Archive for December, 2017

Kayla, a Birth Mother, Reflects on Her Adoption Experience & the Holiday Season

The holidays are a time filled with family, friends, love and gratitude. For birth parents who chose adoption, however, the holidays can also be quite difficult. Kayla, a birth mother who placed her daughter for adoption through Adoptions With Love, wants you to know that it is completely normal to grieve. But above all, she says, try to remember that you provided the best possible life for your child. Below Kayla shares her story in hopes it will empower other birth mothers this holiday season.

Can you give readers a little background on your adoption story?

My adoption story began February 13,2016. I woke up in the morning feeling crampy, but nothing out of the ordinary, and went on with my day. As the day went on, the cramping got worse and by 6:00pm I was driving myself to the hospital with the idea of my appendix bursting. As I entered the ER, an appendix bursting was what I wish I was hearing instead of the words, “sweetie you are in Labor.”

How could I be pregnant, I thought to myself, I’ve had no signs and I’ve lost weight. Nothing was adding up and I began to panic. The next few hours are all a blur, as nurses and doctors rushed around to save the baby. I fought with them saying they were wrong and there was absolutely no way this was correct. At 1:15am, my beautiful baby girl entered the world at six pounds. The happiest and scariest moment of my life. More panic set in as I held her in my arms.

Do I keep her, and struggle as a single mom? Or do I make an adoption plan and give her a chance at an amazing life, one that I was unable to provide for her at the time?

The tears, support, and comfort that swarmed my hospital room over the next 5 days was mind-blowing, from nurses who themselves made adoption plans in the past, to people over hearing my story and coming in for a shoulder to lean on and try to give me advice. I made my decision to make an adoption plan and the first struggle came: I had to pick a family.

The best advice I got was from a nurse who was by my side the entire time. Simple but stuck with me. One night around 3 or 4am I was in hysterics with family profiles spread all over my bed, the floor, just a mess – and she came in, hugged me. and just simply said, “Kayla, I promise you when you find your family you will know. Everything will make sense and you will not think twice about it. You will just know.” At first, I didn’t believe her and continued my melt down until the next morning. I was brought in one more book and everything started to make perfect sense – they were the family. They were everything I wanted and more!

Do you have a relationship with your daughter’s adoptive family? If so, what’s that relationship like?

The relationship I have with my daughter’s adoptive family is unlike anything I could have imagined. During the process of deciding whether or not to go through with adoption, my main focus was to find a family who would be willing to have an open adoption. Many of the families I looked at did not want as much of an open adoption as I did, which is completely fine for other families, but for my daughter to go with a family, it had to be the perfect one.

From the moment I saw their book, I knew they were perfect and they have proved it over and over by going above and beyond for her, their family, and even mine! We’ve become one family celebrating birthdays and holidays together and a summer ending cookout.

February 21, 2016 was a day full of fear, excitement, second guessing, and every possible emotion combined into one. It was the day we met our family and signed the papers. Walking into the agency for the first time, I saw them standing in the office. The second we got a glance of each other there was not a dry eye in the room.

I then received a beautiful bracelet that day from the adoptive family, with my daughter’s birth stone in it. They told me how my daughter had the same one (obviously smaller) and when she was able to finally fit it, she’ll wear it to remind her of me. It was the most thoughtful thing and one of the only things I really remember from that day. We stay in contact with texts, constant pictures, doctor’s updates, even just little cute moments captured. We try to get together about every 3 months.

Is this your first holiday season as a birth mom, or have you experienced the holidays before?

This year will be my second holiday season. Last year was extremely difficult, but not as bad as I expected it to be. We got together during Christmas break to celebrate because most of us were off from work and school. Something memorable I look forward to is just being able to come together with both families. Normally, visits are just my mother and I and the adoptive family. During Christmas, they welcomed anyone we wanted to bring with open arms and it really made me so happy!

Last year, there were about 12 of us who got together to celebrate the holidays. This year, we will be doing the same thing. we have lunch catch up, take lots of pictures, and have the best time! So I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, especially because I haven’t seen them since August.

birth mom adoption story

Do you have any holiday traditions you’ve created, or would like to create, with your daughter?

One thing growing up my grandmother did for me every year until she passed away was get me a Barbie Christmas ornament every year. It was something special to me and our special thing. My mom has done that with my daughter to start their special Christmas tradition every year! Which warms my heart.

