Archive for the ‘Adoptive Parents’ Category

Adopting a Child? Here is What You Should Know

Are you considering adopting a child? Right now, you are likely very excited, hopeful, and a bit nervous about beginning your adoption journey. You are going to fulfill your dreams of becoming a parent at last. You are going to provide a child – your child – with a loving, forever home.

Adoption is an incredible journey of love, patience, and at times, paperwork. From the very beginnings of your adoption application, fast-forward to helping your child apply for college years down the road, you are bound to encounter many meaningful and joyous experiences along the way. If you are a family in Massachusetts, we welcome you start this journey with us!

Adoptions With Love is a non-profit, licensed, domestic, infant adoption agency helping Massachusetts families grow through adoption. Before you dive into the adoption process, we can also help you. Here are seven things we want you to know before adopting a child.

1. You do not need to be a “traditional” family to adopt a child.

You do not have to be a husband-wife household in order to adopt a child. The American family is changing. Today, less than half of all children in the United States live in a traditional family with a heterosexual mother and father in their first marriage. Some children today have single parents. Some have same-sex parents. No matter your family makeup, know that you have the right to adopt a child in Massachusetts.

2. Adoptive families are REAL families.

Families are no longer defined by DNA. Nowadays, family bonds transcend biology. As a prospective adoptive parent, it is important for you to know that families-by-adoption are as real as families-by-birth. It is not biology that will connect you with your child, but rather your unconditional love, devotion, and protection that will truly make you a parent.

3. Adoption is a courageous choice of love for a child’s well-being.

Adoption is not a matter of “giving up a baby.” Rather, it is expectant/birth parents choosing to give their baby a life beyond what they can provide at the time. It is a choice made with love, a love so big that the expectant/birth parents choose to put their child’s needs before their own. Adoption is a very difficult decision. All expectant/birth parents, no matter their background or reasons for placing their child, deserve to be respected.

4. Open adoption is the most common form of domestic adoption today.

Today, about 95 percent of domestic adoption plans are open, meaning that the majority of adoptive families have some extent of ongoing contact with their child’s biological family. Open adoption plans are often made in the best interest of the child: In an open adoption, a child does not have to fantasize about who his or her birth parents are. The child can ask questions about his or her history and maintain a stronger sense of identity having the answers he or she needs. In an open adoption, there are less insecurities carried by the child.

Open adoption is also positive for the parents involved. On one end, birth parents have the comfort of knowing their child is growing in a safe and loving home. This promotes better healing. On the other end, adoptive parents can benefit from having a good relationship with their child’s birth family and know important information like their child’s medical history. Adoptions With Love promotes open adoptions  meaning that all of our waiting adoptive families have agreed to at least a semi-open adoption.

5. Adoption is a lifelong commitment.

Adoption does not simply mean adopting a newborn baby, or raising a child in need. Adopting a child means becoming a forever family. It means taking on an indescribable responsibility, one that can be both rewarding and challenging, as you raise your child for the next 18 years and beyond. Like any parent, you will need to provide for your child financially, emotionally, and physically in all aspects of life. You will also need to take on several different roles as a parent, from being a nurse at times to being a shoulder to cry on, from playing a storyteller to acting as a protector. Before you begin the adoption process, take some time to think about how parenthood will impact your life long-term. Ask yourself why you want to adopt, how you see adoption affecting your family, and if you are truly financially and emotionally prepared to support a child for life.

6. Pre-adoption counseling is a key pre-requisite to adopting a child.

Many adoption agencies will require prospective adoptive parents to participate in therapy or group sessions prior to adopting a child. These sessions are designed to prepare waiting families like you for parenthood, and allow you to interact with families who have already navigated the adoption process. By connecting and meeting with other adoptive families, you can gain insight into the process and share your personal feelings about adoption. At Adoptions With Love, prospective adoptive parents join two group sessions, where they can find pre-adoption support through other waiting families as well as our trained adoption counselors.

7. Finding a reputable, trustworthy adoption professional is crucial.

Adoption does not end after a child is placed into an adoptive home. This placement is just the beginning of a long journey for an adoptive family. The adoption agency you choose, therefore, should stand by your side throughout the entire process—not just before the adoption takes place, but also as the years go on. Your adoption agency professional should be a dedicated, reliable resource for your family as well as educated on the adoption process. Your agency should be available to answer your calls and make you feel comfortable at every step of the way.

At Adoptions With Love, we offer prospective family services before, at the time, and long after an adoption takes place. We guide you in  designing your Adoptive Parent Profile and writing letters to the expectant/birth parents. We match you with expectant/birth parents and our agency attorney will finalize the adoption in court. Adoptions With Love has ongoing adoptive parent services and an active search and reunion program; we are here for you now and in the future.

To begin your adoption journey with Adoptions With Love, please call us at 617-964-4357. For specific steps on the adoption process in your area, please visit our article, How to Adopt a Child in Massachusetts.


Finding Your Birth Parents on Facebook: 4 Considerations for Adoptees

Social media use is quickly becoming the normal method of contact for many teens and young adults. In fact, over 70 percent of American teens today are active Facebook users. Most likely, you are too.

