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6 Tips for Ongoing, Open Adoption Conversations

If you read our latest guide, “The Keys to a Successful Open Adoption,” you may know that open adoption is a type of adoption involving an open relationship between a child’s birth parent(s) and adoptive family. It enables both families to keep in touch over the years, and is proven to be very beneficial for a child.

An open adoption relationship can involve any level of openness. In some cases, a birth mother will choose to receive letters and picture updates from the adoptive family. Some families will stay in touch through direct emails or phone conversations. Some open adoptions involve in-person visits. In any open adoption, it is important to ensure that there is healthy, respectful communication between everyone involved.

Whether you are making an open adoption plan for your baby, are considering open adoption for your family, or already have an open adoption relationship, you are in the right place. Adoptions With Love has provided six open adoption tips below, to help you facilitate and navigate healthy adoption conversations.

1. Use Positive Adoption Language

Like any adoption, open adoption is an emotional journey. It involves many delicate relationships. As an expectant, birth, or adoptive parent, it is important to choose your words wisely in adoption conversations. Show care, respect, and empathy in all that you say:

  • Say “make an adoption plan” instead of “give up for adoption”
  • Do not say a child “is adopted;” if necessary, say he or she “was adopted” or “came into our family through adoption”
  • Do not refer to birth parents as “real parents”
  • Adoptive parents are just “parents”
  • A pregnancy is not always “unwanted,” that is why we should say “unplanned” or “unintended”

Positive adoption language is essential for healthy dialogue in an open adoption relationship. It shows respect and consideration for the other parties, and allows you to reflect adoption in a positive light. This will enable your child to see his or her adoption positively, as well.

2. Set and Respect Boundaries

In an open adoption relationship, it is also important to be clear about your wishes and needs from the very beginning. If you are an expectant/birth mother, you deserve to be completely comfortable with the level of communication in your adoption plan. For example, if you are not ready for in-person visits or direct phone conversations with your child’s family, it is okay to say so. Ask the parents to respect your needs and boundaries as you heal. If you are an adoptive parent, it is also okay to discuss limitations with your child’s birth family if they are made with the child’s best interest in mind. There should be a mutual respect for everyone’s needs, as well.

3. Understand Expectations

Much like with boundaries, it is also important to set and respect expectations for ongoing communication. When making an open adoption plan, the adoptive family, birth parents, and an adoption agency should all discuss what is expected of one another. For example, does a birth mother expect the family to send pictures on a regular basis? Does she expect to be told of any significant health-related issues with her child? Does the adoptive family expect the birth mother to inform them of a phone number or address change? Having clear expectations on both sides (and understanding those expectations) will help ensure that communication remains consistent as the years go on, and that no one is left hurt or disappointed. No one should make promises they are not able to keep.

4. Always Be Honest

Be honest about your needs, your wishes, and your expectations. Never at any point should you feel completely conflicted or overwhelmed in your open adoption relationship. You can avoid this by being honest. For example, if you are a birth parent and want more updates of your child, you should talk about this openly with your child’s family and an adoption agency professional. If you are an adoptive parent and feel your level of openness is preventing you from bonding with your baby, it is okay to voice this as well. Together with an adoption agency, you all can talk about adjusting the level of contact in your open adoption plan.

5. Be Flexible

All relationships require fluidity, but this is especially true in open adoption relationships. As an expectant mother, birth parent, or adoptive family, it is important to remember that things can change over the years. A birth mother may get married or have other children. An adoptive family may develop a busier schedule as their child grows, going to dance class, music lessons, sports games, summer camps, etc. Either family may request more (or less) contact in the open adoption. Communication in an adoption relationship can fluctuate as needs change. Most significantly, it can change as the child grows older  and begins to make decisions. He or she may request more or less contact with birth family members, and these wishes must also be respected.

6. Seek Professional Help if Needed

Many open adoption agencies offer post-adoption counseling and support. If you ever hit a bump in your open adoption, you can always reach out to a professional for help. Sometimes, an outside, unbiased, and professional perspective is best for resolving any open adoption challenges that arise.

Adoptions With Love is a private, non-profit adoption agency offering open, semi-open, and closed adoption plans. We offer free-of-cost counseling services to expectant/birth mothers considering adoption. We are also available any time of day, any day of week, to answer your call. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072 to learn more about open adoption. You may also download our free guide below for more open adoption tips.

open adoption communication


The Pros & Cons of Open Adoption

When many people think of adoption, they think only of the adoptions that happened decades ago: when children were not always told they were adopted, when many birth parents did not have a relationship with the adoptive family let alone know where their child was placed, when many adoptive parents only had limited information regarding their child’s biology or history. Times have changed.

Today, the majority of domestic infant adoptions involve some level of openness, meaning the adoptive family and the expectant/birth mother has a relationship to some extent. For many expectant/birth parents, this means choosing and meeting with an adoptive family for their baby. For many families, this means having an ongoing relationship with the birth mother after the adoption takes place (whether through letters, pictures, emails, phone calls, or contact through an adoption agency). Open adoption plans come in all different forms, take shape in many different ways, and will vary depending on a birth mother’s needs and the best interest of the child.

If you are here now, you may be considering an open adoption plan for your baby. You might be weighing the pros and cons of open adoption, wondering if it is the right choice for you long-term. Will it prevent your child from having a “normal” life? Will it prevent you from moving forward with your own life?

On the other hand, you might be a prospective adoptive parent considering open adoption for your family. You may have heard how much openness can benefit the child, but are also concerned that an ongoing relationship might confuse your child.

These concerns are common among those considering open adoption. However, they are not always true. Open adoption, in most cases, benefits all who are touched by it – birth parents, adoptive parents, and especially adopted children. As an open adoption agency, Adoptions With Love often hears from both women and families who say the pros of open adoption far outweigh the cons.

As with any type of adoption, however, there are both pros and cons of open adoption plans. Here, we will walk you through the benefits and challenges to help you decide whether open adoption is right for you and your child.

Pros of Open Adoption for Birth Parents:

  • You can choose the perfect family for your baby. Open adoption gives you the opportunity to select a family to raise your child. This is one of the most loving decisions an expectant/birth mom can make for her baby. Through an open adoption agency, you can also meet, speak with, and get to know this family if you wish.
  • You can have a continuing relationship with your child as he or she grows. In an open adoption, the adoptive parents and birth parents typically have some ongoing communication with one another. If it is agreed upon, this can also involve direct contact between the child and biological parents. For many birth parents, this brings great peace of mind in knowing that their son or daughter is doing well, and eliminates the unknowns often associated with adoption.
  • You can answer your child’s questions about his or her adoption story. Children are naturally and healthily curious. At some point, your child may have questions like, “What is my biological father like?” or “Why was I placed for adoption?” In an open adoption, you will have the ability to answer those questions for your child and explain how adoption was a choice made with love.

