Archive for November, 2017

National Adoption Day: Essex Probate Court November 17, 2017

November was National Adoption Month.  On November 17th we were pleased and honored to participate in the first ever National Adoption Day Celebration at the Essex County Probate Court.  We finalized 5 adoptions that day.

In addition to finalizing many adoptions, we celebrated adoption and the families formed by adoption.

Adoption is the legal process of creating a family.  In our society, the word family has taken on many different meanings.

It was a very exciting day for all the families.  Several families brought extended family members and others brought themselves and their child.

Ben and Julia, whose adoption of Isabella was finalized that day, invited her biological mother Stacey and her two children, Cassie & Charlie, along with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends.  This was a first for AWL and the Judge that the biological family was present at the finalization.  I was quite taken that after the formal ceremony, Isabella’s grandparents all hugged Stacey and thanked her.  Their love and gratitude was sincere. They are a snap shot into an open adoption; with adoptive parents, biological family and extended family all brought together through Isabella… they create a new family by adoption.

national adoption day 2017

I want to share a story with you of a family created through adoption 30 years ago.

Peggy was an 18 year old high school graduate, heading to college, when she discovered she was pregnant.  Peggy went to her parents and the father of her baby.  Together they decided they the best option was to make an adoption plan for her expected baby.  Peggy found AWL and with the assistance of AWL, she found the perfect family for her baby, Ginger, Dan and their young son Adam.  One of the reasons Peggy selected Ginger and Dan is that she wanted her little girl to have a sibling.  Peggy’s siblings and her extended family have always been an important part of her life.  Peggy met Ginger and Dan when Margo was placed with them.

Peggy made the decision not to have ongoing contact with Ginger, Ken and Margo until Margo was ready for some contact.  Peggy kept in contact with AWL, updating us with her new addresses and events in her life.  Peggy graduated from college, became a nurse, married and had a child.

Fast forward 16 years: with the support from her parents, Margo contacted AWL and said she was ready to meet her birth mother.  Ginger and Dan had shared all the information they were given when Margo was placed with them.  Margo met with me and it was clear that she was ready to meet Peggy.  I contacted Peggy and met with her and her husband, Tom.   She was 8 months pregnant with her third child and ready to move forward to meet Margo; the teenager who was the infant she placed for adoption 16 years ago.

In Margo’s words, these are some of the reasons she wanted to meet Peggy:

“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was adopted. For me growing up, it was always just a fact: that my birth mother made an adoption plan for me because she loved me, and that my adoptive parents are crazy about me. I am very much a part of my family. Friends who have known me for years comment on their disbelief that my brother Adam and I are not biologically related. We share so many mannerisms; so many inside jokes, and truly bring out the ten-year-old in each other…. As much as I felt loved and fulfilled in my adopted family, there was always what I described as a hole in my heart. Knowing that my birth mother Peggy placed me out of love, but not quite understanding what that meant, left me with a lot of curiosity…… I thought about her constantly and sometimes had fantasies that I had crossed paths with her when I saw someone whom I resembled on the street or in a magazine.”

There was a lot of fear, anxiety and excitement on everyone’s part for this reunion.  On February 14th, 2003, Margo and Peggy met for the second time.

birth mother story

Shortly thereafter, Margo and her parents and brother met Peggy’s parents and then her extended Family.

Margo graduated from HS and chose to attend college in CA.  Whenever Margo returned to the east coast, she always would visit Peggy, Tom and her half-sisters.

A family has been formed out of love and respect for one another.

There have been some stressful times, when different parties felt anxious and nervous, maybe even a little threatened as these new relationships were forming.  Everyone was careful to maintain their boundaries; always keeping in mind, Margo’s best interests.

One of the most beautiful pieces of this story is when Margo graduated from college Peggy and her parents joined Ginger, Ken and Adam in CA and they all stayed at the same B&B.  They are an extended family formed by adoption.