You may use Facebook as a way to keep in touch with friends and family at long distances. You may have a Twitter or Instagram account to keep tabs on others, as well. You may even use Snapchat to get quick, real-time updates from your closest friends. If you are reading this blog, however, you may have used (or thought about using) social media for an additional reason, as well. If you are here, you may be looking to find and connect with your birth family online.

You are not alone. Today, three out of four adoptees use the Internet or social media to search for birth family members. So many, in fact, that “find birth parents” is typed into Google approximately 1,600 times per month.

Search is an exciting and complicated process. As an adoptee, you have likely been thinking about it for many years now. You may have known your adoption story since you were young, hearing your birth mother’s name over the years or looking at pictures from the day you were born. You may have held that name or date closely for years; only now, you want to act. You want to type that name into Facebook and hit Search.

It is important to remember that Search is also an unpredictable process – especially when it happens online. It takes time and patience to be successful, and should not be done impetuously or alone. As safe as you may feel behind the screen, there are always risks of searching online. There are many complexities, many intricacies, that are involved in the process. A lot of emotional investment is made in the adoption search. False promises and impulse decisions are often made, as well.

So, before you dive into your computer screen to start your birth parent search, know that there are certain steps you should take and precautions you should consider before beginning the process. As an open adoption agency with a thriving Search and Reunion program, Adoptions With Love knows this firsthand. We have compiled below some of the most important considerations to keep in mind as you start looking to find your birth parents online.

  1. Properly prepare for the search.

The world of social media can expose you to new, unexpected aspects of another person’s day to day life. Just from looking at a single Facebook profile, you can learn a lot about who a person is, what they look like, and what they like to do. In many ways, this can be a positive experience. As an adoptee, you can get to know and connect with your birth family easily and in real-time through social channels.

Other times, however, this overload of new information can be overwhelming. The Internet can show you things you did not want to know and did not intend to know about your biological family.

With that said, one of the most important things to consider before searching online is your level of readiness.  If you are not in an open adoption arrangement, it is crucial that you emotionally prepare for any potential outcomes of the search. You may discover things you did not intend to know about your birth family. You may be disappointed or hurt by what you do or do not find.

You may also be disappointed with the outcome of your search. While some birth parents are willing to connect, there is always the possibility that they will not agree to further contact with you.  This may simply be because they are not ready to connect. Remember, adoption relationships are sensitive and this one may take time.

  1. Get your parents involved in the process.

As much as you love your adoptive parents, as happy as you are with your life, it is normal to feel a longing to meet your birth family. Your birth family is a crucial part of your identity and may hold a great piece of your heart. Your parents know how important this is to you. And most likely, they will support you throughout the search and reunion process. As you consider searching for your birth family online, get your parents involved. In the end, they want what is the best for you, and getting to know yourself and your story is one of the best things you can do.

  1. Talk to an adoption counselor.

Adoptions With Love strongly discourages adoptive families and adopted persons from contacting birth family members (for the first time) on Facebook alone. In our thirty years of experience, we have found that the most lasting, successful relationships start with premeditated, mediated contact between all parties involved. As you begin your search, we highly recommend that you contact an adoption professional to help you navigate the process. Together, you can prepare emotionally and mentally for the possible outcomes. All the while, your counselor can help mediate the contact and work on getting the most successful response from your birth family relatives.

  1. Set limitations and pace yourself as you begin to establish contact.

Search and reunion is undoubtedly exciting. Right now, you may be very eager to make contact or jump into a relationship with a birth family member. As much as you want to dive in, it is important to set limits for yourself and everyone who will be involved with this communication. At the very beginning of your online adoption search, sit down with your adoption counselor and your parents and discuss which rules and limitations will make for the most successful, long-term, respectful relationships with your birth family.

Remember that adoption relationships are sensitive and can get very emotional at times. Setting limits will keep everyone, including you, from getting overwhelmed. They will make it so that, if you are ever uncomfortable with the amount of contact, you will recognize when it is time to take a step back and breathe.

Time and patience are key to any relationship, especially among the adoption triad. If you have plans to connect with your birth family, set certain boundaries to keep contact at a slow pace. There should be sufficient time between your initial contact with your birth family and the actual meeting, so that you both can get to know one another and get accustomed to the idea.

Social media offers a powerful advantage for staying in touch with distant friends and family. When used with consideration and caution, it can be a very positive tool for open adoption arrangements. But for many adoptees in closed adoption plans, its benefits are often outweighed by more challenging experiences. Before using social media as part of your own adoption journey, be sure to educate yourself on the risks of this venture. To ensure that you follow the right steps in finding your birth parents online, reach out to a trusted adoption professional for guidance.

You can always contact Adoptions With Love for help by calling 800-722-7731 or texting us confidentially at 617-777-0072. For more information on the social media search, you may also download our free eBook below.

adoption and social media


How Much is Too Much? The Importance of Setting Boundaries on Social Media for Adoptive Families

Is your child on social media?  Do you monitor his or her Internet usage on a regular basis?  If you are in an open adoption arrangement, have you laid out some rules or limitations for ongoing, online contact?  If you are in a closed adoption plan, have you and your child discussed the possibility of a birth relative finding your family online?

