Archive for the ‘Adoptive Parents’ Category

How to Talk About Adoption with Your Teenager (ages 13-17)

Adolescence is a crucial period of life that involves major development physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are many changes and adjustments happening during these teen years. They are just beginning to establish who they are in the world. At the same time, their world is growing into a more complicated place. Their education, relationships, and personal growth are all in a state of flux – and the rush of hormones is a completely different battle!

At this time of your child’s life, he or she is beginning to develop more complex emotions, as well as grasp onto more complicated concepts, like the meaning of adoption in his/her life. At this age, your teen is also likely to seek out more in-depth conversations regarding his or her birth parents.

For adoptive parents, this can feel like an overwhelming time. It is important to take each phase of development as it comes, and with as much honesty and openness as possible. Always be prepared for the serious talks and know that the questions your teen is asking are completely normal – and healthy. Teenagers are at a stage of self-discovery. Your child might need answers (about his or her biology, birth siblings, ethnicity, etc.) in order to form an identity and fuller sense-of-self. Think of these answers – whether they be details about the birth parents, or the reasons behind their choice – as missing puzzle pieces that your child needs to feel complete.

We understand it may be hard not to still look at your growing teen as your sweet, little baby. Try to remember that he or she has made great leaps and strides in maturity over the years, and can now handle some more sensitive information about his/her adoption story.

It is also important to remember that an open and honest approach will be best for your child in the long run. No matter their background, adolescents often struggle with self-esteem issues. Having a parent to trust is important for your child’s level of comfort and self-confidence as he or she grows. If your teen knows that you are in his/her corner, you will certainly see a boost in self-esteem.

While it is important to use age-appropriate adoption language in conversations with your teen, you should not avoid sharing tough information – drugs, rape, legal troubles – as a way to protect your child. This will only make the truth harder to share later in life. Hiding the difficult details can also set a child up to fantasize about his or her birth parents, which can cause greater disappointment and pain down the road. Be honest, but also be mindful of your tone and the way you frame your answers. If the birth parents had issues with substance use, for example, you might explain that your teen’s birth parents may have gotten involved with drugs or other problems a long time ago – not because they were bad people.

While you want to share as much information with your teen as possible, you should always be considerate, compassionate, and respectful when talking about his or her birth parents. Remind your child that his/her birth mother did the best she could in a time of crisis and that, by making an adoption plan, she was able to plan for your child’s life. She always had your best interest at heart. Ensure your teen that adoption is not an easy or quick decision, but one made with great love and thought. If you are in an open adoption arrangement, you may also consider involving the birth mother in some of these more difficult conversations.

You can also take these difficult conversations and turn them into great bonding time with your child. Ask for his or her opinion on something when the truth is less than glamorous. Try something like, “How do you think your birth parents felt when they went through that?” This serves a dual purpose. For one thing, it gives your teen a boost in self-confidence. It shows them that their voice matters, and that you care about their thoughts and feelings. It also helps them think about the situation from an empathetic standpoint.

Teenagers are working hard to “find themselves” throughout this emerging phase of life. As a parent, you can provide your son or daughter with honest answers, help your teen feel more confident in his or her adoption story, and help your teenager feel prouder talking about it. You are literally helping your child shape his/her own perspective and personality, and ultimately become an adult. Parenting is a pretty cool job, and you are the one who gets to do it!

Adoptions With Love can help you, too. We always have staff members ready to chat about these complicated, and often emotional, moments. If you would like to learn more about talking to teens about adoption, please download our free guide, “Explaining Adoption to Your Child” below. If you would like to learn about our active Search and Reunion program for adopted teens and their families, please reach out to us at 1-800-722-7731.


How to Talk About Adoption with School-Age Children (ages 6-12)

Children are, by nature, curious creatures – especially after age six, when they have started to develop a broader understanding of the world and their place within it. Whether children were born into their families, were adopted, or just know someone touched by adoption, they will likely have many questions for their parents. As a parent, facing these questions can feel overwhelming. It can be hard to know how much information you should divulge to your child, and how to handle the burning questions about his or her birth parents.

At Adoptions With Love, we understand the feeling many parents have when their school-age child begins asking more complex questions about his or her background. Gone are the infant and toddler conversations, when a simple: “You are ours and we love you!” would typically suffice. If your child is between the ages of six and 12, he or she is just now beginning to understand the greater scope of adoption and what it means. Your child may also be getting more prying questions about adoption from his or her peers at school.

In this article, we will break down some of most positive ways you can talk with your child about his or her adoption story. Having these conversations now, before and in early adolescence, can invoke positive feelings about adoption in your child and help him/her create a fuller sense-of-self.

First and foremost, it is important to keep all adoption conversations with your child as open, honest, and positive as possible. Your child deserves to know the truth, but this should always be framed in a positive light. Even if the truth about your child’s biological parents is difficult to share, ensure your child that they loved him/her very much and made the best possible choice they could. Always keep a calm, positive tone and show respect when talking about your child’s birth family. It is because of their choice that you came together as a family. By doing this, your child will also feel positive knowing he/she came from good people. Your child will also trust you for sharing this important information if you do so in an open and loving manner.

While many children will ask questions about adoption on their own, it is important to note that others may stay silent during early adolescence. Both temperaments are normal in growing children. As a parent, try to make frequent conversations happen. If your child is not asking questions, pose some questions to your child like, “Do you think about your birth parents?” Let your child know you will not be hurt and that you are open to talking about them.

Try looking for easy, organic opportunities to bring up the subject, as well. For example, if your child likes to play sports, you might say after a day on the field, “You are so talented! I wonder which of your birth parents gave you that incredible athletic ability.” This may help your quiet child feel comfortable with an open dialogue about his or her birth parents – Otherwise, your child may avoid bringing them up so as not to offend you. As long as you are happy to talk about it, they likely will be, as well.

