Archive for May, 2017

Using Positive Adoption Language

positive adoption languageLanguage can be very powerful. Our choice of words can reveal a lot about who we are and what we think, feel, and value. When we talk about sensitive subjects, therefore, we tend to choose our words more wisely so as not to offend anyone in conversation. We use positive language as a means to show respect to those we are speaking with, and to establish a healthy dialogue on even the most delicate topics.

This especially holds true when talking about adoption, a once-stigmatized subject that has taken great strides in recent years. For the most part, adoption language (the way we speak about adoption) has made great strides as well. In the past, adoptions were kept secret. Adopted children were asked “where they came from,” but did not know the answers. The act of placing a child for adoption was referred to as “giving up.” Most often, adoptive families were not seen as “real families” – “real” implied biological.

Today, adoption is seen in a very positive light. Families grow through adoption. Expectant mothers make thoughtful adoption plans for their children. Adopted children now have the opportunity to meet or speak with their birth families through an open adoption arrangement. People are more aware of adoption than ever before, largely because it is spoken about in a more open and positive manner. Themes of adoption run in popular, mainstream television shows such as Modern Family and This Is Us.

Adoption is also more common than it was in the past. In the United States, there are currently over 1.8 million children who have been adopted. Even more of us have been touched by the act of adoption in some way, knowing someone who has been adopted, someone who has adopted, or being that very person ourselves. That is why it is so important to always use positive adoption language in our conversations about the subject.

As close as some of us may be to adoption, we know that we may not always speak about it the way we intend. It is common to hear the phrase “giving up for adoption” or to talk about someone’s “adopted son or daughter.” The problem is that this is negative adoption language – words that can have a very damaging effect on how others perceive adoption and how adopted children, adoptive families, and birth parents distinguish themselves.

Let us use the above examples. If you are an adoptive parent and refer to your child as your “adopted daughter,” you run the risk of making her feel like she does not belong to your family. This could impact her identity and her self-esteem. If you are a clinician and ask your patient if she is considering “giving her baby up for adoption,” you will have added a very negative connotation to the act. Adoption is not giving up. Rather, it is a very difficult decision that birth parents make with thoughtful consideration of their child’s well-being and an overwhelming love for their child. Through adoption, they can plan for the life of their child, a life full of opportunity and security, a life that they may not be ready to provide. Instead of “giving up a child,” we say “making an adoption plan”.

Whether you are an expectant/birth parent, a waiting adoptive family, or a clinical professional, it is important to familiarize yourself with positive adoption language. Below we have outlined the most commonly used negative adoption language, as well as the positive phrases that should be used in its place:

Negative Adoption Language Positive Adoption Language
Real Parent Birth Parent or Biological Parent
Give Up for Adoption Make an Adoption Plan
Put Up for Adoption Choose Adoption
Keep Your Baby Parent Your Child
Unwanted Pregnancy Unintended Pregnancy
Unwanted Child Child Placed for Adoption
Adopted Child My Child / Their Child
Is Adopted Was Adopted
Adoptive Parent Parent
Track Down Parents Search
Adoptable Child Waiting Child

Relinquished

Made an Adoption Plan

Positive adoption language should also be taken into consideration when talking to families about their children and/or their decision to adopt. For example, it may feel easy to say something such as, “It is so wonderful that you adopted. I could not raise someone else’s child,” or, “Your son/daughter is so lucky” or “so much better off with you as a parent.” These phrases are problematic because they are based on unfounded assumptions about adoption. They imply that adoptive parents are different and to be glorified over other parents. They imply that their children should feel grateful for having been adopted. They also imply that birth parents are unfit parents – all misconceptions that are commonly associated with adoption.

Using positive adoption language helps us to dissipate the myths and stigma that adoption once carried, and educate others on this subject. It encourages the world to view adoption not as second-best to parenthood, but rather, as a positive option for those who cannot or are not ready to fully provide for a child. By using positive adoption language, we honor and show respect to birth parents for making a loving, courageous, and selfless choice; to parents by adoption, we validate their role as their child’s forever family; and by this, we acknowledge the child and his/her extended family.