Social media and the Internet are transforming the ways that communication takes place among the adoption triad.  In the past, this type of online communication was not an option.  In fact, contact between birth and adoptive families was not typical in adoption arrangements at all.  Most adoptive parents did not have the ability to get to know their child’s birth family.  Just decades ago, adoptive families could not reach out to their child’s birth mother with questions.

Today, open adoption is the norm.  Approximately 95 percent of adoptions are fully or semi-open plans, meaning that they have made arrangements for some extent of ongoing contact – through letters and pictures, email or phone conversations, texting, Skype, even Facebook messaging.

There is no doubt that the Internet and social media have advanced communications among the adoption triad, making it faster and easier for adoptive families to connect and maintain contact with their child’s birth parents. According to a 2013 study from the Donaldson Adoption Institute, about one in every four adoptive parents have used the Internet to search for and make contact with birth family members through their own website or social media account.  A handful of adoptive parents monitored this sort of contact through their children’s accounts.

If you are in an open or semi-open adoption arrangement, you have likely used social media somewhere along the line to stay up to date with your child’s birth parents.  Perhaps that is why you are here.  Maybe you and your child regularly use Facebook, Twitter, or other social accounts to keep in touch with birth family members, but are looking for tips on how to navigate those conversations.  Maybe your current adoption plan does not allow for social media contact, but your child’s birth mother has just contacted you on Facebook.  Perhaps your child wants to search for his or her birth family online, but that was not written in your post-adoption agreement.  Where do you go from here?

No matter the type of plan you are in, it is important to establish boundaries and expectations for social media from the very beginning of the adoption.  These rules will help ensure that everyone’s wishes are respected and prevent any unplanned or unwanted contact.  Without establishing these boundaries with your child’s birth family, and without discussing those rules with your child and spouse, the Internet will offer free reign for any future contact amongst the triad.  Without establishing rules, your child will not understand the risks of searching for birth parents online.  Without setting limitations, your child’s birth siblings, parents, grandparents, and other relatives may start adding your family on Facebook, perhaps even before your child fully understands his or her adoption story.  Without guidelines, personal family information regarding your child may be shared with the world-wide web.

As an adoptive parent, you may have questions such as, Should I friend my child’s birth mother on Facebook? or Should I post baby pictures of my child online?  Perhaps you are wondering, When should I talk to my child about social media? or How can I prepare for any open communication online?

As an open adoption agency with a thriving search and reunion program, Adoptions With Love has compiled some tips to help you and your family navigate social media use:

Tip 1:  As an adoptive parent, it is crucial to educate yourself and your children about the use of social media.  Sit down and speak with them about the different social media tools, how they work, and how they can impact others, including extended family members.  Set boundaries and guidelines for your child as he or she starts to use the Internet more regularly.

Tip 2:  If you are in touch with your child’s birth family, talk to them about their comfort levels with social media, and how much information they are comfortable with you sharing online.  Tell them how much you are comfortable with them sharing, too.  Together with an adoption professional, decide which social media tools (if any) are appropriate for communication and determine how privacy settings should be set. Set boundaries for online contact (such as, not sharing photos, not commenting on each other’s pages, friending only immediate family members, etc.) and things that may be important to you.

Tip 3:  Always think before you post.  Remember that adoption relationships can be very sensitive, and it is important to not post anything that will be offending or disrespectful to your child’s birth family – even the slightest, “I haven’t slept in days!” could be taken the wrong way.  It is also important not to post any identifying information about your child’s birth family.  Do not share any information or photos of your child that you do not want shared with the rest of the world.  Keep in mind that the Internet has no limits, and anything you post there will be open to public comment and the eyes of the world-wide web.

Tip 4:  Consider more private, online contact methods to replace social media and open adoption communication. Because your personal Facebook posts, profiles, and comments can be publicly accessed, you may consider creating a separate avenue for contact.  At Adoptions With Love, we have guided families to build private Facebook pages, password-protected websites, and separate email accounts designed specifically for adoption communication.  With these in place, any sensitive adoption information can be communicated privately without any risk of public access.

Tip 5:  If you are in a closed adoption plan, talk to your child about the possibility of birth family members reaching out.  Nowadays, a little information can get someone a long way.  If your child’s birth father has your first name, age, and hometown, he may be able to do some digging and find your family on Facebook.  You do not want this to happen before you have a chance to emotionally and mentally prepare your child for that possibility.

Finally, remember that you can always contact an adoption professional for help.  Seek out an adoption counselor who specializes in open communication, to help you navigate any contact that will or could possibly occur online. Talk to an agency about the risks of searching for birth parents online.  And if you are at all concerned about the safety or privacy of your child, know that you can always reach out to an adoption counselor for help.

For more information and tips about social media use among adoptive families, please download our eBook below or call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731.

adoption and social media


Superman Was Adopted, Too: What These 6 Favorite Halloween Costumes All Have in Common

Halloween is just around the corner – meaning that the time to prepare for goblins and ghosts, superheroes and superstars, tricking and treating is now upon us.  If you are a parent of a child over the age of two, this time of Halloween preparation especially pertains to you.