With some forethought, sitting down to chat with your child about his or her adoption story can be very beneficial and enlightening. Your child is growing up and gaining a better understanding of his or her history and background. At this age, your child may also be looking for tangible information about his or her biological family. If you have an open or semi-open adoption, consider sharing photos of his/her birth parents and what else you can about their background. Explore your child’s heritage together. Read letters from his or her birth parents. Show your child is or her birth certificate, and your proof of adoption. This will all help your child connect with you and his/her adoption story. Look at baby pictures together that you might have from the very first time you met each other.

As the rule of thumb goes for any age and topic, parents should keep age-appropriate language in mind for the adoption conversation. You know your child better than anyone else in this world. If you know that he or she is not ready to learn the full context of his or her adoption story, hold off on divulging all of the difficult details until the time is right.

A 12-year-old, for example, is likely to handle sensitive details better than a six-year-old who is just starting to grasp the concept of adoption. If you know that your child’s birth parents had a drug problem, for example, you might consider saving that conversation until after he/she has learned about drugs, alcohol, and their effects.

As your child’s mind and relationships develop, he or she may have more complex questions about his or her birth parents. Be prepared to answer these honestly and compassionately. As always, take into consideration their sensitivity to the subject and share what you can with love. Tell your child the story with care and affection, to reassure the fact that his or her adoption story is a positive one, born out of love.

Adoptions With Love is a constant resource for help. If you want to learn more about how to talk to your child about adoption, or for help on finding the right words, please download our free eBook below, “Explaining Adoption to Children: A Guide for Adoptive Parents.” You may also email us at info@awlonline.org for more information on the adoption process.


How to Talk About Adoption with Infants, Toddlers, and Young Children (ages 0-5)

For adoptive parents, just the idea of talking to your child about adoption can be overwhelming. How will he or she react? Will it hurt your bond with your little one? What types of questions will follow as he/she grows? When should you start the conversation? There is a seemingly endless stream questions and conversations that are required throughout any child’s upbringing. Adoption only adds to the many emotional talks.

Adoptions With Love understands your hesitation. Know that we are here to help you navigate important adoption conversations as your child grows. Each phase of life brings a new series of questions from your child. It is important for parents to know how to respond in age-appropriate language, with honesty and compassion at every step of the way.

No matter the circumstance, an open, honest dialogue about adoption is always best for the child. In fact, over 97 percent of adopted children over the age of five know they were adopted, and 90 percent of these children have positive feelings about their adoption experience.

The tried-and-true rule to talking about adoption is to start early. Start adoption conversations in infancy and keep them going over the years, as your child grows. In this blog, Adoptions With Love offers advice on how to talk about adoption with infants, toddlers, and young children.

From the very first day you welcome your child into your lives, you can begin telling his or her adoption story. It is never too early to start using the word “adoption,” whether it is during a bottle feeding or bath time. As a baby, your child will not grasp what you are saying, but this practice can help you gain more comfort using the language. Adoption is something that you will continually discuss, intermittently, throughout your child’s life. Getting comfortable with “the talk” now will greatly benefit you both down the road.

Another reason it is so helpful to start the adoption conversation early on, is that when the time comes, your child will be more comfortable with (and confident in) his or her adoption story. Your little one will be used to the words and will not be shocked or caught off guard when his or her peers start asking questions, too.

Keep it Simple

Remember that young toddlers and children have short attention spans, so they do not require lengthy conversations to address the topic of adoption. They also think of things as black-or-white, and do not yet have the ability to understand metaphors or unclear “grey” areas. In the early years, use simple, straight-forward language to talk to your child about adoption. Save the more complex details for the later school-age, preteen, and adolescent years.

An Upbeat Approach

In addition to having simple conversations early and often, it is also important to be mindful of the language. Keep things positive! It is important to always send the message that the adoption is a positive, loving way to grow a family, and that is how you and your child came together. Always smile when sharing your child’s story and when talking about his or her birth parents. Young children catch onto emotions, even when they cannot fully grasp the words.

By using a positive, compassionate tone, you will help your child understand that adoption is positive piece of your lives. Your child will be happier and more confident in his or her adoption story if you portray it with pride and happiness.

The Baby Phase

New parents may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is quite easy to discuss adoption with a baby. This tiny, beautiful miracle looks to you only for love and care. You can start with simple phrases during bath time and bedtime, saying things like: “Daddy and I love you! We are so happy we got to adopt you!” and “We are so grateful for Susie” (use the birth mom’s name, or a name/title you have chosen together to call the birth mom.  Using “mom” can be confusing to a young child). You may also just incorporate the word “adoption” into your day-to-day conversations. This way, your sweet baby will always be comfortable with the word and attach a positive feeling toward the subject.

Talking with Preschoolers & Kindergarteners

As your child grows, the adoption conversation will grow a bit, as well. At the toddler phase, your child may start asking some basic “why” questions: “Why don’t I look like you?” and “Did I grow in your tummy?” You may want to navigate the conversation using simple ways to explain the adoption story, such as:

“Mommy and Daddy were so happy to adopt you. Mommy and Daddy could not grow a baby in mommy’s belly.  Susie grew you in her belly, but she was not able to take care of a baby at the time. She loved you so much and wanted to make sure you had the best life, so she chose us to be your parents forever. Babies need to be taken care of, given food and clothing and a home. Susie couldn’t provide this all (for adult reasons), so we adopted you when you were born. And you have been our sweet baby from the day you were born (or adapt the story to your situation).” You may also tell this in storybook, “Once upon a time…” form at bedtime – Young children love hearing stories about themselves!

If, and when, your youngster begins asking more questions around the adoption, you should feel free to address them simply, honestly, and positively. For example, if your child asks: “Why does my skin look so different?” Just simply say: “We usually look like our biological families. You have skin like Susie (insert name, if you know it), and I have skin like Grandma. But we are all family and love each other, forever, no matter what we look like.” This will give your child the answer he or she is looking for, while redirecting the conversation toward a happy feeling of belonging.