I am blessed that Margo and Peggy have made me part of their process of creating a new family.

It is important to note that not all adoptions are open; each family figures out what works for them.  Many birth parents are not ready to have a relationship immediately after placement.  They need time to grieve and get their lives back together; they need to find a new normal.  Relationships ebb and flow over time.  What I have learned is that we all need to be flexible, listen to one another and have respect for each other.

We, at AWL, are always here to help navigate the adoption journey.

What is Semi-Open Adoption and Is It Right for You?

Adoptions With Love helps expectant/birth parents create the type of adoption plan that fits best with their needs. We understand that no two people are alike, and that every pregnancy and adoption experience is unique. That is why we offer open, closed, and semi-open adoption plans. Whether you are facing an unplanned pregnancy or have just given birth, we extend our support to you.

At Adoptions With Love, we will take the time to get to know you and your needs, as well as your hopes for your baby, to help you design the perfect adoption plan. If you think you would like to choose, meet, or stay in contact with your child’s adoptive family, we can walk you through your open adoption and semi-open adoption options. Then you decide which level of openness is right for you.

Open adoption, broadly defined, means that the birth parent(s) and the adoptive family have a relationship and direct communication with one another. In a fully open adoption, an expectant/birth mother will most often choose and meet the family for her baby, as well as maintain a relationship with them after placement. This relationship typically involves direct contact through emails, phone calls, letters and pictures, or in-person visits. It is important to note, however, that this amount of openness will not be right for everyone.

Sometimes, birth mothers prefer a bit more anonymity or boundaries in their adoption arrangements. Some birth parents feel that a fully open relationship with their child’s family is just too overwhelming at first. Still, they often want to choose an adoptive family to raise their baby. Some want to receive updates of their child over the years. This is completely understandable, and is attainable through a semi-open adoption plan.

A semi-open adoption plan is best defined by you, the expectant/birth mother. Generally speaking, however, it means that expectant/birth mothers and adoptive families have indirect contact with one another. In a semi-open adoption, no identifying information is revealed: The adoptive family does not have the birth mother’s last name, phone number, address, or other personal information. Rather, their communication is mediated by an adoption agency.

How does semi-open adoption work?

In a semi-open adoption, contact between the adoptive family and birth family will be stay anonymous and confidential. It may take place over the phone, over emails, or through letters and pictures, all of which would be mediated by the adoption agency. At Adoptions With Love, for example, we have had a thriving letter and picture program for 32 years. Adoptive families send us letters and pictures of their child regularly, and we share these updates with the birth mothers if and when they request.

A semi-open adoption also allows you to lovingly select an adoptive family for your baby. If you would like, you can even speak with them over the phone, email, Skype, or have them be at the hospital the day your baby is born. In the hospital, you can decide how much you want to see and care for your baby, and whether you would like the adoptive family to be there with you. Prior to the birth of your baby, Adoptions With Love will help you think about how open you want your hospital plan to be.

As a full-service open adoption agency, Adoptions With Love ensures that all of our waiting adoptive parents have agreed to at least a semi-open adoption plan. Most of our families are now open to some direct ongoing contact with the birth parents. Letters and pictures can be exchanged through our agency on a regular basis, so that you can always have recent updates of your child on file. Many birth parents feel more peace of mind in knowing how their child is growing. Studies show that some form of an open or semi-open adoption relationship also has a positive impact on the child.

Adoptions With Love will always be here for you, no matter which adoption plan you choose for your baby. If you would like an open or semi-open adoption plan, we will help you write a contract that is legal and binding (depending on your state laws), but also leaves room to adjust to more or less openness over the years. Please do not hesitate to call us toll-free at 800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072 for more information. We will be here to answer your call any time of day, any day of the week. If you would like to learn more about your open and semi-open adoption options, you may also download our free guides below.


