Archive for the ‘Adoptive Parents’ Category

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.


Kaleb Lee’s Adoption Story: As Seen on ‘The Voice’

If you follow NBC’s popular series, “The Voice,” you may know the name Kaleb Lee quite well. You may remember him by his incredible rendition of Zac Brown Band’s “Free” (which Kelly Clarkson loved so much, she stole him for her team), for his passionate, home-hitting, country sound, or for his touching adoption story that he shared with “The Voice” audience earlier this season.

The star singer – now in the top 12 of Voice finalists – has a very personal connection with adoption. Not only was Kaleb Lee adopted as a young boy, but he and his wife also adopted their son from Nicaragua. Earlier in the season, the Kentucky native introduced his beautiful family – three children and his wife – to “The Voice” judges and viewers. He credited them as the most inspirational people in his life.

At Adoptions With Love, we admire people like Kaleb, who use their platform to share their stories and spread awareness of adoption. His story is one that is special. Read on to learn more about Kaleb and his adoption story!

Kaleb Lee never met his biological father. He was born to an 18-year-old single mom, who later married when Kaleb was a little older. His mother’s husband adopted him when he was a toddler. Kaleb says he has always turned to music as a hobby and an emotional outlet. His parents bought him a guitar when he was eight-years-old, and he grew up mastering his art. He performed at local-level shows throughout high school and college.

While studying at Emory College, he met the love of his life: Meagan. The two got married and started a family, and settled in Ormond Beach, Florida. After the wedding, Kaleb’s music career was put on hold to financially support his growing family. Kaleb and Meagan gave birth to two daughters, Graelynn and Lilly, now ages seven and eight.

From the beginning, the couple had talked about adopting a child. For Kaleb, it was an overwhelming feeling he had to act on- every child deserves to have a father, he explained. Kaleb’s wife, Meagan, was very involved in her local church and had gone on mission trips to Nicaragua. She and Kaleb spent their honeymoon in the country. These trips are eventually what led them to their son, Johander. From the minute Kaleb and his wife received the call, they knew that Johander was their son.

kaleb lee sonAs with many international adoptions, Kaleb, Meagan, and their daughters moved to the Central American country for three months to foster Johander before they could bring him back to Florida, his new forever home. Kaleb and Meagan’s son, Johander, is now four-years-old.

Prior to “The Voice” Season 14, Kaleb Lee’s family traveled to Los Angeles to make a video recording, which would introduce Kaleb Lee to fans of the show. When he got the opportunity to blind audition on stage in front of the judges, he and Meagan knew it was an opportunity that could not be passed up. He impressed the judges and soon after brought his family on stage, before choosing a coach.

Kaleb said, “They had been a huge support and encouragement to me…It was important to me for them to be a part of that moment.”

Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton battled to get Kaleb on their teams, and Kaleb Lee ultimately chose Team Blake. Later in the singing competition series, Kaleb lost a singing battle with another contestant Shelton was coaching. Kelly Clarkson was able to snag him for her team, explaining she had been a fan of his since that memorable blind audition.

Each week, Kaleb’s family faithfully watches the competition. The three children ask for each episode to be replayed dozens of times.

Kaleb Lee is one of many famous men who have been touched by adoption. He and his family would not be complete were it not for the positive act of adoption. Through adoption, Kaleb and Meagan became the parents of a son and through adoption, Johander gained a family forever. As Kaleb Lee’s story shows us, adoption is a beautiful way to grow your family.

If you would like to learn more about the adoption process, contact Adoptions With Love today. We offer counseling and support around the clock, for Massachusetts adoptive families and expectant/birth parents nationwide. Call us at 1-800-722-7731, text us confidentially at 1-617-777-0072, or email info@awlonline.org. Adoption is a lifelong journey, full of beautiful relationships along the way.

 


National Infertility Awareness Week is Here

National Infertility Awareness Week is here, starting April 22nd through April 28th, 2018. This week is a time to bring awareness to a very sensitive and emotional topic for many Americans – the inability to have children biologically. This nationally-recognized movement was started by RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, in 1989. In addition to raising awareness, RESOLVE set out to remove the stigma of infertility, to empower those that are impacted by it, and to encourage the public to better understand their reproductive health.