Cons of Open Adoption for Birth Parents:

  • There is less anonymity in open adoption. In an open adoption arrangement, there is less privacy for birth mothers. Open adoption typically involves an exchange of some identifying information, which can include names, email addresses, or phone numbers.
    • If you do not wish to share identifying information with your child’s family, you may opt for a more closed or mediated adoption plan. Your adoption social worker will discuss all your options with you.
  • There is less “closure.” Some birth parents expect closure when they place their child for adoption, and this does not always come in an open plan. Open adoption, rather, brings new beginnings for birth parents and adoptive families, including new relationships stemmed from ongoing communication.
    • If closure is important to you, you can always choose a closed adoption plan. You may also choose to open communication at a later time.
  • Some birth parents feel pressured to keep in touch, even when it is not in their best interest. Sometimes, birth parents initially feel they want fully open plans and later find that they cannot move forward in their lives with the amount of ongoing contact. They may feel pressured to continue communication so as not to offend the adoptive family.
    • If you choose to make an open adoption plan, stay true to your heart and comfort level. Be honest with the family or your adoption agency counselor. This is one of the most difficult and loving sacrifices you can make for your child; you deserve all the time you need to heal. An Adoptions With Love counselor can help you adjust the amount of openness in your adoption plan as needed over the years. We are always here for you.
  • In some cases, the adoptive family may decide they want less (or more) contact than originally planned. There is the possibility that the adoptive family will express they want to reduce or increase the amount of contact with you after the adoption takes place. Some feel this is in the best interest of their family; some wish for space to bond with the baby.
    • When you work with an open adoption agency like Adoptions With Love, you can rest assured that each family has agreed to some level of ongoing contact with the birth mother. This is often done through our ongoing letter and picture program.

Pros of Open Adoption for Adopted Children & Their Families:

  • Children have a deeper understanding of who they are and where they came from. Openness is very beneficial for identity formation and self-esteem in adopted children. As they grow older and start to have more questions about their biology, they can get the answers they need to form a stronger senseof-self and become proud of their background.
  • They also can understand their birth parents’ choice. Having the opportunity to ask “Why was I placed for adoption?” and to hear those answers can help alleviate any abandonment issues for adopted children. It can provide them with a sense of security, knowing how much love and selflessness went into their birth parents’ choice.
  • There is no need to search for or fantasize about birth parents. In open adoptions, children have the opportunity to speak with or meet their birth parents. This eliminates the “what ifs” that adoptees often have, as they can answer questions like “Do I look like my birth parents?” and “Do I have any birth siblings?” Open adoption often gives adoptees the puzzle pieces they need to become confident in their stories and themselves.
  • Open adoption gives adoptive parents access to medical information about their child. In open adoption plans, adoptive parents can ask questions about their child’s health history and family history. Similarly, the birth mother can inform the adoptive parents of any changes in health that occur and may affect the child down the road.
  • Open adoption offers a wider circle of family support. In open adoptions, children have the benefit of having their parents, who care for and nurture them endlessly, along with their birth parents, who gave them life and serve as a strong connection to their roots. Both parents love them unconditionally.

Cons of Open Adoption for Adoptive Families:

  • Potential boundary issues. Sometimes, a birth parent who just placed her baby for adoption will struggle with knowing how she or he fits within the family and “bigger picture.” At the same time, adoptive families may not know how to accommodate two sets of parents.
    • While open adoption does not mean co-parenting, it does mean gaining more than a child – it also means gaining another valuable person in your lives. Speak with your adoption counselor about how you can make your child’s birth parents feel comfortable and valued throughout your adoption journey. When creating an open adoption agreement, ensure that you are comfortable with every aspect of the contract. Establish roles and expectations with your child’s birth parents from the very beginning, so there is no confusion or disappointment down the road. Finally, be sure to communicate exactly what the boundaries are in regards to ongoing communication and meetings.

Whether you are an adoptive parent or expectant/birth parent, the key to an open adoption is putting your child first. For more tips on open adoption, or details about the pros and cons of open adoption, please download our new eBook “The Keys to a Successful Open Adoption” below.

Adoptions With Love is a full-service, non-profit adoption agency offering both open and closed adoption plans. We also facilitate adoption plans that fall in-between, called semi-open adoption plans. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy or considering adoption for your baby, we can help you create an adoption plan that is completely right for you. Call us at 1-800-722-7731 to learn more about open adoption.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Happy National Adoption Month, 2017!

national adoption awareness month

November is officially here, which means we can now look forward to another National Adoption Month and another #30daysoflove! As many of our readers know, National Adoption Month is a very special time of year for Adoptions With Love, and also for the many families out there that have been touched by adoption in some way. If you are new to the world of adoption, or are have recently become a member of the adoption triad, here is a little history on National Adoption Month:

It all started back in 1976, when Massachusetts Governor Dukakis first proclaimed an “adoption awareness week” across the state. Less than a decade later, in 1984, President Ronald Reagan expanded that to a National Adoption Week, giving special recognition to those who are building families through the positive choice of adoption. In his 1984 proclamation, the president wrote:

“National Adoption Week gives us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to give every child waiting to be adopted the chance to become part of a family. During this Thanksgiving season, let us work to encourage community acceptance and support for adoption… Most importantly, let us pay tribute to those special couples who have opened their homes and hearts to adopted children, forming the bonds of love that we call the family.”

In 1995, President Clinton decided to magnify National Adoption Week even further. He proclaimed the first-ever National Adoption Month, explaining, “Adoption provides a means for building and strengthening families. It places children into loving, permanent homes where they can flourish and grow up to become happy, healthy, productive members of our national community. Adoption also enables adults to experience the unique joys of parenthood.”

Now, and each year forward, the U.S. Children’s Bureau sponsors National Adoption Month in efforts to spread adoption awareness, honor adoptive families, as well as bring to light the newborns and children who are still waiting for forever homes. Each year, National Adoption Month takes on a new theme. For National Adoption Month 2017, the initiative is called, “Teens Need Families, No Matter What.”

