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How “23 and Me” is Impacting the World of Adoption

You have seen the ads on TV. You have read the incredible stories online. And more than likely, you are familiar with DNA testing kits and the information they provide. As websites and tests like 23andMe grow in popularity, so does the hunt for answers regarding people’s ancestry.

Unfortunately, the DNA-testing trend is not always a “happy ever after” outcome – particularly in the realm of adoption search. These websites and test kits have been (often negatively) affecting adopted persons, birth parents, and even adoptive parents. Read on to understand why this is influencing people involved in closed adoptions, and a better way for adoptees to learn about their genetic history.

Searching for Biological Family Members

When a child is placed for adoption through a private adoption agency, a legal and binding arrangement is made. Expectant/birth parents have the option to choose an open adoption, in which they can keep in touch with their child over the years. As a result, the child has access to important information about his/her biological family. Adoptive and birth parents both agree to this open relationship. Open adoption is becoming more and more common; however, closed adoptions still exist.

If a birth parent wishes to remain anonymous via closed adoption, he or she can make that clear through the terms of the adoption. A birth mother may choose to have her information stricken from the birth certificate, for example. If contacted later on in life, the birth parent may reach out to his or her adoption agency and express the need for privacy. For adoptees who have no access to information through the state or adoption agency, however, DNA testing has become a game changer.

The recent surge of companies like 23andMe and ancestry.com have empowered adults who were adopted – as well as birth parents who placed a child for adoption – to find biological family members on their own, whether they have registered with a search service or not. How, you ask?

DNA and ancestry businesses connect all genetically-related people. If a birth parent’s relative is registered with a DNA service, he or she may be traced back to an adoptee who is searching for his or her biological family. Personal information is given out through these services.

The Debate

For many, the rise of DNA testing kits have started an ethical debate. There are those who believe that all people have the right to learn about their origins, and find out who their biological parents, siblings, and cousins are. At the same time, there are those who argue that the privacy of the birth parents as well as the adoptee, should always be respected, especially those who made confidential plans through a private adoption agency. Birth parents, after all, make selfless sacrifices to give their child the best possible life. Sometimes, they are faced with difficult circumstances, and do not feel it is safe or in the child’s best interest to keep contact through an open adoption arrangement. It is also possible that the adopted person is not ready for such a reunion.

There is also the possibility that, should a birth parent not wish to be contacted by his or her child, a forced reunion may happen as a result of ancestry services – and it may not be the happy, memorable moment that the adoptee had been imagining for years. An adoption reunion gone wrong can be traumatic and emotionally devastating to all involved. That is why going through an adoption agency is always recommended.

Real Reunion Stories: An Adoption Secret Uncovered (Too Late)

The story of 19-year-old Adele May serves as an example of the troubles with sites like ancestry.com. In the year 1940, Adele was a pregnant teen in New York. With the help of her mother, she traveled to Georgia and made an adoption plan for her baby. At this time, the majority of adoptions were closed. As a result, her records were sealed until after Adele’s death.

Following the adoption, Adele moved forward with her life. She met the love of her life, and raised six smart, healthy children. She later had 10 grandchildren. For the rest of her life, nobody knew about her adoption – until the day that Jon, one of her great-grandsons, decides to do “23andMe.”

Soon after, a 78-year-old woman named Gretchen contacts Jon and tells him that they are related. She tells him that she was placed for adoption as an infant. Her records were sealed until 10 years ago, when her biological mother died.

Jon brings this news to the family. They are all in shock. Gretchen wants to know her biological family—she wants medical and familial history and an understanding of her biological mother. 

This has thrown the family into disarray. The siblings are split – three want to explore the relationship, and three do not feel they are emotionally ready to cope with this.

This shocking revelation sends Adele’s children into a state of confusion, doubt, and pain. Who was their mother? What were the circumstances of her pregnancy? Did their father know?  Were their lives a lie? What other hidden secrets are there?

On one hand, it is important for Gretchen to understand her biological roots; on the other hand, there was a reason Adele did not share this information. Now her six adult siblings do not know what to make of this. They also do not have the ability to speak with their mother directly.

Real Reunion Stories: Another Truth Unveiled

Adoptions With Love worked with one couple – Judy and Thomas – to make an adoption plan for their baby. As students, they were not at the right time in their lives to raise a child. They were also no longer in a relationship and wanted their child to have a stable and secure upbringing. So, they chose to make an open adoption plan. This meant that they would keep in contact with their son’s adoptive family.

Making an adoption plan was a very difficult and emotional decision for Thomas, and he struggled a lot before coming to terms with the adoption. As much as he loved and cared for this baby, he knew he was not ready to be a father. Believing he was the father of this baby – and wanting to do the “right” thing – he went through a lot mentally and emotionally throughout the adoption process.

