Archive for October, 2018

National Adoption Awareness Month 2018

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. This initiative, funded by the Children’s Bureau, works to raise public awareness of adoption and bring attention to the need for permanent, loving homes for the many children in foster care.

Every year, National Adoption Month is dedicated to a special adoption-related theme, which helps support professionals working each day to match children with forever families. This year’s theme is: “In Their Own Words: Lifting Up Youth Voices,” which highlights the needs of older children in U.S. foster care. It is common knowledge that teenagers are adopted much less frequently than newborns and infants, largely due to their age. Because of this, teenagers are much more likely to “age out” of foster care, without ever gaining valuable family support or a permanent place to call “home.” Their well-being, as result, is often compromised. Placing older adolescents in healthy, stable care is an important step in ensuring that our youth have positive and successful futures. This is what National Adoption Month 2018 is all about.

This National Adoption Month, the U.S. Children’s Bureau is working to create opportunities for young people – whether they’ve been reunited with family, placed with an adoptive family, or entered adulthood independently – to be heard and to share their perspectives of living in foster care. Hearing about their experiences is important in spreading awareness about the loving act of adoption. These voices give those working in the child welfare field a valuable tool in educating communities and families about adoption and foster care. The National Adoption Month website also provides resources specifically designed for youth who might want to get involved or share their personal stories.

The History of National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month has been celebrated every November for more than two decades. It all started in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where, in 1976, Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week to spread awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. Then, in 1984, President Ronald Regan made an official proclamation for National Adoption Week. It was not until 1995 that President Bill Clinton – a man touched by adoption himself – expanded this initiative to stretch an entire month. Three years later, President Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan to expand the use of the Internet as a tool to find homes for children waiting to be adopted from foster care. In 2008, President George W. Bush provided an explanation of National Adoption Month in Spanish, opening up the inclusivity of the initiative.

The Importance of National Adoption Month

More than 437,000 children and adolescents are currently in the foster care system, waiting for a loving family to welcome them home permanently. The average age of children entering the foster care system is over six years old. On top of these statistics, there are thousands of expectant mothers across the U.S. in search of permanent homes for their babies.

Children are usually placed in foster care because their parents are unable to care for them. Unfortunately, these children are often the victims of abuse and neglect. Sometimes these children have lasting scars and need families that can provide the love and stability each child deserves.

Each year, local, national, and State adoption agencies, as well as adoptive family, foster, and kinship care groups take time to recognize National Adoption Awareness Month. They use it as an opportunity to educate the people in their communities about the positive act of adoption, by planning special activities, events, and programs to help raise awareness and dispel myths about the act.

This year’s theme has great potential to reach the public in a very personal way. Youths who have experienced foster care first-hand – whether they have been placed with a permanent family, been reunited with biological family, or outgrown foster care on their own – can share their personal accounts to help others. Their testimonials can be used to help adoptive families, recruitment practices, and even help shape child welfare policy and adoption processes.

This National Adoption Month also poses a great opportunity for clinical professionals across the United States to share more resources about the positive act of adoption – not just for adoptive families, but for expectant and birth mothers, as well. Making a private adoption plan is one way to prevent children from entering the foster care system. Private, domestic adoption agencies such as Adoptions With Love can work with expectant and birth parents to help them making thoughtful, caring plans for their child’s life.  Many of the women that consider adoption are already single parents, struggling to care for the children they have at home, or trying to work within the child welfare system to regain custody of their children.

What is Adoption?

In understanding the heart of National Adoption Month, it is important that we understand what adoption means – and why it is so meaningful for children all over the world. Adoption is the legal process by which a child becomes a permanent, legal member of a new family. Adoptive families have all the same legal, social, and emotional rights as biological families. When children cannot be safely reunited with or raised by their biological families, adoption is often the most positive outcome.