There are currently 7.3 million people in the United States struggling with infertility – and approximately 1 in 8 couples. It is not just a concern for women of a certain age. Infertility does not discriminate; it can impact anyone – no matter the gender, nationality or economic background. National Infertility Awareness Week is meant to shed light on this sometimes-taboo subject for the millions of families impacted by it – and to highlight some of their positive, alternative options for growing a family.

Right now, you may be wondering, what is infertility? Or, how does it affect families? If you are currently struggling with infertility, you may be asking, how can Adoptions With Love help you grow your family? In this article, we will answer these questions as well as share some helpful information for prospective parents looking to add a precious baby into their world.

What is Infertility?

Infertility is the inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to full term. There are many causes of infertility, some of which medical intervention can treat. Both men and women can be infertile. If you are facing infertility, it is important to know that you are not alone.

Infertility can cause great emotional pain. Many couples want nothing more than to become parents, but due to this diagnosis, are not able to conceive a child. Those trying to get pregnant often go through years of failed attempts, heartache, and counseling. They may also go through several expensive and stress-filled rounds of fertility treatments, such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and other procedures. This process can take a serious toll on one’s health, both physically and emotionally.

At Adoptions With Love, we understand the struggle that infertility can cause. We are here for you. This National Infertility Awareness Week, we want to remind you that you can still grow your family and fulfill your dream of becoming parents. Adoption is a very positive option for those facing infertility.

What is Adoption?

Adoption is a word that holds many meanings. For those facing infertility, it is a choice that enables you to welcome a child into your lives and to begin the lifelong journey called parenthood. For aspiring adoptive parents, it is the legal process of officially becoming a “mom” or “dad.” Adoption makes hopeful adults who are not able to become pregnant, parents. It also gives a baby a forever family.

When you choose to grow your family through adoption, you choose to bring a baby, who is not biologically related to you, into your life forever. This means that you will not be genetically connected to your baby, but rather, your baby will be conceived and carried by his or her birth mom.

Adoption often starts with an unplanned pregnancy. Usually, the expectant mother is not in a safe or stable enough situation to raise a child and wishes for her child the best possible life. By choosing an adoptive family, she gives her child loving parents, a secure home, and the opportunities that he or she deserves. After the birth of a child, the biological parents sign legal papers allowing the adoption. Adopted children have all the emotional, social, legal, and familial benefits that biological children do.

If you are considering adoption, it is important to know that families by adoption are as real, as devoted, and as strong, as families by birth.

Who Adopts?

Adoptions With Love works with families who have faced infertility for many years — adults who long for the joy of parenthood and who dream of raising a child with all the love and care they can possibly give. For most of our families, parenting would otherwise be impossible without adoption. Adoption serves as a beautiful and fulfilling way to complete their families. Part of the mission of Adoptions With Love is to realize the dream of parenthood for families who cannot conceive or give birth.

Adoptions With Love is a full-service, domestic adoption agency providing services to hopeful parents, expectant and birth parents, as well as adoptees. If you live in Massachusetts and are looking to adopt, our compassionate, clinical workers will sit down with you for an informational meeting, free-of-charge, to talk about the process. We will walk you through the application and requirements, as well as our agency’s comprehensive adoptive parent services. Those services include:

  • Complete home study services
  • Comprehensive advertising and matching with expectant/birth parents
  • Legal adoption processes such as ICPC, for out-of-state adoptions
  • Finalization of the adoption in court
  • Continuous post-placement services, such as counseling and our Search & Reunion program

Adoptions With Love is a private, non-profit adoption agency who works with expectant/birth mothers nationwide. Each year, we receive many private hospital referrals as well as over 5,000 telephone and internet inquiries from expectant/birth parents throughout the United States. Because of the stretch of our services, adoptive parents can expect to bring their babies home within 6 to 18 months of completing a home study. The adoption home study process typically takes 2-3 months.

In addition to the above services, we also offer pre-adoptive educational group seminars to help prepare for baby’s arrival. We want you to be ready for all that is ahead. Adoption is a lifelong journey that enables people to become parents and begins beautiful, forever families.

