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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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20 Questions to Ask a Patient Considering Adoption

Discovering an unplanned pregnancy can be a very emotional (and often confusing) experience for expectant parents. With the many unplanned pregnancy options available today, deciding what to do after this initial discovery can also be particularly overwhelming. You may be here now as you have a patient working through this very decision. She has confirmed her pregnancy – with you or another clinical professional – and is ready to talk about her options. She is considering adoption for her baby.

In order to help your patient make an informed decision regarding her pregnancy, it is important to first get to know her and her current situation. If you are her primary care physician or counselor, you may already know about your patient’s medical history and current state of health. However, you may not know about her feelings, her values, or her life beyond your practice? Does she have a support system or feel safe at home? This is all critical information to have as you guide this young woman on  her adoption journey.

As a clinician, the first way you can help your patient is by asking the right questions. This will help you better understand where she is and how she feels at this moment in time. Then, as she answers, offer a compassionate, listening ear as she works through this significant choice. Listening is often the best way to help a woman considering adoption. She will have many feelings, thoughts, and anxieties that will need sorting.  Because she trusts you, she may look to you to help ease her mind, to offer her accurate adoption information, and to guide her to the right resource.

As a first step, sit down with your patient in a comfortable and confidential environment. Use an empathetic, non-threatening tone as you talk to her about her pregnancy. Do not ask questions that infer certain feelings; rather, ask questions that are neutral in nature (such as, “How do you feel about this pregnancy?” rather than, “Congratulations!” or even, “Are you happy about the pregnancy?”). Ask questions that are also delicate in nature, to ensure your client feels at ease every step of the way. Questions should be open-ended, so that the conversation flows openly and honestly.

To help you start the dialog with your patient, Adoptions With Love has compiled twenty of the most important and advantageous questions to ask pregnant patients who may be considering adoption.

Questions to Ask Patients Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy

  1. How do you feel about this pregnancy? If you are delivering the news of this pregnancy, you do not know how your patient will react. She may be excited. She may be upset. Even if the pregnancy was unintended, that does not mean it is unwanted. Try not to assume how your patient feels; instead, ask how she feels.
  2. How will the father of the baby feel about your pregnancy? If your patient is unsure who the father is, you may be able to help her pinpoint when she became pregnant.
  3. Do you feel safe with him? Do you feel safe at home? Questions about intimate partner violence are standard and important in order to keep your patient safe.
  4. Does anyone else know about the pregnancy? How have they reacted so far? Again, these questions will let you know if your patient feels safe and supported at home. If your client is an adolescent, you should also ask if her parents have been informed.
  5. Do you know what your options are? Would you like to learn more about each one? No matter your personal experiences with adoption, abortion, and parenthood, it is important to remain unbiased as you discuss her options.
  6. Prior to discovering you were pregnant, what were your personal feelings about parenthood? How did you feel about adoption and abortion? Understanding how your patient felt about each of these options before getting pregnant may help clarify which choice is the right one.
  7. Was motherhood always a part of your long-term plan? Ask her if parenting was a part of her future, and if so, under what circumstances she wished to have children.
  8. Do you feel ready to raise a child now, for the next 18 years and beyond? Many young women will consider parenting their child. If this is likely of your patient, ensure that she understands that parenting is a lifelong responsibility.
  9. Do you feel abortion is an option? Depending on how far along she is, as well as her beliefs and values, your patient may or may not be considering terminating her pregnancy.
  10. Do you feel adoption is an option? Is adoption for you?
  11. Will the father of the baby be involved in making this decision? Depending on your patient’s choice, the father may need to be involved with any associated legal processes.
  12. Do you feel pressured to make a certain choice? Ultimately, this is your patient’s choice. She should never feel forced into a decision that she is not comfortable making.
  13. What are your goals for the future? Does your patient have educational or career goals she wants to achieve?
  14. How will adoption/abortion/parenthood impact your goals? Each of these options will affect your client’s life and her goals differently.