According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children: “Adoption can affect child development in profound ways. Data collected from studies over the past three decades supports adoption as a superior means of promoting normal development in children permanently separated from birth parents… For children suffering severe neglect or abuse in early life, an adoptive family is a remarkable environment for healing emotional and physical trauma and reversing developmental deficits.”

Despite popular belief, children who were adopted lead lives very similar to their non-adopted peers. In fact, studies show that adopted children are read to, sung to, and told stories to more often than non-adopted children. They are also more likely to have regular, family dinners with their adoptive parents, and are at lower risk of substance abuse as a result. The majority (90 percent) of children have positive experiences with their adoptive families. The most positive outcomes are often in open adoption plans.

Open adoption is a type of adoption plan that can stem from a private adoption or foster care adoption situation. It means that the adoptive family has contact, knowledge of, or some extent of relationship with the biological family. Open adoption is becoming increasingly common, and is beneficial for all members of the adoption triad. You can read about the benefits of open adoption here.

Celebrating National Adoption Month 2018

There are several ways adoptive families, as well as clinicians, social workers, and other professionals, can get involved with National Adoption Month. If you are an adoptive family, one of the most impactful things you can do is share your own adoption story. Post photos along with the story on social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtags #NationalAdoptionMonth and #30DaysofLove, to spread the word about this loving act.

Clinical professionals can also honor National Adoption Month by educating young women, families, and others about the positive act of adoption, and all that is involved in the adoption process. Too often, young women facing an unplanned pregnancy do not know that adoption is an option for them. They are unaware of the benefits of adoption, the steps it takes to make an adoption plan, or are afraid of what others (including the baby’s father) might think. It is important for these women to learn about adoption, as well as their other options, in a safe and confidential environment. It is important they have access to educational resources. By making an adoption plan, these expectant/birth mothers can prevent their child from entering the foster care system. If you have a patient or client who would like to learn more about adoption, we are happy to speak with her confidentially, without any pressure.

If you are looking for more adoption-related information, please do not hesitate to reach out to Adoptions With Love. We are a private, licensed, non-profit adoption agency that has been matching children with loving families for more than 32 years. We work with expectant/birth mothers across the United States, as well as hopeful adoptive families in Massachusetts. Our caring staff is available to chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

8 Popular Halloween Costumes with Non-Traditional or “Blended” Family Backgrounds

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Halloween is creeping closer. This is a great time of year for children and adults alike to dress up in costumes, enjoy festive parties, and head out for a night of trick-or-treating. If you are thinking that Halloween is just a bunch of hocus pocus, you may not have considered the opportunity that this spooky season presents.

Adoptions With Love always keeps an eye out for opportunities to spread awareness about adoption and the “modern family” today. You see, there is no longer a “norm” for families – nowadays, we see families in all shapes and sizes, from all different backgrounds and make-ups. Single parents, same-sex parents, step-parent and grand-parent adoptions, interracial families, and more. And this Halloween, we cannot help but notice all of the unique family stories that many popular costumes and characters carry.

There are many popular characters that have roots in non-traditional or “blended” families. And you may see many of them running around this Halloween season. Last year, we discussed the always-popular costume of Superman, who was adopted by the Kent family. Looking for some last-minute costume inspiration? Here are some of the popular Halloween costumes for 2018 that also tell of a unique family background:

spiderman halloween costume

1. Spider-Man

Just like Superman, Spider-Man is always a popular costume. The quintessential Marvel character has a unique story, just like many families touched by adoption. Spider-Man is Peter Parker’s alter ego. Peter is a teenage boy being raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in New York, after his parents were killed in a plane crash. Although a super hero, he is spared none of the struggles of ordinary life; he experiences difficulties with friends, family, sweethearts and employers. His super powers enable him to do good, but not to improve his own lot in life. His simple humanity has earned him millions of devoted fans over the years, of many generations.

