life she believed her child deserved, and yes it was her choice, but it doesn’t make the grief any less.

For families experiencing infertility, the loss of being able to conceive and carry a child is felt deeply and profoundly during the holiday season. This is also true of families who have experienced an adoption “fall through”. When will it be their turn to take their child to see Santa?

While there are no easy answers to how to grieve during the holiday season, it is important to be good to yourself during the grief process.

Recognize that your experience does not have to look like everyone else’s on social media or in real life. Allow yourself the luxury of your feelings—including the less than happy ones.

And don’t forget to add a little hope to your season. This may be a dark year, but light is always stronger than darkness.

   


40 Weeks and a Circle of Support

Everyone knows that pregnancy lasts for nine months. 

It’s divided into three trimesters, each with three months in it. Everyone knows that pregnancy lasts for nine months. Unless you’re pregnant and waiting to deliver. Then you remember it’s forty weeks from conception to delivery. And if the due date for the blessed event is set for July or August in humid Indiana, it seems as if those forty weeks turns into an eternity. It certainly doesn’t help when people start asking the expectant mom “so you haven’t had that baby yet, have you?” (Feel free to insert your own sarcastic response here…)

The emotional waiting time is different for those involved adoption.

For the potential adoptive family there are no visible signs of pregnancy. There is the uncertainty of not only the baby’s birth, but what will happen after the birth. Will there be a baby coming home with them or not? For the expectant parents, the emotional waiting time is complicated. Preparing to give birth and preparing to say good-bye all at the same time is not for the weak-hearted. No one can predict with 100% accuracy how they will handle any given situation until they have been in that situation.

For everyone involved in the waiting game, there are just as many people on the sidelines who also want to know what is going on. They want to know the timelines too!

Is the baby here yet? Do you think the expectant mom is going to follow the adoption plan? Will she be ok if she does? Are the adoptive parents ready? Have you all met each other?

All this brings up another question, and that is—do you answer these questions?

And if you do, how many times do you have to answer them? Does everyone you know deserve to be in on the action?  Do you record your answer to the most frequently asked questions then just hit “play” when one of these comes up?

While those pre-recorded answers might be nice, another way handle them is to create your circle of support. The people in this circle are those who care about you and have your back. Face it, not everyone deserves to know all about your business. Once you have determined who is in your circle, create a group text or email chain. Let these people know they will have answers as you are ready to share them. Send out the information on your time table. And for those who don’t make the circle, be ready with your “mind your own business” answer. A simple “I’m not ready to talk about that” or some variation of this should be enough.

The forty weeks of pregnancy is a long time to wait.

The unknown amount of time for adoptive families is a long time to wait. Make the wait more bearable by sharing what needs to be shared with the people you know, trust, and love because you know they trust, respect, and love you right back.


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.


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.


Feeling let down again? Let the Adoption Support Center help pick you back up.

Promises, promises, promises. It seems anyone can make one, but it’s hard for people to keep them. You might have been thinking about adoption, even started planning to do an adoption. You might be an Indiana birth mom who had reached out to an agency, and then found the agency couldn’t deliver on their promises.

Earlier this week, the adoption agency called Independent Adoption Center (IAC) announced they were closing their doors, effective immediately. The women of the Adoption Support Center were saddened to hear this — because our passion is creating families and lasting relationships through adoption. We don’t know all that has happened with their program, but we know what we can offer.

The Adoption Support Center is an Indiana adoption agency, run by Indiana women with personal and deep commitments to adoption. We have been here for more than thirty years, and are determined to be here for years to come.

We may not have all the answers to every problem our birth moms have, but we do have compassion, empathy, and lots of insight into how adoption works. We understand Indiana laws about adoption. We get that birth moms want the world for their babies. And we get that trust can be hard, especially when it has been recently broken.

For any woman thinking about adoption, and wondering who to trust, we invite you to get to know the Adoption Support Center. We will be right here in Indiana, supporting women through that tough time in their lives, offering fresh starts, and creating families and relationships. We want to earn your trust.