Do you have any advice for other birth mothers on coping with grief during the holidays?

During the holidays, you most likely will have a very difficult time. For me, it’s the hardest time of the year and I won’t lie, I have days where I do nothing but cry throughout the day.

Though we don’t want to, it’s a very normal thing to feel this way.

My advice is to have someone you can talk to, whether a friend, family member, or even another birth mom to just let your feelings out. If you have an open adoption and can ask for a picture of your child to cheer you up, that has helped me also many times.

The main thing is to not second guess your decision. You provided the best possible life for your child and you have to take the good days with the bad.



Finding Peace this Holiday Season: A Birth Mother’s Story

For those who have made an adoption plan, the holidays are not always easy. If you have an open adoption, however, finding solace in letters, pictures, and updates can help. Knowing that your child is loved, happy, and healthy can bring the greatest peace of mind. Camilla*, a birth mother who placed her daughter for adoption through Adoptions With Love, agrees. Below she shares her story in hopes it will empower other birth mothers to find peace this holiday season.

You have a pretty open relationship with your daughter’s family. Has your adoption plan always been open, and is that what you initially wanted?

When I started making an adoption plan, I had no idea what I wanted – or more importantly, what I would want in the future. I remember being pregnant and filling out the initial adoption paperwork, and having NO idea what I was doing. At that point, I still wasn’t sure if I’d go through with it, wasn’t sure if I’d ever actually submit the papers to start the process. What I remember most about those forms, though, is a single check box. It’s the one you check off if you want to receive letters and pictures of your child as they get older. When I first filled out the forms, I left it blank. I stared at that box for a long time, and in my already-emotional state, decided that there was no way I would be able to emotionally handle watching my baby grow up without me.

At the last minute, though, I went back and checked the box. I figured I might want those letters and photos someday, even if I couldn’t handle them right now.

I have no regrets about checking that box. Getting to see my daughter safe and happy and healthy with her adorable family is one of the greatest gifts of my life.

I got so lucky with my daughter’s parents. They were incredibly kind on adoption day, and when I wanted to see my daughter at six months old, they agreed immediately. After that, almost three years went by before I asked to see my daughter again, and again they agreed without a second thought. They have been so generous with me.

Our adoption started off mostly closed, because I couldn’t handle it yet. I worried that knowing me would confuse my daughter, that it would be too emotional, that my existence in her life would be too hard for her parents to explain. Eventually I decided that it would be better for her to meet me now than to try and introduce me later. Over the past four years (and these past few months particularly), we’ve started to work on having a more open adoption.

What does openness look like for you and your daughter’s family now? How do you keep in touch?

Our adoption, and its openness, is evolving over time. They send me photos and a letter every year near her birthday, and we have a shared Shutterfly account. They post photos and comments of my daughter on various occasions and holidays, and I’ve been able to share some of my own baby photos with them (per their request). I got to see my daughter in person back in May, and hope to schedule another visit soon. Her parents are amazing, and the more I interact with them, the more I feel that I made the right decision in choosing them to be her mom and dad.

Will you all be connecting in any way this holiday season? If so, how?

I hope to schedule another get-together with them soon, yes! I’m always hoping for another one. I’ll reach out about it after the New Year, and if they respond the way they have in the past, I imagine they’ll be just as excited about it as I am. We talked about openness the last time we met, and we all seem to be on the same page about it –

That it’s better for our daughter to know all of us, have access to all of us, and be able to ask questions of any of us. I think it’s a healthier type of relationship to have.

Have you experienced the holidays since making an adoption plan?

This will be my fifth holiday season since my daughter was born – my first holiday season as a birth mom was 2013. I honestly don’t remember too much detail that year, because I felt like I was underwater. That’s the only way I can describe it – it was almost an out-of-body experience, like conversations took longer to process and words took more time to get to my brain. Everything felt like it was happening to someone else, and normal everyday things, like getting dressed for work or going out with friends, felt like much more effort than they should have been.

Every year that goes by gets easier, though! When the holidays come around now, I mostly just look forward to seeing new photos of my daughter.

How are you feeling with the holidays approaching this year?