If you are facing infertility and looking to grow your family through adoption, or if you would like to learn more about the adoption process, know that we are here for you. Adoptions With Love can guide you through adoption process and fulfill your dream of parenthood. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 1-617-964-4357 or email info@awlonline.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Announcing Your Plans to Adopt: How to Tell Friends and Family You Are Adopting

Choosing to adopt a baby is one of the most exciting, momentous decisions you will ever make in your lifetime. We congratulate you for taking this incredible step. You are on your way to becoming a parent, to fulfilling your dreams, and to completing your family. More than likely, you are also very eager to share this big news with family and friends.

Whether you have just decided to adopt, recently finished your adoption home study, or have just been matched with an expectant/birth mother, you might be wondering: How (and when) do we announce our plans to adopt?

The decision of if (and when) to share your adoption journey will depend on your family and your comfort level. Some hopeful parents tell their families, friends, and co-workers right away, out of uncontainable excitement. Others tell only a select few loved ones at first, to field any pressing questions such as, “When is the baby coming?” “When will you have updates?” and “What if the birth mom changes her mind?” When you inform your family and friends of your adoption plans, the fact of the matter is, most are going to have some questions. They will not know how adoption works today, or about the emotional aspects of adopting a child. This leads us to our first tip on announcing your plans to adopt:

  1. Be prepared to educate others about adoption.

Adoption has changed significantly over the years. In the past, most domestic adoptions were closed. Adoptive parents and birth parents were often in the dark about one another. Adopted children had little to no knowledge of their family history. Many adoptions were also kept secret, kept even from children. So, when your parents (the soon-to-be grandparents) and older relatives think about adoption, they may think of the way it used to be.

Today, 99 percent of adopted children know they were adopted. About 95 percent of domestic, private adoptions involve some level of openness, meaning the birth mother and adoptive parents know one another and have a relationship to some extent. This is very beneficial for everyone involved, but especially the child, who can have access to their genetic background, family history, and important medical information. In fact, studies show that children in open adoption arrangements are generally happier than those with closed adoption plans.

Before announcing your plans to adopt, take time to learn about adoption and be prepared to educate your loved ones on the journey. Set the record straight about certain issues and debunk any myths surrounding adoption. Be prepared to also answer impersonal questions like, “Why don’t you have ‘your own’ child?” and “Where are the child’s ‘real’ parents?” Try not to take these questions to heart. Use them instead as an opportunity to teach friends and family about positive adoption language and the positive aspects of adoption today.

  1. Think about who you are going to tell, and who you will tell first.

Before announcing your big news to the world, it is very important to tell your closest family first – those who will be directly affected by the adoption – your immediate family, for example. For those of you that are already parents, this means telling your children about your adoption plans first. Talk to your children before sharing the news with others, so that they do not find out through anyone else. Be as honest as possible with your children, and try to avoid making promises or estimates about when the baby will be home. If your child is preschool-aged and still learning the concept of time, try waiting until you have been matched with an expectant/birth mother or until you are ready to bring the baby home. Show your child a picture and make it a more tangible experience. Give your child a “big brother” or “big sister” t-shirt or books, to get them excited about welcoming a new baby into their life.

  1. Decide on the right time to tell everyone else.

Unlike with pregnancy, there is not always a set “due date” for waiting adoptive families. Your loved ones are not going to know when you are expecting. Adoption always comes with some level of uncertainty, and can feel like a long process for eager parents. Having the support of family and friends can be especially comforting along the way. That is why some waiting families will tell their friends and relatives about adoption plans early in the process. However, many prefer to wait until they are further along – for example, after they are officially approved to adopt (after the paperwork and home study is complete), after they have confirmed a match, or simply as the expectant mother’s due date approaches and they are more certain of the outcome. There is no right or wrong time to announce your adoption plans, only the time that is right for you.

  1. Be patient and give your family time to adjust.

You know that your siblings will make great aunts and uncles. You know that your mom and dad will make wonderful grandparents. They have talked about it for years! Still, you might be nervous about how they will react to your adoption plans. Most likely, they pictured you getting pregnant, continuing the family lineage, and sharing little pieces of themselves with your little one. While they may be one-hundred percent supportive of adoption, they may also need some time to adjust to the idea of loving a child who does not look like them. Chances are, your family wants to embrace your decision to adopt — they may just need more time and information before doing so. Stay patient and positive.