6 Tips for Ongoing, Open Adoption Conversations

If you read our latest guide, “The Keys to a Successful Open Adoption,” you may know that open adoption is a type of adoption involving an open relationship between a child’s birth parent(s) and adoptive family. It enables both families to keep in touch over the years, and is proven to be very beneficial for a child.

An open adoption relationship can involve any level of openness. In some cases, a birth mother will choose to receive letters and picture updates from the adoptive family. Some families will stay in touch through direct emails or phone conversations. Some open adoptions involve in-person visits. In any open adoption, it is important to ensure that there is healthy, respectful communication between everyone involved.

Whether you are making an open adoption plan for your baby, are considering open adoption for your family, or already have an open adoption relationship, you are in the right place. Adoptions With Love has provided six open adoption tips below, to help you facilitate and navigate healthy adoption conversations.

1. Use Positive Adoption Language

Like any adoption, open adoption is an emotional journey. It involves many delicate relationships. As an expectant, birth, or adoptive parent, it is important to choose your words wisely in adoption conversations. Show care, respect, and empathy in all that you say:

  • Say “make an adoption plan” instead of “give up for adoption”
  • Do not say a child “is adopted;” if necessary, say he or she “was adopted” or “came into our family through adoption”
  • Do not refer to birth parents as “real parents”
  • Adoptive parents are just “parents”
  • A pregnancy is not always “unwanted,” that is why we should say “unplanned” or “unintended”

Positive adoption language is essential for healthy dialogue in an open adoption relationship. It shows respect and consideration for the other parties, and allows you to reflect adoption in a positive light. This will enable your child to see his or her adoption positively, as well.

2. Set and Respect Boundaries

In an open adoption relationship, it is also important to be clear about your wishes and needs from the very beginning. If you are an expectant/birth mother, you deserve to be completely comfortable with the level of communication in your adoption plan. For example, if you are not ready for in-person visits or direct phone conversations with your child’s family, it is okay to say so. Ask the parents to respect your needs and boundaries as you heal. If you are an adoptive parent, it is also okay to discuss limitations with your child’s birth family if they are made with the child’s best interest in mind. There should be a mutual respect for everyone’s needs, as well.

3. Understand Expectations

Much like with boundaries, it is also important to set and respect expectations for ongoing communication. When making an open adoption plan, the adoptive family, birth parents, and an adoption agency should all discuss what is expected of one another. For example, does a birth mother expect the family to send pictures on a regular basis? Does she expect to be told of any significant health-related issues with her child? Does the adoptive family expect the birth mother to inform them of a phone number or address change? Having clear expectations on both sides (and understanding those expectations) will help ensure that communication remains consistent as the years go on, and that no one is left hurt or disappointed. No one should make promises they are not able to keep.

4. Always Be Honest

Be honest about your needs, your wishes, and your expectations. Never at any point should you feel completely conflicted or overwhelmed in your open adoption relationship. You can avoid this by being honest. For example, if you are a birth parent and want more updates of your child, you should talk about this openly with your child’s family and an adoption agency professional. If you are an adoptive parent and feel your level of openness is preventing you from bonding with your baby, it is okay to voice this as well. Together with an adoption agency, you all can talk about adjusting the level of contact in your open adoption plan.

5. Be Flexible

All relationships require fluidity, but this is especially true in open adoption relationships. As an expectant mother, birth parent, or adoptive family, it is important to remember that things can change over the years. A birth mother may get married or have other children. An adoptive family may develop a busier schedule as their child grows, going to dance class, music lessons, sports games, summer camps, etc. Either family may request more (or less) contact in the open adoption. Communication in an adoption relationship can fluctuate as needs change. Most significantly, it can change as the child grows older  and begins to make decisions. He or she may request more or less contact with birth family members, and these wishes must also be respected.

6. Seek Professional Help if Needed

Many open adoption agencies offer post-adoption counseling and support. If you ever hit a bump in your open adoption, you can always reach out to a professional for help. Sometimes, an outside, unbiased, and professional perspective is best for resolving any open adoption challenges that arise.