I feel pretty good about them this year. This year, for the first time, I sent my daughter a birthday present, so I also plan to send the family Christmas presents – nothing crazy, but just little things to let them know that I’m thinking of them and wish them a happy holiday season.

I definitely hope to see her soon, though I’ll wait until the new year because this time of year is so crazy for people. I hope that seeing my daughter and her family starts being a regular occurrence. And I hope that my daughter, her sister, and her parents are happy and healthy and enjoying life!

Do you have any advice for other birth moms who might be experiencing some grief this time of year?

I think the thing that helps me the most is looking at pictures of my daughter. I love seeing her photos and reading the letters her parents have sent me, because it reminds me of the amazing life she has and how much she is loved. It brings me peace to know that she’s a happy, healthy kid in a loving family. That’s exactly what I wanted for her. So even when I miss her, I know that she’s happy.

Are there any special holiday traditions you’ve created, or hope to create, with or for your daughter as she grows up?

I don’t know if I have any holiday traditions in mind particularly, but I love the idea of having one with my daughter. I love family traditions and I hope that she and I have something we share on holidays as she gets older. That would mean the world to me.

*Names have been changed for anonymity



How Birth Mothers Can Cope with Grief this Holiday Season

The holiday season is here. While many of us are looking forward to celebrating with our families, it is important to remember that some of us will be thinking of loved ones who cannot be there to celebrate with us.

Adoptions With Love would like to take some time to recognize the birth mothers who are coping with grief this holiday season – whether you have just placed your baby for adoption, placed years ago, or are in the midst of making an adoption plan, we understand that this time of year can be a difficult one. As happy as you are knowing your child is sharing this special time with their family, you may also be grieving their absence in your own home and plans. This is completely normal. Adoption is a beautiful journey, but it can also be bittersweet—and with so much focus on family, it is not unusual for the holidays to be especially tough on those who have experienced loss or grief in some way.

We want you to know that you are not alone. Whether you made an adoption plan just yesterday or twenty-five years ago, there are resources available to you. There are also things you can do to make the most of this holiday season, despite any complicated emotions that might arise. Here a few suggestions:

Contact your adoption agency for support.

Despite being surrounded by family and friends, you might be feeling especially alone this holiday season. Know that you do not have to handle this time of year by yourself. Reach out to your adoption agency or counselor for support. If you placed your baby with Adoptions With Love, remember that we will always be here for you. We understand what you have gone through, as well as the complicated  grief that you are experiencing, and are here to talk you through this difficult time.

Your adoption agency may also be able to refer you to a local support group, where you can get together with other birth parents experiencing grief this season. At your request, your adoption agency may also set you up to talk with another birth mother who has walked in similar shoes as you.

If you worked with an open adoption agency like Adoptions With Love, you might also consider asking for updates or pictures of your son or daughter. Adoptions With Love would be happy to provide you with the letters and pictures we have on file, or get an update from your child’s family. For many birth mothers, this can bring great peace of mind. Here is what one of our birth mothers had to say about coping with grief during the holiday season:

“I think the thing that helps me the most is looking at pictures of my daughter. I love seeing her photos and reading the letters her parents have sent me, because it reminds me of the amazing life she has and how much she is loved. It brings me peace to know that she’s a happy, healthy kid in a loving family. That’s exactly what I wanted for her. So even when I miss her, I know that she’s happy.”

Create new traditions with your child.

Your child will always be a part of your life, no matter if your adoption is open or closed. This year, if it feels appropriate, find a way to include your son or daughter in your holiday traditions.

If you have an open adoption and the ability to connect with your child’s family, try to take advantage of it. Connecting with your child directly can help ease some of the heightened emotions this holiday. It will also benefit your child, who will also be thinking of you. This is a special time of year for families. More than likely, your child’s adoptive parents will be happy to hear from, whether that be through a phone call, a video chat, a holiday card, or an in-person visit.

If you cannot directly involve your child in your holiday plans, you can still find a way to honor them this holiday season and beyond. If you are in touch (but far away) from the adoptive family, for example, you might consider making or picking out a special ornament to send to your child. This could even become an annual tradition – each year, with each ornament, your child will be reminded of your love.

If you have a closed adoption plan and do not have contact with your child’s family, there are still other ways you can recognize your child this holiday season. For example, you can light a candle for your child. You can make a special decoration to hang each year in honor of their importance. You can also choose to write your child a holiday card, even if it never gets mailed.