  1. Include your family in your adoption plans.

Adoption is an exciting journey. More than likely, it is one your family would love to be a part of in some way. Whether your family is supportive of your adoption plans or just coming around to the idea, ask if they would like to help you prepare for your baby’s arrival. Make their wait as “normal” as possible – like how they would help you prepare during a pregnancy. They can help you plan out the nursery, shop for gender-neutral baby clothes, and start a family photo album for when your little one arrives.

If you have family members who less enthusiastic about your adoption plans, know that you can still get them involved by talking to them about adoption. Have ongoing conversations about their concerns, and try to put their unknowns or uncertainties into perspective. Share positive adoption stories. Share your excitement. Get them excited, too.

Learn more about telling family and friends your adoption plans! Simply download our free “Massachusetts Adoption Process” guide below. If you are a Massachusetts family hoping to adopt, know that you can start your journey with Adoptions With Love. Call us at 617-964-4357 today or visit http://adoptionswithlove.org/adoptive-parents to learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How to Prepare for Your Adoption Home Study

All prospective adoptive parents are required to complete a “home study” before they can be approved to adopt in Massachusetts. An adoption home study is a two- to three-month long process that allows your adoption agency to better get to know you, your family, and your home. It is also a great opportunity for you to get to know your counselor and ask questions about the adoption process.

A home study can only be carried out by a social worker that is licensed in Massachusetts, such as the ones at Adoptions With Love. If you choose to work with Adoptions With Love, we will first meet you in our Massachusetts office. We will walk you through the initial adoption requirements, and then schedule a series of interviews and visits to your home. During these planned visits, we will become acquainted with your family members, your household, and your community.

After a series of interviews, planned visits, and background checks, we will determine if you meet all the Massachusetts adoption requirements, and if you can provide a safe, stable, and loving home for a child.

While this may sound intimidating, the goal of an adoption home study is to educate you about parenting through adoption, the adoption process, and to ensure you are ready to provide that child with the best possible home. We will educate you on adoption, parenthood, and what to expect upon welcoming your baby home.

In this blog, we provide ten tips on how to get ready for your family’s adoption home study.

  1. Be prepared to complete any necessary paperwork. Gather all the required documents beforehand if you can. Your adoption agency will have a list of required documents you will need to submit as part of the application process. These documents might include letters of recommendation, birth certificates, family medical histories, financial documents, and more. Ask your adoption counselor which documents you can prepare ahead of time, to help move the process along.
  2. Ensure your home meets the safety regulations required to adopt a baby. Your adoption counselor is there to ensure you can provide a safe home for your child. This means having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level, an accessible fire extinguisher, and adequate space for the child to stay and sleep. Note that you do not have to have a nursery set up at the time of your home visit, you simply need to show that there will be space once the baby arrives.
  3. Know that your home does not need to be “perfect.” At Adoptions With Love, we often hear from waiting families who are nervous about the home visits. We know that no one is perfect, and we want you to know that your home does not have to be, either. As a hopeful family, know that your adoption counselor is not there to see if you have the best possible home in the world. Rather, she is there to make sure everything is safe, stable, and ready to bring in a child.
  4. You do not have to be wealthy to adopt. One part of the adoption home study will evaluate your family’s financial stability, it is also important to know that you do not need to be rich to adopt a baby. You just need to be financially, emotionally, and physically able to meet your child’s basic needs.
  5. Think about your parenting philosophies. Before the home study visits begin, it is important to think about the type of parent you hope to be, and how you plan to parent your child. If you have a spouse, start having these conversations now. Ask one another about your beliefs. Think about what challenges you might encounter as a parent, and how you hope to handle them. As part of your adoption home study, we will talk about your parenting philosophies, your parenting style, and your hopes for raising your child.
  6. Think about your motivation to adopt. Why do you want to grow your family through adoption? Why do you want to become a parent? During your home study, your adoption counselor will ask about your reasons for wanting to adopt. If you have experienced infertility, your social worker will explore with you what you have been through and why you have chosen adoption to build your family. She will also ask about your feelings regarding  adopting a child.
  7. Consider your long-term adoption plan – What kind of relationship do you hope to have with your child’s birth parents? Before your adoption home study, try to think into the future. Think about your hopes for the adoption overall. Will your child have a relationship with his or her birth parents? Are you in touch with the birth mother, to ask any questions about your child’s medical or family history? Do you hope to send updates of your child to the birth family from time-to-time? At Adoptions With Love  all adoptive parents agree to at least a semi-open adoption (which involves sending letters and pictures).
  8. If you have other children, expect that they will also be involved in the adoption home study. In Massachusetts, the home study process includes you (the adoptive parents) as well as any household member. If you have other children, we will take some time to get to know them and to get a sense of the family compatibility and relationships in your home.
  9. Come up with a list of your own questions. Not only does the adoption home study allow us to get to know you, it also provides a great opportunity for you to get to know us. During the home visits and interview stages, we encourage you to ask us questions about the adoption process.
  10. Participate in pre-adoption group sessions. As part of the home study process at Adoptions With Love, all prospective adoptive parents are required to participate in a two-session pre-adoptive group. In this group we explore why expectant/birth parents choose adoption, as well as explaining adoption to your child and friends and family. If you have not parented a child from birth, you will also be required to attend a baby care class taught by a nurse.