Like many, your child may already have a grand plan for the perfect costume in his or her head.  Perhaps your son or daughter has already dragged you to the Halloween store to pick it out.  Or, maybe you have been busy crafting that one-of-a-kind disguise for your little one.

Adoptions With Love recently had a little visitor stop into our office – a young girl who had been placed for adoption through our agency just a few years back.  Next to her adoptive parents, at just over two-feet tall, the little girl stood proud as she showed off her tee shirt.  It read, “Superman Was Adopted.”

If you know the famed story of Superman, you likely know that he was adopted as a baby.  Like many of us, you may not have previously made the connection.  Superman was born on Krypton, a planet that was headed for destruction.  In efforts to save their son, Superman’s birth parents sent him on a spacecraft to planet Earth, where he landed in the farm lands of Jonathan and Martha Kent.  When the Kent family found the child, they decided to raise him as their adopted son and named him Clark.

Growing up, Clark Kent had superhuman powers that he struggled to understand and made him feel different from the other kids at school.  Even when Clark extraordinarily saved his classmates from a drowning school bus, his peers perceived him as weird and different.

That is when Clark’s father, Jonathan Kent, decided to reveal the truth about Clark’s history.  He took him down to the barn and unveiled the very spacecraft that brought Clark to Earth.  It is in this moment that Clark realizes the Kents are not his birth parents. He had no knowledge of his history beyond the spaceship.

If you have seen the 2013 movie Man of Steel, you may remember the one scene where Clark Kent comes face-to-face with the spirit of his birth father, Jor-El.  In this scene, Jor-El tells Clark everything about where he came from and who he was.  Clark learns about his heritage and lineage, who his birth parents were, and why they had chosen this path for him – to give him a better life.  His birth father explains that he sent Clark off to Earth out of deep love, for his protection and his best interest.

Superman’s story has long-been acclaimed the “greatest adoption story of all time.”  So when this little one came into Adoptions With Love, proudly wearing her “Superman Was Adopted” shirt, it really got us thinking about his story once again.

Superman’s adoption story, in many ways, is about adoption awareness.  It is about a child who works through understanding his identities, his past and his present, as well as his purpose in life.  His story, in a way, also recognizes the significance of open adoption.  For Superman, coming to learn about his adoption, who he was, and having an appreciation for that history was perhaps one of the greatest gifts.   Learning about his birth parents and understanding the selfless love they had for him gave him strength.  It allowed him to grow up to be an extraordinary (super)human being.

In the end, Superman’s story is also one of hope.  Adoptees all over the world can find hope and comfort knowing that Superman was adopted, too.  Like Superman, they can do anything they put their minds to and for which they work hard.  They too can become extraordinary.

If you are as inspired as us by Superman’s adoption story, here are five other fictional heroes and heroines who were adopted.  If you are in need of a last-minute costume idea for your child, consider a Halloween costume that will make your child also feel proud of his or her own adoption story:

1. Ironman Another famous superhero, Ironman is a favorite Halloween costume for youngsters. As Marvel Comics recently revealed, Ironman was actually adopted as a baby by the Stark family. Ironman (Tony Stark) grew up to be a boy genius, entering MIT at 15-years-old, and later went on to save the world.

Source: www.thecostumeland.com

2. Mowgli With the latest Jungle Book movie out this year, Mowgli may be a popular costume pick this Halloween. He too was adopted.  After losing his father, this Jungle Book hero was adopted by a family of wolves. He is accepted by his jungle family as one of their own, as well as appreciated for his human identity throughout the movie. For this costume, all your kiddo needs is a beige long-sleeve and some red shorts!

mowgli-costume-idea
Source: www.chrislovesjulia.com

3. Princess Leia – A favored Star Wars character, Princess Leia is the adopted daughter of Queen Breha Organa, the ruler of planet Alderaan, and Bail Organa, a senator. Her birth parents were Queen Padme Amidala of Naboo, who passed in childbirth, and Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as Darth Vader. Raised by her adoptive parents, Leia became a princess, a politician, a resistance leader, and a strong, admired soldier.


Source: www.craftinessnotoptional.com

4. Dorothy – The leading character in Wizard of OZ, Dorothy is a favored Halloween costume among little girls. But did you know that she, too, was adopted? Dorothy was an orphan, who was then raised by her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry on a Kansas farm. It is unclear whether Dorothy’s aunt and uncle are her biological relatives.

Image result for dorothy costume kids
Source: www.makeit-loveit.com

5. AnnieAnnie the Musical is about a passionate little red-head who grows up in an orphanage. Despite the challenges she faces, Annie remains optimistic that she will find her birth parents and will be adopted at last. Eleven-year-old Annie is adopted by “Daddy Warbucks,” a millionaire who opens his home and his heart to the young girl.

Image result for annie costume kids
Source: www.ginaleephoto.com

Halloween is a time for self-expression and self-exploration.  This may include some theme of adoption. Aside from the spookiness and trickery, it can also be a wonderful time for children to spend with their parents.  Together, you can bond over costumes and caramel apples.  You can spend hours walking the neighborhood with your child, imagining together.  Most of all, you can use this time learn a lot about your child and how he or she thinks and dreams.