2. MaleficentImage result for maleficent halloween costume

Fans of the 2014 Disney film “Maleficent” can find meaning in the development of this classic villain’s story. The unique twist on “Sleeping Beauty” tells the story of how the fairy turned toward the dark side before putting Princess Aurora in a death-like sleep. The most surprising outcome of this version – spoiler alert! – is that Maleficent watches Aurora grow up, and therefore comes to love her like a daughter. In fact – another spoiler alert! – Maleficent is the one who ends up breaking the curse with her “true love’s kiss” on Aurora’s forehead. There is a “Maleficent 2” in the works, which will, no doubt, delve deeper into this beautiful adoption story. This makes for the perfect costume for any child. Plus, the costume is pretty cool!

Image result for batman halloween costume

3. Batman

Here’s another superhero with a dramatic beginning. Bruce Wayne had a tough start to life, witnessing his parents’ murder at a young age. This inspires the vigilante to swear vengeance against criminals, an oath tempered by a sense of justice. Kids of all ages love dressing up as this classic DC Comics star. Pair your little caped crusader with Catwoman and the Joker to complete this family costume theme!

4. Frozen’s Kristoff

Parents, “Let it Go,” the craze over these Disney characters is not going anywhere. Kristoff, the man Anna meets on her way up the north mountain, has a unique family story, as well. When he was young, he was an orphan and taken in by trolls, who raised him as adoptive parents. This costume would pair perfectly with other popular “Frozen” characters, such as Elsa, Anna, and Olaf to complete a family costume.

kristoff adopted by trolls

Image result for princess leia and luke skywalker costume

5. Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker

With new Star Wars movies being released and new storylines unfolding, we are sure to see a lot of Star Wars themed costumes out there this Halloween. Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, well-loved siblings from the series, are two that also have a unique family story to share. Princess Leia was adopted and raised by the royal Organa family, while Luke Skywalker was raised by his aunt and uncle. Their birth mother was Queen Amidala of Naboo, who passed during childbirth. Each grew up to be heroes in their own way, with Leia becoming a princess, politician, soldier, and leader, and Luke becoming the brave protagonist who always fights for the good side. A great brother-sister Halloween costume idea!

Image result for harry potter costume

6. Harry Potter

Harry Potter is one of those costumes that we do not anticipate going away. He, a storybook hero and skilled wizard, also grew up in a unique family situation. His parents were killed when Harry was just a baby, and he was placed into a kinship adoption – to be raised by his aunt and uncle. Unfortunately, his family life was full of neglect and isolation. Because he was a child of magic, his aunt and uncle saw him as different than their other children. When he is sent to Hogwarts, however, he flourishes despite the adversity he faced as a young boy. He is able to find hope and meaning by learning more about his biological family history, as well.

7. Fuller House

Whatever happened to predictability? Everyone’s favorite 90s TV family makes for a great throwback Halloween costume and pop-culture reference. More importantly, these classic characters share an important message for blended families. In the original series, Danny, the father figure, is assisted in parenting his three daughters with his brother-in-law, Jesse, and best friend, Joey. Together, this quirky group comes together to warm the hearts of Americans for many years to come. This one is perfect for both millennial parents who loved the first run of the show, AND their kids who are watching the Netflix revival. It also helps to know that the 90s are back in fashion – think flannel and high-waisted denim – so putting together some DIY costumes for this look should be fairly easy.

Image result for fuller house

8. Jon Snow

For all the Game of Thrones fans out there, Jon Snow – the heir of the Iron Throne – is another great Halloween costume idea that celebrates an “adoption” like story. While not formally adopted, Jon Snow was raised by his Uncle, Ned Stark. Throughout his childhood, though, Jon Snow believed Ned Stark was his father, and that he was born out of illegitimacy. For those who are up to date, we know that this is not the case. His true parentage is kept a secret until he is much older. Jon Snow is actually the biological son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, the late Prince of Dragonstone – he was raised (and protected) by Lord Stark after his birth parents were killed in war.