Note: he and Judy both believed that he was the biological father of the child. They did not get a DNA test, and both terminated their parental rights. A test on Ancestry.com soon told a different story.

After the adoption, the adoptive parents (Carol and Jim) chose to do an ancestry test online. When the test results came back, they were shocked – Thomas, the supposed birth father, is of Chinese descent, but their son was not. This meant Thomas was not the birth father after all, and someone needed to tell him. The birth mother, Judy, agreed she would tell Thomas of the news, but she knew it would be heartbreaking for him to hear. He cared so much for the child and considered parenting, only to find it was not his biological son after all.

Flash forward: Judy’s aunt also does a test on ancestry.com, and matches with one of the adoptive family members. The aunt does not know that Judy placed a son for adoption, as Judy chose to keep this news private from some of her extended family members. Judy does not know what to do. She reaches out to the adoptive mom, Carol, and asks her to not connect with her unknowing aunt. She is scared that her whole family will find out, and will bombard her and her son’s adoptive family for making this choice.

Is the Curiosity Worth the Heartbreak?

Despite the genealogy trend, there is a better way to go about an adoption search and reunion. Professional adoption social workers are skilled experts in adoption, connection, and birth family reunions. All records of birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive families are kept secure and protected. Should a birth mother wish to remain anonymous and maintain a closed adoption, her rights are respected. Of course, her child’s file is still updated regularly, should she ever change her mind. This ensures the privacy that the birth mother requested. It also ensures the chance for a reconciliation years later, should anyone feel a change of heart.

While the fascination with DNA testing is all the rage, it is certainly not the best path for many adoptees to take. Instead of hunting down one’s biological family, why not leave this important task to the professionals who secure the adoption in the first place? This helps ensure a positive adoption experience and a happy reunion later in life.

If you are interested in learning more about open or closed adoption, please reach out to Adoptions With Love. We are available 24 hours/day, seven days/week. We have been helping connect adoptive families and children for more than 33 years, and we continue to work with birth parents, adoptive families, and adoptees for many years. We also have an active search and reunion process for those looking to find their biological family members.


Adoption Stories Uncovered in PBS’ “Finding Your Roots”

finding your roots celebrity adoption stories

From beautiful interior design in “Fixer Upper,” to the pursuit of partying in “Jersey Shore,” it seems there is a reality show for just about everything these days. One of the more meaningful shows to launch in recent years, however, is all about tracing your ancestry and discovering answers to your past. PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” conducts genealogical research on celebrities, helping stars trace back their heritage, uncover their roots, and discover unknown details about their biological families. As you can assume, adoption plays a major role in this TV series and in the lives of many celebrities today.

Now in its fifth season, “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a Harvard professor, endeavors to “get into the DNA of American culture.” The show has been helping stars such as Andy Samberg, LL Cool J, and Téa Leoni uncover their biological roots. With each episode, professional genealogists sift through census data, birth and death certificates, marriage records, and many more legal documents. They also analyze genetic code, having DNA diagnosticians trace bloodlines, and uncover family secrets while, often times, discovering new connections with relatives.

We know that adoption, as well as search and reunion, are very delicate and emotional experiences. In “Finding Your Roots,” the journey to discovering one’s biological history is equally emotional and sensitive. After the genealogical research is complete, the celebrities are presented a compiled book of “answers” about their past. As they turn the pages, they learn all of the unknowns about their family backgrounds. It’s a deeply personal experience, as many of these stars learn that adoption is actually a part of their family background. Some already knew, and some discover this along the way.

Funny How This Happened

In the season five premiere, Andy Samberg seeks answers to his mother’s unknown past. His mother, Margie, was adopted by her parents as an infant, and never learned anything about her biological  parents. She was always curious, but all her  parents told her was that they were killed in a car accident in California.

As she grew, however, Margie never stopped imagining what her mother looked like. She had tried looking into the situation for herself, but the closed adoption laws in New York prevented her adoption agency from giving out the names of her birth parents. Eventually, Margie’s youngest son and the star of the hit comedy “Brooklyn Nine Nine” Andy Samberg was contacted about being a guest on PBS’ “Finding Your Roots.” Normally a very private person, Samberg agreed in search of answers for his mother.

After several months of research, the genealogists of “Finding Your Roots” scheduled Samberg’s show taping. He was brought to a house that PBS had rented, and as he leafed through the “Book of Life”, as the show calls it, so did his parents in another room. The first page showed Margie’s birth mother, Ellen Philipsborn, who came from a German-Jewish family that immigrated to Berkeley, California during World War II. Margie’s husband, Joe, described her explosive reaction to the photo as very emotional. “I have never seen her lose it like that,” said Joe. “She looks at the picture and she bursts into tears. She is sobbing. She can’t stop sobbing.”