At Adoptions With Love, we want you to succeed in growing your family through adoption. We hope to find the best possible home for each child, and also want to ensure that you find the best possible fit for your family. If you are a hopeful Massachusetts parent and ready to start the adoption process, know that we are here for you. Contact us at 617-964-4357 to learn more.

If you’d like to learn more about the Massachusetts adoption process, please download our free guide below!

 

 


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.


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!


The Powerful Adoption Story in Lion Movie

Though there are a number of movies addressing the topic of adoption, very few give us an honest and accurate picture of the delicate adoption in lion movierelationships and obstacles that the adoption journey so often involves. Very rarely do films and the media portray adoption with a view from all sides. That is what makes the 2016 film LION so special and profound.

The LION Movie Adoption Story Recap:

LION tells the true story of Saroo Brierley, a young man who was born in India and accidentally separated from his family at the mere age of five. He was out with his brother, Guddu, when he got lost at a train station just a few miles from his home. Thinking he could navigate his way back, Saroo boarded a train only to be taken 1,000 miles further away to the big city of Calcutta. There, he asked for help; no one understood him due to a language barrier. Saroo became homeless for weeks, living off scraps of food, until someone helped him identify as a missing child.

From that point, well-meaning authorities tried to help Saroo find his family. They asked where he was from, but Saroo was unable to communicate the right location of his home. They asked for his mother’s name, but he had only ever known her as “Mum.” With little details to work with, they were unable to find his family. Because his birth family was poor and uneducated, they were unable to find Saroo.

Saroo was placed in a crowded orphanage where many children suffered. Soon after, he was adopted by an Australian couple. The unconditional love and devotion that Mr. and Mrs. Brierley have for Saroo from the very beginning of their relationship is one of the most powerful aspects of LION. Before Saroo fully learns English, Mrs. Brierley promises the child that she will always be there to listen to and support him. Someday, she says to Saroo, she wants to know all about his past. She wants him to know, too. One year later, they adopt a second son, Mantosh.

Flash forward twenty-five years later, Saroo discovers Google Earth, a new technology at the time, and uses it to find his birth home. Like many adoptees, Saroo has unanswered questions about his identity and his background. He yearns to fill the missing pieces, not out of disrespect for his adoptive family, but out of an inherent need to find himself. Most of all, he carries the silent, emotional anguish of having left his birth family behind. He firmly believes they are still looking for the boy they once lost.

Google Earth leads Saroo to the train station where he got lost as a boy. Then, it leads him back home.

At the end of the film, Saroo reunites with his birth mother, who embraces him with tears. She explains that she never stopped hoping for his return, but understands that he has another home and family now. She is ever-grateful to the Brierley’s, and is overjoyed to know Saroo is safe and well.

Saroo then calls his parents and assures, “I’m safe, and the questions have been answered. There are no more dead ends. I found my mother. She thanks you for raising me, and knows you’re my family. I found her, but it doesn’t change who you are. I love you, Mom and Dad, so much, and Mantosh.”

Adoption Themes in LION:

Search and Reunion: We recently had a conversation with a now-young adult adoptee, who was sharing his adoption story when the movie LION came up. Having an intercountry adoption, he related deeply to the movie’s main character, Saroo, and his need to search for his birth family. Overall, the young man explained, LION was “really close” – closer than most adoption portrayals we see on TV today – to getting the picture right. The main difference between his story and LION’s adoption story, though, was that “Saroo remembered.” Saroo remembered pieces of his history. Many adopted children do not.