Sure, Halloween is a fun for make-believe. It is also a great opportunity for families to bond over self-expression, creativity, and imagination. There is nothing quite like carving jack-o-lanterns and putting together clever costumes.  You can spend time walking through the neighborhood, making precious memories with your child. You can also use this time to connect with your child, and learn more about how he or she thinks and dreams, and possibly connect that back to his or her adoption story. With storied characters and heroes like these coming from unique family make-ups, it can be encouraging for your child to see that your family is truly special in its own way. Happy Halloween!

To learn about Adoptions With Love or how to start the adoption process, call Adoptions With Love toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 today.

8 MLB Athletes Who Have Been Touched by Adoption

Baseball is America’s favorite pastime. It is also a sport played by an array of American athletes, from all different backgrounds and walks of life. For example, there are some famous baseball stars who have been touched by adoption in some form – whether they were adopted or have grown their family through adoption.

With playoffs officially here (and with our home team, the Red Sox, playing this week!), Adoptions With Love takes some time to explore some of the many adoption stories floating around the many Major League Baseball teams. Here, we will learn more about these athletes who have hit a “home run” in the world of adoption!

  1. Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) was Adopted

St. Louis Cardinals’ Pitcher Jack Flaherty has talked about being raised by Eileen Flaherty, a single mom. The 23-year-old explains that he was adopted, and credits Eileen for making incredible sacrifices for both himself and his brother, Grady.

  1. Aaron Judge (Yankees) was Adopted

Aaron Judge is a New York Yankee slugger who has been on the rise to fame. He credits much of his success to his parents, who have always supported his dreams. Wayne and Patty Judge, retired physical education teachers, adopted Aaron the day after he was born in April of 1992. In 2015, the 2017 MLB Rookie of the Year told the New York Post that he felt “blessed” to have such a great relationship with his adoptive parents. “My parents are amazing, they’ve taught me so many lessons,’’ Aaron said. “I honestly can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.”

About his adoption, Aaron told the Post: “I feel they kind of picked me…I feel that God was the one that matched us together.”

“We’re more blessed than he is,’’ Patty said. “Both of our children are adopted. Aaron has an older brother, John, 29, who is teaching English in Korea, and we’re real proud of him, too. Really, it was all meant to be.’’

“I know I wouldn’t be a New York Yankee if it wasn’t for my mom,” number 99 told You can read more about Aaron Judge’s adoption story here!

  1. Rob Refsnyder (Yankees) was Adopted

Another New York Yankee star, Rob Refsnyder, has an incredible adoption story. His parents, Jane and Clint, adopted Rob when he was five months old. The couple was in Los Angeles in June of 1991 to get Rob’s Visa approved, so that they could fly him in from his native country in Seoul, South Korea. Suddenly, the plans began to crumble – literally.

“Before our appointment, we were having breakfast in a building across the street, and the earthquake hit,” Jane told Newsday. “Everybody ran out. Then I realized I left a briefcase with Robert’s original documents inside. So I ran back in to retrieve it.”

Jane made it out safely and Rob’s Visa was approved. They welcomed him home in early September of that year. Rob was raised in Laguna Hills, California, along with his sister Elizabeth, who was adopted from Korea three years earlier. Rob has also talked about how blessed he feels to have such wonderful, caring parents.

“They are my biggest fans, my biggest supporters,” Refsnyder told Newsday. “I have a great relationship with them. My dad and I are super close. My mom sacrificed a lot. She is super loving, super supportive. Couldn’t ask for a better set of parents.”

  1. Tanner Houck (Red Sox) has an Adopted Sister

Tanner Houck is another MLB athlete that certainly feels touched by adoption. The Boston Red Sox pitcher’s little sister, Reanna, was adopted by their mom when she was four years old.

This year, the Red Sox pitcher has vowed to literally “pitch” for adoption. He has also asked others to donate to the cause.

He explains: “I’m personally pledging $25 for every one of my strikeouts in the 2018 season. Each pledge or donation will go to the National Council for Adoption – who will ensure more children will be adopted out of foster care; women facing an unintended pregnancy will continue to receive comprehensive information on the positive option of adoption; and intercountry adoption will remain a viable, ethical alternative for building families. I’m excited to pitch for Reanna and the many other children around the world who will hopefully have an opportunity to have a life like ours.”