To learn about Adoptions With Love or how to start the adoption process, call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or contact us here.


Dear Birth Parent, Love a Prospective Adoptive Family: Writing Your “Dear Birthmother Letter”

For every one child placed for adoption, there are up to 36 families waiting to adopt.  As a prospective adoptive parent, you want to show expectant/birth parents who you are, why you are different, and what will make you the best possible parent for their child.  You want the chance to express your hopes, dreams, values, and the endless amount of love you can give to a child.  You want to paint a picture of who you are and the life you can provide.  But how?

A “Dear Birthmother letter,” better known as a “Dear Expectant Parent” or “Dear Birth Parent” letter, is one of the most prominent ways you can reach those who are making an adoption plan.  It is a personal letter written by you, a potential adoptive parent, to expectant/birth parents considering adoption for their baby.  Typically, this letter accompanies your Adoptive Parent Profile and is often the first thing an expectant/birth parent will read to learn more about you, your home, and your family.  In this sense, your “Dear Birth Parent” letter is what makes the first impression.

At Adoptions With Love, we often get asked the question, “What are expectant/birth parents looking for in this letter?” or, “How can we make our letter different from all the rest?”  There is no one simple answer.  Every prospective family is different.  Every birth family is different.  Some may be looking for an adoptive family who will give their child siblings.  Some may want this baby to be the first child for these parents. Some may purely be looking for a special connection.

To help guide you in writing your “Dear Birth Parent” letter, here are five tips on what to include, how to converse with an expectant/birth parent, and how to make your letter stand out.

  1. Use appropriate adoption language – While this letter is frequently called a “Dear Birthmother letter,” remember that both women and men may read your letter and many have not yet given birth nor made an adoption plan. Addressing them in this way may make them feel obligated to fulfill a certain role.  Out of respect and empathy for expectant parents still considering adoption, try to use a different salutation when addressing your reader.  For example, use “Dear Expecting Mother/Parents” or a simple “Hi there” to begin.  Continue to use positive, respectful adoption language throughout your letter, too.  Instead of saying “give up for adoption,” try “make an adoption plan.”
  2. Be yourself – This letter is often intimidating for many waiting families. You want to make yourself sound like the perfect parent.  Try to remember that no one is perfect.  You do not have to overpromise, exaggerate, or pretend to be someone you are not.  If you want an open and long-term relationship with a birth family, it is important to be honest from the start.  More than anything, expectant/birth parents are looking for authenticity in these letters.  They want to get to know the real you.  You do not have to appeal to every expectant parent.  The one that likes what you have to say, that shares your views or passions, will be right for you.
  3. Paint a picture of your life – Most expectant/birth parents want to visualize the life their child will have, both now and in the future. What will their neighborhood be like?  What types of activities will they do with their adoptive parents?  Where will they eat dinner each night?  Your relationship with extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. These are details that may seem small to you, but mean a lot to those considering adoption.  In your letter, be as descriptive as possible in writing about your home, your community, your hobbies, your family members and even your favorite vacation spots.  Show how a child will fit in with your lifestyle.  What do you look forward to doing with your child?  Where will your child play, go to school, or spend the holidays?  Use concrete examples, sensory details, and include photographs to further show who you are.
  4. Empathize – To connect with expectant/birth parents, you must show that you care about, empathize with, and respect both them and their decision. Before writing this letter, try to put yourself in an expectant parent ’s shoes.  Remember, every woman and man’s story is different and you may not know exactly what they are going through.  Try not to make assumptions about why she may be considering adoption.  Simply acknowledge that this is a difficult and emotional time in their lives and that you want to be there for them should she need extra support.
  5. Be the solution – Many expectant/birth parents choose adoption because they cannot provide a fulfilling life for their baby at the time. As a result, they are looking for a family who will give their child a life full of love, support, and opportunities.  In your Dear Expectant Parent letter, be sure to communicate exactly what you can offer to a child: unconditional love, emotional and financial support, a safe and stable home, a good education.  Be the solution that they are seeking.

To learn more about writing a Dear Birthmother letter or starting the adoption process, call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or contact us here.


U.S. Gymnast Simone Biles’ Sheds Light on Adoption: “My Parents are my Parents and That’s It.”

Adoption has come a long way over the years.  Today, most people feel very positively about adoption.  In fact, 94 percent of individuals believe that adoptive parents are incredibly fortunate to have made an adoption plan.  90 percent of adopted children have positive feelings about their adoption, and over 80 percent have a warm and close relationship with their adoptive parents.  Adoption is positive for everyone involved and yet, it is clear that there are still misconceptions.

If you have been keeping up with the Olympics this year, you likely know of simone biles storySimone Biles.  Just last week, the 19-year-old, United States’ gymnast earned three gold medals and became the first American woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles.  Simone Biles’ story is inspiring young women, athletes, and families worldwide; not only for her talents as a gymnast but also for her strength and perseverance off-stage.

Fifteen years ago, Simone Biles and her little sister were adopted out of foster care by their maternal grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles.  Their biological mother struggled with addiction and was not able to take care of her children.  Together, the girls moved to Texas to live with Ron and Nellie, who quickly became more than grandparents.