Write a letter to your child.

If you cannot see or connect with your child this holiday season, you might consider writing a letter. It does not matter if you send this letter or not. Many birth mothers use letter writing as an outlet for their thoughts and to cope with feelings of grief.

This year, you might choose to write your son or daughter a letter and put it away in a box. You might choose to write one every year moving forward, too, and give this box to your child when he or she is grown. If you have a semi-open adoption and would like to communicate with your child right away, you might give this letter to your adoption counselor, who can then forward it to your child’s family.

Take care of yourself.

Adoption is not an easy decision, but it is one of the most loving decisions a mother can make for her child. You are very brave for making this sacrifice in the best interests of your baby. You have the right to be happy and enjoy the holidays alongside everyone else. Of course, you do not have to.

If you are feeling sad this holiday season, you do not have to pretend to be otherwise. You do not have to feel obligated to act a certain way during holiday celebrations, especially if you are coping with birth mother grief. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel during the holidays. Do what you feel you need to do as a birth mother. Give yourself space. Allow yourself time to grieve. Try to understand your feelings. Forgive yourself. Practice self-care. Do something to make you happy. Stay healthy.

Not acknowledging your grief and holding it in, will make everything more painful. By finding a way to include your child in your holiday plans, by reaching out for post-adoption support and counseling from your agency, and by taking care of yourself, you can and will find a way to make the most of this holiday season.

If you would like to speak with an Adoptions With Love social worker this holiday season, please call 1-800-722-7731. Amy, Nancy, Amelia, Claudia, and Nellie are available 24/7 to answer your call, no matter what time of day or which day of the week – that is our promise to you.



What to Do (and How to Stay Positive) While You’re Waiting to Adopt

When you started the adoption process, you knew there was going to be a period of waiting involved. You knew that the home study would take several months, that you would need to be approved by an adoption agency, and that you must also wait some time for the right adoption match. You prepared for this moment, but now, with the holidays right around the corner, you are starting to get a bit discouraged. Maybe you pictured your child unwrapping presents under the tree this year. If you have experienced infertility, you might be reflecting on what you feel is missing in your family.

Image result for expectant couple christmas stockings

This is completely normal.

The holiday season is all about family – making memories and either continuing or creating traditions with the ones we love. For hopeful adoptive parents, however, this time of year can be especially tough. You want to enjoy this time with family, but also cannot help but feel like your family is incomplete. If you have started the adoption process and are waiting for a match this season, you are not alone.

Adoptions With Love wants you to know that you can (and will!) get through it. We can help.

Below we share several tips on what to do, how to stay positive, and how to get through the holiday season while you are waiting for adoption.