If you are a clinician looking for information on how to talk about adoption with your patients, please download our “Clinician’s Guide to Adoption” below. If you are an adoptive family or expectant/birth parent looking to learn more about adoption, please do not hesitate to call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or contact us here.

guide to adoption


Birth Mothers’ Thoughts on Mother’s Day

birth mothers day

Mother’s Day is a day of honor and celebration, recognizing the endless love that mothers have and the countless sacrifices that they make for their children. For families in the adoption community, Mother’s Day could not be celebrated without also acknowledging one of the greatest maternal sacrifices of all.

Adoption is a selfless, courageous choice made by birth mothers – women who not only gave their children life, but also gave their children a life to look forward to through adoption.  Through their choice, many adoptive families have had the opportunity to grow.

That is why every Saturday before Mother’s Day, the second Saturday in May, is celebrated as Birth Mother’s Day. This is the day that many adoptive families will honor the women who helped make their families possible. While some in open adoptions may honor this special day, many birth mothers do not know about Birth Mother’s Day. Others will recognize the holiday silently. Some may even cope with feelings of sadness or loss around this time of year, and choose not to recognize the day at all.

As a non-profit adoption agency, Adoptions With Love facilitates a regular support group for birth mothers who have made the loving choice of adoption. In light of Mother’s Day and Birth Mother’s Day this month, we asked the group about their own adoption stories and feelings around this time of year. Here is what some of birth mothers had to say:

Have you experienced Mother’s Day previously? If so, how did you feel around the holiday?

Chloe: Yes, my daughter is three now. It’s a strange feeling. I remember thinking about her a lot every time I saw Mother’s Day ads for things. Knowing that you’re a mother, and that no one knows, is a weird thing. It’s like you’re waiting for someone to say, “Happy Mother’s Day” but you know it’s impossible for them to do so. I have conflicting emotions about someone saying it to me anyway. My daughter, and my experience with placing her, feels very private and personal. It’s almost strange to me when other people bring her up.

Brittney: Last year was technically my first Mother’s Day, but it was only about a month after my son was born, so my emotions were still all over the place. I think I was so in shock over what had happened that I didn’t really relate the holiday to myself. On that day, I did receive a nice text message from the adoptive parents thanking me again for what I had done for them, wishing me a happy Mother’s Day, and reminding me how I will always have a special place in my son’s life. That text made me feel good, knowing that they were thinking of me on that particular day.

I almost feel like this year is my first Mother’s Day, seeing that last year fell so close after the birth/adoption. I am in a completely different place than I was this time last year, and feel more comfortable with the day approaching. It’s still hard for me to relate to Mother’s Day since I don’t do all the normal motherly duties. With that being said, I feel like I almost take it as any other day but, celebrating my mom of course and thinking of my son a little extra. The day itself does not make me sad; it reminds of the place I hold in my son’s life and how we will always be a part of each other.

Kaelyn: This is will be my second Mother’s Day. Last year I was expecting it to be extremely difficult, and basically prepared myself for the worst. When the day came, it was just like any ordinary day and I was okay. Social media posts definitely made it the hardest and I did get down. Then I started getting texts and phone calls (including one from the adoptive family wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day). It definitely made me sad, but also very happy. No matter what holiday it is, there is always mixed emotions but at the end of the day I was happy and filled with joy especially because so many people went out of their way to acknowledge me.

What is your relationship with your child’s adoptive family?

Chloe: They send pictures and letters. Great letters – full of details I didn’t know they’d think to include. I love hearing about all the daily minutia of her life — what she’s eating, what her favorite toy or show or book is. Anything about things she says or does or little anecdotes that show her personality. I love everything they tell me about her. I asked for a shared Shutterfly account, and they’ve posted pictures there as well. They make my whole week!! I smile for days every time they post one. I also met them when my daughter was about six months old. I recently reached out again to ask for another get-together, and they graciously agreed.

