Archive for March, 2016

A View of Openness: Peggy’s Adoption Story

The beauty of adoption is that it can come in many different forms, and blossoms in many different ways.  Every adoption story is unique.  This is one birth mother’s story.birth mother story

Peggy came to Adoptions With Love nearly thirty years ago, confronted with an unplanned pregnancy.  She wanted to give her daughter a normal life and loving adoptive family, but could not find an adoption agency that fully supported her wishes.

When Peggy first came to us, she wanted a semi-open adoption plan.  She knew that she wanted to choose the family for her baby, but she also desired a normal life for her daughter.  She thought being a part of that life would only complicate things.  Sixteen years later, that all changed.  She realized that what her daughter truly needed the most was to meet her birth mother.

Read Peggy’s inspirational story as she takes us on an emotional journey through her open adoption experience.  Learn how meeting Margot transformed her life forever.

Meeting Margot

It has been nearly 29 years since I was a freshman in college.  Yet I remember it as though it was yesterday, lying on that hard, plastic, dorm room mattress and realizing that there was something between me and the bed.

What do you do when you are a freshman in college with your whole life ahead of you and a baby growing inside you?  I did not know at the time.  I did know, however, that abortion was not for me.  I knew that the baby’s father should have some say in my decision.  I knew that I had to tell my parents.

Chris, the father and my ex-boyfriend at the time, was out of the parenting equation.  My parents were, too.  “If you keep the baby,” they told me, “we will help you and support your decision, but you will be the parent.”  They already had five children to raise.  They could not parent another.

The responsibility, the decision, came down to just me.  I considered single parenthood but remember asking, ‘What would my life be without my father?’  Growing up, I had the comfort of a mother, a father, and siblings.  I wanted that for my child, as well.  That is when I knew.  I was determined to find a family for my baby.

I first went to my university health center for adoption support.  They offered me abortion pamphlets and directed me to abortion clinics.  When I asked specifically about adoption services, they told me to “look in the Yellow Pages under A.”

I then visited a local adoption agency hoping they could help, only to find that Open Adoption did not exist in Rhode Island.  They told me that I would never meet the adoptive parents of my child.  They told me that I could not talk to potential families or choose the parents for my baby.

I was disheartened at first.  I wanted my child to have a sibling.  I wanted my child to be raised Catholic.  I wanted to find an agency that would help me find a couple who met those wishes.  I wanted an adoption agency that would offer me the counseling I knew I would need, one that would guide me through the process without telling me what to do.

I started to extend my search for an adoption agency outside my home state.  It was 1987 and I was seven months pregnant at the time.  Adoption had only started to evolve. Open adoption was not the norm, and as a result, only two agencies offered me the option of meeting prospective adoptive parents.  My mother and I visited both of these agencies.  The first agency made my mom wait outside the door while I went inside to discuss an adoption plan.  They asked personal details regarding the birth father and my medical history right from the get go, which was a bit unnerving.  But I remember them showing me photos of a waiting family who had a son.  I remember thinking, “This could be the family for my baby.”  Still, we moved on.

The second agency we visited was Adoptions With Love.  My mother and I felt welcomed, supported, understood from the minute we entered their doors— Everything about the agency felt right.  After that initial visit, the director of Adoptions With Love drove hundreds of miles, twice a week, to meet with me and my family.  She counseled me on my pregnancy options and prepared me for the entire adoption process—before, during, and after the birth of my baby.

I vividly remember looking at prospective families with Adoptions With Love.  They told me I could request letters and photos from the adoptive parents regularly after the adoption placement, too, and respected me when I declined.  Of course, I wanted to know that my baby was doing well, but I feared that sending the photos and letters would be too painful for the adoptive parents.  I decided that what was most important was for my child and his/her family to be “normal”.  Having to send photos to me could make the parents not feel that they were a “regular” family.

What was important to me was meeting the adoptive family.  I picked a family that seemed to be the perfect fit, only to learn that they could not go ahead with adoption due to a death in their family.  Adoptions With Love offered me two other couples, a Protestant couple with a child and a childless Catholic couple that planned to have more children.  I knew I needed to stick to my guns and find the family that I believed was right for my daughter. I gave birth the day after I had made this decision.  I was scared.  I had a baby girl but no parents to entrust her to.

I spent three days in the hospital with my daughter.  Those are three days I will never forget, even 29 years later.  I remember them vividly, both crying when she was in the nursery and trying not to cry when she was in my arms.  I remember the sound of her bassinet as it came rolling down the hospital halls.  I remember the day my friend, a priest, came in to bless my daughter.