Adoptions With Love is a private, non-profit adoption agency offering open, semi-open, and closed adoption plans. We offer free-of-cost counseling services to expectant/birth mothers considering adoption. We are also available any time of day, any day of week, to answer your call. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072 to learn more about open adoption. You may also download our free guide below for more open adoption tips.

open adoption communication

The Pros & Cons of Open Adoption

When many people think of adoption, they think only of the adoptions that happened decades ago: when children were not always told they were adopted, when many birth parents did not have a relationship with the adoptive family let alone know where their child was placed, when many adoptive parents only had limited information regarding their child’s biology or history. Times have changed.

Today, the majority of domestic infant adoptions involve some level of openness, meaning the adoptive family and the expectant/birth mother has a relationship to some extent. For many expectant/birth parents, this means choosing and meeting with an adoptive family for their baby. For many families, this means having an ongoing relationship with the birth mother after the adoption takes place (whether through letters, pictures, emails, phone calls, or contact through an adoption agency). Open adoption plans come in all different forms, take shape in many different ways, and will vary depending on a birth mother’s needs and the best interest of the child.

If you are here now, you may be considering an open adoption plan for your baby. You might be weighing the pros and cons of open adoption, wondering if it is the right choice for you long-term. Will it prevent your child from having a “normal” life? Will it prevent you from moving forward with your own life?

On the other hand, you might be a prospective adoptive parent considering open adoption for your family. You may have heard how much openness can benefit the child, but are also concerned that an ongoing relationship might confuse your child.

These concerns are common among those considering open adoption. However, they are not always true. Open adoption, in most cases, benefits all who are touched by it – birth parents, adoptive parents, and especially adopted children. As an open adoption agency, Adoptions With Love often hears from both women and families who say the pros of open adoption far outweigh the cons.

As with any type of adoption, however, there are both pros and cons of open adoption plans. Here, we will walk you through the benefits and challenges to help you decide whether open adoption is right for you and your child.

Pros of Open Adoption for Birth Parents:

  • You can choose the perfect family for your baby. Open adoption gives you the opportunity to select a family to raise your child. This is one of the most loving decisions an expectant/birth mom can make for her baby. Through an open adoption agency, you can also meet, speak with, and get to know this family if you wish.
  • You can have a continuing relationship with your child as he or she grows. In an open adoption, the adoptive parents and birth parents typically have some ongoing communication with one another. If it is agreed upon, this can also involve direct contact between the child and biological parents. For many birth parents, this brings great peace of mind in knowing that their son or daughter is doing well, and eliminates the unknowns often associated with adoption.
  • You can answer your child’s questions about his or her adoption story. Children are naturally and healthily curious. At some point, your child may have questions like, “What is my biological father like?” or “Why was I placed for adoption?” In an open adoption, you will have the ability to answer those questions for your child and explain how adoption was a choice made with love.

Cons of Open Adoption for Birth Parents:

  • There is less anonymity in open adoption. In an open adoption arrangement, there is less privacy for birth mothers. Open adoption typically involves an exchange of some identifying information, which can include names, email addresses, or phone numbers.
    • If you do not wish to share identifying information with your child’s family, you may opt for a more closed or mediated adoption plan. Your adoption social worker will discuss all your options with you.
  • There is less “closure.” Some birth parents expect closure when they place their child for adoption, and this does not always come in an open plan. Open adoption, rather, brings new beginnings for birth parents and adoptive families, including new relationships stemmed from ongoing communication.
    • If closure is important to you, you can always choose a closed adoption plan. You may also choose to open communication at a later time.
  • Some birth parents feel pressured to keep in touch, even when it is not in their best interest. Sometimes, birth parents initially feel they want fully open plans and later find that they cannot move forward in their lives with the amount of ongoing contact. They may feel pressured to continue communication so as not to offend the adoptive family.
    • If you choose to make an open adoption plan, stay true to your heart and comfort level. Be honest with the family or your adoption agency counselor. This is one of the most difficult and loving sacrifices you can make for your child; you deserve all the time you need to heal. An Adoptions With Love counselor can help you adjust the amount of openness in your adoption plan as needed over the years. We are always here for you.
  • In some cases, the adoptive family may decide they want less (or more) contact than originally planned. There is the possibility that the adoptive family will express they want to reduce or increase the amount of contact with you after the adoption takes place. Some feel this is in the best interest of their family; some wish for space to bond with the baby.
    • When you work with an open adoption agency like Adoptions With Love, you can rest assured that each family has agreed to some level of ongoing contact with the birth mother. This is often done through our ongoing letter and picture program.