Julia: The relationship is great and has really evolved. There are, of course, some formalities when we talk with each other, but they are very relaxed now. We communicate so often I feel strongly that when my daughter is able to understand who I am as a birth mother, it won’t be as difficult for her to process.

We went to the zoo recently and since we Skype frequently, she knew who I was and was able to run up and hug me when she saw me. I communicate mostly with her mother and she’s able to ask me specific questions that she may not know about raising an African American child. Her mother and I both have the same tattoo in the same place. We both have the same picture framed in our houses.

When it’s time for the pictures and updates that are mailed directly to Adoptions With Love, the adoptive parents go above and beyond what is it expected. They’ve also started to FaceTime me when my daughter is doing funny things. I truly feel that I will be able to see her grow up and have a real relationship with her.

Brittney: I have an amazing relationship with the adoptive parents. Throughout this past year, we have become closer than I ever imagined. We have created a special friendship and bond that I don’t think happens very often in this type of situation. I never thought my relationship was going to turn out like this, but now that is has, I don’t think any of us would want it any other way.

We talk more frequently than birth/adoptive families usually do, but at this point it’s so natural and we can make a great conversation out of anything and understand each other on multiple levels. They really want me to be a big part in my son’s life and enjoy sharing every milestone with me. I am honored to have such an open relationship with them, and to be able to know not only the big things about my son, but also the small things. Having this strong relationship with them has helped me deal with the situation in a better way than I expected. I am grateful for them, just as I know they are grateful for me and I hope more birth/adoptive families can create a relationship like ours in the future.

Adoption is an emotional journey, and can be especially at this time of year. When needed, who or where do you turn to for support?

Chloe: Honestly, it’s really, really hard for me to ask for help on anything. It’s especially hard on this subject because I lived through the hardest parts on my own, so anyone else having opinions on what I did, or what I should do now, sometimes feels like an invasion. There’s also the very real issue that people just don’t get it. It’s not their fault. I have people on my side who genuinely care and want to help and would bend over backwards to listen if I wanted to talk. But when I talk about it, while they are understanding, they don’t actually understand.

That’s why this birth moms group has been so amazing. It’s this whole group of women who literally know what you went through, and how weird the adoption process sometimes is, and how complicated your emotions get, and are on that same rollercoaster ride of emotions you are. And they truly understand, and don’t try to insert their opinions into your story. They don’t tell you what you should do or judge what you’ve done. They just let you share your life, and they share theirs, and there’s a mutual understanding. So they’re who I talk to mostly. About relationships, about our kids, about our kids’ families, and most of all our emotions on all those subjects.

Julia: I call the people that were with me when my daughter was born. Counseling helped a lot as well, just to have someone to talk to solely and specifically about adoption. I still e-mail my counselor occasionally just to say hi and tell her thanks for listening. My dogs were also there for support!

Brittney: When support is needed, I go to my mom. Also, attending the meetings at Adoptions With Love has been the best support— being able to be around girls that have dealt with the same situation puts your head in the right perspective, and the staff is also very supportive and understanding.

Do you have any advice for other birth mothers on coping with feelings this time of year?

Chloe: I think the most helpful thing I ever heard or said on the subject was that no matter what choice you make — whether you raise your child yourself or choose adoption — you still gave birth to them, and that makes you a mother. Being a birth mother doesn’t make you less of a mother than a woman who raises her own child, or less of a mother than a woman who adopts. You are all mothers, and being different kinds of mothers is okay.

Julia: Recognize the adoptive mother, text her, send her a card, do something. Also find something that will help keep your mind off Mother’s Day if you think it’s going to be a sad day. Plan a day with friends, or do an activity that will help ease your anxiety. If you can talk with the adoptive family, do that.