While many young children frequently ask questions about adoption, there are some who stay quiet. This is normal. It is still important for you, as the parent, to encourage these conversations. You can take out pictures of the day you met them and laugh about how cute they were. This sometimes stimulates conversations. There are many adoption-themed books and kids’ shows that can help address the subject. Parents may consider using these to child understand more about his or her story, in a relaxed and comfortable manner, as well as relate it to others’ adoption stories.

Another helpful resource is Adoptions With Love. Our caring staff are available to help adoptive parents and hopeful parents through the adoption process. For more information about talking to your child about adoption, please download our free guide below.

“Explaining Adoption to Your Child: A Guide for Adoptive Parents” is designed to help you find the right words, and answers, at each stage of your child’s life – starting in infancy and throughout adolescence. For any more questions, please email us at info@awlonline.org.


How to Tell Your Child They Are Adopted

For some adoptive parents, the notion of talking to your child about his or her adoption can be nerve-wracking. How do you broach the subject? At what age is it appropriate to discuss adoption with a child? How will he or she respond to the news? Should it be news at all? How do you say it, and how often?

While the how, when, what, and what-ifs can become overwhelming, it is important not to delay this conversation with your child. The sooner you start talking about your child’s adoption story, the more comfortable, happy, and proud he or she will be of it. Remember that, as a parent, you are your child’s biggest supporter and influence. How you tell your child they are adopted (and how often), can have a very positive impact on how your child’s story unfolds.

Today, over 97 percent of adopted children over the age of five know that they were adopted, and 90 percent of these children have positive feelings about their adoption experience. At Adoptions With Love, we want you to feel confident when talking about adoption with your child – so that your child can be confident in it, too. In this article, we will guide you through the process on how to introduce and explain adoption to a child.

Let’s Talk Timing

Adoptive parents often ask, “When should I talk to my child about adoption?” The answer is simple: always talk about adoption, especially when they ask about it.

It is never too early to start sharing your child’s adoption story. In fact, from the moment you welcome him or her into your lives, you – as mommy or daddy – can start sharing the incredible journey of how you became a family. Get comfortable with the term “adoption” by using it in a positive way throughout the day – during diaper changes, bedtime routines, and even walks in the stroller! Your sweet baby may not understand the message during this infant phase, but the habit will help you, as the parent(s), gain comfort and confidence in talking about adoption openly and honestly.

Just like parenting, you will know how to best approach the adoption discussion with your child when the time comes. If you, like many, have an open adoption, you may consider including the birth mother in this conversation. Here are some other tips for how to tell your child they are adopted.

How to Have the Talk – Child-Forward Thinking

In addition to the simple repetition of the word “adoption” in the infancy phase, it is important to have frequent discussion with your child throughout his or her upbringing. These conversations should be age-appropriate and tailored to your child. If your child is still in diapers, he or she may not be able to fully grasp the concept of adoption. That is okay! Mention it occasionally but keep the explanations short and simple. As the child grows, he or she will likely have more questions. Those can be tackled over time, as he or she matures and is better able to process the information.

Be Open and Honest

While adoption can sometimes be a sensitive subject for adoptive parents, especially when a child has questions about his or her birth parents, it is important to be open and honest with your little one as the questions come up – in age appropriate language, of course. If there are some complexities to the story, you can always share those later when he or she is able to understand them. Share your child’s adoption story as openly and honestly as you can at this time. Your child will only benefit from your honesty, and it will continue to build trust and love in your relationship.

These talks should also be given with a positive tone. Remember to speak positively of your child’s birth family and reiterate how much your child is loved. Help your child understand that he or she did not grow inside your belly, but rather, inside your hearts. Let your child know that he or she was not given up, but rather, planned for your family. Your child was chosen. Talk about the selflessness and courageousness of your child’s birth mom, and about the strength she had to make this decision and to give her baby the best possible place to grow. Most of all, explain to your child that adoption was a beautiful way to complete your family – and let your child in on that joy.

Find Resources to Help

Many parents find adoption books to be helpful in explaining adoption to a child. There is a wide variety of literature available – from board books made for toddlers, to “how to” guide books for adoptive parents.

Another move that can help spark positive conversation is to create your own photo book, much like you did for your family in the beginning of the adoption process. A photo book or “Lifebook” is a great way to journal your child’s adoption story from the very beginning. Like “baby books,” adoption lifebooks can help you keep track of important dates, events, and feelings throughout the adoption and parenting journey. You can include ultrasound photos, footprints from the hospital, and if you have an open adoption arrangement, even photos of the birth and birth mother. This will help give your child a better sense of his or her story – which is important to know as he or she grows.

No matter which approach you decide to take, it is important to be open and honest when thinking about how to tell your child they are adopted. Doing this is crucial for helping your son or daughter understand how he or she became a part of your loving family – and a part of your life. Let them know that you welcome their questions and feelings. You can help shape your child’s outlook on his or her adoption story and grow to be proud of it. Open and honest conversations with your child can help teach him or her to positively share this special story with others.

For more information about the adoption process, please visit our Adoptive Parents FAQ page or call Adoptions With Love toll-free at 1-800-722-7731. You may also download one of our free guides about talking about adoption below!


When to Tell a Child They Were Adopted & Age-Appropriate Adoption Language

At the start of every adoption journey, prospective adoptive parents must consider how and when they will share their adoption story with their child. We will admit, this can feel a bit nerve-racking at first. What time is the “right” time to tell a child they are adopted? Is there a “wrong” time to talk about it? If you are considering adoption or have recently adopted a baby, you may have some similar questions about starting this conversation at home. You may be wondering things like:

  • When is it okay to start talking about adoption with my child?
  • Should I start the conversation now, or wait until he/she can understand what adoption means?
  • How should I approach this conversation? What can I say to help my child understand?

It is completely normal to feel a bit nervous about having the adoption conversation with your little one. However, the earlier you start talking about adoption in your home, the sooner your child starts hearing his or her adoption story, the more comfortable you and your child will be. Typically, the best approach to talking about adoption with your child is to be open and honest from the very beginning of your journey.

