It’s All in How You Look at It

Perception. Adoption is one of those institutions in which almost every person has a view point. Maybe it’s because they were adopted, or their grandparents were adopted. Maybe it’s because you’re an adoptive parent, or you want to be one. Maybe, just maybe, your view point has been shaped by movies, books or the latest celebrity adoption. Ask ten different people what they think about adoption, and you are guaranteed to hear ten different answers.

Recently we asked families, both birth parents and adoptive parents, to share statements and questions from others that have left them hurt or discouraged.

None of what we heard was anything we hadn’t heard before.

Yet hearing them still, in 2019,was disappointing. It feels as if no matter how much education is out there, no matter the example our birth parents and adoptive families set, attitudes toward adoption are sometimes holdovers from another era.

Our adoptive families have been called everything from baby snatchers to saviors. Our birth mothers have been called everything from callous and cold-hearted to brave saints. Our adoptees have been called everything from orphaned to lucky. 

Just how accurate are these pictures? 

The answer probably depends on many factors. What generation are you from? What media has fed into your viewpoint? How many people do you personally know involved in the adoption triad? What experiences have you had with unexpected pregnancies or pregnancy scares? What experiences have you had in raising children? Where has the road of life led you?

Just as every individual carries their own unique, fingerprints and genetic code into the world, those touched by adoption are unique individuals as well. To paint any group with a single brush is risking limiting the individuals involved to a stereotype.

So we urge you to have a little compassion. Show a little empathy. Remember that there are individuals behind the stories and the words.    

How do you view adoption? 


Scammed!

Scam. I’ve been scammed! I sent my money to a Nigerian prince, only to find out there is no Nigerian prince. I sent money to the IRS because they were threatening me with arrest. Only later did I find out it wasn’t really the IRS. I thought I was in love, and my man ran into some trouble overseas and needed money to pay a hospital bill. You know the outcome…it was a scam!

Adoption scams have been around for a long time as well.

Typically, this will involve a woman either pretending to be pregnant, or in some cases actually is pregnant, promising the baby to multiple potential adoptive parents. In the traditional scam, she will take money for living expenses from these families, only to have a change of heart when the due date comes and goes.

Of course, this is highly illegal. It is a Level 6 felony in Indiana. And most agencies, attorneys, and prospective adoptive families are on the alert for these. 

But what if the payoff for the scammer is not money? What if the payoff is your time and attention? 

As the use of social media becomes more and more prevalent in connecting expectant families to potential adoptive families, the possibilities for fraud also becomes more common. Recently the term “emotional scam” has entered the conversation after the promise of a baby being born “in the next couple of days” is offered to potential adoptive families without the request for money.

In these scenarios, an expectant mom reaches out over social media and begins talking with a prospective adoptive family directly. Usually the conversation goes very well and seems to be legitimate. The adoptive family begins scrambling to make plans to travel to another state, engage an attorney or agency in that state, and make arrangements for an adoption to happen! 

Of course, there comes a point where the story falls apart. Maybe the potential family encourages the scammer to contact their agency or attorney. Maybe the potential family suggests a meeting and is met with resistance. Maybe the instincts of the potential family kicks in and they simply block this person from their phone and social media accounts.

No money has changed hands. Where’s the harm?

For anyone trying to adopt, the harm seems obvious. Hopes and dreams are on the line! The thought that someone choseyou, wantsyou, and thinks you will be great parents is the validation you have been looking for! It’s the next step in getting a baby. It’s the next step to parenthood.

For the scammer, the payoff is the attention that is received. It’s the listening ear, the sympathy, the time. 

It’s the mental illness.

The good news is that families hoping to adopt and who are working with reputable professionals have support and emotional reserves on which to draw that will carry them through until their baby is in their home. The time spent with someone trying to scam them will pass and someday be a distant memory. 

The scammer will be left looking for the next attention fix—scouring the internet for the next vulnerable person who will ease their loneliness and pain.

If you are not certain about a potential adoption situation, please contact your agency, attorney, or home study provider. The process of adoption is difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone.  


There is no “typical” adoption.

You will hear it a million times, but it couldn’t be more true. There is no “typical” adoption. When we met our amazing, strong birth mom for the first time, we clicked like crazy, and laughed and talked our way through a two hour dinner. We thought she was due in two months. But when it was determined she might deliver earlier (like, three weeks from that first meeting earlier), my husband and I watched the amazing ladies of ASC spring into action to button up all the paperwork, and answer our one million questions.

Our birth mom generously invited me to be with her in the delivery room, so I could be with the baby from her very first moments.

We bought a car seat, and packed a “go” bag, so we could be ready to run to the hospital the second we got the call that she was in labor. We cleared our schedules and let our bosses know what was happening so we could have some time off when we brought baby home. We were so incredibly excited to be matched with someone that just felt “right”. Then we settled in and nervously waited to get the call. 

But the call that finally came was our coordinator Leah telling us that the baby had arrived even earlier than what we were expecting, and the birth mom had changed her mind about placing her daughter for adoption.

It didn’t sink in what had happened.