The Middle of the Adoption Process

Relinquishing a child for adoption is an emotional experience, with stages of grief that are experienced differently amongst birth mothers. It’s normal to have doubts in the middle of the process, and feelings stemming from your doubts are normal and shouldn’t be viewed negatively. Several organizations and support services exist to help birth mothers process and work through these emotions during the adoption process.

Coping with Grief

The process of grieving is never pretty, but working through emotions of grief and loss, both positive and negative, is the only way to progress past them in a healthy manner.1 Avoiding feelings of grief only serves to foster negative feelings, preventing you from living a productive life.

When these feelings arise, seek support from your adoption agency. Most adoption agencies have counselors on hand to help you process your feelings of grief in a healthy way. Consulting a counselor with your agency also allows them to become familiar with your needs, which they will balance with the needs of the adoptive parents and child to ensure all parties are receiving the care they require during this time.

The most important thing to realize is that you’re not alone in this experience, as millions of birthmothers are trying to process these same feelings.

Join a Birthmother Support Blog

It helps to share your experience, and joining a birthmother support blog not only allows you to work through the process, but can provide support and comfort to others just like you. Discussing and sharing adoption experiences can help you make formative choices during the adoption process and can prepare you for the moment you relinquish your parental rights to your child. Learning how other birthmothers coped with the process may be able to teach you lessons about dealing with your own grief. Remember, everyone experiences grief differently, but you may discover valuable strategies that may help you.

Sharing your own unique experiences on a support blog can help other new birthmothers going through the same experience. Your guidance can prove vital, and your story may be the key to getting them through it. If you’re looking for empathy and compassion, a support blog community may be a good source for inspiration and hope.

Support You Can Count On with Adoption Support Center

At Adoption Support Center you can get the help you need within a safe, friendly space where you can talk openly and honestly about whatever issues you’re facing during the adoption process. We have adoption coordination and support lines open 24/7 to answer your call the second you need us.

We provide coaching and counseling services regarding how to balance your living expenses, what your relationship options are with the adopting family and whether you want a closed or open adoption process. Contact Adoption Support Center today to get the answers and help you need when you need it.


Grief in Adoption…the hard stuff.

Trying to picture what it will be like to place your baby with someone besides you will be one of the hardest things you ever do—until you actually do the adoption. In giving your baby the gift of an adoptive family, you will experience a loss. How it hits you and how you get through this is an unknown and question mark until it actually happens. But some things seem to happen to everyone who experiences a loss, and hopefully this information can help you prepare for what is to come.

Mixed Emotions

The first thing to know about this process is that there is no right or wrong way to feel. Emotions are one of the few things that belong only to us and no one can take them away. You may feel several emotions at one time; you may feel just one emotion very strongly. You may be very happy for the adoptive family and excited for the baby. You may be relieved that this time in your life is ending and you don’t have to worry any more. You may be very sad and angry.

Handling Your Grief

It has been said that there are five stages of grief. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Don’t think of these as a checklist to do and be done. People move back and forth between them. One day you may be sad beyond belief, and the next you might be angry. For a while you may be ok with everything and think you have reached acceptance, and the next day everything you see may make you want to cry.

One of the good things about emotions is that they change. They may stick around for a time—whether good or bad emotions—but they will change. A lot of how you get through these emotions will depend on the things you think and tell yourself. When you find you are feeling something that makes you uncomfortable, remind yourself how strong you are. Think about the life you chose for your baby. But if you need to cry—then CRY! If you need to yell—then YELL! Write down your feelings. Talk with your coordinator or someone you trust about other ways to move through the feelings you wish you weren’t having.

We strive to help all the women with whom we work be proud and confident of their decision to place their child. You are part of an elite group of women who have recognized that this was not the right time in your life to raise a child so you made the hard choices, did your best and gave a gift of love. Adoption is really a gift of love and life for your baby.