As a private adoption agency with over 32 years of experience, Adoptions With Love has helped many adoptive parents start the adoption conversations in their home. Below we share some tips for parents on how to tell their children they are adopted, and how to continue the conversation appropriately over the years.

When to Get Started

From the very first day you welcome your child into your lives, you can begin telling his or her adoption story. It is never too early to start using the word “adoption,” whether it is during a bottle feeding or at bath time. Your baby will likely not grasp what you are saying at first, but this practice can help you gain more comfort with these words over time. Adoption is something that you will continually discuss, intermittently, throughout your child’s life. Getting comfortable with the “talk” is one that will greatly benefit both you and your child long-term.

It is also helpful to open the adoption dialogue early on, so that when the time comes, your child will accept, understand, and be comfortable with his or her adoption story. Early discussions can help build self-esteem and provide a sense of safety and security for your child. From the beginning, he or she will know how much love was put into the adoption plan.

As a parent, it is important to make this a lifelong conversation. You do not just tell your child about adoption once. The more you talk about it, the more your child will be comfortable with it. He or she will also be more comfortable asking questions. At Adoptions With Love, we recommend talking about adoption often, when the opportunity arises, throughout every stage of your child’s development. Many parents turn to adoption books for young children. These can help your child understand and relate to other adoption stories.

Telling a child about adoption early on can make it a very natural experience – Because they have always known their story, they will not remember a solitary “stand out” or “shocking” moment in which they were told.

As Ellen Singer, LCSW, told adoptionsupport.org, “It is important for parents to share age-appropriate information, answer questions, and help children with their feelings about adoption before adolescence. Adolescence can be a difficult time to communicate about clothing and plans for the weekend, let alone birth parents, birth heritage, and complex feelings. For this reason, parents should seriously consider the advantages to laying the foundation for adoption conversations at a younger age.”

Words Matter

In addition to having the conversation early and often, it is also important to be mindful of language when telling your child they are adopted. Use language that is appropriate for your child’s developmental level. This will evolve as your child grows, of course. The discussion with a preschooler will be much different than that with a middle schooler. No matter the age, however, it is important to always send the message that the adoption is a positive, loving way that your family came together. Your child will be happier and more confident in his or her adoption story if it is one that sends a message of pride and happiness.

Simple to Start

In the infant phase, it is quite easy to discuss adoption with your baby. This tiny, beautiful miracle will be looking up at you with love and wonder. You can send simple messages as easy as, “Daddy and I are so happy we got to adopt you. We love you more than anything in this world!”

As your child grows, the conversation should grow, as well. At the toddler phase, you may find some easy ways to explain the adoption story, such as, “Mommy and Daddy were so happy to adopt you! A nice lady had you in her belly, and she wanted to make sure you had the best life. She found us and asked us to become your mommy and daddy when you were born. So we adopted you, and you have been our sweet baby from the start.”

The “why” questions will likely start at the toddler and preschool phase, but young children are often pleased with simple answers such as “because we knew you were meant to be ours!” This will help your youngster feel loved and truly at home where he or she belongs.

Growing the Conversation

Just like you know the best way to raise your child, you will know how to continually address the conversation of adoption. As your little one grows and develops through the elementary and middle school ages, he or she will likely have more in-depth questions regarding the adoption and his or her birth parents. Try not to fret as these questions are asked. Instead, encourage these questions. It is very normal and healthy for a child to be interested in his or her biological background.  If you keep the conversation open and honest – and stay mindful as to what information your child can grasp at the given age – you will continue to bond with your child through these adoption discussions.

Today, over 97 percent of adopted children over the age of five know that they were adopted, and 90 percent of these children have reported having positive feelings about their adoption experience. For more advice on when to tell a child they are adopted, as well as age-appropriate language to help you navigate the uncharted waters of this journey, please download our free guides below. If you would like information adopting a child in MA, please call 617-964-4357.


Children’s Most Common Questions About Adoption & How to Answer Them

Any parent can attest to the seemingly endless barrage of questions from our kids: “Why do I have to take a bath?” “When can we go back outside?” and a staple of long road trips, “Are we there yet?” Children are curious creatures. They ask questions in efforts to figure out the world they live in. Some questions, of course, are easier to answer than others.

Common family-related questions such as “Where do babies come from?” and “What is our nationality?” get deeper conversations going, but if you are an adoptive parent, your answers will be a bit more complex and thought-out than the typical response. Children’s understanding of adoption is part of a developmental process, and asking questions is their attempt to try and understand its role in their lives.

At Adoptions With Love, we want parents like you to feel prepared for their children’s more difficult adoption questions. We want you to have the confidence, compassion, and ability to comfortably discuss adoption – openly and honestly – with your child.

Depending on your child’s age, certain adoption-related questions will require simpler answers, such as: “Was I in your tummy?” This is one of the more common questions asked by young children. The answer can be handled with a simple reply, such as “You were in your birth mother’s belly before you were born. Mommy and Daddy wanted a baby but could not have one that way. We were so excited to adopt you!” It is important to take age and development into consideration before addressing your child’s adoption questions. It is also important to always be open, honest, and positive when talking to your child about adoption.

To help you navigate conversations with your child, Adoptions With Love has compiled a list of other common adoption questions that children may ask, ranging from the basic ponderings of a preschooler to the adolescent interrogations.

Adoption Question: What do my birth parents look like?

Answer: If you know what the birth parents look like, describe them as detailed as possible. Example: “Your birth mother has brown, curly hair and big, beautiful green eyes.” If you have a pictures of your child’s birth parents, this would be an appropriate time to share it with him/her.

If you do not know the birth parents, you may reply:

“They must be stunning to have made such a beautiful child like you!”Adoption Question: Why didn’t my birth parents keep me?