Ron and Nellie are Simone’s legal adoptive parents, her support system, and proudly, her Mom and Dad.  They raised her to be the woman she is today, encouraged her every step of the way, and have consistently been in the stands catching blown-kisses from their golden daughter these past weeks.

On Sunday, August 7th, however, Simone Biles and her parents were put down by gymnastics announcer Al Trautwig, who refused to accept Ron and Nellie as Simone’s parents.  Trautwig explicitly stated on-air that Simone Biles “was raised by her grandfather and his wife and she calls them mom and dad.”  He later wrote on Twitter, “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.”

In just two statements, Trautwig proved that there still exists a huge stigma around the subject of adoption.  He not only rejected Simone Biles’ parents, but also the legitimacy of all adoptive parents.  He threatened Simone’s own self-identity as an adopted child.  He posed many uninformed questions such as, “Can grandparents be parents?” and “Are adoptive parents as real as biological parents?”

Simone Biles set the record straight when she replied,
“My parents are my parents and that’s it.”

That is it.  Adoptive families, no matter their make-up, are real and true families in every aspect – legally, financially, emotionally.  What makes a parent a “real parent” is not biology.  It is nurturing.  It is the day-to-day care, the unconditional love, devotion and commitment that makes a parent a parent.

simone biles adoptionAnd Simone Biles, like most adopted children, is happy with where she is today.  She has a supportive family who encourages her through the best and the worst of days.  She has her parents and her birth parents, and to her, that is completely normal.  There is no doubt or confusion in her mind.

The Olympic gymnast has an open adoption plan.  Simone talks to her birth mother on holidays and birthdays and has met her a few times in person with Nellie by her side.  While she sometimes wonders about the “what-ifs,” Simone chooses to focus her energy on one family. She explained to TIME magazine, “I have everything I need, so there are no blanks left unfilled. I never felt I had questions or needed answers or had a part of me that was missing.”

Ron Biles, Simone’s father, lends some advice to all current and prospective adoptive parents out there.  In a USA Today article, he remarks that “[Adoption] is a wonderful thing.  It gives you the opportunity to enrich the life of yourself and the child, and enrich everyone who is involved in your life.”

He continues, “Raising kids is just a wonderful thing.  You get to see them grow and be a part of that, and I can’t think of anything more satisfying.  It is an important issue and I could only say good things about it.”

Adoption is, in fact, positive for everyone involved.  The Biles family is raising the bar when it comes to how society perceives adoption.  So should we.

If you would like to speak to Adoptions With Love about adoptive parenting, the adoption process, or receive adoption advice, please call toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or contact us here.


Bring Your Child’s Story to Life with an Adoption Lifebook

Whether big or small, we all have our own, personal story to share.  These life stories begin the minute we are born and grow as we grow.  Every moment, every experience, every person that we encounter becomes a part of that story in some shape or form.  While everyone’s story is unique, yours and your child’s story are especially exceptional.  Why?  You both have been touched by adoption.

Adoption is what makes your story, and your child’s story, extraordinary.  As you begin your journey as an adoptive parent, it is important to help your child recognize just how special he or she is.  You can do this by talking to your child about adoption and telling his or her story every day.  An adoption lifebook can help guide this conversation.

What is a Life Book?

A lifebook tells the story of your child’s life, starting the minute he or she was born.  An adoption life book tells your child’s story from the time you decided to build your family through adoption.   Like a traditional “baby book,” adoption lifebooks typically contain photos, drawings, letters, documents, and other personal mementos or memories of the first years of an adopted child’s life.  These precious moments are preserved in a binder, photo album, or book and organized in the form of a story.

A lifebook is a keepsake written for the child, by the child’s parents.  Adoptive parents, sometimes together with the birth parents, gather all of the pieces of their child’s life – past, present, and future – and bring them together in an honest way that he or she can understand.  This is where adoptive parents become more than parents.  They become storytellers, too.

Your story as an adoptive parent began when you made the decision to build or expand your family through adoption.  Your journey continues from the day you met your child.  Your child’s story began long before that day when his or her birth parents decided to explore making an adoption plan.  A lifebook can help your child make sense of his or her story.  Your child’s life book is much more than a story put on paper.  It gives a child a sense of security, meaning, and purpose.  It is a positive, everyday story.

What are the benefits of an adoption lifebook?

Lifebooks are treasured resources that can be very beneficial for adopted children.  They:

  • Normalize adoption language and make the adoption conversation more approachable
  • Show adopted children that they were cared about before and from birth
  • Give children a clearer sense of their life story and life events
  • Offer details into a child’s birth family, genealogy, and ethnicity
  • Provide opportunities to create a positive identity
  • Build a child’s self-esteem and self-awareness by recording the child’s growth over the years
  • Serve as a vehicle for children to appreciate and share their life histories and adoption story

What should an adoption lifebook contain?