Having been adopted at five, Saroo was able to recount some memories of his hometown, biological family, as well as train station landmarks from the day he got lost. These small fragments became key puzzle pieces in finding his birth mother and birthplace 25 years later. The search is not always this accessible, though there are more accessible resources today to guide the search and reunion process.

LION truly offers us a healthy perspective on search and reunion, from all sides of the adoption triad. From the adoptee perspective, it shows us that finding birth relatives can fill major gaps in a person’s identity, but it does not in any way replace the adoptive family’s role. The film also sheds light on many adoptive parents’ view of the adoption search. Mr. and Mrs. Brierley are consistently supportive of Saroo’s history and his search. They support his desire to know more, and rejoice when he finds his birth mother at last. Finally, LION honors the perspective of the birth mom, who always yearned for Saroo’s return. Upon reuniting, she celebrates his presence yet fully accepts that Saroo has another place in life.

Discovery: One thing LION really gets right is the notion that, even if history has been forgotten, it is still there to be rediscovered. Saroo may have forgotten where he came from, but his birth mother and childhood home remained there for him to find. He may have forgotten the train station near his home, but the water tower stood there for him to rediscover. In the final scenes of the movie, this theme of rediscovery transpires – As Saroo walks the streets of his hometown of Ganesh Talai, a name he could not remember as a child, the memories flood back to him. His past comes back to him, and he is finally able to rediscover and fulfill himself.

The Emotional Challenges of the Adoptee: Adoption is an emotional journey. As much love and gratitude Saroo has for his parents, he still struggles silently inside. Questions linger about his past. He does not want to betray his parents, but he also yearns for the truth. He withholds from searching until it nearly breaks him, bringing us to one of the most moving parts of LION: Saroo apologizes to his adoptive mother for not being a “blank slate.” He explains that by adopting he and his brother, she also adopted their past. He feels conflicted about searching, but his heart is telling him to do so.

Saroo resists his emotions quietly for some time, but his brother’s emotional challenges are brought forward throughout the film. Mantosh (also from India, where he was treated badly) experiences a breakdown on his first day at the Brierley home, and these trauma-related behaviors continue to the movie’s end. He also isolates himself as he grows older. The Brierley’s handle Mantosh’s behaviors as lovingly and calmly as any parent can, and continuously express their love and hope for their son. As they were for Saroo, they wanted to be there for Mantosh and his journey, whatever it might bring.

Family is Founded on Love: Perhaps the greatest theme of all in the LION movie adoption story is the fact that love is what makes a family “real.” There is no one-size-fits-all definition of family; families come in all shapes, sizes, and make-up. Mr. and Mrs. Brierley are Saroo’s parents, but they do not ignore the fact that his birth mother also plays an important role in his life. They are all connected through their love, respect, and admiration for one another. Saroo’s family is built on love.

What did you think about the adoption story in LION? Do you relate to Saroo, Mantosh, the Brierley’s, or Saroo’s birth mother? Adoptions With Love would be honored to hear your story!

For more information on adoption, or to learn about the Search & Reunion program at Adoptions With Love, please contact us at 1-800-722-7731. Amy, Nancy, Nellie, Claudia, or Amelia will be happy to arrange a time to meet or talk with you.


Back to School: Talking About Adoption with Teachers & Classmates

The first day of school is right around the corner. You and your child have been stocking up on school supplies, spending your final days off with old friends, and getting ready to meet new ones this fall. Perhaps your child has been practicing the ABCs, the 123s, and mastering the art of writing his or her name. Maybe your little one has picked out the coolest lunchbox to impress classmates the first day.

There are many preparations that come with the back-to-school season. If you are an adoptive parent, this time is also a great opportunity for you to think about adoption and school, and prepare for the ways in which your child’s adoption story might come into play throughout the school year.