A Focus on Teens in Foster Care

There are currently thousands of teenagers in foster care who are in need of permanent homes. Of the 110,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, close to 12,500 are between 15 and 17 years old. Unfortunately, many of these teens are less likely to be adopted because of their older age. As a result, they tend to “age out” of the system without ever gaining a stable support system or forever family to call their own. A positive role model, a mentor, or a lifelong family can make all the difference in a growing teen’s life. The lack of this figure or family, on the other hand, can have a negative impact on teens’ overall well-being and their transition to adulthood.

National Adoption Month is frequently focused on moving children from the foster care system to permanency. Usually, children are placed in the foster care system when their parents are unable to care or provide for them. This is often due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Sometimes, it is a result of their parents being incarcerated or in poor health.

The Work of Private Adoption Agencies

Private adoption agencies like Adoptions With Love are dedicated to helping expectant and birth parents make positive decisions for their children. We provide complete counseling services for expectant/birth parents nationwide, helping them design thoughtful adoption plans and find forever families for their babies. By making an adoption plan, by planning ahead, children can be kept out of foster care.

Many of the women that come to Adoptions With Love are already single parents. Some are struggling to provide for the children they already have at home. Some are trying to work full-time jobs while balancing the full-time job of a single mom. Some are working with the child welfare system to regain custody of their children. Some are not living in a safe or stable enough environment to raise a child. Some expectant parents feel this is not the right time in their life to start raising a child and wish for their child to have a more stable life with many opportunities. After discovering their unplanned pregnancy, many of these women are in complete crisis.

When parents choose to place a child for adoption, it is a courageous and loving choice; one that is made with deep personal sacrifice. As much as they love their children, they know they cannot provide for them at this time in their lives. Adoption allows expectant/birth parents to give their child the life, the opportunities, the love, and the permanency that every child deserves. Open adoption also enables birth parents to stay in touch with their child’s adoptive family over the years, which can bring great peace of mind for everyone involved.

#30DaysofLove

Today starts our #30DaysofLove campaign, celebrating National Adoption Month! We honor all the birth parents who have made adoption plans for their children and all the adoptive families created through the loving choice of adoption. During this Thanksgiving season, we also give thanks to each one of our readers who has helped provide loving homes and families for children.

We also recognize that across the country, thousands of newborns, children, and teens are still seeking permanent homes and families. For the next 30 days, Adoptions With Love will work especially hard to help spread awareness about foster care and the positive act of adoption. We invite you to do the same.

Whether you are an adoptive parent, a birth parent, or an adoptee, we welcome you to share your story with us. We’d love to hear about the role of adoption in your life, or about how you will be celebrating National Adoption Month this year. Simply post a comment below!

If you would like to learn more about how you can help honor National Adoption Month, please do not hesitate to reach out to Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731. You may also visit the Children’s Bureau website to learn more about this year’s National Adoption Month initiative.


Touchdown! 6 NFL Players Touched by Adoption

Football season has officially kicked off. With all the hustle and bustle surrounding the start of 2017’s NFL season, Adoptions With Love decided to reflect on some of the many NFL athletes who have been touched by adoption. Below, you will find iconic football players who are also loving adoptive parents. You will read about NFL players who were adopted at a young age. You will also learn the stories of the players who spent many years in foster care before finding success on the football field. All of these NFL athletes, whether adoptees or parents, have inspiring adoption stories  to share.

  1. Michael Oher

Michael Ohr adoption

Michael Oher, a famed football star who finished his final games with the Carolina Panthers in 2016, is also one of the most well-known adoptees today. His adoption story, as well as his journey from a homeless teen to an NFL star, was the subject of the Oscar-winning film, The Blind Side.

Oher’s story is a particularly moving one for those who have been touched by adoption and foster care. Growing up, Oher faced a very difficult childhood: he lived in poverty in a violent and unsafe neighborhood. He had 12 siblings and a frequently absent, drug-addicted mother. Oher entered the foster care system at age seven. By age 16, he attended 11 different schools and had a grade point average of .06. It was in that 11th school that he came to a turning point. Oher met the Tuohys, the family that would soon become his forever family, and began playing football. At 6’5” and 300lbs, he became one of the best high school football players in the country. He went on to play football at the University of Mississippi and was drafted to the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.

Michael Oher shares a firsthand account of his story in his book, Beat The Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond. He and his parents have also created the foundation, Making It Happen: The Tuohy Family Foundation, to support families in the adoption process.

  1. Daunte Culpepper

You may know Daunte Culpepper from his seven-season streak with the Minnesota Vikings, or for his time with the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, and Detroit Lions. Did you know that Culpepper is also a big advocate for adoption? This former quarterback was named a national “Angel in Adoption” in 2006 by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. He is very involved in the African American Adoption Agency (AAAA) helping foster children find permanent families, and has hosted annual golf tournaments to raise money for adoptive families.

Culpepper was adopted at one-day old. He was born to a teenage mother, who was then serving time at a correctional facility. Unable to care for her son, she placed him in the arms of an employee at her facility, Emma Lewis Culpepper. She adopted Daunte and raised him alongside her other 15 children (also adopted). Culpepper says of his mother, “She’s a very, very special lady. Remarkable. Strong. Everything you’d want in a mother. In a parent.”

  1. Kyle Van Noy

adopted athletes

If you are from New England or just love the Patriots, you probably know of Kyle Van Noy. Traded by the Detroit Lions in October 2016, Van Noy has quickly become a very memorable linebacker on the Patriots’ roster. This football star helped the Pats get their big Super Bowl win last year, and is expected to be a driving force on their defensive lineup once again this season.

Kyle Van Noy is doing big things off the field, as well. He and his wife, Marissa, started the Van Noy Valor Foundation to help adopted, foster, and disadvantaged youth in need. The foundation strives to provide opportunities for these children and to help them reach their full potential by giving them the resources needed to succeed.

The couple’s inspiration for the foundation stems from their personal, intimate connection to adoption. Kyle Van Noy was adopted as a baby and Marissa’s father and brother were also adopted. Kyle explains, “We have a big heart for adoption and foster families, as well as kids who are struggling. We want to give them strength and success.” Van Noy wants children and teens in foster care to know that they too can overcome the struggles. He wants them to know that their path does not define them, and a strong future is in reach.

  1. Colin Kaepernick

If you are a football fan, there is no doubt you have heard the name Colin Kaepernick before. Kaepernick spent his five-year football career with the San Francisco 49ers, where he served as both a starting and backup quarterback, before becoming a free agent in 2016. Some know Kaepernick for his football stardom, while others know him for his on-field protests and off-field activism against racism. What many do not know, however, is that Kaepernick is also adopted.

