Archive for August, 2016

Dear Birth Parent, Love a Prospective Adoptive Family: Writing Your “Dear Birthmother Letter”

For every one child placed for adoption, there are up to 36 families waiting to adopt.  As a prospective adoptive parent, you want to show expectant/birth parents who you are, why you are different, and what will make you the best possible parent for their child.  You want the chance to express your hopes, dreams, values, and the endless amount of love you can give to a child.  You want to paint a picture of who you are and the life you can provide.  But how?

A “Dear Birthmother letter,” better known as a “Dear Expectant Parent” or “Dear Birth Parent” letter, is one of the most prominent ways you can reach those who are making an adoption plan.  It is a personal letter written by you, a potential adoptive parent, to expectant/birth parents considering adoption for their baby.  Typically, this letter accompanies your Adoptive Parent Profile and is often the first thing an expectant/birth parent will read to learn more about you, your home, and your family.  In this sense, your “Dear Birth Parent” letter is what makes the first impression.

At Adoptions With Love, we often get asked the question, “What are expectant/birth parents looking for in this letter?” or, “How can we make our letter different from all the rest?”  There is no one simple answer.  Every prospective family is different.  Every birth family is different.  Some may be looking for an adoptive family who will give their child siblings.  Some may want this baby to be the first child for these parents. Some may purely be looking for a special connection.

To help guide you in writing your “Dear Birth Parent” letter, here are five tips on what to include, how to converse with an expectant/birth parent, and how to make your letter stand out.

  1. Use appropriate adoption language – While this letter is frequently called a “Dear Birthmother letter,” remember that both women and men may read your letter and many have not yet given birth nor made an adoption plan. Addressing them in this way may make them feel obligated to fulfill a certain role.  Out of respect and empathy for expectant parents still considering adoption, try to use a different salutation when addressing your reader.  For example, use “Dear Expecting Mother/Parents” or a simple “Hi there” to begin.  Continue to use positive, respectful adoption language throughout your letter, too.  Instead of saying “give up for adoption,” try “make an adoption plan.”
  2. Be yourself – This letter is often intimidating for many waiting families. You want to make yourself sound like the perfect parent.  Try to remember that no one is perfect.  You do not have to overpromise, exaggerate, or pretend to be someone you are not.  If you want an open and long-term relationship with a birth family, it is important to be honest from the start.  More than anything, expectant/birth parents are looking for authenticity in these letters.  They want to get to know the real you.  You do not have to appeal to every expectant parent.  The one that likes what you have to say, that shares your views or passions, will be right for you.
  3. Paint a picture of your life – Most expectant/birth parents want to visualize the life their child will have, both now and in the future. What will their neighborhood be like?  What types of activities will they do with their adoptive parents?  Where will they eat dinner each night?  Your relationship with extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. These are details that may seem small to you, but mean a lot to those considering adoption.  In your letter, be as descriptive as possible in writing about your home, your community, your hobbies, your family members and even your favorite vacation spots.  Show how a child will fit in with your lifestyle.  What do you look forward to doing with your child?  Where will your child play, go to school, or spend the holidays?  Use concrete examples, sensory details, and include photographs to further show who you are.
  4. Empathize – To connect with expectant/birth parents, you must show that you care about, empathize with, and respect both them and their decision. Before writing this letter, try to put yourself in an expectant parent ’s shoes.  Remember, every woman and man’s story is different and you may not know exactly what they are going through.  Try not to make assumptions about why she may be considering adoption.  Simply acknowledge that this is a difficult and emotional time in their lives and that you want to be there for them should she need extra support.
  5. Be the solution – Many expectant/birth parents choose adoption because they cannot provide a fulfilling life for their baby at the time. As a result, they are looking for a family who will give their child a life full of love, support, and opportunities.  In your Dear Expectant Parent letter, be sure to communicate exactly what you can offer to a child: unconditional love, emotional and financial support, a safe and stable home, a good education.  Be the solution that they are seeking.

To learn more about writing a Dear Birthmother letter or starting the adoption process, call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or contact us here.