School is often a child’s first real encounter with people outside of family and friends. For an adopted child, school may also be the first time he or she is asked questions about adoption, or asked to share information about his or her family with others outside it. To help your child navigate these conversations at school, and to help your child feel confident in his or her adoption story, Adoptions With Love recommends the following tips:

1. Speak openly, positively, and regularly about adoption in your home.

One of the best things you can do as an adoptive parent is talk openly and honestly about adoption with your child. Even at a very young age, your child will benefit from hearing his or her adoption story (in age-appropriate language) and knowing that it is a very special part of your family.

Talking about adoption openly in your home also gives your child the message that you are comfortable and proud to talk about their story and allows many opportunities to ask questions about adoption. Your answers and your perspective will help your son or daughter grow confident in sharing their story, too. By talking openly, you are giving your child the message that this discussion does not hurt your feelings and that you want open communication. Instead of feeling confused by adoption-related questions at school, your child might even become the one who educates others about adoption.  However, this should not be a burden on your child and cause stress.

2. Prepare your child for questions about adoption.

Being an adoptive parent, you have likely been asked countless questions about adoption and your experience with it – about your child’s birth parents, his or her background or ethnicity, perhaps even your personal feelings on the subject. Many of these questions were likely fueled by unawareness or misconceptions regarding adoption. More than likely, you used your answers as a way to inform and educate others about this positive, loving act. It is important to teach your child to do the same.

Fact is, many kids do not know much about adoption before going to school. They will ask questions, sometimes over and over again. Before sending your child to school, remember that healthy adoption conversations start at home. As a parent, you can help your child become familiar with, as well as proud of, his or her adoption story. You can help your child understand that there are all different types of families in the world, and that yours is very special and unique. Explain that other classmates may not know this yet. Having these conversations now will help your child feel more equipped to handle any questions in a positive and healthy manner.

Most of all, also help your child understand that this adoption story is his or her own to tell. There is no pressure to talk about it if he or she is not comfortable doing so. You can discuss the difference between secrecy and privacy. This is not a secret, but your child may wish for it to be private until they are ready to share it.

3. Consider talking to school faculty about adoption.

Many parents wonder if they should tell teachers about their family’s adoption background. Some believe that adoption is private or irrelevant to their child’s school performance, while others think it will be helpful for teachers to know. There is no right answer here – the choice to share your family’s adoption story is completely up to you. However, it is something we recommend considering as an adoptive family. Sometimes adoption comes up at school and you would want to know so you can address this at home.

Even today, teachers do not always know how to approach the topic of adoption or integrate it into school assignments. Without knowing about your child’s story, teachers may give homework such as a “family tree” or request that students bring in baby photos, two typical elementary assignments that can be challenging for adopted children. By informing your child’s teacher early in the school year, he or she will be better able to accommodate your child’s needs and stay sensitive to adoption issues. You can even help the teacher think-up new, fun assignments to educate other students about adoption, too!

Talking about adoption with teachers can be especially useful for elementary school-age children, who may face emotional challenges as they start to understand more of their adoption story. Talking about adoption with teachers ahead of time will encourage them to use very positive adoption language in the classroom. This will also help teachers make adopted children feel more secure and comfortable in class.

A good opportunity to have the adoption conversation is at the very beginning of the school year, during a parent-teacher conference. Or, you may choose to reach out to your child’s teacher via email. You may also consider including your child in these conversations, to help share his or her story.

4. Get involved.

While you cannot be side by side with your child during the school days, you can get involved with his or her education. Actually, we recommend it. Getting involved with your child’s education – whether attending parent conferences, PTA meetings, helping with homework, donating books to the school, or volunteering in the classroom – can help make the transition to school both comfortable and positive for your child. It will show your child that his or her learning (and his or her success) is important to you. Being there will encourage your son or daughter to do well, to stand tall, and be the best he or she can be.

If your child is entering the first or second grade, you can use it as a great opportunity to introduce the topic of adoption to his or her peers. For example, you may consider donating or bringing in children’s books about adoption, such as Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, by Jamie Lee Curtis, or A Mother for Choco, by Keiko Kasza.

There is no doubt that the start of the school year is an exciting time for your child. As an adoptive parent, though, you may be feeling a bit nervous about sending your child off to school for the first time. Do not worry. With some preparation on your part, and with consistent, open adoption conversations in your home, you can ready your child for a great start to the school year. If you have any questions about adoption and school, or about talking to your child about adoption, please do not hesitate to call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or visit http://adoptionswithlove.org/contact-us.