Colin Kaepernick was adopted as an infant after his birth mother, who was 19 at the time, decided to make an adoption plan. Kaepernick’s birth father had left during the pregnancy, and she knew she was not able to raise Colin on her own. She chose to make an adoption plan to give him the best possible life. Rick and Teresa Kaepernick adopted Colin when he was five-weeks-old, and are still in touch with his birth mother to this day.

  1. DeMarcus Ware

demarcus ware adoptionDeMarcus Ware is one of the biggest household names in the NFL game. He was the leading outside linebacker on the Dallas Cowboys for nine years straight and carried out the rest of his career on the Denver Broncos, with whom he won Super Bowl 50. He announced his retirement after the 2016 season, at age 34. Our best guess is that retirement meant spending more time with his family.

Ware has two young children – his son, DeMarcus Jr., is seven-years-old and his daughter, Marley, is nine. Ware and his wife adopted Marley after experiencing the heartbreak of miscarriage and a stillbirth. The football star has revealed that “Marley – and his struggle to become a father — changed his life, made him more responsible, fulfilled him in a way that football never had.” He is ever grateful to have been able to grow his family through adoption.

  1. Joe Berger

Joe Berger is the starting center on the Minnesota Vikings, and also the full-time father of four children: 2 adopted and 2 biological. He and his wife, Abigail, are active supporters of adoption and adoption family causes.

During Berger’s early career on the Miami Dolphins, his wife Abigail was receiving weekly fertility treatments. Their first biological son, Gavin, came after a year of trying to become pregnant, and they were told the prospect of giving birth to a second child was slim. They decided to grow their family through adoption, and adopted their son Blake later that year.

They were considering a second adoption when Abigail found out she was pregnant with their daughter, Ella, a year later. They always wanted three or four children. So, when the opportunity came to adopt a fourth child, they took it. The Bergers adopted their daughter Macy in the spring of 2016.

Both Blake and Macy have open adoptions and ongoing relationships with their birth mothers. Abby states, “We couldn’t ask for better birth moms… They both absolutely love these two and our other kids, too. That definitely shows with the sacrifice that they made. They are different situations but it’s nice to know that they made those choices for the better of their child.”

Joe Berger is not the only one on the Vikings who is also an adoptive parent. The Vikings’ General Manager, Rick Spielman and his wife have adopted their six children. Vikings’ VP Rob Brzezinski and his wife have also adopted five children. The Minnesota Vikings, as a team, were given the “Angels in Adoption” award in 2017.

Do you know these football players who have been touched by adoption? Can you think of any other NFL players that are also adoptive parents or adoptees? Please share below!

If you would like to learn about making an adoption plan with Adoptions With Love, please do not hesitate to contact us here. We are a non-profit adoption agency serving expectant/birth mothers throughout the United States and growing adoptive families across Massachusetts.


Separating Adoption Facts from Myths

Adoption is everywhere. We see it on television, on the news or on shows such as ‘This is Us’; we read about it on the Internet and social media; we hear about family and friends’ own adoption experiences. But who gets it right? Do we know all the truths about adoption today? Can we separate the real facts from the many myths surrounding adoption?

Adoptions With Love is a licensed, non-profit adoption agency with over 30 years of professional experience. We have facilitated both open and closed adoptions and helped thousands of women make positive, thoughtful adoption plans for their babies. We have assisted all kinds of adoptive parents in creating the perfect home environment for their children. Our compassionate, expert social workers have also helped many adoptees prepare for, search for, and meet their biological parents.

Over our years, however, we have heard many myths surrounding the subject of adoption. We have also heard from many people conflicted by these myths. It is our aim to share the truth about adoption.

Whether you are considering adoption or want to provide real, adoption facts for family and friends, you are in the right place. Below we separate adoption facts from five all-too-common adoption myths.

Myth: “Adopted children have more problems.”

Fact: About 9 out of 10 adopted children have positive feelings about their adoption. And despite the common misconception that adopted children are troubled, 88 percent of those aged 6 or older exhibit very positive social behaviors. Over half of school-age adopted children are excelling in subjects such as reading, language arts, and math. The majority are also in very good health, live in safe neighborhoods, and are being raised by two parents.

There is no sugarcoating the fact that some adopted children will carry complicated feelings of anger, loss, loneliness, or even low self-esteem as they try to understand their adoption story. There is no denying that they will face unique challenges and have questions about their biology. At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the fact that most adoptees have experiences no different than those of their non-adopted peers. Long-term studies have also shown that adopted children in the United States are no different in terms of their emotional health, psychological well-being, self-esteem, and attachment to family, either.

Myth: “Adoption means ‘giving up’ a child.”

Fact: Birth parents do not ‘give up’ their child, but rather, ‘give more’ to their child: Through adoption, they are able to give their child more opportunities, more resources, more devotion, comfort, and stability than they could provide at the time of their pregnancy. Adoption is a loving, thoughtful, and selfless decision. Rather than ‘giving up a baby for adoption,’ we say, ‘make an adoption plan.’ These thoughtful expectant parents are planning for their child’s life.

If you are pregnant, know that choosing adoption does not mean you do not love your child. It means that you love your child enough to give him or her the best possible life you can give. If you are adoptive parents, understand that your child’s birth parents did not ‘give up,’ but rather, found the courage and strength to make another plan for their baby’s life—a plan to fill it with loving parents, a stable home, a good education, holiday traditions, extended family support, and many other opportunities with you.

Myth: “Adoption means goodbye forever.”

Fact: It is common belief that adoption always means goodbye. Many expectant/birth parents worry that they will never see or hear from their children again should they choose adoption. The truth is, adoption does not have to an end-all, and expectant/birth parents can make this choice. If they would like to keep in touch with their child’s adoptive family, they can make an open adoption plan.

Open adoption involves some level of ongoing communication between adoptive and birth families: In a fully open adoption, they might have direct contact with one another through email, texting, phone conversations, Skype, or even yearly in-person meetings. In a semi-open adoption, they may exchange letters and pictures or choose to mediate any contact through their adoption agency. At Adoptions With Love, every prospective adoptive family agrees to a semi-open adoption, and most families are now open to some direct communication with the birth parents over the years.

Myth: “Open adoption is too confusing for children.”

Fact: Open adoption does not confuse children. It does not make them question who their “real parents” are. Rather, open adoption helps children better understand their adoption, as well as their birth parents’ choice. Today, 84 percent of children in open adoptions are very satisfied with their levels of contact with their birth family.