U.S. Gymnast Simone Biles’ Sheds Light on Adoption: “My Parents are my Parents and That’s It.”

Adoption has come a long way over the years.  Today, most people feel very positively about adoption.  In fact, 94 percent of individuals believe that adoptive parents are incredibly fortunate to have made an adoption plan.  90 percent of adopted children have positive feelings about their adoption, and over 80 percent have a warm and close relationship with their adoptive parents.  Adoption is positive for everyone involved and yet, it is clear that there are still misconceptions.

If you have been keeping up with the Olympics this year, you likely know of simone biles storySimone Biles.  Just last week, the 19-year-old, United States’ gymnast earned three gold medals and became the first American woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles.  Simone Biles’ story is inspiring young women, athletes, and families worldwide; not only for her talents as a gymnast but also for her strength and perseverance off-stage.

Fifteen years ago, Simone Biles and her little sister were adopted out of foster care by their maternal grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles.  Their biological mother struggled with addiction and was not able to take care of her children.  Together, the girls moved to Texas to live with Ron and Nellie, who quickly became more than grandparents.

Ron and Nellie are Simone’s legal adoptive parents, her support system, and proudly, her Mom and Dad.  They raised her to be the woman she is today, encouraged her every step of the way, and have consistently been in the stands catching blown-kisses from their golden daughter these past weeks.

On Sunday, August 7th, however, Simone Biles and her parents were put down by gymnastics announcer Al Trautwig, who refused to accept Ron and Nellie as Simone’s parents.  Trautwig explicitly stated on-air that Simone Biles “was raised by her grandfather and his wife and she calls them mom and dad.”  He later wrote on Twitter, “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.”

In just two statements, Trautwig proved that there still exists a huge stigma around the subject of adoption.  He not only rejected Simone Biles’ parents, but also the legitimacy of all adoptive parents.  He threatened Simone’s own self-identity as an adopted child.  He posed many uninformed questions such as, “Can grandparents be parents?” and “Are adoptive parents as real as biological parents?”

Simone Biles set the record straight when she replied,
“My parents are my parents and that’s it.”

That is it.  Adoptive families, no matter their make-up, are real and true families in every aspect – legally, financially, emotionally.  What makes a parent a “real parent” is not biology.  It is nurturing.  It is the day-to-day care, the unconditional love, devotion and commitment that makes a parent a parent.

simone biles adoptionAnd Simone Biles, like most adopted children, is happy with where she is today.  She has a supportive family who encourages her through the best and the worst of days.  She has her parents and her birth parents, and to her, that is completely normal.  There is no doubt or confusion in her mind.

The Olympic gymnast has an open adoption plan.  Simone talks to her birth mother on holidays and birthdays and has met her a few times in person with Nellie by her side.  While she sometimes wonders about the “what-ifs,” Simone chooses to focus her energy on one family. She explained to TIME magazine, “I have everything I need, so there are no blanks left unfilled. I never felt I had questions or needed answers or had a part of me that was missing.”

Ron Biles, Simone’s father, lends some advice to all current and prospective adoptive parents out there.  In a USA Today article, he remarks that “[Adoption] is a wonderful thing.  It gives you the opportunity to enrich the life of yourself and the child, and enrich everyone who is involved in your life.”

He continues, “Raising kids is just a wonderful thing.  You get to see them grow and be a part of that, and I can’t think of anything more satisfying.  It is an important issue and I could only say good things about it.”

Adoption is, in fact, positive for everyone involved.  The Biles family is raising the bar when it comes to how society perceives adoption.  So should we.

If you would like to speak to Adoptions With Love about adoptive parenting, the adoption process, or receive adoption advice, please call toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or contact us here.

What Expectant/Birth Parents Should Know About Adoption Search & Reunion

Whether you are a birth parent or are pregnant and considering adoption for your baby, you are likely thinking of your future – Will you have a relationship with your child?  Will your child try to contact you down the road?  Will you want to meet your child once he or she is grown?