As you begin to create an adoption lifebook for your child, think about what you want it to contain.  Think about what your child will want to know about his or her birthday, birth family, and about growing up with you.  As a general guide, Adoptions With Love has put together a list of materials that you may consider including in your child’s lifebook:

  • Birth: Even though you were not pregnant, it is important to help your child understand that he or she did grow inside another woman’s tummy. On the birth page of your lifebook, you may include:
    • A birth certificate
    • Ultrasound photos
    • Footprints from the hospital
    • Photos of his or her birth family
  • Reason for adoption: In age-appropriate language, answer the inevitable question, “Why was I placed for adoption?”. It is important to express to your child that he or she was not given up, but rather, loved very much.  If you are in an open adoption arrangement, you can ask your child’s birth mother to help you tell the story.  Include photos and information about meetings you may have had with his or her biological family before, around the time of birth and immediately after discharge from the hospital.
  • Identifying details: Including details of childhood, such as your child’s favorite food or color growing up, are fun facts that children love to hear about. Compliment these details with photos of the house, neighborhood, pets, schools, even Halloween costumes, that your child had growing up.

The components of a lifebook vary person to person.  As you put together the pieces of your child’s story, try to think about the adoption questions he or she will want answered later down the road:

  • Why was I placed for adoption?
  • What do my birth parents look like?
  • What did I look like as a baby?
  • Do I have any siblings?
  • Does my birth mother love me?

An adoption lifebook provides the opportunity for discovery, celebration, and unity.  It can bring you and your child together, as you tell the story of how your lives came together as a family.  To learn more about your creating an adoption lifebook for your child, call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731.


Dear Ben, Love Your Adoptive Father

This is a letter from a dad to his son, written on the day he and his wife finalized the adoption and welcomed Ben into their family forever.

Dear Ben,infant adoption

Last night you went to sleep around 7pm, following a quick 4oz bottle, diaper change and a dozen kisses from your Mom and I. Today, you woke up to a similar routine of bottle and kisses. It will be an ordinary start to the day for our family with one exception; it’s your adoption day.

Today is the first day we have been able to celebrate as an official, legally certified family of 3.  We are driving from West Dennis to Cambridge for a 9am court appointment.

Your Mom and I often lay in bed at night and talk about how lucky we are. Of course, we did not plan to have years of struggle starting a family.  We did our best to stay positive, optimistic and committed to our family plan. I will never forget the day we received the call and the day we first met. These are memories I will treasure forever. You have enriched our lives in ways that neither your Mom nor I could have ever imagined.

There are times I wonder what would have happened if your birth mother chose a different family or made a different decision.   Then I am around you and I am reminded that we were meant to be a family. You can call it fate, or god’s will; we know you belong with us.  As you know, you were not born from your Mom’s belly, however you were brought into this world via the love of many individuals including your birth mother, Mom and Dad. I promise you that most days you will never even think about being adopted. But when you do, I hope you know how much you are loved.  Although there are many other adopted children in this world, you are truly special.

Our promise to your birth mother was that we would love you, and raise you to be kind, happy and strong.  In addition, we made a promise to always portray her in the most positive light, for the sacrifices she had to make and for placing your interest above all. Your Mom and I hope you are as proud of our family and your adoption as we are.

Finally, we want to thank you for your love, laughter, cries and smiles.  Thank you for letting us be your Mom and Dad.

Love always,
Dad

 


How to Adopt a Child in Massachusetts

Are you considering adopting a child in Massachusetts? Adoption is a beautiful way to grow your family and provide a child with a loving, forever home. Choosing to adopt a baby is the start of an incredible journey. It is a journey of love, patience, and at times, paperwork. If you are just getting started, we understand the adoption process can be intimidating. There are many steps in the domestic infant adoption process, and adoption laws and processes do vary state to state. It is important for you to understand each choice you can make throughout the domestic adoption process. Follow these five steps to learn how to adopt a child in the Bay State.

1.) Choose an adoption professional

You have decided you want to pursue a domestic infant adoption, but which adoption agency will best help you with the process? Massachusetts is an “agency” state that requires you to work with a licensed adoption agency. Choosing an adoption agency is a crucial first step for Massachusetts families hoping to adopt. Adoption agencies can help you navigate the adoption process, answer your questions along the way, and help to create the best adoption plan.

Adopting domestically in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be done through a private adoption agency or through the foster care system. If you choose to work with a private adoption agency, you will need to decide which local adoption agency works best for you. Some agencies are “full service” and others only will do your home study.

Working with a local, private Massachusetts adoption agency allows you to truly personalize your adoption plan. You can meet face-to-face with social workers to talk through the laws of the state in which your child is born as well as your hopes and concerns in designing an adoption plan. At Adoptions With Love, our goal is to match you with a birth mother and child within six months of completing your adoption application. Our approach is very personal with a lot of support.

2.) Complete an adoption application, training, and a home study

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires all potential adoptive parents to complete a thorough application process. This goes beyond filling out paperwork. To get approved to adopt a child in MA, prospective parents need to complete an extensive home study and take required baby care training courses to prepare for parenthood.

A home study is a 2-3 month process to educate you and prepare you for adoption. It allows us to understand your home environment, your familial relationships, and your personal background. Home study requirements differ state to state. Only a licensed adoption professional can assess your home and determine if you meet the Massachusetts requirements. Your social worker will guide you through this home study process while also preparing to match you with expectant parents who are hoping to find the perfect family for the baby. The study looks at your stability, background checks and ability to financially raise a child into adulthood. Though the home study process may be nerve-wracking, it is nothing to sweat! Your adoption social worker is there to support you through the entire adoption process.  At Adoptions With Love, we are looking for the best home for each child, while also making sure this is the best child for you and your family.