Pros of Open Adoption for Adopted Children & Their Families:

  • Children have a deeper understanding of who they are and where they came from. Openness is very beneficial for identity formation and self-esteem in adopted children. As they grow older and start to have more questions about their biology, they can get the answers they need to form a stronger senseof-self and become proud of their background.
  • They also can understand their birth parents’ choice. Having the opportunity to ask “Why was I placed for adoption?” and to hear those answers can help alleviate any abandonment issues for adopted children. It can provide them with a sense of security, knowing how much love and selflessness went into their birth parents’ choice.
  • There is no need to search for or fantasize about birth parents. In open adoptions, children have the opportunity to speak with or meet their birth parents. This eliminates the “what ifs” that adoptees often have, as they can answer questions like “Do I look like my birth parents?” and “Do I have any birth siblings?” Open adoption often gives adoptees the puzzle pieces they need to become confident in their stories and themselves.
  • Open adoption gives adoptive parents access to medical information about their child. In open adoption plans, adoptive parents can ask questions about their child’s health history and family history. Similarly, the birth mother can inform the adoptive parents of any changes in health that occur and may affect the child down the road.
  • Open adoption offers a wider circle of family support. In open adoptions, children have the benefit of having their parents, who care for and nurture them endlessly, along with their birth parents, who gave them life and serve as a strong connection to their roots. Both parents love them unconditionally.

Cons of Open Adoption for Adoptive Families:

  • Potential boundary issues. Sometimes, a birth parent who just placed her baby for adoption will struggle with knowing how she or he fits within the family and “bigger picture.” At the same time, adoptive families may not know how to accommodate two sets of parents.
    • While open adoption does not mean co-parenting, it does mean gaining more than a child – it also means gaining another valuable person in your lives. Speak with your adoption counselor about how you can make your child’s birth parents feel comfortable and valued throughout your adoption journey. When creating an open adoption agreement, ensure that you are comfortable with every aspect of the contract. Establish roles and expectations with your child’s birth parents from the very beginning, so there is no confusion or disappointment down the road. Finally, be sure to communicate exactly what the boundaries are in regards to ongoing communication and meetings.

Whether you are an adoptive parent or expectant/birth parent, the key to an open adoption is putting your child first. For more tips on open adoption, or details about the pros and cons of open adoption, please download our new eBook “The Keys to a Successful Open Adoption” below.

Adoptions With Love is a full-service, non-profit adoption agency offering both open and closed adoption plans. We also facilitate adoption plans that fall in-between, called semi-open adoption plans. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy or considering adoption for your baby, we can help you create an adoption plan that is completely right for you. Call us at 1-800-722-7731 to learn more about open adoption.
















Happy National Adoption Month, 2017!

national adoption awareness month

November is officially here, which means we can now look forward to another National Adoption Month and another #30daysoflove! As many of our readers know, National Adoption Month is a very special time of year for Adoptions With Love, and also for the many families out there that have been touched by adoption in some way. If you are new to the world of adoption, or are have recently become a member of the adoption triad, here is a little history on National Adoption Month:

It all started back in 1976, when Massachusetts Governor Dukakis first proclaimed an “adoption awareness week” across the state. Less than a decade later, in 1984, President Ronald Reagan expanded that to a National Adoption Week, giving special recognition to those who are building families through the positive choice of adoption. In his 1984 proclamation, the president wrote:

“National Adoption Week gives us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to give every child waiting to be adopted the chance to become part of a family. During this Thanksgiving season, let us work to encourage community acceptance and support for adoption… Most importantly, let us pay tribute to those special couples who have opened their homes and hearts to adopted children, forming the bonds of love that we call the family.”