“There was no controlling it,” Margie said. “That was the child that had never seen her mother.”

The impact of seeing the photo of her birth mother was so profound, Margie says she was completely overwhelmed with emotion. She had wondered her entire life what her birth parents had looked like, so to finally see them was a deeply moving experience.

In addition to the photos and information about Margie’s birth parents, the Sambergs also learned that Margie had three half-siblings from her father’s other relationship: Two brothers and a sister. One of those brothers lived nearby. She contacted them and has since gotten to know these long-lost relatives. Margie is 72 years old, and she and her family are just now getting to know a whole new group of family members.

A Drama Star’s Family Drama

Téa Leoni’s season four episode of “Finding Your Roots” had the actress in tears. She was also seeking information regarding her mother’s adoption story. Due to the adoption laws that were in place in Texas, the documented details were hard to come by. Through DNA research, the experts of “Finding Your Roots” were able to identify both of Tea’s biological maternal grandparents.

Not only did the show uncover the names of her grandparents, they found that the grandmother was still alive at age 96. A private meeting was arranged with her to meet Téa and her daughter and mother.

Cool Revelation

LL Cool J learned about an adoption story in his own family, thanks to the ancestry research of “Finding Your Roots.” Scarred by his parents’ separation and violence as a child, the Grammy-winning rapper was raised by maternal grandparents who took him in and taught him about love and music. What they did not tell him, however, was that his mother had been adopted as an infant.

The secret had been kept from both LL Cool J and his mother. She also appeared on the show. The host did not feel it was right to surprise them with this sensitive news on television. Instead, they were told ahead of the show taping in a phone conversation.

LL Cool J’s mother said, in the show, that she understands her adoptive parents “had their reasons” for not revealing they had adopted her as an infant.

Andy Samberg, Téa Leoni, and LL Cool J share a common theme involving these adoption stories of their mothers: They were all kept a secret. For their entire lives, these women were in the dark about their biological families. For Andy Samberg and Téa Leoni’s mothers, the questions always swirled in their heads. They were always wondering about their birth parents and longing for answers. Understanding one’s biological past is so important. It is a big part of your identity. Not knowing where you came from can have a negative impact on your outlook on life. Fortunately, this is not the norm for children of adoption today.

Adoption has changed significantly over the years. It is not the secretive and shrouded subject that it once was. Today, most children grow up understanding their adoption stories. In fact, by the age of 5, more than 99 percent of adoptees know they were adopted. And because of their parents’ openness, the majority (90 percent) have positive feelings about their adoption experience.

95 percent of adoption agencies today offer open adoptions, meaning that the biological families and the adoptive families have some relationship with one another. Some meet and get to know each other in person. Some exchange letters and photographs over the years. Some talk regularly on the phone, or through email conversations. Open adoption has many benefits for children and their families, and for this reason, it has become the norm. Today, more than two-thirds of privately adopted children have had contact with their biological families. This level of openness – and the ability to ask questions and get answers – often leads to better identity formation and a stronger sense-of-self in children.

Sure, anyone looking for information regarding their biological roots can purchase a DNA kit, made popular by companies like “23 and Me” and Ancestry.com. However, for those who have been touched by adoption, this is not always recommended. Those in closed adoptions should work with their adoption agency to conduct a proper search, or to reach out to their birth parents with the help of an adoption social worker. Adoptions With Love has an active search and reunion program for those looking for more information about their biological families.

With open adoption, this is usually not necessary at all. Today, adoptive parents are encouraged to talk about adoption openly with their children, and to talk often. Keeping the conversation going helps adopted children understand their story and background, and feel loved and wanted.

If you would like to learn even more about adoption, reach out to Adoptions With Love. Our caring staff can help get you start on an adoption journey, or just answer questions you may have regarding the adoption process. Call us toll-free at 800-722-7731 today.


Happy (Birth) Mother’s Day from Adoptions With Love!

All over the country, families devote the second Sunday of May to honor the mother figures in their lives. After all, mothers deserve to be celebrated. These women are strong and able, caring and understanding, with a love that is unconditional. Mothers carry their children where ever they go, deep within their hearts. And that is exactly what defines a mother.

Motherhood is not defined by biology, nor does it mean the same thing for everyone. There are all types of mothers today – adoptive mothers, step mothers, grandmothers, birth mothers. On May 12th, 2019, Adoptions With Love will be honoring all the mamas out there, no matter their path to motherhood.