Answer: “Sometimes, a man and woman know they can’t take care of a baby that they are expecting. Your birth parents knew just how amazing you were going to be, but they also knew they could not give you the kind of care and support you deserve. So, they searched for the best parents, who could give you the best life possible. We wanted to be your parents more than anything in this world and feel so fortunate to have you in our lives.”

Adoption Question: How come I don’t look like anyone else in the family?

Answer: “Our physical appearance comes from our birth parents. You were blessed to be born with the same beautiful skin tone, hair and eye color as your birth parents. Nana and Papa are my birth parents, so that is why I have the same skin color/hair/eyes as they do. Just because you have different skin/hair/eyes, does not make you less of a part of our family. It is basically the only difference between us! You are our child and we love you with all of our hearts. We celebrate our differences.”

Adoption Question: Why did you adopt me? 

Answer: “Mommy and Daddy really wanted a baby to care for and to love, but we could not make a baby. When your birth parents reached out to an adoption agency, we were paired together! It was a perfect match, because we loved you the moment we laid eyes on you. We feel so lucky to be able to have you in our family.”

Adoption Question: Will I go back to my birth parents someday?

Answer: “Your birth parents wanted you to have a family that could take care of you and love you forever. Family is forever, and you are a very important part of our family. You will always be our son/daughter, and we will love you and care for you no matter how old you grow – or (jokingly) how cranky you behave! We are also very proud to talk about your birthparents.  This never hurts our feelings. They are part of you.”

Adoption Question: Is it okay to think about my birth parents?

Answer: “Of course it is! It is only natural to think about your birth parents. I, myself, think of your birth parents often, especially on special days like your birthday, Mother’s Day or other holidays. I hope they are doing well. I always feel thankful to them for giving me the gift of you. I am certain your birth parents think of you often.”

Like many adoptive families today, you may have opted for an open adoption. Depending on your relationship with the birth parent(s), you may arrange for the birth mother speak with your child at certain points of his/her childhood, particularly when questions are raised about your child’s birth family history, the birth parents’ feelings on the adoption, or any other personal questions related to your little one’s biological background. This approach is completely up to you and what you, your child, and his or her birth mom are comfortable with in terms of contact.

Handling it With a Little Help

No matter the focus, Adoptions With Love can help you navigate your child’s most sensitive adoption questions with compassion and sensibility. Our caring staff is available to our adoptive parents 24/7, and just one call away. Feel free to reach out to us anytime at 617-964-4357. You may also download our free guides below: “A Guide to Talking About Adoption” and “Talking to Your Child About Adoption: A Guide for Adoptive Parents.”


Local vs. National Adoption Agencies: What’s the Difference?

Adoption is an incredible blessing for many families, both parents and children alike. While it can seem like an overwhelming process, hopeful adoptive parents can take comfort in knowing that there are great resources out there to help. Adoptions With Love is a non-profit, private, domestic adoption agency providing services to adopting families across Massachusetts. It is our goal to help you through the adoption process and ensure that it is a positive, favorable experience for your family. It is our mission to find the best possible home for each child, and to make that home here in the Bay State.

Once you have decided to grow your family through adoption, one of the first and most important decisions you will make is choosing which type of adoption you would like to pursue. Massachusetts families have the option to adopt internationally or adopt domestically, through a private adoption agency or through foster care.

Many waiting families looking to adopt a newborn will choose private adoption. Through a private adoption agency, they can receive a lot of medical and personal information about their child’s birth family. Often with private adoption, adoptive families can also meet their child’s biological parents.

If you would like to move forward with private, domestic adoption, you will now need to select an adoption agency to help you through the adoption process. There are many options to choose from, and it can be tough to determine which is best for you. Here we explain the differences between local adoption agencies and national adoption agencies.

Local vs. National Adoption Agencies

National adoption agencies work with adoptive parents and birth parents across all 50 states. They are large agencies with offices throughout the country. Local adoption agencies, on the other hand, are small, personalized agencies that are typically dedicated to working with adoptive families in one state, such as Massachusetts. However, like national adoption agencies, many local agencies can still work with expectant and birth mothers across the United States.

National adoption agencies tend to have higher agency fees. This is because they have higher overhead costs – such as large employee staffs. Since local adoption agencies are working within one single state, their overhead costs tend to be lower. This results in lower fees for adoption services.

Whether you are working with a national adoption agency or a local adoption agency, the process to adopt a baby is generally the same. There are a few differences in the process, depending on the professional team you choose, such as:

  • Personal interaction. Local adoption agencies tend to offer more personal, one-on-one time for parents with social workers. This means more attention to your adoption and extra care to ensure a smooth and happy experience. Adopting families typically do not meet with national adoption agencies face-to-face, unless they are willing to travel. A local adoption agency gives you the opportunity for an intimate and personal experience.
  • National adoption agencies may require additional demands to meet approval of different state adoption laws.
  • National adoption agencies tend to cost families more money than local adoption agencies.
  • Local adoption agencies are licensed and state-monitored organizations, and therefore have greater accountability than law firms, law centers, or adoption facilitators.
  • Amount of Adoptions. While national adoption agencies are generally thought to have more availability and shorter wait times (because of the larger pool of selection), a local adoption agency like Adoptions With Love can also help match families with children across the country.
  • With a local adoption agency, you are one of a handful of applicants; with a national adoption agency you are in a much larger pool of applicants.

The Perks of a Full-Service, Private, Non-Profit Adoption Agency in Massachusetts

In general, there are two different types of private adoption agencies that Massachusetts families can choose. There is the full-service adoption agency, which includes:

  • Home study services
  • Comprehensive marketing and matching with expectant/birth parents
  • Full legal services, including termination of birth father’s rights
  • ICPC and adoption finalization services
  • Pre-adoptive educational seminars to prepare for your baby’s arrival
  • Post-adoption education and counseling for you and your child
  • Post-placement letter and picture program

A full-service adoption agency like Adoptions With Love makes a commitment to working with hopeful parents until they have their baby. Much like national adoption agencies, our team also has the added benefit of matching waiting parents with birth mothers and babies nationwide. At Adoptions With Love, wait times generally range from six to twelve months after the completion of a home study. If you value in-person service and a close, trusting relationship with your adoption counselor, you may consider Adoptions With Love. Our services connect the dots between national and local adoption agencies: we offer personal, one-on-one attention for local parents in Massachusetts, all while helping children across the country find permanent homes.