  1. Take advantage of this time with your loved ones. With the holiday season being such a family-focused time, it is normal to feel many different emotions as you wait for an adoption match. It can be easy to dwell on those feelings rather than focus on the people around you. Remember that this time is one to cherish with your loved ones. Spend time with your partner, extended family, best friends, and your children if you are already a parent. Surround yourself with people who make you smile, and make memories together. This time next year, your family may be even larger, but for now, it is important to focus on your relationships with those closest to you.
  2. Join support groups and meet with other waiting families. Joining a support group will allow you to get to know other families who are in similar shoes as you. Meeting with these families on a regular basis can be a great opportunity to talk through your feelings, ask questions, and get some extra advice and support.
  3. Read everything you can. Gather resources about adoption, raising adopted children, and on how to talk about adoption positively with others and your child. Do not forget to pick up some child care and development books, too, if you are becoming a first-time parent.
  4. Keep a journal. Journals are a great way to document your feelings and excitement throughout the adoption process. Written or video journals can also make great keepsakes for your child. If you are keeping a traditional journal, write down your thoughts, feelings, ideas, hopes and dreams in a way that can one day become a part of your child’s Lifebook. If you would like to keep a video journal, you can use it as an opportunity to talk to your child, tell stories, and express how excited you are for him or her to come home.
  5. Prepare your home. While you do not need to go out and buy a crib just yet, you can start preparing your home for a baby. The waiting period is a great time to tackle your to-do list, which might include some organization or home improvement projects you have been putting off. This might also include preparing your pets, as well, and making any anticipated changes to their routine prior to your baby’s arrival.
  6. Exercise. You will soon be lifting, carrying, bending, and running more than you have in ages, and doing it all while holding a baby. Try to get in-shape pre-parenthood! Exercise can also help enhance your mood and energy levels, especially if you are feeling extra stressed or anxious.
  7. Make self-care a priority. In addition to exercising, it is important that you eat well (and practice cooking nutritious meals), meditate, sing, dance, play, laugh, read, and/or pray. Do what makes you happy and brings a bit of peace to your day-to-day life. These will help you keep a positive attitude as you look forward to all the new adventures ahead.
  8. Do something for yourself. Whether it is spending a day at the spa, traveling to a new place, or taking up a new hobby, be sure to check something off your “someday” list. Once you become a parent, your schedule will get hectic. Do the things you want to do while you have the time now.
  9. Keep a focus on work. As a hopeful parent, you may be considering leaving your full-time job to stay at home with the baby once he or she is born. Until that time, however, we recommend continuing your daily routine and working as you normally would. Keeping busy with work can make waiting for adoption fly by, and can bring in some extra income before the baby arrives.
  10. While you are at it, find out your company’s “adoption leave” policy. Some employers will offer adoptive parents paid time off upon welcoming their child home. We recommend getting in touch with your supervisor or HR department, to learn about the possibility of taking a leave of absence (with or without pay) when the time comes.
  11. Explore local pediatricians and child care options. Before your baby is born, we recommend having a pediatrician (or an idea of who will be your child’s pediatrician) in place. Ask your friends, family, co-workers, and adoption agency for referrals. Find a doctor who you feel comfortable with, who is experienced and accepts your insurance, and whose hours and location align with your needs. If you are planning to return to work after your baby arrives, you may also do the same with local child care options. While you do not have to decide now, it can be beneficial to have these resources lined up (especially for those with wait lists).
  12. If this is your first child, take a parenting workshop or training sessions. In the state of Massachusetts, first-time adoptive parents are required to complete a parenting training course. As part of our adoptive parent services, Adoptions With Love offers pre-adoptive educational group seminars to help waiting parents prepare for their baby’s arrival.
  13. Most importantly, keep a positive attitude. Remember that adoption is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep a positive outlook and never lose hope throughout the adoption process. Adoptions With Love is dedicated to expanding your family through adoption. It will all be worth the wait.

For more tips on waiting for an adoption, please do not hesitate to reach out to Adoptions With Love. If you are a hopeful family in Massachusetts looking to start the adoption process, you may also call us at 617-964-4357. Stay tuned for our new eBook, “The Massachusetts Adoption Process: A Guide for Adoptive Parents” coming soon.

How Does Open Adoption Work (and How Do You Make It Work)?

Are you pregnant and considering adoption for your baby? Making an adoption plan is a positive choice for women who are not yet ready to become parents. It enables you to give your child a forever family and a wonderful, stable life. Of course, adoption is also a very difficult decision to make. As an expectant/birth mother, it is important to research your options carefully and understand the different types of adoption plans, as well as the services, available to you.

Right now, you may be considering an open adoption plan for your baby. You may have heard that an open adoption plan will allow you to stay in touch with your child’s family over the years. You may have heard that you can choose an adoptive family for your baby, and even meet them in person. What does that mean, exactly? How does open adoption work? More importantly, how can you make it work?

Before you can understand what makes open adoption work, you must first understand what open adoption is. In its simplest sense, open adoption is a form of adoption that allows birth parents to know and have contact with the adoptive family. Depending on your state laws and the adoption agency you work with, you may hear open adoption defined differently. In fact, most everyone – even those who have placed their baby or adopted a child – will have their own definition of open adoption. This is because every open adoption plan is unique. No two adoptions are the same. At Adoptions With Love, we allow you to define what “openness” will mean for you and your child.

Generally speaking, in an open adoption:

  • Expectant mothers are given the option to choose a family to raise their child. They can talk with them, meet them in-person, and have them at the hospital if they wish.
  • Birth parents have some level of on-going contact or relationship with the adoptive parents and the adopted child, depending on what feels comfortable for everyone.
  • Children know they have been adopted and may have relationships with their birth parent(s).
  • Ongoing communication takes place between the birth parents and adoptive family, whether directly or mediated through an agency. Contact may involve letters, pictures, phone calls, emails, and occasionally in-person visits, whichever is most comfortable for everyone involved. (Some open adoptions involve just the exchange of letters and pictures. Some families celebrate holidays together. The level of contact is typically defined first by the expectant/birth mother and her adoption agency, then with the adoptive family).