Also, recognize that adoption is not just about having a relationship with your child, it’s also about the parents as well. In the early years where the child is not able to understand exactly who you are as a birth parent, they are still able to recognize your relationship with the adoptive parent. The more positive that relationship is, the stronger your relationship will be when it’s time.

Brittney: The best advice I think I could give to other birth mothers is try to think of the positives on this day. I know for some it can be very emotional, but just think to yourself how you and the child will always share a special bond and be a part of each other. The day shouldn’t be about grieving your decision, but knowing you did what was right for the child and that even though you aren’t their mother figure, you are a special person to them in more ways than one.

Kaelyn: My advice is just to remember that, most importantly, it’s okay to have these feelings. For me, this year is my second Mother’s Day and I don’t have all the sad “what if” feelings anymore. It takes time and every person deals with things in their own way. When I was feeling down around this time last year, I asked for pictures of my daughter or just had a conversation with my adoptive mom asking if anything new has happened, how their weekend was… little things to put a smile on my face!

Birth Mother’s Day is the Saturday before Mother’s Day, created to recognize those who made the brave decision of adoption. Some birth parents, however, feel that they do not want to celebrate a separate holiday from other mothers. What are your thoughts/feelings on Birth Mother’s Day?

Chloe: I’m in both camps. I do think that birth mothers are mothers, and that we need to educate people and help them understand that we’re mothers even though we aren’t raising our children. But at the same time, having a Birth Mother’s Day is a great way to start the conversation and bring the subject to light.

I think that as mothers, we all think about our babies all the time. My daughter crosses my mind every single day. Sometimes as a quick passing reference, sometimes in deep thought. But she’s there somewhere every day. So I really wish that adoption and being a birth mother weren’t such taboo subjects, because it’s so much healthier and easier when we can talk about all the conflicting emotions that come with being birth moms.

Julia: I’ve heard about the holiday, though I’ve never celebrated it as it’s not recognized enough. I think that although my child isn’t living with me and I’m not actually raising her, it doesn’t make me less of a mother to be recognized on a separate day than others.

Brittney: I never knew there was a Birth Mother’s Day, and now knowing that there is, I prefer that day over Mother’s Day. I think it is a great way to recognize us and the decision we made. I like that it is separate from Mother’s Day because the way I look at it is, we are separate from the role our mother’s play and from the role the adoptive mother of our child plays.

Kaelyn: I had no idea Birth Mother’s Day was a day until this year. I believe it’s very important for all moms to celebrate regardless of being a birth mom, adoptive mom, etc. We are all mothers. Many people don’t recognize the sacrifice we make as birth mothers, so I definitely believe we deserve a day for us.

Adoption is not an easy decision, but rather, a sacrifice that requires a mother’s strength, bravery, and most of all, love. If this is your first Mother’s Day since placing your baby for adoption, you may be experiencing an array of different emotions. If you need someone to talk to, you can always call an Adoptions With Love counselor toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072.

*For the purpose of anonymity, all names have been changed


May is National Foster Care Month

For many of us, May is the time of the year we associate with flowers and sunshine, barbecues and outdoor celebrations, and honoring Mom on the second Sunday of the month. What many of us do not realize, however, is that May also marks the nationally-recognized Foster Care Month.

National Foster Care Month is a time to raise awareness about the magnitude of youth in the child welfare system, and to recognize the ways in which we can enhance their lives inside and outside of foster care. Reality is, there are more than 400,000 youth currently in the United States’ foster care system – more than 400,000 children who do not have a stable, permanent place to call home.

Every child deserves a forever home, a safe place, a nurturing family who they can turn to in times of need. Every child deserves the resources and support needed to reach their fullest potential in life. Every child deserves to be loved. Yet for the hundreds of thousands of infants, children, and youth moving through foster care, these opportunities are not always in arm’s reach.