Perhaps you are here because you have already started your search, or your child has already tried to get in contact with you.  Search and reunion is an exciting, yet often complicated journey.  For the searcher, this journey takes time, patience, and understanding.  If you are hoping to get in contact with your child, it is important to check the adoption laws in your state.  Talk to experienced professionals at a reputable, open adoption agency that can help you navigate this journey.

For the one who is being searched for, search and reunion most often comes as a surprise.  If you have recently been found by your child, try to keep an open mind throughout this process.  Consider both your child’s feelings and your own readiness.  If and when you are ready, your adoption agency counselors can help prepare you for your adoption reunion.

Even if you are pregnant and anticipating a search in the future, it can help to know what to expect and how to handle search and reunion should it arise. Here are a few things you should know:

Why do Adopted Children Search for their Birth Parents?

As an expectant/birth parent, you may be wondering about the most common reasons a child may search for his or her biological family.  In the majority of cases, it is not because a child is unhappy in an adoptive family.  Rather, it is out of curiosity, belonging, and an inherent need to know more about their identity.  Below are some of the reasons your child may search for you as he or she grows up:

  • Family information – Many children want to know the names of their biological relatives, where they live, what they are like, and if they have birth siblings.
  • Family traits – Many adoptees want to know what their birth parents look and act like, and see if they share any similar physical or personality traits.
  • Medical history – As adoptees grow and have their own children, it becomes crucial for them to know about any genetic diseases or conditions that may run in their family. In the past, adoption records did not always provide this detailed information.
  • Reasons for adoption –Many adoptees search out their birth families to get a better sense of why they were placed for adoption and how the decision was made.
  • Need for a connection – Once adopted children are old enough to maintain a relationship on their own, they may feel the need to reach out to their birth parents. Many feel that meeting their birth parents will help them gain a better sense of self.

Adoption reunions not only help a child find peace of mind, but also help birth parents see and know that their child is doing well.  No matter where you are in the process, it is important to know that adoption reunions are also very emotional experiences.  You may feel overjoyed, relieved, nervous, confused, or all of the above.  Before you reunite with your child, take time to consider your thoughts and feelings.  Sit down with your social worker and decide what this experience will mean to you.  Below is adoption reunion advice from our expert adoption social workers that may help you during this journey:

If you are “found”:

  • Before you connect with your child, prepare mentally and emotionally for what may and may not happen. Talk with others or join a support group of other birth mothers who have gone through this experience.  Know both what to expect and how to set minimal expectations.
  • Do not rush the relationship with your child. While this is a very exciting time for you and your child, try to pace communication.  Research has found that the most successful birthparent-child relationships gave plenty of time between initial contact and the actual adoption reunion, involving only letters and phone calls in the interim.

If you are searching:

  • Use social media cautiously. Social networks such as Facebook have made it much easier for adoption search and reunion to take place.  While searching through these platforms may be tempting, it is not recommended.  Contacting a birth relative for the first-time via social media is most often unsuccessful and can stir many negative emotions for everyone involved.
  • Make sure your child’s adoptive family supports your reunion. Acceptance by his or her family members will be most beneficial to your relationship.
  • Be respectful. Always be mindful of your child, his or her family, and of your own feelings.

As adoption has grown and changed over the years, so have the children who were placed years ago.  Adoptions With Love—a private, open adoption agency— has experienced this growth first-hand.  We have had adoptees that were placed with us years ago come to us at 29 or 30 years old in search of their birth family.  We have seen adoption plans move from closed to open.  Over the last three decades, we have assisted many adoption reunions and fostered many relationships between adoptive parents, adopted children, and birth parents. We are respectful of all parties involved.

At Adoptions With Love, you have the option of establishing contact with your child and his or her adoptive family from the very beginning.  Through open adoption, you can have greater control over when your child will contact you or how often that communication will occur.  You will also have the comfort of knowing your child is healthy and happy.  All the while, your child will have the opportunity to learn about his or her personal history and build a stronger identity because of it.

Adoptions With Love has a special Search and Reunion group to guide children, families, and birth parents like you through this journey.  To find about our counseling and search services, call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 1-617-777-0072.