Questions to Ask Clients Considering Adoption

  1. Why do you believe adoption is the best choice for your child?
  2. Why do you feel adoption is the best choice for you?
  3. Do you want to choose a family for your child?
  4. Do you want to have contact with your child and his or her adoptive family in the future?
  5. Do you want the adoptive family to be at the hospital the day the baby is born? Or attend doctor appointments with you throughout the pregnancy?
  6. Do you want me to refer you to an adoption agency to learn more about this option?

By asking these questions, you can help your patient assess her feelings, values, and to begin exploring her different unplanned pregnancy options. At the same time, her answers can help you gain a better understanding of how she feels about her pregnancy and refer her to the resource that will best answer her questions, meet her needs, and respect her desires as an expectant mother considering adoption.

For more questions to ask patients and clients considering adoption, or to learn more about the adoption process as a clinical professional, please download our free eBook, “A Clinician’s Guide to Adoption” below. If you have a patient you would like to refer to Adoptions With Love, please call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 today.

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Adoption Information for Clinical Professionals [Infographic]

professional adoption information

Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and approximately one-third of women facing an unplanned pregnancy wants to learn more about adoption as an option for their baby.

Every day, clinical professionals find themselves face-to-face with unintended pregnancy and adoption situations. Yet all too often, they do not have adoption resources in hand, agency referrals on call, or even the neutral, factual adoption information needed to help patients make a fully informed decision.

According to a recent survey of social workers and counselors, 95 percent of respondents indicated that learning about adoption is very important in their field. Surprisingly, however, 90 percent of these surveyed professionals received less than five hours of adoption training in the past year.

Whether you are a physician, social worker, counselor, therapist, or other clinical professional, basic adoption training and education can be valuable assets in your career. Not only will it help you understand more about the adoption process, but it will also be beneficial to your patients who want to learn more about this positive choice.

If you have a patient who is pregnant and considering adoption, it is up to you to help her (and potentially her partner) during this time of need—whether that means educating her on her options or referring her to an all-options adoption resource like Adoptions With Love. It is your role to offer her unbiased, accurate, and empathetic adoption information so that she can make the best possible choice for herself and her child.

Adoptions With Love is a non-profit, licensed, domestic adoption agency with over 30 years of experience. We work with social workers, adoption attorneys, and clinical professionals nationwide in efforts to provide free-of-pressure, free-of-cost services to expectant/birth parents considering adoption throughout the United States. If you are looking for unplanned pregnancy or adoption help for your patient, you can always call on us. Our reputable and compassionate staff is available 24/7 to speak with you and your patient about her possible options.

If you are here simply to learn more about adoption, we can also help. Adoptions With Love has compiled the above infographic to offer both you and your patients free and truthful unplanned pregnancy and adoption information. We hope you find this infographic helpful as you assist and care for women facing an unintended pregnancy. We hope that the knowledge learned here can be brought to your patients who want to learn more about making an adoption plan.

We understand that in order to guide patients fully through this decision, clinical professionals must stay up to date with all the necessary adoption information, from counseling ethics to adoption laws in their state. As a clinical professional, you must also remain empathetic towards your patients, no matter their age, background, or economic situation.  It is also important to use appropriate adoption language when speaking about your patient’s options. Adoption is a selfless act of love that requires a lot of an expectant/birth parent – remember that she is not “giving up” her baby; she is giving her child the life that he or she deserves. For this, she deserves the utmost respect.

For more adoption information, please stay tuned for Adoptions With Love’s “Clinician’s Guide to Adoption.” If you or your patient would like to speak with Adoptions With Love about making an adoption plan, please do not hesitate to call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731. Remember, it is never too late to make an adoption plan. Whether your patient has recently discovered she is pregnant, is in her 3rd trimester, or has just given birth, she has the option to choose adoption for her baby.


Adoption Stories & Advice from the Adoption Triad

The beauty of adoption is that it can come in many forms, and blossom in many different ways. Each adoption story is unique. Every person within the adoption triad has an experience that is exceptionally their own. This month, the staff at Adoptions With Love had the honor of touching base with three distinct members of the adoption triad: a birth mother, an adoptee, and an adoptive couple who made adoption plans through our agency years ago. Here are their adoption stories.