Almost half of the children in foster care today live with non-relative foster families. Foster families provide secure, nurturing environments for children who do not yet have forever homes. They give children a place to grow and learn, granting them the resources needed for a successful start in life. This month, we celebrate all the foster parents who have already opened their homes and hearts to these children. We honor their dedication in helping children find permanent, loving homes.

Of the 400,000+ children in foster care today, one-quarter are currently waiting to be placed with their forever families through the act of adoption.

This National Foster Care Month, we also celebrate the forever families – the pre-adoptive, foster-to-adopt, and adoptive families – who have chosen to provide permanent homes for children not living with their biological parents. Through the positive act of adoption, these families offer children from foster care a life to look forward to, a life full of love, security, and opportunity, a life that every child deserves.

Adoption is a positive alternative to the current foster care system, in which many children move about from home to home without a sure sense of stability or permanency. Not only does adoption give them a home to grow in and thrive, but it also gives many hopeful parents the opportunity to grow and build families.

foster care month 2017

There is never too much love. This loving foster family became a forever family through adoption [photo taken at the Adoptions With Love agency].

Adoption, overall, is a very fulfilling experience for everyone involved. About 87 percent of adoptive parents by foster care and 93 percent of adoptive parents by private adoption would “definitely” make the same decision again. Their children agree – More than nine out of 10 adopted children today have positive feelings about their adoption. 75 percent currently reside in safe neighborhoods, and 69 percent live with two parents. Adopted children are also more likely to be read to every day as young children, sung to or told stories daily, and to participate in extracurricular activities as they grow.

The vast majority of adoptive families today are involved in an open adoption plan. Open adoption allows an adoptive family and biological (birth) family to stay connected over the years, and has proven to be especially beneficial for the growing child. In an open adoption arrangement, a child can get to know his or her roots, develop a greater sense of identity, and better understand his or her birth parents’ choice. In some cases, it also gives children the opportunity to develop a relationship with their birth families long-term.

Despite popular belief, adoption does not have to mean saying goodbye forever. Open adoption gives adoptive and birth families the chance to build relationships with one another, while offering children a forever loving family and a safe, stable environment to call home. It can be a great alternative for biological and adoptive families who are looking for ways to give children the futures they deserve.

During the thirty-one days of National Foster Care Month, Adoptions With Love asks everyone to recognize the plight of foster care and to think about the positive alternative of adoption. For expectant/birth parents who are not able to provide for a child at this time, we ask you to think about the best interests of your son or daughter. By making an adoption plan, you can give your child a permanent, stable, and long-term home. Through open adoption, you can even choose the adoptive family to raise your baby and maintain contact with them over the years.

Adoptions With Love is a non-profit, open adoption agency working to find the best possible home for every child in need. In light of this National Foster Care Month, we hope to inspire families to come forward and help us in finding and providing forever homes. For more information on adoption, do not hesitate to visit Adoptionswithlove.org/contact-us or call 800-722-7731 today.

 


May Flowers & Adoption Showers: Tips for Hosting an Adoption Baby Shower

Spring is officially here. As the warm weather sets in and April showers pass by, we look forward to seeing what new life will blossom this season. This is especially true for many prospective parents who are hoping to welcome a new little life into their own homes and hearts.

A baby shower is a rite of passage that many parents look forward to when they find out they are expecting. Traditionally, it is a welcome celebration in which the expectant parents are showered with baby gifts, countless congratulations, and high spirits in anticipation of their child.

Welcoming a new member into the family is unquestionably a moment worth celebrating, and families that choose to grow through adoption are no exception. Today, it is becoming increasingly popular for adoptive parents to embrace the arrival of their new child with an adoption shower.

If you are on the way to becoming adoptive parents, Adoptions With Love extends a big hug and congratulations to you. This is the start of a beautiful journey for your family, one that will soon be blessed with the presence of a child.

