A Four-Letter Word that Has No Place in Adoption

How careful are you in the words that you use? How careful are the people around you in the words they choose? Are there any words or phrases that make you uncomfortable? That are overused until they lose their meaning?

There are many words used when talking about adoption.

There are words that describe the process. Words that describe the emotions. Words that describe all the people involved. Much has been said and written about the correct terminology. This is NOT one of those lectures or pleas.

This post has to do with a small descriptive word of only four letters. It is used so frequently most people do not even realize they are saying it or how it might sound to the other person in the conversation.

Ready?

Here are the four little letters… J-U-S-T. Just. As in, “If you can’t take care of your baby, just give it up for adoption.” Or “If you can’t get pregnant, just adopt a kid.” Just.

Making the decision to place a baby for adoption is emotional. It is gut wrenchingly difficult. It is not done without thought, care, or information. The emotional cost in placing a child for adoption is often life-long. There is no just about it.

Likewise, the decision to adopt a baby or child is emotional. For families experiencing infertility, just adopting involves letting go of the dream of having a biological connection to a child. For all families hoping to adopt, there is a lengthy process of background checks, home visits, and questions about motives. Adoptive families sometimes feel as though this process is intrusive and unfair. There is no just about it.

What can you say instead? Is there a replacement for just?

How about “I care about you. Can I offer any suggestions?” Or “If you need to talk, I’m ready to listen?

And if you can’t think of anything at all to say, just don’t say anything. Be a presence. Show your love. That will always be appreciated.


Rights and Responsibilities for Adoptive Parents

Adoption is an emotionally charged experience.

No matter if you come to adoption from infertility or because of a faith calling, it involves the lives of not just the child, but the lives of the child’s birth family and extended family. Adoption has an impact on the siblings the child may have in either the biological family or the adoptive family, the community in which the child lives, and the schools the child attends. Entering into an adoption relationship should be done only after much soul searching and with an open and committed heart.   

Keeping that in mind, as you find yourself in the adoption process, you should remember that as adopting parents you have both rights and responsibilities. Regardless of how you come to adoption – after experiencing infertility, having biological children, or through a sense of calling – these rights and responsibilities are an important part of the journey  

The rights include of adoptive parents include:   

  • The right to be treated with respect and honesty. 
  • The right to have emotional support before, during, and after the adoption placement. 
  • The right to ask questions and receive answers about all steps of the process. 
  • The right to review and understand all legal paperwork before you sign it. 
  • The right to receive counseling services before, during and after the adoption placement. 
  • The right to health information about the child you are adopting, including any prenatal drug exposure or communicable disease. 
  • The right to refuse the placement of a child whose needs exceed your ability to care for that child 

Rights always come along with responsibilities. These responsibilities include: 

  • Treating others involved in your adoption with respect and honesty. 
  • Create a “go-to” person or team who is familiar with adoption issues who can help you answer your questions, and support you with your thoughts and feelings before, during, and after the adoption placement. 
  • Ask questions!  
  • Request a copy of the legal paperwork before you file a petition for adoption with the court. 
  • Process your infertility losses. Understand that having a child through adoption is not a “cure” or fix for infertility. Use the services of a counselor, pastor, or trusted friend who understands what you have been through and will help keep you moving forward. 
  • Be honest if your plans change. If you become pregnant during your adoption journey before the placement of a child into your home, place your adoption plans on hold. Focus on one birth at a time! 
  • Ask for medical records and review them with your child’s medical professional. 
  • Be realistic about your abilities as a parent. 

While these are general rights and responsibilities for adoptive parents, adoptive parents also have more responsibilities to their child that are unique to adoption and are key to developing a healthy sense of identity in the child.

These responsibilities include: 

  • Being honest with your child about the adoption piece of their identity. 
  • Speaking respectfully and lovingly of your child’s birth family. 
  • Using positive adoption language. 
  • Remembering your child’s story is their own and share it only with those with a true need to know. 

No single list is all inclusive. Remember the Golden Rule as you meet expectant parents and develop a relationship with them as your child is growing.  Above all else, you have the responsibility to understand the adopted child carries a piece of their biological family with them forever, and this should be celebrated!    


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.

 

 

 

 


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.


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.


Where’s My Maybe Family?

“And then I found a couple who seemed like my favorite parts of myself in two people. If I wasn’t going to raise her, I knew they would be most similar to how I would have done it.”

How do you find the perfect family? How do you not open your heart to every story from every family that has wanted to have a baby and couldn’t? Who wanted to have a baby but health issues stood in the way? Who already have a baby but felt like their family was not complete and is looking to someone just like you who can make their dreams come true?

Taylor recalls this struggle. After meeting a maybe family on the advice of a “close, trusted friend”, she thought her choice had been made. She wrote in her journal, “I met this great family today. They are so sweet! I feel like we could be friends. We have so much in common.” After telling them her good news, Taylor said, “We are all so happy! I can finally take a deep breath and know that everything is going to be ok.”

Fast forward two weeks. Taylor’s journal tells a different story. “They called today. They are backing out. No reason. No explanation. Just no. What am I going to do? I thought my plan was in place. I am devastated. How could I have been so wrong?”

Taylor picked up the phone and called a friend who worked for the Adoption Support Center. Taylor began looking through profiles of families who were truly committed to adoption. She looked for a family who did not already have children, who had a strong sense of spirituality, and valued education. Those were the things important to Taylor. Eventually she found the family who jumped off the page and into her heart.

Taylor then continued her story by saying, “I am choosing to place my daughter through ASC because I know I will have constant, unwavering support. The rest of my life can’t offer that. I know that any of the women at ASC will hold me up if I struggle.”

The adoption of Taylor’s daughter went exactly as she hoped. Her “maybe family” became “my daughter’s family”. Taylor is confident she made the right decision and says her daughter’s family is “exactly who they said they were. They have never lied or left me in the cold.”

Taylor found a safe place with the women at the Adoption Support Center. Before her daughter was born, Taylor wrote, “I believe the women at ASC are who they say they are. They have had warm, kind words when the world seemed harsh.” After her daughter was born Taylor said of her daughter’s family and the women of ASC “They were exactly what I didn’t know I needed.“


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.


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.