For more than 30 years, Adoptions With Love has been helping parents in Massachusetts grow their families. We take pride in maintaining close, personal relationships with both adoptive parents and expectant/birth parents. Our caring social workers and staff want all our families to flourish and grow. We take the time to sit down with families and work out individualized adoption plans that work best for them. Unlike for-profit adoption agencies, we are a social service agency, striving to provide the best service possible while keeping costs down to one, flat adoption fee. Finding the best home for each child and creating happy and healthy families are the ultimate goals.

Adoptions With Love works with expectant/birth parents across the country. We want to help local families in Massachusetts complete their forever family. We aim to connect adoptive parents with expectant/birth mothers to create a healthy and happy environment among all involved. Studies show that children of open adoptions are the happiest of adopted children! There are also many added benefits of open adoption for both adoptive parents and expectant/birth parents.

If you are a hopeful parent looking to adopt a child in Massachusetts, please reach out to Adoptions With Love. Our compassionate staff is here to help you navigate the process and grow your family. Call Adoptions With Love at 617-964-4357 today. Or, if you would like more information about open adoption and the Massachusetts adoption requirements, please download our free Guide to the Massachusetts Adoption Process.


A Recap of the Adoption Storyline in “This is Us,” Season 2

this is us season 2

By now, most fans have ingested – and, hopefully, emotionally recovered – from the second season of NBC’s hit primetime series “This is Us.” The drama tells the incredibly heart-wrenching story of the fictional Pearson family.

The show bounces between different eras of the family’s lives, from the courtship of the two main stars, Jack and Rebecca, to the present-day lives of their three adult children – two biological fraternal twins and son, Randall, who was adopted. The first season of “This is Us” (as we discussed here) explored many of the complicated and emotional elements of adoption: Randall’s journey of self-discovery, the effects of closed adoption on him and his birth father, as well as the power of search and reunion.

The second season of “This is Us” dives even deeper into themes of adoption and foster care, as Randall (now an adult) and his wife, Beth, decide to foster a teenage girl. With Season 3 of “This is Us” just around the corner (save the date, September 25th!), Adoptions With Love takes the time to explore the adoption themes and storylines played out in Season 2 of this emotional drama. Keep your tissues handy!

Randall’s Decision to Adopt

Randall met his birth father in Season 1 of “This is Us,” which inspired him to make a momentous choice at the start of the second season: the 37-year-old father of two decides he also wants to adopt a child. After saying goodbye to his birth father, William, and forgiving his mother for keeping the adoption so closed and secretive, Randall remembers what a great life he has. He feels fortunate to have been raised by two wonderful, married parents in a caring and loving home. He received a remarkable education and was given every opportunity to succeed in life through his parents’ choice. In cherishing his life, he decides that he wants to do the same for another child in need of a good home. He tells his wife, Beth, that he wants a third child, and that he wants to do what his parents did: Adopt.

From Foster Care to the Pearson Family

Randall and Beth discuss the path of adoption, and ultimately decide they would like to adopt an older child. So, they decide to foster. The Pearson’s are put on a list with social services to foster any child, of any age or ethnic background. Not long after taking this leap of faith, a young teen is brought to their door. Deja has come from a string of foster homes and is guarded from the start. Despite being just 12-years-old, she has already been through an emotional roller coaster and, as a result, does not warm up easily to her new foster family. Her mother is in jail, and Deja anxiously awaits her release so that the two may be reunited.Image result for this is us foster care

This phase of the Pearson family’s life is a challenging one. There are many unknowns in fostering an older child. Deja has put up walls and does not seem to accept Randall and his family as a loving group she can trust. Over time, their bond begins to strengthen. However, around that same time, Deja’s mother comes back into the picture.  Once Deja’s mother is released from jail and has a secure home for Deja, social services returns Deja to her mother’s custody.  We watch as the Pearson’s say a tearful goodbye to Deja. In this moment, Randall still feels concerned and paternally protective. He tells Deja to contact him should she ever need anything. Randall has already formed a deep love for his foster child.

The introduction of Deja was a particularly heart-wrenching episode for fans. Not only did we see Randall struggle to lose yet another person close to him, we also saw him struggle to connect with Deja and understand her experience for some time. As trained adoption counselors, Adoptions With Love wishes we could have been there for Randall and Deja during this emotional time. On one end, we could have helped Randall and Beth better understand Deja’s behaviors, feelings, and experiences, so that they could be more of an emotional support for her. We could have also been there for Deja, to help her work through any feelings of loss and shame. Finally, Randall could have also benefited from talking to a therapist about his own experience with adoption and loss – and further, how those experiences have shaped his approach to parenting today.

Deja Returns

Later in Season 2, we see Deja come back into Randall and Beth’s lives. She shows up at the family’s home one night, asking for some money. This puts Randall and Beth back into a state of concern for Deja. They anxiously await her phone call, and Randall gets especially worked up over the teen’s possible troubles at home. Soon after, Randall and Beth discover that Deja and her mother are living in a car.

Deja and her mom end up at the Pearson’s home, where they are welcomed with open arms. Deja’s mother realizes, much like William, that she is unable to raise her child in the way that Deja deserves. She cannot provide a stable home or life for Deja. As a result, she leaves the Pearson home and asks Randall and Beth to take care of Deja.

Image result for this is us season 2 grown up tessAfter the heartbreak of losing her mother once again, Deja is understandably closed-off. She returns to her walls-up attitude. She is with a family who knows and loves her, but still feels hurt, angry, and abandoned. This emotional storyline delves into the complications that can often come with foster care situations. It also serves as an important lesson, showing viewers the importance of emotional support for children in (and out of) foster care.