In open adoption arrangements, children understand the difference between their parents – the people who help them with homework, who take care of them when their sick, who love and support them above all else – and their birth parents – the people who not only gave them life, but gave them the best life they could possibly provide. Adopted children also understand the responsibilities of each parent, as well as their unique relationships with them.

Open adoption, in reality, can help reduce confusion over time. Because it establishes an open and honest platform for communication, adopted children can ask questions, get answers, and form their identity having a better, more available connection to their biological parents.

Myth: “All birth mothers are teenagers, addicts, or poor.”

Fact: Fact is, there is no single face of unplanned pregnancy: it can happen to anyone of reproductive age, of any background, education, or upbringing. However, research states that young women between age 20 and 24 are most likely to face an unplanned pregnancy. And many of these women are college educated: 70 percent of pregnancies among single, educated women in their twenties are unplanned.

The women who choose adoption may not feel ready to raise a child, but that does not necessarily mean they would not make great parents. Choosing adoption just means that these mothers loved their child enough to make a well-thought-out plan for his or her life.

Birth mothers are strong, selfless women who feel that adoption is the best possible choice for their babies. Some are single and desire their child to grow up in a two-parent home. Some do not have the finances needed to raise a child for life, and some are already raising children (most women that make an adoption plan are already parenting children). Some are simply not prepared to raise a child at this time, and wish for their child to be with loving, devoted parents who are ready to raise a child. No matter their background or reasoning, birth mothers are worthy of respect.

Help Adoptions With Love dispel the myths surrounding adoption— Please share these adoption facts with family and friends. For information on adopting a child or making an adoption plan, please call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072.


What “This is Us” Can Teach Us About Adoption

randalls adoption in this is us

“This is Us” – NBC’s latest breakout series – tells one of the most poignant and intimate adoption stories to hit televisions yet. Exploring subjects like transracial adoption, closed adoption, and the effects of adoption on children, the show depicts the adoption journey with an undeniable realness, reflecting the emotional trials and experiences of adopted children, adoptive parents, and birth parents alike.

Now less than a month away, many of us are looking forward to the newest season of “This is Us,” which is scheduled to premiere late September. Many of us anticipate answers to questions like, “What happened to Jack?” and “Will Randall and his wife adopt a child?”. Before we get there, let us take a minute to reflect on Season 1.

Among the many storylines in the show “This is Us,” perhaps the most prominent is the story of Randall Pearson, a black child who is adopted by a white family in the 1980s. Flashing between the 80s and present day, Randall’s story teaches viewers that adoption is both a positive and complicated choice. As an adoption agency founded in the 1980s, Adoptions With Love knows the adoptions of this time well. To help educate others on adoption (then and now), we have outlined our top three takeaways from the “This is Us” adoption story.

1. Closed adoption can have negative effects.

In the show “This is Us,” Randall’s story begins with what is called a “safe haven” adoption – his birth father, William, leaves him in a basket on the doorstep of the local fire station. Randall’s mother had died giving birth and William, addicted to drugs at the time, was not ready to parent a newborn on his own. The firefighters brought Randall to the hospital, where fate then brought him and the Pearson family together. Randall was adopted by Jack and Rebecca Pearson, who had just lost their third triplet during birth.

The day Randall is adopted, William goes to the hospital discreetly to ensure that his baby is in good hands. Rebecca catches eyes with him, realizes who he is, and visits him later on in Randall’s childhood. But she chooses to keep this meeting, as well as her knowledge of Randall’s birth father, a secret. She does not tell her husband, Jack, and she does not tell Randall even though he asks. In efforts to protect both her son and her bond with her son, she tells William that he cannot have any contact with Randall.

randall and adoptive dad

The unknowns are hard on Randall. He grows up with no knowledge of his birth family and no official ties to his background or heritage. He grows up in a white household, with two siblings who both know and are raised by their biological parents. He tries to imagine what his birth parents look like and do, constantly confronting issues of identity and belonging. Despite belonging to a loving and supportive family, Randall is still deeply affected by what he does not know. He does not have any African American role models in his life.

Randall has what is called a closed adoption, in which he and his parents do not have ongoing contact with his birth family. He does not have access to answers about his background or adoption story. He does not grow up with respect or understanding of his birth mother and father. With little information about his roots and his African American heritage, he carries some confusion and hurt. These complicated feelings are reflected when he finally meets his birth father as an adult, after hiring a private investigator to seek William out.

Closed adoptions were more common in the 1980s, when the early “This is Us” storyline takes place. Back then, birth parents could not always choose a family for their baby. Adoptive families had limited knowledge of their child’s birth parents. Adopted children could not easily contact their birth families, and rarely met them in person.

Closed adoptions may seem like the best choice for adoptive parents like Rebecca, who are scared of the birth family and worry about how a birth family might affect their child. However, “This is Us” teaches us that secretive, closed adoptions can actually affect their child negatively, distilling feelings of confusion, anger, and guilt at a young age. The show also teaches us that having a connection to one’s birth family can create very positive, meaningful relationships – not negative ones.

That is why today, open adoption plans are more of the norm. Adoptive families can keep in touch with the child’s birth parents online, over the phone, through letters, through the adoption agency, and even in-person. From an early age, adopted children in open adoptions can grow up knowing who their birth parents are, what they look like, and why they chose adoption. This gives them greater confidence, greater respect, and greater understanding of themselves as they mature.

2. Adopted children are naturally curious about their roots, even if they do not ask.

Children are naturally curious. Even in the instance they have everything they could need or ask for, they still wonder about the whys, what ifs, and what could be. This is especially true for those children who have been adopted, those who do not always have complete clarity of their background or biology.

This curiosity, this inherent drive, to uncover one’s biological roots is depicted near perfectly in the series “This is Us.” Growing up, Randall has a stable and healthy home, a great education, as well as two married parents who love him unconditionally. Despite all of it, however, he still feels a void. He desires to know more about his birth parents. At one point in his childhood, he even walks around the grocery store asking black adults if they can roll their tongues as he can. He believes this genetic trait will help him track down his biological family.

Randall’s mother, Rebecca, takes this act personally. She worries she is not enough for Randall, and that finding his birth family could mean losing her son. Having a transracial adoption, she is especially insecure about her bond with Randall and whether she can meet all of his needs. Randall recognizes this and eventually keeps his questions to himself. He tries to hide any desire to know more about his roots, so as not to offend his parents.