Two days after my daughter’s birth, the director at Adoptions With Love came to visit. With her she brought a folder that contained a photo of a waiting Massachusetts family.  They had a son.  I was overwhelmed with happiness, with surprise, with tears.  It was the same family I had liked at the first agency.  It was the same family I wanted for my baby.

My daughter soon became Margot, named, by the adoptive parents, after me (Margaret).  I was ecstatic.  At last, I felt like I had done my job.  I found the right parents for my daughter.

I will not deny there were times of sadness.  The day I was discharged from the hospital, the day I bottle fed Margo for the last time, the day I left the hospital with empty arms, was the day I cried the most.  But I remember thinking that it was okay to cry. I had been strong when I needed to be strong.

When we first met, Margot’s adoptive parents suggested another meeting down the road. I thought this would only be confusing for Margot.  So when I said goodbye to my baby, I truly thought I would never see her again.  I prepared myself for this.  I kept my contact information updated in my file with Adoptions With Love, so that Margot could contact me one day, if and when she was ready.  I believed that if we were meant to see each other, we would.

I went back to school, finished my degree, and began my career as an oncology nurse.  I eventually married my husband, Tom, and twelve years after Margot’s birth, we had our daughter Helena.

I have always valued sibling relationships.  They were important for me to give to Margot, and important for me to give to Helena.  Tom and I continued to try and get pregnant. I conceived seven times after Helena’s birth and had seven early miscarriages.  On the eighth try, we conceived our second child, Allison.

Weeks into our pregnancy, Adoptions With Love called.  The director explained that Margo, now 16, was doing well and wanted to meet her birth mother.  She added that Margo’s family fully supported this meeting and that Margot had received counseling.

I received letters and phone calls from Margot up until our meeting.  I remember them vividly: a tracing of Margot’s hand, to show me that one finger was bent.  She asked if anyone in my family had a finger like hers.  She asked where she got her interest in tennis.

We met for the first time on Valentine’s Day.  I was already six months pregnant with Allison and never so nervous in my entire life.  Margot quickly eased my nerves with her overwhelming joy.

Margot has always been my priority.  I have always let her make the rules when it comes to our adoption plan.  From the beginning, I told her adoptive parents that whatever Margot wanted was fine with me.  When she wanted to continue these reunions, we did.  She met my parents, my brothers and sisters, and eventually my aunts, uncles, and cousins as well.  Our meetings became more regular.  One weekend a month Margot would come and visit my family.  She even got to meet Chris, her birth father, a visit which Adoptions With Love mediated nearly three decades later.

In the months following Margot’s birth, I told people that I did not have children.  Now I tell everyone I have three beautiful daughters.  My three daughters are sisters, through and through.  I could not be more proud.

 


How to Adopt a Child in Massachusetts

Are you considering adopting a child in Massachusetts? Adoption is a beautiful way to grow your family and provide a child with a loving, forever home. Choosing to adopt a baby is the start of an incredible journey. It is a journey of love, patience, and at times, paperwork. If you are just getting started, we understand the adoption process can be intimidating. There are many steps in the domestic infant adoption process, and adoption laws and processes do vary state to state. It is important for you to understand each choice you can make throughout the domestic adoption process. Follow these five steps to learn how to adopt a child in the Bay State.

1.) Choose an adoption professional

You have decided you want to pursue a domestic infant adoption, but which adoption agency will best help you with the process? Massachusetts is an “agency” state that requires you to work with a licensed adoption agency. Choosing an adoption agency is a crucial first step for Massachusetts families hoping to adopt. Adoption agencies can help you navigate the adoption process, answer your questions along the way, and help to create the best adoption plan.

Adopting domestically in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be done through a private adoption agency or through the foster care system. If you choose to work with a private adoption agency, you will need to decide which local adoption agency works best for you. Some agencies are “full service” and others only will do your home study.

Working with a local, private Massachusetts adoption agency allows you to truly personalize your adoption plan. You can meet face-to-face with social workers to talk through the laws of the state in which your child is born as well as your hopes and concerns in designing an adoption plan. At Adoptions With Love, our goal is to match you with a birth mother and child within six months of completing your adoption application. Our approach is very personal with a lot of support.

2.) Complete an adoption application, training, and a home study

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires all potential adoptive parents to complete a thorough application process. This goes beyond filling out paperwork. To get approved to adopt a child in MA, prospective parents need to complete an extensive home study and take required baby care training courses to prepare for parenthood.

A home study is a 2-3 month process to educate you and prepare you for adoption. It allows us to understand your home environment, your familial relationships, and your personal background. Home study requirements differ state to state. Only a licensed adoption professional can assess your home and determine if you meet the Massachusetts requirements. Your social worker will guide you through this home study process while also preparing to match you with expectant parents who are hoping to find the perfect family for the baby. The study looks at your stability, background checks and ability to financially raise a child into adulthood. Though the home study process may be nerve-wracking, it is nothing to sweat! Your adoption social worker is there to support you through the entire adoption process.  At Adoptions With Love, we are looking for the best home for each child, while also making sure this is the best child for you and your family.