If Deja had been given a counselor, support group, or safe space to talk, she may have been better able to work through her complicated feelings, fears, and issues with trust. If Adoptions With Love could have helped Deja, we would have talked about her traumas, experiences, emotions, and the complicated relationship with her birth mother. Adoptions With Love offers completely confidential and personalized counseling sessions for members of the adoption triad.

Tess Pearson’s Journey

When the Pearson’s first decide to foster a child, viewers see Tess – Randall and Beth’s firstborn daughter – struggle with the idea: Do her parents want a whole new life? Are she and her sister not enough? Randall tells young Tess that his daughters are his whole life.

Then, in a couple of flash-forward scenes later in Season 2, we learn that Tess grows up to become an adoption social worker. We see her help a little boy into a new home, and in this moment, it is clear: Tess not only made peace with her family’s decision to foster a child, she also saw great meaning in it. Her career choice highlights the impact that foster care and adoption have had on her life and shows that she also wanted to get involved. Randall beams with pride as he visits his grown daughter at work and watches her help a young child move into a new foster family. We cannot wait for the next season to begin.

Adoptions With Love has many resources and services for families facing all kinds of adoption situations. Whether it is a closed adoption, open adoption, or semi-open adoption, our compassionate social workers are trained in bringing families together and helping families navigate the adoption (and post-adoption) journey. Contact us to learn more about our work. Adoptions With Love is a private, non-profit, full-service, licensed adoption agency since 1986. Call us anytime at 1-800-722-7731, text confidentially at 617-777-0072, or email us at info@awlonline.org.


Considerations When Starting the Domestic Adoption Process

Adoption is a beautiful way to create and grow a family. Whether you have always dreamed of adopting a child, or have only recently considered adoption, it is a big decision! Today, there are thousands of children and infants in the United States looking for loving, permanent homes. For prospective adoptive parents who are interested in pursuing domestic adoption, Adoptions With Love has outlined some of the many considerations to keep in mind.

Matters of the Heart, Time, and Money

Before jumping in to the adoption process, you must first consider the financial, physical, and emotional demands of parenthood. From a financial standpoint, are you in a position to care for a child? Can you provide a safe and stable home, nutrition, clothing, and education? According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610! You certainly do not need to be wealthy to raise a child in Massachusetts, but you should have steady income with the means to cover your baby’s basic needs and any potential emergency care. While it is important to be financially stable, it is also not the only demand. Are you able to commit time to caring for this child? Are you capable of loving this child more than yourself? Adoption is a lifelong choice. If you have answered yes to these questions, you are ready for the next step in the adoption process.

Private vs. Foster Care

Another important consideration when starting the domestic adoption process is whether to go through a private adoption agency or foster care. With foster care, children are often older than infants, have siblings, or have additional needs.  Also, a child coming from the foster care system may be returned to their biological parents or placed with biological relatives, instead of non-related adoptive families.  Most children in private adoption agencies are infants or newborns. Are you open to adopting a child of any race or gender? Are you open to an open adoption – meaning you have some contact with the birth mother? Are you open to adopting sibling(s)? Are you able to care for a child with special emotional needs? These are all important factors to when deciding between a private agency and foster care. Adoptions With Love is a non-profit, private, domestic adoption agency dedicated to connecting prospective adoptive parents in Massachusetts with their child/children. Click here to read about the benefits of domestic adoptions.

Keeping an Open Mind and an Open Heart

The journey to adopt a child is beautiful and emotional. At Adoptions With Love, prospective parents are guided through the entire domestic adoption process, which includes an adoption home study. It is, of course, important to have a safe environment for a growing family. Parents who keep a safe, comfortable home should have no problem with this step. As part of the Massachusetts home study, a licensed social worker (such as the ones at Adoptions With Love) will interview members of your household. You will also be required to submit several documents: birth certificate(s), tax documents, marriage certificate (if applicable), educational and medical histories, a statement from your physician, and personal references.

Once the home study process is complete, you will be approved. Our agency will then assist you in designing your Adoptive Family Profile and writing your “Dear Birthmother” Letters. These tools give birth parents great peace of mind – allowing them to get to know who you are, your reasons for adopting, and what values are most important to your family.

Open Adoptions

An estimated 95 percent of private, domestic adoption plans are open, meaning most adoptive families have established some sort of relationship with their child’s biological family. At Adoptions With Love, all our adoptive families agree to at least a semi-open adoption. They share letters and photos with their child’s birth parents. Many have chosen to continue with even deeper levels of contact, including phone calls and, in some situations, personal visits.

Of course, open adoption does not mean co-parenting. This is a common concern among prospective adoptive parents. Open adoption, rather, provides an opportunity for the adoptive and birth families to get to know one another and develop a relationship. This method is proven to pay off in the long run. Studies show that children of open adoptions are happier than those with closed adoption plans. Children who meet their birth mothers in-person have the highest levels of satisfaction. The more flexible and open-minded you are with your plan, the more adoption opportunities you will have, and the less time you will wait for a match. Many birth mothers only want families who are willing to commit to the open adoption arrangement. Click here to learn more about Open Adoption.

The Waiting Game

Adopting a child is an incredibly exciting and joyful feeling. It is also something that takes some time. Birth parents wait nine months before welcoming a baby, and, in many cases, years before that to conceive. Adoptive parents wait for the process to be complete before meeting their child. The home study process typically takes several months. After being approved, prospective parents then wait to be matched with a birth mother. The wait time for domestic adoption is much shorter than that of international adoption. At Adoptions With Love, the average adoption happens within six to 18 months of completing the home study. As any adoptive parent would tell you, it is well worth the wait. It is just something to consider when starting the domestic adoption process. Click here for some tips on things to do while waiting to be matched.

Spreading the News

Sharing the news of your adoption is one of the most exciting moments in adoptive parents’ lives. Letting family and friends share in your joy is an important part of the experience. Timing is important. While it may be tempting to share the news right from the start, you should consider waiting until the adoption process is closer to completion.