In 1995, President Clinton decided to magnify National Adoption Week even further. He proclaimed the first-ever National Adoption Month, explaining, “Adoption provides a means for building and strengthening families. It places children into loving, permanent homes where they can flourish and grow up to become happy, healthy, productive members of our national community. Adoption also enables adults to experience the unique joys of parenthood.”

Now, and each year forward, the U.S. Children’s Bureau sponsors National Adoption Month in efforts to spread adoption awareness, honor adoptive families, as well as bring to light the newborns and children who are still waiting for forever homes. Each year, National Adoption Month takes on a new theme. For National Adoption Month 2017, the initiative is called, “Teens Need Families, No Matter What.”

A Focus on Teens in Foster Care

There are currently thousands of teenagers in foster care who are in need of permanent homes. Of the 110,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, close to 12,500 are between 15 and 17 years old. Unfortunately, many of these teens are less likely to be adopted because of their older age. As a result, they tend to “age out” of the system without ever gaining a stable support system or forever family to call their own. A positive role model, a mentor, or a lifelong family can make all the difference in a growing teen’s life. The lack of this figure or family, on the other hand, can have a negative impact on teens’ overall well-being and their transition to adulthood.

National Adoption Month is frequently focused on moving children from the foster care system to permanency. Usually, children are placed in the foster care system when their parents are unable to care or provide for them. This is often due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Sometimes, it is a result of their parents being incarcerated or in poor health.

The Work of Private Adoption Agencies

Private adoption agencies like Adoptions With Love are dedicated to helping expectant and birth parents make positive decisions for their children. We provide complete counseling services for expectant/birth parents nationwide, helping them design thoughtful adoption plans and find forever families for their babies. By making an adoption plan, by planning ahead, children can be kept out of foster care.

Many of the women that come to Adoptions With Love are already single parents. Some are struggling to provide for the children they already have at home. Some are trying to work full-time jobs while balancing the full-time job of a single mom. Some are working with the child welfare system to regain custody of their children. Some are not living in a safe or stable enough environment to raise a child. Some expectant parents feel this is not the right time in their life to start raising a child and wish for their child to have a more stable life with many opportunities. After discovering their unplanned pregnancy, many of these women are in complete crisis.

When parents choose to place a child for adoption, it is a courageous and loving choice; one that is made with deep personal sacrifice. As much as they love their children, they know they cannot provide for them at this time in their lives. Adoption allows expectant/birth parents to give their child the life, the opportunities, the love, and the permanency that every child deserves. Open adoption also enables birth parents to stay in touch with their child’s adoptive family over the years, which can bring great peace of mind for everyone involved.


Today starts our #30DaysofLove campaign, celebrating National Adoption Month! We honor all the birth parents who have made adoption plans for their children and all the adoptive families created through the loving choice of adoption. During this Thanksgiving season, we also give thanks to each one of our readers who has helped provide loving homes and families for children.

We also recognize that across the country, thousands of newborns, children, and teens are still seeking permanent homes and families. For the next 30 days, Adoptions With Love will work especially hard to help spread awareness about foster care and the positive act of adoption. We invite you to do the same.

Whether you are an adoptive parent, a birth parent, or an adoptee, we welcome you to share your story with us. We’d love to hear about the role of adoption in your life, or about how you will be celebrating National Adoption Month this year. Simply post a comment below!

If you would like to learn more about how you can help honor National Adoption Month, please do not hesitate to reach out to Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731. You may also visit the Children’s Bureau website to learn more about this year’s National Adoption Month initiative.