The way open adoption works largely depends on the level of openness. At Adoptions With Love, you will have the option to choose a fully open adoption (having direct contact with the adoptive family) or a semi-open adoption (in which our adoption agency will mediate contact, so that you can maintain privacy). Most domestic adoptions today are mediated, but still maintain some level of openness. For example, most birth mothers will choose a family for their baby. Many will also choose to meet the family before placement, and find peace of mind in knowing the parents who will raise their child. All of the families at Adoptions With Love agree to at least a semi-open adoption plan. Some families are fully open to direct contact, as well.

The way a fully open adoption works is through open, honest, and direct communication between an adoptive family and the birth parents. If you choose a fully open adoption, you and the adoptive family you choose will have identifying information about one another (phone numbers, email addresses, names, etc.). You will have a relationship with the adoptive family, and together will establish expectations for ongoing contact. For example, you may want the adoptive parents to send you letters and pictures of your child each year. Or, you may wish to have ongoing conversations via the phone, email, Skype, texting, or FaceTime. In a fully open adoption, it is important to remain flexible, as your needs and the needs and wishes of your child may change over time.

You still may be wondering, “What makes open adoption work well?” This is a very important question to ask as you consider open adoption, and is exactly what we discussed in our recent eBook, “The Keys to a Successful Open Adoption.” We will give you the short answer here. A successful open adoption is founded on a mutual love for the child and a focus on his or her best interests. It requires trusting, open-minded, and respectful relationships between both families. You can make open adoption work by:

  • Keeping your child’s needs and best interest a top priority
  • Establishing clear roles and expectations with the adoptive family in the very beginning
  • Pursuing ongoing counseling to ensure your emotional stability
  • Maintaining respect for everyone involved in the adoption, including yourself
  • Preserving trust in your adoption relationships
  • Always keeping communication open, honest, and consistent
  • Staying open-minded and flexible as needs and feelings change
  • Making your open adoption plan with an experienced, trusted, non-profit adoption agency who will be there for you both now and in the future (see how to choose an adoption agency here)

There is no right or wrong way to make an open adoption plan. There are, however, steps you can take to ensure your adoption plan is a positive and successful one. How does adoption work, and how can you make it work? Find out more in our new guide, “The Keys to a Successful Open Adoption,” which you can download for free below.

You may also contact Adoptions With Love to get started on your open adoption plan, or to learn more about our open adoption agency. We are available any time of day, any day of the week, to speak with you. Call us toll-free at 800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072.

What ABC’s Modern Family Can Teach Us About Adoption

cam and mitchell adoption

ABC’s hit TV series Modern Family does more than just make us laugh. Amidst all of its hilarity and light-heartedness, the show also touches on many important lessons about adoption and the experiences of the “modern family” today. In honor of Modern Family signing on a milestone 10th season, and with the start of Season 9 airing at the end of September, Adoptions With Love has decided to discuss some of those take-aways here.

If you have ever seen Modern Family before, you likely know the adoption storyline well. It all started in the first episode of the first-ever season, when Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett adopt their baby daughter Lily from Vietnam. Since the premiere, we have watched Lily grow up and come into her own. We have also seen Cameron and Mitchell – first-time fathers – experience the ups and downs that come with parenting and adoption. Here is what we have learned from the Tucker-Pritchett family so far.

1. Talk about adoption openly and from the very beginning.

Lily has always known she was adopted. Her fathers, Cam and Mitch, consistently talk about her adoption story to make it a comfortable and open subject. Their efforts are first revealed in the episode, “Two Monkeys and a Panda,” in which Lily is less than two years old. The episode depicts Cam creating a storybook for Lily that talks about her origins and adoption story. Cam is adamant about removing the stigma from the word “adopted,” and hopes this book will help Lily see her adoption in a positive light.