Much like raising a child, the adoption process is an incredible journey that requires both love and patience. Massachusetts residents considering adopting a baby in the U.S. can rely on Adoptions With Love for caring, understanding guidance. We have been providing services to adopting families across the Bay State for more than 30 years. Just as you are driven to open your heart and home to a child, Adoptions With Love wants to provide the best possible care matching adoptive parents and their forever baby. Click here to download our free eBook on The Massachusetts Adoption Process, or call us at 1-800-722-7731 for more information regarding the domestic adoption process.


5 Questions to Ask When Starting the Adoption Process

Adoption is an incredible way to grow a family. It is also a very big decision for a family to make. There are numerous questions that go into the decision-making process, and many ingredients that go into a successful adoption experience. So, where do you, as a hopeful adoptive parent, begin?

Starting the adoption process means asking questions: questions about your readiness to adopt, your hopes and dreams for the adoption, and about the path you will take towards adopting a child in MA. In this blog, Adoptions With Love will walk you through some of the questions you should be asking (and answering) before starting the adoption process.

  1. Why do you want to adopt?

This is perhaps the most important question to ask yourself before moving forward in the adoption process. It is also something you will be asked during your adoption home study.

Right now, you might be thinking that the answer is quite simple: you want to add to (or complete) your family. Before you start the adoption process, however, try digging a bit deeper. Do you want to adopt simply to fulfill your dreams of parenthood? Or is your real desire to love and care for a child, through good times and bad, and throughout their life? Are you considering adoption because you feel there is no other option left, or is your heart fully immersed in this loving act? If you have experienced infertility, it is important to grieve that loss before adopting a child. If you consider adoption “second best” to having a biological child, think about how that attitude might reflect on your child, and work through it. Finally, ask yourself if you feel pressured by anyone, such as your spouse or even society, to adopt.

Choosing to adopt should be a decision made with love and compassion – your number one desire should be to love a child, regardless of their history and nurture them to adulthood. If this is true, congratulations! You are ready to start the adoption process.

  1. Are you prepared to adopt and raise a child – financially, physically, and emotionally?

Before starting the adoption process, it is also vital to make sure you can fully provide for a child. Ask yourself if you can meet your child’s basic needs, such as proper nutrition and healthcare. Most of all, remember that parenting is more than a financial investment. While buying clothes and saving for college are very important, you must also be prepared to give your child unconditional love, support, and commitment. You must be able to provide a safe, stable, and loving home environment for your child as he or she grows and matures . Be honest as you ask this question. Do you have the funds, the time, and the aptitude to raise a child throughout his or her life? Remember, you do not have to be wealthy to adopt a child. You simply need to be emotionally, financially, and physically stable to meet his or her needs.

  1. Do you want to adopt domestically or internationally?

There are many avenues you can take towards adoption. One major question you must ask before starting the process is whether you will pursue a domestic adoption or an international one. International adoption means adopting a child overseas, and will have different requirements, costs, and wait times than adopting domestically. If you choose to adopt internationally, you will need to work with a Hague Accredited intercountry adoption agency.

While there are many orphans overseas, there are also thousands of children in the United States looking for stable, permanent homes. If you choose to adopt a child domestically, you can either work with a private adoption agency that is licensed in Massachusetts, or go through the foster care system.

  1. If domestic, do you want to adopt privately, or though foster care?

If you decide that domestic adoption is right for your family, you must then consider whether you would like to adopt a child from foster care, or through a private adoption agency. About 25% of children in foster care are eligible for adoption – they have been removed from their homes or parents’ care, and need a permanent family. Many of these children are older, have siblings, or have additional needs. In contrast, most babies adopted through private, domestic adoption agencies are newborns. Adoptive parents who work with private adoption agencies often meet and are in touch with the expectant mother before the baby is born. Some meet their baby for the first time right in the delivery room.

To make this important decision, it is important to think about your family and which child will best fit in – Are you open to adopting a child that is older, or is it important for you to adopt a newborn? Are you open to adopting a child and his or her sibling(s)? Are you hoping to adopt a child of a certain race, background, or gender? Or are you open any child needing a safe, loving and permanent home? Do you want to have some relationship with your child’s birth parent(s) over the years? Open adoptions, in which a relationship between the birth mother and adoptive parents exist, is very beneficial for children. Do you desire an ongoing relationship with your adoption agency counselor? There are all important questions to ask in deciding if private or foster care adoption is right for you.

  1. Do you want to have a relationship with your child’s birth parents?

Your answer to this question will indicate whether you would like an open, semi-open, or closed adoption plan. It is also a tough one for many prospective adoptive parents. Many hopeful parents who are just starting the adoption process feel apprehensive about open adoption and having a relationship with their child’s biological parents. In time, however, they find that this is most beneficial for their child. Open adoption allows adoptive parents and birth parents to get to know one another. It gives adoptive parents the ability to connect with their child’s birth mother as questions arise. It also gives the child an important connection to his or her biology, which is important in building an identity.

Ask yourself if you would like to know about the birth parents’ family background and medical history? Would you like to speak with them during their pregnancy, or be at the hospital for the birth? Would you like to maintain a relationship with them after placement? This will also depend on the birth parents’ wishes, but it is important to think about before starting the adoption process.

At Adoptions With Love, all adoptive parents agree to at least a semi-open adoption. This means that, if the birth mother requests, they are willing to speak with her or meet her in person before the adoption takes place. This typically brings peace of mind for everyone involved. Our waiting families are also all willing to send the birth parents letters and pictures over the years, to let them know how the child is doing. Of course, if you and the birth parents agree, you can choose to have a more or open plan.

Adoption is a journey of love and patience, one that requires great thought, consideration, and a helping hand to guide you along the way. If you are a family in Massachusetts, we welcome you start this journey with us! Call us at 617-964-4357 to learn how to adopt a child in Massachusetts. You may also download our free guide, “The Massachusetts Adoption Process,” below.