Kristy
adoption experiences

Fifteen years ago, Kristy found out that she was pregnant with her son. Surprised and not sure what to do, she came to the heartfelt decision to place her son for adoption. Kristy was young, scared, and knew that she was not prepared to take on the responsibility of a newborn.  She knew that, at the time, she and the birth father were not able to provide the stability and security their son deserved. So, Kristy chose to make an adoption plan through Adoptions With Love.

Through the challenges and many emotions that so often come with adoption, Kristy is confident she made the best choice for her child. Here is what Kristy had to say about her adoption experience:

What choices did you have in making your adoption plan? How have those choices shaped your adoption experience?

The choices that I had in making my adoption plan were always available to me, and I always knew and was aware of the adoption process. Since placing my son for adoption through Adoptions With Love, I can truly say it has been such a beautiful experience.

The staff at Adoptions With Love were very open and extremely kind and caring from the beginning of the process. They gave me options in what I could do, but never pressured me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. They talked and walked me through the whole process, holding my hand all the way. Through all of this, I still believe that adoption should always be an option. It can be a beautiful experience for not only the birthmother, but also for the child and adoptive parents as well.

Who or what has been your biggest support through the adoption process and beyond?

I would say the biggest support I had during this time in my life was Nancy from Adoptions With Love. My family was not very accepting of my decision at the time, and not having anyone to turn to for emotional support, Nancy was the one who was always there for me. She allowed me to express myself, answered every question or concern that I had, and was always a phone call away when I needed someone to talk to. Adoptions With Love has always been there. There, not just as an adoption agency placing your baby for you, but there in the sense they really care about your well-being and the future of you and your child.

What advice would you give to someone considering adoption?

Adoption has been such a wonderful and positive experience for me, and I would tell anyone who is thinking of placing their child with an adoptive family, that it can be a wonderful thing. Adoption gives you options and choices, and the right agency will allow you to make those on your own time— Never pressuring you, but only supporting you in the decision that you make.

Adoptions With Love not only placed my son for me, but also has been a constant support system. Adoptions With Love will answer any and all questions, and will try to eliminate any stress or fears that you may have.

Adoption has changed so much from the stigma that once existed; that when you place your child for adoption, you will never see them again. Today, you do have the option to have an open adoption, where you can receive pictures along with updates of your child and his or her progress. Sometimes, you may even have the choice of meeting with the adoptive family and your child. Adoption does not have to mean it’s the end of things or be thought of as a bad thing. It can truly be the beginning of many beautiful things.

If you were to talk to your children to help them understand your choice, what would you say?

If I could tell my children anything about the choices that I made, I would tell them that they were made out of love, that I have always loved them, and that I wanted them to have the very best start in life. I wanted them to have a future I wasn’t sure I could provide at the time. This choice was a sacrifice made with love.

 

Amanda

adoption adviceAmanda has always known she was adopted.  From an early age, she was able to grow her understanding of adoption and decide what role it would play in her life.  Now in a closed adoption plan, Amanda shares with us her experiences and offers a powerful perspective as a young adult adoptee.

How has adoption shaped or impacted your life? Do you feel it has?

I think that adoption has given me a unique gift:  the ability to not be confined by who my family is. A lot of friends define themselves by certain traits that they share with their parents. You hear people say “Oh, my dad is good at math so I’m naturally good at it,” or, “my mom is really physically fit – I get my strength from her.” Being adopted allows you to credit YOURSELF with your own successes and to create an identity that you are proud of.

I had a friend, who at 25 found out that the man she knew as her father was not her biological father. She called me in a panic wondering “who she was now that half of her identity was in question,” and I told her that it didn’t matter. Because she was a successful 25-year-old girl with her own interests, passions, successes, failures… her own identity. And she doesn’t need to know her biological father for all those things to be true. I think this perspective has given me a unique outlook on life.

Honestly though, I don’t think about being adopted all that much. It comes up randomly – like the time I needed to get my own health insurance because I was 23 and my parents were on Medicare.

“Why aren’t you on your parent’s health plan?”

“Because they are over 65 and have government health insurance.”

“Wow they were old when they had you!”

“Well, actually, I’m adopted.”