The desire to know and understand more – about birth parents, about biological siblings, about traits that they all might share – is completely normal and necessary for adopted children. It is especially important for adoptive parents to recognize this, and to know that it is not a rejection or reflection of their parenting. This desire, this need, is a natural curiosity among adopted children to learn more about who they are. It is essential to developing their own sense of identity.

3. Birth parents are emotionally affected by adoption, too.

randall and birth father this is us

Adoption is a difficult journey, and we see that through Randall’s emotional struggles on “This is Us.” It is worthy to note, however, that Randall is not the only one who experiences complicated emotions throughout this journey. William, his birth father, also feels the heartbreak and overwhelming, yet delicate love that so often comes with adoption re-connections. For 36 years, William felt heartbreak, grief, and loss. Like Randall, William spent years of his life wondering “what if” and “what could be.” We see these feelings in several episodes of “This is Us.”

Adoption is a decision made with love; a decision made in the best interest of the child. What William chose to do that day, having a history of drug abuse, was in the best interest of Randall. Randall was able to grow up with two loving and devoted parents, in a safe neighborhood with opportunity to grow and thrive. Despite the loss that William felt after leaving his baby, he knew that he could not offer all of that to a child. So, he made a sacrifice.

Adoption is a lifelong journey that constantly shifts and turns, presenting new feelings and challenges at each phase and for each member of the adoption triad. Adoption can also be a beautiful journey full of understanding, forgiveness, and love. Randall’s adoption story in “This is Us” is an excellent example of the highs and lows, the happiness and hardships, that the adoption journey can bring to all who are touched by it.

What do you – as a birth parent, adoptive parent, or adoptee – think of the “This is Us” adoption story?

 

 


Using Positive Adoption Language

positive adoption languageLanguage can be very powerful. Our choice of words can reveal a lot about who we are and what we think, feel, and value. When we talk about sensitive subjects, therefore, we tend to choose our words more wisely so as not to offend anyone in conversation. We use positive language as a means to show respect to those we are speaking with, and to establish a healthy dialogue on even the most delicate topics.

This especially holds true when talking about adoption, a once-stigmatized subject that has taken great strides in recent years. For the most part, adoption language (the way we speak about adoption) has made great strides as well. In the past, adoptions were kept secret. Adopted children were asked “where they came from,” but did not know the answers. The act of placing a child for adoption was referred to as “giving up.” Most often, adoptive families were not seen as “real families” – “real” implied biological.

Today, adoption is seen in a very positive light. Families grow through adoption. Expectant mothers make thoughtful adoption plans for their children. Adopted children now have the opportunity to meet or speak with their birth families through an open adoption arrangement. People are more aware of adoption than ever before, largely because it is spoken about in a more open and positive manner. Themes of adoption run in popular, mainstream television shows such as Modern Family and This Is Us.

Adoption is also more common than it was in the past. In the United States, there are currently over 1.8 million children who have been adopted. Even more of us have been touched by the act of adoption in some way, knowing someone who has been adopted, someone who has adopted, or being that very person ourselves. That is why it is so important to always use positive adoption language in our conversations about the subject.

As close as some of us may be to adoption, we know that we may not always speak about it the way we intend. It is common to hear the phrase “giving up for adoption” or to talk about someone’s “adopted son or daughter.” The problem is that this is negative adoption language – words that can have a very damaging effect on how others perceive adoption and how adopted children, adoptive families, and birth parents distinguish themselves.

Let us use the above examples. If you are an adoptive parent and refer to your child as your “adopted daughter,” you run the risk of making her feel like she does not belong to your family. This could impact her identity and her self-esteem. If you are a clinician and ask your patient if she is considering “giving her baby up for adoption,” you will have added a very negative connotation to the act. Adoption is not giving up. Rather, it is a very difficult decision that birth parents make with thoughtful consideration of their child’s well-being and an overwhelming love for their child. Through adoption, they can plan for the life of their child, a life full of opportunity and security, a life that they may not be ready to provide. Instead of “giving up a child,” we say “making an adoption plan”.

Whether you are an expectant/birth parent, a waiting adoptive family, or a clinical professional, it is important to familiarize yourself with positive adoption language. Below we have outlined the most commonly used negative adoption language, as well as the positive phrases that should be used in its place:

Negative Adoption Language Positive Adoption Language
Real Parent Birth Parent or Biological Parent
Give Up for Adoption Make an Adoption Plan
Put Up for Adoption Choose Adoption
Keep Your Baby Parent Your Child
Unwanted Pregnancy Unintended Pregnancy
Unwanted Child Child Placed for Adoption
Adopted Child My Child / Their Child
Is Adopted Was Adopted
Adoptive Parent Parent
Track Down Parents Search
Adoptable Child Waiting Child

Relinquished

Made an Adoption Plan

Positive adoption language should also be taken into consideration when talking to families about their children and/or their decision to adopt. For example, it may feel easy to say something such as, “It is so wonderful that you adopted. I could not raise someone else’s child,” or, “Your son/daughter is so lucky” or “so much better off with you as a parent.” These phrases are problematic because they are based on unfounded assumptions about adoption. They imply that adoptive parents are different and to be glorified over other parents. They imply that their children should feel grateful for having been adopted. They also imply that birth parents are unfit parents – all misconceptions that are commonly associated with adoption.

Using positive adoption language helps us to dissipate the myths and stigma that adoption once carried, and educate others on this subject. It encourages the world to view adoption not as second-best to parenthood, but rather, as a positive option for those who cannot or are not ready to fully provide for a child. By using positive adoption language, we honor and show respect to birth parents for making a loving, courageous, and selfless choice; to parents by adoption, we validate their role as their child’s forever family; and by this, we acknowledge the child and his/her extended family.

If you are a clinician looking for information on how to talk about adoption with your patients, please download our “Clinician’s Guide to Adoption” below. If you are an adoptive family or expectant/birth parent looking to learn more about adoption, please do not hesitate to call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or contact us here.

guide to adoption


May is National Foster Care Month

For many of us, May is the time of the year we associate with flowers and sunshine, barbecues and outdoor celebrations, and honoring Mom on the second Sunday of the month. What many of us do not realize, however, is that May also marks the nationally-recognized Foster Care Month.

National Foster Care Month is a time to raise awareness about the magnitude of youth in the child welfare system, and to recognize the ways in which we can enhance their lives inside and outside of foster care. Reality is, there are more than 400,000 youth currently in the United States’ foster care system – more than 400,000 children who do not have a stable, permanent place to call home.