3.) Create an Adoptive Family Profile

Once you have completed the application process, it is time to show expectant parents information about you as a prospective adoptive family. If you choose to work with Adoptions With Love, we can help you create an Adoptive Parent Profile. This profile is a compilation of photos, letters, and information that will help prospective birth parents get to know you and your family. This is the first impression you will have on expectant mothers, so it is crucial to put a lot of thought and dedication into your adoption profile. To get a better sense of how to get started, read our blog on creating your Adoptive Parent Profile.

Not only can we help you design your adoption profile and draft letters to expectant mothers, but Adoptions With Love can also help you reach (and put you in touch) with expectant parents.

4.) Meet or establish contact with the expectant mother

If an expectant/birth mother chooses to make an open adoption plan, she may ask to meet or speak with you before the adoption occurs and sometimes prior to the baby’s birth. A licensed adoption agency can facilitate this contact, whether it be through an in-person meeting or via phone or email. In this conversation, you will have the opportunity to get to know one another, ask questions, and discuss ongoing contact. If all parties choose to have a face-to-face visit, you may have to travel to the state in which an expectant mother resides.

5.) Finalize the adoption

In each state, there is a specified period birth mothers must wait before signing legal papers and making a final decision regarding adoption. In Massachusetts, birth parents must wait four days after the baby’s birth to sign any adoption papers.

Once the adoption papers are completed and you have welcomed your baby home, you can expect a series of home visits from your adoption social worker. These post-placement visits will allow your social worker to see how well you and your baby are adjusting and offer any further support.

Remember, the adoption process does not end once the adoption is finalized. Adoption is a lifelong journey, and for you, it is just the beginning of a new happily ever after.

Adoptions With Love is a non-profit agency that has been successfully creating families for thirty years. If you are a Massachusetts resident hoping to grow your family through adoption, contact us to begin the process. We are here for you.


How to Choose an Adoption Agency: A Guide for Expectant Mothers [Infographic]

choosing an adoption agency

Did you know that one-third of women facing an unplanned pregnancy consider adoption as a positive option for their baby? If you have made the courageous decision to place your baby for adoption, your next step will be to start designing an adoption plan. Who do you want to help you through this process? Who will offer you the most reliable support throughout your pregnancy and beyond?

Choosing the right kind of adoption professional is vital to the adoption process. The agency or counselor you choose will become the backbone of your adoption plan, offering you guidance and services throughout this unexpected journey. With the many types of adoption professionals today, it can be difficult to know where to turn for the most reputable and trusted support.

At Adoptions With Love, we want you to receive the service that you and your baby deserve. Our expert adoption professionals have created the above infographic to show expectant mothers like you how to choose the best possible adoption support. The above step-by-step guide will help you:

  • Research the various types of adoption professionals. While there are many types of services for women choosing adoption and over 2,000 private agencies throughout the USA, not all will be right for you. For example, adoption attorneys do not offer counseling and ongoing contact/support. Adoption facilitators do not offer screening of adoptive parents, financial support, or ongoing counseling services and are illegal in 15 states. Private adoption agencies are licensed, professionally trained social workers that must adhere to guidelines that protect you and the baby. They carefully screen adoptive families and can commit to you at each stage of the adoption process.
  • Find an agency that gives you choices. Today, 95 percent of adoption agencies offer open, semi-open, and closed adoptions. At an open adoption agency, you will always have the right to control YOUR adoption plan.
  • Find an agency that offers legal adoption agreements. Legal, binding contracts will help ensure that your baby’s adoption will go according to YOUR plan, every step of the way. Today, many private agencies offer post-adoption contracts. In fact, 67 percent of privately adopted U.S. children currently have post-adoption agreements.
  • Find an agency that offers a thorough screening process of potential adoptive families. Many expectant/birth mothers find peace of mind knowing their child will grow up in a safe and secure environment. Choosing an adoption agency that carefully conducts home studies, does thorough background checks, and post-placement visits can ensure the stability of an adoptive family’s home. Look for an agency that requires extensive home studies and at least six months of post-adoption visits.
  • Choose an adoption agency. Our goal is to help you choose an adoption professional that can meet each of your important needs. Read the above infographic to learn how to choose an adoption agency and how to be confident in your choice.

Adoptions With Love is a non-profit, private domestic agency offering adoption assistance to pregnant women nationwide. If you would like more information on finding the right adoption agency or the perfect home for your child, please call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731. Download our free guide, How to Choose an Adoption Agency below.

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