3.) Create an Adoptive Family Profile

Once you have completed the application process, it is time to show expectant parents information about you as a prospective adoptive family. If you choose to work with Adoptions With Love, we can help you create an Adoptive Parent Profile. This profile is a compilation of photos, letters, and information that will help prospective birth parents get to know you and your family. This is the first impression you will have on expectant mothers, so it is crucial to put a lot of thought and dedication into your adoption profile. To get a better sense of how to get started, read our blog on creating your Adoptive Parent Profile.

Not only can we help you design your adoption profile and draft letters to expectant mothers, but Adoptions With Love can also help you reach (and put you in touch) with expectant parents.

4.) Meet or establish contact with the expectant mother

If an expectant/birth mother chooses to make an open adoption plan, she may ask to meet or speak with you before the adoption occurs and sometimes prior to the baby’s birth. A licensed adoption agency can facilitate this contact, whether it be through an in-person meeting or via phone or email. In this conversation, you will have the opportunity to get to know one another, ask questions, and discuss ongoing contact. If all parties choose to have a face-to-face visit, you may have to travel to the state in which an expectant mother resides.

5.) Finalize the adoption

In each state, there is a specified period birth mothers must wait before signing legal papers and making a final decision regarding adoption. In Massachusetts, birth parents must wait four days after the baby’s birth to sign any adoption papers.

Once the adoption papers are completed and you have welcomed your baby home, you can expect a series of home visits from your adoption social worker. These post-placement visits will allow your social worker to see how well you and your baby are adjusting and offer any further support.

Remember, the adoption process does not end once the adoption is finalized. Adoption is a lifelong journey, and for you, it is just the beginning of a new happily ever after.

Adoptions With Love is a non-profit agency that has been successfully creating families for thirty years. If you are a Massachusetts resident hoping to grow your family through adoption, contact us to begin the process. We are here for you.


How to Talk to Your Child about His or Her Adoption Story

At the beginning of every adoption journey, Adoptions With Love asks future adoptive parents the question, “How do you plan on telling your child about his or her adoption story?”

Their answers do not always come easily at first, for this is a question that requires much consideration, attention, education and planning. It is an important question that every adoptive family needs to ask themselves before welcoming a baby into their home.

Adoptive parents often feel anxious at the thought of telling their child about his or her adoption story. When is the right time to talk about it? Who should be the one to bring it up? Some adoptive families fear that the conversation may hurt their child. Others are worried the conversation may hurt the bond they have with their child. While the subject can be intimidating, speaking openly about adoption can actually strengthen the relationship between a child and his or her adoptive parents, and further benefit the child’s overall adoption experience and identity formation.

Today, over 97 percent of adopted children over the age of five know that they were adopted, and 90 percent of these children were reported to have positive feelings about their adoption experience.

If you are planning to adopt a child, how will you tell your child’s adoption story? Learn how to prepare when, what, and how you will tell your beloved child about his or her adoption.

When?

From the minute 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 diaper change or a bedtime story. Your baby may not understand what you are saying at first, but this practice can help you gain more comfort with these words as time goes on.

You may choose to collect a few adoption books for young children, to help your child understand and relate to other adoption stories. It is important to begin the adoption conversation early on, so that when the time comes, your child will accept, understand, and be confident in his or her story. Talk about adoption as often as you can throughout every stage of development. Use language that is appropriate for your child’s developmental level.

Continuously touch base with your child, and show that you are always available to answer any questions he or she may have along the way. It is important that you send the message that adoption is a positive, loving way to build a family and that you are happy and proud to discuss the topic.

What?

Simply put, the first thing your little one should know is the fact that he or she was adopted. This conversation should be lovingly approached. Your child should be assured that he or she came from a mommy and daddy like all children do, and that he or she was a special gift to you. Tell your child that adoption helps many families grow, and that children can be raised by birth parents or adoptive parents. Throughout this conversation, make sure your child knows how much he or she is loved.

This is an ongoing conversation that will change as your child grows. You do not have to tell your child all of the details about his or her adoption story at once. It is important to be age appropriate. According to the Center for Adoption Support and Education, your child will only begin to understand adoption after the age of six. It is important to have the groundwork of his or her adoption story laid out before then. You can add the more complex details as your child matures.

How?

As the adoptive family, only you can decide how you will tell your child’s adoption story. If you have an open adoption, you may decide to include the birthmother or father in this process.

You may choose to create a photo book or “Lifebook” to share with your child throughout this ongoing conversation. Whether you have an open, semi-open, or closed adoption plan, Lifebooks are a wonderful way to tell your child’s adoption story. This book can track important dates and events throughout the adoption journey, and include pictures of the people and places involved in your child’s life.

No matter how you decide to share your adoption story with your child, be sure to remain positive and honest every step of the way. By doing so, you can help your child to understand how he or she became a part of your loving family. You can help your child to accept and even grow proud of his or her adoption story. You can teach your child to positively share his or her 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.