All that build up, and all that springing into action, then no baby. Our prayer from the beginning of our adoption journey was not just to become parents, but that the situation with the birth mom felt resolved and right, and we knew she was at peace with her decision. So of course we understood that she had changed her mind, and we comforted each other by saying “this just wasn’t meant to be our baby”.

But it still really hurt. About two weeks after the fall-through, I found myself telling a friend “we lost a baby”, and just saying the words out loud really drove it home. We were back on the waiting list, back to square one, waiting to be rematched, still not parents. Thanksgiving came and went, and we dragged ourselves through it. My husband forced me to decorate for Christmas, and planned a trip for me to visit a friend in NYC to get my mind clear so we could be emotionally ready when the time came to be rematched and go through it all again. 

Instead, we got another call from our coordinator Leah saying that birth mom had changed her mind back, and would we still be open to adopting her baby? My husband said yes right away, but I had so many questions, and honestly, my heart was still broken from the first go-around. I didn’t think I could bring myself to potentially lose the same baby two times! Leah answered literally every single one of my questions.

The adoption was set for the next day.

This baby girl was being placed for adoption. The birth mom really hoped that we would be her parents, but understood if we couldn’t get there that quickly after the fall through. Looking at our awesome daughter now, and seeing how perfectly she fits into our family, I can’t believe I questioned it for even a millisecond.

We truly got the child we were meant to raise, and are so happy we put our hearts on the line one more time!

Adoption day was so incredibly special. We drove to the agency, unsure of what would happen, if the birth mom would go through with it, trying to find the words to write in a card to express our gratitude in case we didn’t stay in communication and never got the chance to tell her again. We knew it must’ve been such a struggle for her to prepare herself to place her baby for adoption two different times, and we had been thinking of her and praying for her during the weeks after the fall through, just hoping she was doing well, and at peace with her decision. As hard as it was for us to go through the fall through, we couldn’t even imagine what she was feeling. 

When we got to the agency, the paperwork had already been signed. It was done! She was our daughter! We walked to the back building, and our incredibly strong, amazing birth mom literally placed her daughter she had been parenting for the past month in my arms. Just like that, after years of waiting for a baby, all the doctor appointments, all the frustration and pain that comes with infertility, all the heartache, she made us parents, made us a family of three. It was such a powerful, and amazing, and surreal moment. The gratitude we felt (and still feel) is really indescribable.

One of the best days of our life was probably one of the worst days for our daughters birth mom.

Her strength in that time is something we are excited to share with our daughter when she’s older, so she knows without a doubt that the decision to place her for adoption came from absolute love. We all sat together, talking and laughing about what super awkward new parents we were, our birth mom’s friend teasing us about how bad we were going to be at doing our daughter’s hair. We will always treasure that time we got to share together.

When our daughter’s birth mom was ready to go, we said our goodbyes, spent about twenty minutes figuring out how to buckle her into the car seat like total nervous new parents, and headed home.

It really is amazing how quickly you can fall in love with your child.

By the time we got home, a switch had flipped, and she was our daughter! The next couple of days were such a blur. We literally became parents overnight! With so much help from family and friends, baby gear and supplies showed up at our house, and we began to settle in. The lights on the Christmas tree my husband forced me to put up turned out to be a great way to calm a fussy baby. Friends and family visited, and everyone called her our Christmas miracle (and she was!). The trip to NYC was cancelled and my google searches switched from “cute winter boots” (to pack for my trip) to “best baby bottle for one-month-old”. With no planned maternity leave, our brand new daughter just slept in a swing next to me while I finished work projects, and we figured out how to work out this unexpected parenthood. It was such a crazy, sleepless, hard, amazing, joyful time! 

We weren’t sure if we would hear from our daughters birth mom or not, we had left that decision up to her. After about two weeks, she got in touch, and was ready to see some photos and just check in. I was so scared to share photos with her. What if she wanted her back? What if this child we had already fallen in love with wasn’t going to be ours anymore? What if it was too painful for her to see her baby she placed with new parents? It didn’t matter that all the paperwork had been signed, and everything was official, that crazy strong (and sometimes irrational) maternal instinct still kicks in.

My husband and I remembered what we had been told in our pre-adoption class about honoring our birth mom by keeping our promises, so I took a deep breath, and sent a bunch of photos. And we got the most amazing response (we saved it to share with our daughter when she’s older). “I love the pictures. You just don’t know how happy I am that you two took her in as your own. Words can’t explain how I feel. Thank you for the pictures.” And it clicked. We were just three adults who will always be unified in wanting the absolute best for this little girl.

It is such a powerful and amazing thing to be a part of.

Literally one of my favorite things we’ve gotten to do as human beings. My husband and I both feel so lucky to have experienced what we can only imagine is adoption at its best.

Our daughter is now two and a half, and we look forward to our visits with her birth mom. They are always the best, most joyful days, and we continue to be in awe of her strength in this decision, and her dignity and grace. We are so glad to be able to give her the opportunity to see firsthand how happy and healthy her daughter is. And, of course, we are so, so very grateful that she chose us, and we get to be the parents of one awesome little girl!! 



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.