Every child deserves a forever home, a safe place, a nurturing family who they can turn to in times of need. Every child deserves the resources and support needed to reach their fullest potential in life. Every child deserves to be loved. Yet for the hundreds of thousands of infants, children, and youth moving through foster care, these opportunities are not always in arm’s reach.

Almost half of the children in foster care today live with non-relative foster families. Foster families provide secure, nurturing environments for children who do not yet have forever homes. They give children a place to grow and learn, granting them the resources needed for a successful start in life. This month, we celebrate all the foster parents who have already opened their homes and hearts to these children. We honor their dedication in helping children find permanent, loving homes.

Of the 400,000+ children in foster care today, one-quarter are currently waiting to be placed with their forever families through the act of adoption.

This National Foster Care Month, we also celebrate the forever families – the pre-adoptive, foster-to-adopt, and adoptive families – who have chosen to provide permanent homes for children not living with their biological parents. Through the positive act of adoption, these families offer children from foster care a life to look forward to, a life full of love, security, and opportunity, a life that every child deserves.

Adoption is a positive alternative to the current foster care system, in which many children move about from home to home without a sure sense of stability or permanency. Not only does adoption give them a home to grow in and thrive, but it also gives many hopeful parents the opportunity to grow and build families.

foster care month 2017

There is never too much love. This loving foster family became a forever family through adoption [photo taken at the Adoptions With Love agency].

Adoption, overall, is a very fulfilling experience for everyone involved. About 87 percent of adoptive parents by foster care and 93 percent of adoptive parents by private adoption would “definitely” make the same decision again. Their children agree – More than nine out of 10 adopted children today have positive feelings about their adoption. 75 percent currently reside in safe neighborhoods, and 69 percent live with two parents. Adopted children are also more likely to be read to every day as young children, sung to or told stories daily, and to participate in extracurricular activities as they grow.

The vast majority of adoptive families today are involved in an open adoption plan. Open adoption allows an adoptive family and biological (birth) family to stay connected over the years, and has proven to be especially beneficial for the growing child. In an open adoption arrangement, a child can get to know his or her roots, develop a greater sense of identity, and better understand his or her birth parents’ choice. In some cases, it also gives children the opportunity to develop a relationship with their birth families long-term.

Despite popular belief, adoption does not have to mean saying goodbye forever. Open adoption gives adoptive and birth families the chance to build relationships with one another, while offering children a forever loving family and a safe, stable environment to call home. It can be a great alternative for biological and adoptive families who are looking for ways to give children the futures they deserve.

During the thirty-one days of National Foster Care Month, Adoptions With Love asks everyone to recognize the plight of foster care and to think about the positive alternative of adoption. For expectant/birth parents who are not able to provide for a child at this time, we ask you to think about the best interests of your son or daughter. By making an adoption plan, you can give your child a permanent, stable, and long-term home. Through open adoption, you can even choose the adoptive family to raise your baby and maintain contact with them over the years.

Adoptions With Love is a non-profit, open adoption agency working to find the best possible home for every child in need. In light of this National Foster Care Month, we hope to inspire families to come forward and help us in finding and providing forever homes. For more information on adoption, do not hesitate to visit Adoptionswithlove.org/contact-us or call 800-722-7731 today.

 


Helping Your Patients Through Unplanned Pregnancy Emotions

Adoption is a sensitive subject and emotional experience. Certainly, the same can be said about unplanned pregnancy. When a woman first discovers she is pregnant, she experiences a rush of different, often competing, emotions – shock or disbelief, excitement or joy, disappointment or fear. Especially when a pregnancy is unplanned, these feelings can vary and be unpredictable.

As a clinical professional, you have likely helped patients through an unintended pregnancy before. If you have not encountered this situation, you should expect to down the road in your career. Today, nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Among single women in their 20s, about 70 percent of pregnancies are unintended.

The common crisis of an unintended pregnancy can stir an array of challenging emotions for young women. Most often, the first reaction to surface is denial. If you have a patient facing an unplanned pregnancy now, you may have noticed that she is trying to avoid the situation. She may not want to talk about the news or know how to process it at the time. Denial is completely normal, and often occurs in patients who are not yet ready to face their situation or the emotions that it will bring.

As a clinician, you know firsthand that denial in patients can be particularly challenging. You want your patient to open up, to talk about her thoughts, and to make a sound decision regarding her pregnancy. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help her get through this stage. As a first step, set up a safe, supportive, and private environment for your patient. Remind her that your conversation is completely confidential. Give her space to reflect on her feelings and welcome her to work through them with you. By doing so, she can start to move past any hesitations and begin exploring her options.

A woman must feel safe and supported in order to let herself open up – not only to you, but also to herself. Opening up will allow her to feel any conflicting tensions, stresses, or other ambivalent feelings regarding her pregnancy. Ambivalence, experts say, is the key to making major life decisions.

Ambivalence means having mixed or contradictory feelings about something. For example, your patient may feel ambivalent because she wants to parent her child, but is not financially stable or ready to at this time. On the other hand, she may believe that terminating the pregnancy is the best option, but abortion has long-been against her beliefs or values. Your patient may also be considering adoption, but dreads the thought of never seeing her child again. These ambivalent feelings are a normal stage of the decision-making process, and are very important to work through together with your patient. As a clinician, it is your responsibility to ensure that your patients are educated and have time to think about their options reasonably.

Other ambivalent feelings your patient may experience when facing an unplanned pregnancy:

  • Confusion
  • Worry
  • Panic or anxiety
  • Anger or resentment
  • Embarrassment
  • Sadness or grief
  • Guilt
  • Eagerness
  • Love

It is okay for your patient to feel all of these unplanned pregnancy emotions, as she may be grieving a baby she is not yet ready to have or mourning a life she is letting go of for parenthood. Give her time to feel those emotions fully. Only then will she calm down and begin to think about her options. If she says she is ready to make a decision, be sure to ask her about the reasons behind her choice. Her decision should be informed, not made with anger or fear.

To better help you help your patients through this emotional journey, Adoptions With Love has compiled some additional tips for clinicians below.

  • Use active listening

When facing an unplanned pregnancy, most women will desire a compassionate and listening ear as they work through their many feelings. This sort of active listening will help ease any difficult emotions your patient may be feeling. It will also make your patient feel that she is being heard, no matter her age or background. Your patient will want to discuss life factors that may be influencing her decision. She may want to talk about the reality of her situation, her concerns or worries, and the potential outcomes of her options. Your patient is responsible for her own self-exploration. It is your responsibility to listen actively as your patient explores and assesses her options and to provide information and support where it is needed. This will empower your patient to make the right decision.