Adoptions With Love always suggests talking about adoption with your child from day one, as Cam and Mitch did with Lily. Of course, use age-appropriate language when doing so. This can help your child accept and understand his or her story, and give them the opportunity to ask questions. Like Cam, it is also important to show your child that adoption is a positive, loving way to build a family and that you are happy and always available to discuss the topic. To help your child understand his or her story, you may also create an adoption lifebook: a“storybook” (like the one we see Cam making in Modern Family) that contains photos, documents, and other personal mementos of your baby’s early life.

2. Embrace your child’s culture, and always make it available.

Though portrayed somewhat blithely on Modern Family, Cam and Mitch do encourage Lily to explore her Vietnamese heritage. In the episode “The Future Dunphys,” Lily’s parents take her to a Vietnamese restaurant to give her a little taste of her culture. Lily, however, isn’t interested in her Vietnamese background – she states she’d rather her heritage be “gay” because it would make her closer to Cam and Mitch. They explain to their daughter, “The three of us are a family even though we grew up in different places… We’re a family because we love each other.”

Cam and Mitch do not force Lily’s heritage on her when she does not express interest. They do not dismiss it completely, either. They are consistently open about her Asian heritage and it is available should she later have questions. In this way, Cam and Mitch allow Lily to decide how big a role her background will play in her life, and remain flexible to her needs. This is important in any adoption. If your child is of a different heritage, you can honor it through traditional food, community events, art, books, and music. As a parent, you can also make an effort to learn some new words in your child’s native language or even take a trip to their native country. Celebrating your child’s background can help him or her grow proud of his or her background, adoption story, and develop a better sense of self.

3. Adopting a child, especially internationally, can be a process.

At the end of the second season of Modern Family, Cam and Mitch decided they wanted to expand their family even further through adoption – they wanted Lily to have a baby brother. In season 3, we see the adoption process for the Tucker-Pritchett family. They go through the home study process, meet prospective birth mothers, and consider surrogacy along their journey. That is until the season finale, when they are chosen by a birth mother in Mexico who is delivering her baby. Unfortunately, when Cam and Mitch arrive at the hospital, the birth mother’s grandmother claimed rights to the baby and the adoption fell through. It is in this moment Cam and Mitch decide to step back and focus on Lily.

Executive producer of Modern Family, Christopher Lloyd, explained in an interview that they wanted to treat the adoption storyline in “a real way.” “You don’t just decide you want to adopt a baby boy and then rub your hands and it happens,” he said to TV Guide. “You have to sign up with agencies. The agencies have to come and interview and take a look at the environment the child would be raised in. Often, you have to more or less audition for the birth mother and see how she feels about placing her child with you. We are sort of exploring all of these steps along the way to them actually having a child.”

Adoption is a process that involves several interviews, home visits, and sometimes, meetings with expectant/birth parents looking for the right family. It is important to remain flexible and patient as you go through the adoption process. At Adoptions With Love, infants are typically placed within six to twelve months of completing a home study. We are committed to helping you grow your family.

4. Families come in all different make-ups.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of all in Modern Family is that “family” does not have to entail a traditional mother and father relationship. Mitch and Cam are a happily committed couple that love and support their daughter, and provide for her as much as any mother and father would. They also show us that families are not always perfect—and do not always have to be. When the adoption agency counselor comes to their house for a home visit, there is a whipped cream mess all over the kitchen (and all over Lily!). Everything still worked out and they were approved to adopt. They get through all of life’s messes together because of their love for one another. As they put it to Lily, “We’re a family because we love each other.”

Families, above all, are founded on love. Families founded by adoption are equally as real as families by birth, and it is very important for every adoptive parent to know this. It is consistent, devoted, and unconditional love that will make you a great parent. It is also important to know that you do not have to be a “traditional” family to adopt. Today, less than half of all children in the United States live with a heterosexual mother and father in their first marriage. Some children today have single parents. Others have same-gender parents. No matter your family makeup, know that you can adopt a child with us.

Adoptions With Love is a non-profit, private, domestic adoption agency helping families grow throughout Massachusetts. If you would like to learn about adopting a child in MA, or simply about our adoptive parent services, please call 617-964-4357.

What do you think of the adoption storyline in Modern Family? Who is your favorite character? Did you know that Phil Dunphy (a.k.a. Ty Burrell) is an adoptive father in real-life? Post your thoughts below!