And then the conversation begins. But on a normal day, it doesn’t impact me at all. I am who I am, regardless of where I came from or who raised me.

When were you told you were adopted?

I’ve always known. I had a book on my bedside table called “The Day We Got You,” which is the adopted kids equivalent of “where do babies come from?” I think it’s best that way because if you understand it at an early age, it just grows with you… and you explore it when you want to explore it, and you leave it when you want to leave it. It doesn’t come crashing down to haunt you or rock your world like it does when you’re seven or sixteen or twenty-five.

Have you ever had the desire to search and/or establish contact with your birth parents?

I have thought about it. When I was 19, I decided I wanted to learn more about adoption. Instead of looking for my birth parents, I actually decided to go back to Adoptions With Love and work with them. I did some basic office tasks for them and gained some REALLY powerful insight into the workings of adoption. It was then that I decided that I didn’t want to meet my birth parents at the time… because you really need to be prepared to be ANYONE. You need to be prepared to be a child that came from drugs, abuse, prison, rape. And I decided that I would need to be really stable in order to be comfortable learning that about myself. As I’ve gotten older, there have been times that I’ve felt stable enough to learn these things – and in those moments, I haven’t felt the need to know more because I have felt like I have everything I need with the people I call my parents.

Eric & Rob

open adoption stories

Eric and Rob always had dreamt of starting a family. But as a gay couple, they were never completely sure if they could fulfill this dream.  Adoption gave them the opportunity to start a family together. Now, they are raising two beautiful children – a son and daughter – who both have open adoption plans. We had the pleasure of speaking with Eric and Rob about their adoption stories. Here is what they said:

How has adoption – and becoming a parent – shaped your lives and who you are today?

Becoming a parent has been like receiving the best gift you’re ever going to receive in your entire life.  Especially as gay men, we were never quite sure if it was going to be entirely possible for us to have a family of our own, for a number of different reasons. With adoption, we were sort of holding our breath the entire time – hopeful, but still unsure. When our daughter arrived and we brought her into our own home for the first time, the amount of joy and gratitude we each felt was indescribable. Gratitude for the birth parents for making this huge sacrifice; for choosing us to raise this little girl as our own; and for the agency for facilitating the entire process.

You never really can prepare yourself for the level of responsibility that comes with being a parent. It truly feels like the first time we both really became adults. Now every decision we make has our children at the center of it – in terms of where and when we go on vacation, decisions about jobs, finances, where to live – all have our children’s best interests in mind. We also get a huge thrill out of enjoying holidays like Halloween and Christmas all over again through their eyes. The joy, wonder and amazement that we see in their eyes brings a renewed sense of magic to those days for us. Even the smaller things such as holding our daughter’s hand as we walk down the street, or her snuggling up to us as we read a bedtime story, is the stuff that makes the more challenging times all worthwhile.

What advice would you give to other families considering adoption?

We initially looked into surrogacy because we thought about having a child that had at least had one part of our genetic makeup. However, the costs for that entire process were adding up to be well over our financial means. We moved forward with adoption and couldn’t be happier. We used to wonder if we could truly love an adopted child as much as one that was genetically ours in some way; however, those fears were completely unfounded. The love we have for our children feels no different than if we were biologically the same.

Our advice to others would be to be patient. Waiting for “the call” was extremely difficult for us both times. You will be parents! There will be times when the waiting will seem unbearable, but the things that centered us were different for each adoption:

For our first adoption, everyone told us that our world would change when we have a child. And although that is entirely accurate, you can’t even fathom these changes. Just go on that final vacation when it’s just you or you and your partner. Some people say not to decorate and furnish a baby room in advance but we found it to be bonding, calming, productive, and an all-around positive experience.

For our second adoption, the thing that centered us most was the thought that these were the last few months, weeks or days that it’ll just be the three of us. Let’s just enjoy this time with our first child because life will again become very chaotic for a time. Let’s relax, stay present for our daughter, and enjoy the quiet time while we have it.

What would you say to people who are unaware of how adoption is today?

Talk to someone who has adopted. We were fortunate enough to have two close friends of ours (a same-sex couple) adopt their son as we were considering our own plans for expanding our family. It was extremely helpful to ask them every question we could think of along the way, because different feelings and questions pop up throughout the entire journey.