If you are a friend or family member of the waiting adoptive family, we also extend good wishes your way. We can only imagine how excited you are to help welcome this child into his or her forever home. Before you start planning the adoption shower, however, there are considerations to keep in mind.

As you may already know, biological parents and adoptive parents prepare a bit differently for the arrival of their child. In the same token, preparing for a baby shower and an adoption shower should differ in their approach. Whether you are hosting the adoption shower or helping with the plans, here are some important considerations and tips to remember when celebrating the baby and parents-to-be.

  1. Hold off on the celebrations until after the baby is born and placed –

There are many unknowns when it comes to adopting a child. In most scenarios, the waiting parents do not know when they will receive the baby. Even if they are chosen by an expectant mother, there is no way to know if this particular adoption plan will be “the one” that brings a baby into their lives. While the staff at Adoptions With Love does our best to help expectant adoptive parents prepare for the adoption process, law states that birth parents cannot make a final decision regarding the adoption until after their baby is born. Sometimes, this can take days or even weeks after the child’s birth.

With that in mind, we recommend holding off any adoption celebrations until after the child is born and placed with their forever adoptive family. Doing so will avert any possible disappointment or frustration that a premature adoption shower could cause. Some adoptive parents will even wait to host an adoption shower until after the revocation period is up and they can assure their child is forever home.

  1. Give it time before throwing the adoption shower –

We understand that everyone, friends and family alike, will be excited to meet the latest addition to the family. If you are the soon-to-be parents, however, you might consider taking time to spend with your child before hosting a big celebration. Giving your child (and yourselves) a few weeks to adjust to new parenthood, will allow you to connect with your baby. If you are hosting an adoption baby shower for the new parents, be sure to check in and make sure they are ready for a welcome party.

  1. Tread lightly with any surprises –

Most of us out there love surprises, but when it comes to an adoption shower, it is best to play it safe and steer away from the surprise party approach. Adoption timelines, unfortunately, are never set in stone. Plans change or get delayed, and as mentioned before, the timing of the official adoption placement is very unpredictable. If you are hosting, make sure that the new parents are involved in the planning process. They may want time to adjust to parenthood before having a party.

If you are really into grand gestures and surprises, you may consider taking a different approach to the expected adoption shower. Fact is, adoptive parents often spend a good amount of time travelling to meet the expectant/birth parents of their child. In many cases, the birth parents will even ask that they be in the hospital the day and days after the baby is born. If this is the case for your honorees, be sure to check in with them while they are on their trip. Once you have word that the adoption is official, consider filling their house with “welcome home” baby gifts – clothing, diapers, food, toys, books. Many adoptive parents do not buy these things in advance in case of adoption hiccups, and will be very appreciative upon bringing their baby home to a well-prepared house.

  1. Personalize the party –

An adoption shower should reflect the adoption journey in some shape or form. If you know the child is of a certain heritage or background, you may consider celebrating that through food or decoration. If you know that the adoptive family traveled by air or car to meet their baby, or any other specific tidbits from their adoption story, try to incorporate that into the theme of the party as well.Puzzling Advice

No matter what, keep the focus of the party on parenting and the adoption experience. Unlike a traditional baby shower, adoption showers are not about pregnancy or birth. Think about the love and joy involved in adoption, and bring that to life through the party. Consider bringing adoption-related children’s books for others to read to learn more about adoption, and then give them to the new parents to read to their child once the party has ended. Consider other personalized activities such as custom message puzzle pieces and personalized notes for the family to help welcome the child home.

Adoption baby showers are a great way to say “Welcome Home” to a forever family. Whether you are hopeful adoptive parents or the adoption shower planners, there is just one more consideration that everyone should keep in mind: family bonds go beyond biology, love makes a family complete, and every parent – including adoptive parents – deserves a party to celebrate their newest family member.

For more tips and information about adopting a child, do not hesitate to reach out to Adoptions With Love at 617-964-4357. Across Massachusetts, we help families grow through adoption. We can also help you get started on your own adoption journey.