  • Remain positive

At this time, you may be your patient’s greatest support. Just as you are listening to her, she will be listening to you. She may be taking everything you say and do to heart. With that in mind, it is important that you maintain a positive tone and attitude as you help her through this emotional time. Use positive language as you talk about her options. For example, you may say “make an adoption plan” instead of “put up for adoption.”

  • If your patient chooses adoption, refer her to someone who will provide ongoing counseling and support

Like unplanned pregnancy, adoption is an emotional journey that often brings feelings of grief and loss.  If your patient chooses adoption, these feelings may not end upon the placement of her child. As a clinician, you should refer her to someone who will provide ongoing counseling and post-adoption support – an agency that will be there during her pregnancy and long after the adoption takes place.

Adoption will affect your patient’s life in many ways, but it is possible for her to prepare for these changes and emotions before they occur. It is possible for your patient to have a positive adoption experience. The first step will be for her to accept and understand that these feelings are normal. Only then can she begin the healing process.

Adoption may be a difficult choice, but it is also one filled with love and hope. By choosing adoption, your patient will have the comfort of knowing she was in control of her plan. She will find peace of mind in knowing that she gave her baby the best possible life she could.

If you are looking for ongoing adoption support for your patient, please reach out to Adoptions With Love. If you would like to schedule an in-service training in your Massachusetts practice, and learn about the emotional and complicated decision of adoption, please contact us at 617-964-4357. For more advice on helping patients with an unplanned pregnancy, please download our “Clinician’s Guide to Adoption” below.

guide to adoption


Options Counseling: How to Talk About Pregnancy Options with Your Patient

An unplanned pregnancy is often a considerable crisis in a woman’s life, one in which she may look to others for guidance and support.  With questions like What am I going to do? and How am I going to navigate this? running through her head, she may turn to you, a healthcare professional, for help.

Whether you are a primary care physician or gynecologist, hospital social worker or family therapist, there will likely come a time when you are faced with this situation. A patient of yours may discover a positive pregnancy test (perhaps right in your office) and request assistance from you in reviewing her different options: Should she parent her child, place her baby for adoption, or terminate the pregnancy?

This will be one of the most difficult decisions she will ever make in her lifetime. No matter which path she chooses, your patient will carry this decision for years to come. As a result, it is crucial that she is fully comfortable and confident in her choice. It is essential that she understands all her unplanned pregnancy options before she chooses the most positive one for herself and her child.

At Adoptions With Love, we believe that an informed decision is the best possible decision a woman can make. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, “every woman has the right to make reproductive health choices that meet her individual needs” as well as “the right to access factual, evidence-based, unbiased information about available reproductive choices, in order to make an informed decision.”

Often the initial medical contact for women facing an unintended pregnancy, clinicians should equip themselves with the knowledge and skills needed to counsel patients on their reproductive options. This is what “options counseling” is all about. Options counseling offers a patient, who is undecided about her pregnancy, the support and information needed to explore her alternatives as well as her feelings about each one. There are three components to effective options counseling:

  • Clinician provides medically accurate, unbiased information about each option and its potential outcomes
  • Clinician practices nondirective counseling, active listening, and asks questions to encourage open communication with the patient
  • Clinician helps patients work through and assess any feelings or values associated with her options

As a first step in counseling your patient about her options, it is important to examine your own values and biases. Unintended pregnancy can prompt both ethical and moral challenges, not only for patients, but also for the clinicians caring for them. Ask yourself if you have any personal experience with abortion, adoption, or single parenthood. Do you uphold certain values or beliefs regarding the morality of these options? If so, it is crucial to think about how your personal views may impact the quality of care and counseling you offer to patients. Your personal values should never disrupt or influence your patient’s decision. This is ultimately her choice to make. Maintaining a healthy detachment from your personal experiences with unplanned pregnancy will help you provide optimal, nondirective, nonjudgmental options counseling.

If at any point you feel conflicted or uncomfortable with your patient’s choice, be sure that you have a referral process in place in your practice. This way, your patients will still have rightful access to quality, neutral options counseling. Referrals should always be made to agencies or facilities that will provide immediate, affordable, convenient care and attention. In such an emotional time, your patient deserves this.

Adoptions With Love is a non-profit adoption agency offering free-of-pressure, free-of-cost services to expectant and birth parents considering adoption. We are available 24/7 to answer your call, speak with your patient, and help her through this decision. Our expert, compassionate attorneys and social workers can also meet your patient wherever is most convenient.

As a clinical professional, it is also your responsibility to have current and accurate information about adoption, abortion, and parenting on hand. Your patient must be fully aware of and educated on all her reproductive options before she can make a sound decision for her baby. If your patient is undecided about what to do, provide her with brochures and pamphlets that outline all three of her options, as well as their possible outcomes. If your patient has already made a decision, it is still imperative that you ensure that she is making an informed one. This means dismantling any myths or misconceptions about her different options, asking questions, and offering additional resources where they are needed.

If you feel your patient is making an unapprised decision, ask questions and probe her to talk about the reasons she is leaning towards this choice. As an example, your patient may say that terminating the pregnancy is her only option. She may not have considered adoption before. Or, she may say that adoption makes her sad because she will never see her child again. This is where current, factual adoption information can help.

Fact is, many young women today are not fully aware of the positive option of adoption. Some will associate it with secrecy or giving up. In reality, adoption is a selfless act of love, one that is largely about choice. Your patient can choose to have an open adoption, semi-open adoption, or closed adoption plan. As her healthcare provider, you can help dismantle any myths associated with adoption (or any other options), provide your patient with accurate information, and help her make a fully informed decision.

Options counseling also entails helping your patient sort through her feelings about adoption, abortion, and parenting. This is an emotional experience for her, and those emotions can create tension if they are not addressed. Open up the conversation by asking your patient about her feelings regarding the pregnancy, her goals, her values and beliefs, as well as her home life and influences. Listen to her as she reveals her answers. Respect her answers, make her feel comfortable, and provide support as she assesses her options. Remember, this is her choice, but you can help guide her in the right direction.

For more information about options counseling, or tips on how to help women facing an unintended pregnancy, please download our “Clinician’s Guide to Adoption” below. If you would like to refer a patient to Adoptions With Love, please contact us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731.

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