Tanner has truly been inspired by his little sister. “I remember meeting her for the first time when my mom brought her to my high school baseball game,” Houck has said of his sister. “I knew even then she was going to change our lives for the better, and we would help change hers.”

  1. Babe Ruth was Adopted, as well as an Adoptive Parent

George Herman Ruth was the eldest of eight children born to Baltimore tavern owners Kate Schamberger-Ruth and George Herman Ruth, Sr. While he was just one of the two children to survive infancy, his busy parents placed him in St. Mary’s Industrial School for boys when he was just seven years old. They signed their parental rights over to the brothers who ran the institution.

The Catholic orphanage and reformatory became Ruth’s home for the next 12 years. Ruth formed a strong bond with Brother Mathais at St. Mary’s, who encouraged him to work on his passion and clear talent for baseball. Ruth caught the eye of Talent Scout Jack Dunn at the age of 19, and in order to circumvent the custody order (which was to be set in place until age 21), Dunn became his legal guardian.

“Babe” earned his nickname during an early appearance playing with the Baltimore Orioles. As most baseball fans know, he went on to play for the Boston Red Sox before being traded to the New York Yankees.

Babe Ruth was married twice. During his first marriage, he and his wife, Helen Woodford, adopted a daughter named Dorothy. Babe remarried four months after Helen passed away in a fire. His second wife, Claire Hodgson, was a widow. She also had a daughter, named Julia. Babe and Claire adopted each other’s children.

  1. Jim Palmer (Orioles) was Adopted

Hall of Famer Jim Palmer had known he was adopted since the age of seven, but he did not have any interest to learn about his biological family until much later in life. The former Baltimore Orioles pitcher adored his adoptive parents. His adoptive father died when he was young, but Jim admired his stepfather so much that he decided to take his last name. When Jim was 72 years old, he was ready to learn about his birth family through DNA testing, at the urging of his wife.

“I lucked out,” Palmer said about his upbringing to the Baltimore Sun. “I won the lottery when it came to my adoptive parents and a stepfather in Max Palmer. So, all the time when you’re playing, people go, ‘Would you like to know [about your biological parents]?’ … But it just never presented itself.”

  1. Tug McGraw (Phillies) was a Birth Father

Franklin Edwin McGraw was one of the most popular baseball stars of the ‘70s and ‘80s, working as a relief pitcher for the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1980, he led the Phillies to their only World Series victory. He learned later in life that he had fathered a son, named Tim, who went on to become a Country music superstar. Tim and Tug reunited when Tim was 18 years old, and the two enjoyed a close relationship until Tug’s passing in 2004.

  1. Willie Mays (Giants &Mets) is an Adoptive Father

Willie Mays is known as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. In his personal life, he became a father when he and his wife of three years, Marghuerite, decided to adopt. In his personal memoire, My Life In and Out of Baseball, Mays talks about the love he has for his adoptive son, Michael:

“It was in ’56 that Marghuerite and I were married. She had a daughter by her first marriage and in ’59, in San Francisco, she and I were to go to an adoption agency, and that is how my son Michael came to live with us. He was three days old when we adopted him. I don’t know what the chemistry was, but from the first moment I set eyes on him, I knew this was it. And it’s been that way ever since… All I can say is, he changed my life, my purpose, my outlook.”

As baseball fans enjoy the post-season competition, remember that adoption is all around us. Many people – neighbors, friends, and famous stars – have been touched by adoption, including many of this classic sports’ greatest athletes, today and in the past.

If you or someone you love is facing an unplanned pregnancy, know that adoption is a positive act. Adoptions With Love can help. And if you are interested in growing your family through adoption in Massachusetts, Adoptions With Love can also work with you. Contact us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-722-7731 for more information.