Also – don’t assume adoption is the same as it was many years ago. Things have changed so much in terms of open versus closed adoptions, and adopting domestically can be much easier than you think with a very reasonable wait time. I think many of us come into adoption thinking about our great aunts and uncles or grandparents who were adopted, but those adoption stories are very rare nowadays.

What is your open adoption experience like?

For our daughter Katherine’s adoption, we never met the birth parents before her birth. We finally did meet the birthparents around two years after she was born, along with the birth mother’s grandparents. It seemed to be a pleasant and positive experience for everyone. Both birth parents are now busy in college. Katherine’s birth mom continues to stay in touch via occasional text messages. We will continue to try to foster whatever relationship is best for Katherine’s needs, while being respectful to her birth parents’ privacy and availability.

For our son’s adoption, we met the birth mother and her mother about a month before the birth, when we all went down to Kentucky and stayed there for two days. That gave us a wonderful opportunity to really bond with both of them and to really feel like we were part of an extended family now. We then traveled back to Kentucky for the birth. Since coming back to Massachusetts, the birth mom initially and understandably had a very difficult time with the separation. It was difficult to find common ground to allow her to grieve, while also allowing us time to adapt to and get comfortable with our new family dynamics. We soon realized that we all needed some space to move on independently which is where our Adoptions With Love social worker really helped. We now have a healthier relationship with our son’s birth mom and tentative plans to meet up with her this coming spring.

To read more personal adoption stories, please visit adoptionswithlove.org/personal-stories. You may also call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072 to start an adoption story of your own.


Finding Biological Family on Facebook: How the Internet & Social Media are Used Among the Adoption Triad [Infographic]

internet and adoption

The Internet is changing the adoption landscape.  Social media is changing the adoption search as we know it.  Open adoption is evolving in this era of Facebook.  Millions of birth parents, adoptive families, and adoptees all over the world are using the Internet and social media each day—for better and for worse.  Adoptions With Love has compiled the above infographic to show just how the Internet and social media are used among the adoption triad today.  We will walk you through the benefits as well as the pitfalls of social media as it relates to adoption, and show you where to find professional help.

Did you know that the phrase ‘find birth parents’ is searched in Google approximately 1,600 times per month?  Or that ‘find adopted child’ is searched nearly 500 times each month?  With millions of results generated from each of these searches, there is truly no doubting the immensity and capabilities of the Internet today.

On one hand, the Internet and social media have offered some advantages across the adoption triad.  Through these channels, adoptive families and birth parents are now able to acquire information relating to adoption.  They can connect with a greater adoption community and obtain any adoption-related support they need.  They are also able to make more personal connections online.  Through social networking websites like Facebook, adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive families can get to know one another gradually, behind the screens, without any being restricted by time or travel expense.

On the other hand, the Internet and social media platforms carry great risks for the adoption triad:

The risk of being exposed.

The risk of unmonitored communication.

The risk of false promises.

The risk of public comment.

The risk of getting hurt.

While there may be some anonymity behind the screen, it is important to remember that the Internet has the ability to expose people and private relationships.  Anything published on social media is open to public comment; any communication shared online is open to the public eye.

Many families are not aware of these implications.  Many adopted children do not understand the power and influence that the Internet can have on private, sensitive adoption relationships.  As a result, people are being found, and adoption agreement boundaries are being broken.

Over 10 percent of birth parents have been contacted by their children or the child’s adoptive family when it was not planned or expected.  Over 60 percent of adoption professionals have heard from adoptive families whose children have had unexpected or unmonitored contact with birth relatives.

Protecting the child is the utmost goal in any adoption, but with the rise of social media, this goal has become increasingly more challenging to accomplish.

Whether you are an adoptive family or birth family, social worker or clinical professional—we hope this infographic will help you consider different perspectives and challenges social media stirs among the adoption triad.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out by calling Adoptions With Love at 800-722-7731.  Or you may download our free eBook, “The Role of Social Media Among the Adoption Triad” below, for tips on how to navigate communication and searching online.

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