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”

A Note On Birth Mother’s Day

We all know about Mother’s Day, but did you know about Birth Mother’s Day? For many touched by adoption, this holiday is celebrated each year on the second Saturday of May – the day before Mother’s Day. It may not be marked on holiday calendars, but it is a very special day to many within the adoption community. What exactly is this day all about?

Birth Mother’s Day was established in 1990 by Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh to show support for birth mothers like herself. From that day forward, birth mothers around the country have been marking this day as a time to acknowledge and support one another, and to acknowledge the loving and selfless choice they made for their children. It is also a day for adoptive families to honor their child’s birth mother, the woman who made their family possible. Below, some of the birth moms at Adoptions With Love comment on what “Birth Mother’s Day” means to them:

“I think [Birth Mother’s Day] is a great way to recognize us and the decision we made. I like that it is separate from Mother’s Day because the way I look at it is, we are separate from the role our mother’s play and from the role the adoptive mother of our child plays.” – Bianca

“I believe it’s very important for all moms to celebrate, regardless of being a birth mom, adoptive mom, etc. We are all mothers and, depending on each individual’s situation, some birth mothers with closed adoptions don’t get the opportunity to receive a phone call from their adoptive family saying, “Happy Mother’s Day.” Many people don’t recognize the sacrifice we make as birth mothers, so I definitely believe we deserve a day for us.” – Kaelyn

I think that although my child isn’t living with me and I’m not actually raising her, it doesn’t make me less of a mother to be recognized on a separate day than others.” – Brittney

Whether you are an adoptive parent or a birth mother, the adoption experience is an important part of your story. It has had a profound impact on your life. At Adoptions With Love, we understand that Mother’s Day weekend is one that often comes with a lot of emotions. Here, we will share some ideas for taking this emotionally-charged day and making the most of it. Read on for ideas on honoring birth moms with the ones you love.

How Birth Mothers Can Spend the Day

The decision to make an adoption plan certainly was not an easy one. Adoption is a courageous, loving decision that you made in your child’s best interest. Think about the possibilities that your choice has created. Because of you, your child can have a great life, with a safe and loving family, who will give him/her the means to go to college and become successful. Because of you, an adoptive family has also fulfilled a lifelong dream of raising a child. Focusing on the positives will only help you feel better about your incredibly strong decision to carry your baby to term and provide him or her with a life worth living.

These positives thoughts can also help you get through Mother’s Day weekend. You should feel proud of your decision and honor yourself on Birth Mother’s Day for the warrior woman that you are. Treat yourself to something special. Whether you have been craving a sweet treat at a local bakery, or your feet are yearning for a pedicure, you should take some time to do something that makes you happy. This is, after all, a holiday dedicated to you, the birth mother.

If you are in an open adoption, you may choose to meet or speak with your child’s family. Perhaps a phone call would brighten your day. If you are in contact with your child, chat with him or her on the phone, as well. If you are not in contact with the child directly, a simple update from the adoptive parents can be enough to put your mind at ease and serve as an important reminder of the positive choice you once made.

For some birth mothers, Mother’s Day is not always a fun weekend. If you are struggling, reach out to a loyal friend, family member, or a trusted counselor at your adoption agency. You may also read some advice from real birth mothers on coping with Mother’s Day this year:

Julia: Recognize the adoptive mother, text her, send her a card, do something. Also find something that will help keep your mind off Mother’s Day if you think it’s going to be a sad day. Plan a day with friends, or do an activity that will help ease your anxiety. If you can talk with the adoptive family, do that.

Also, recognize that adoption is not just about having a relationship with your child, it’s also about the parents as well. In the early years where the child is not able to understand exactly who you are as a birth parent, they are still able to recognize your relationship with the adoptive parent. The more positive that relationship is, the stronger your relationship will be when it’s time.

Brittney: The best advice I think I could give to other birth mothers is try to think of the positives on this day. I know for some it can be very emotional, but just think to yourself how you and the child will always share a special bond and be a part of each other. The day shouldn’t be about grieving your decision, but knowing you did what was right for the child and that even though you aren’t their mother figure, you are a special person to them in more ways than one.

Kaelyn: My advice is just to remember that, most importantly, it’s okay to have these feelings. For me, this year is my second Mother’s Day and I don’t have all the sad “what if” feelings anymore. It takes time and every person deals with things in their own way. When I was feeling down around this time last year, I asked for pictures of my daughter or just had a conversation with my adoptive mom asking if anything new has happened, how their weekend was… little things to put a smile on my face!

How Adoptive Parents Can Celebrate

If you are an adoptive parent, you know how important your child’s birth mother is to your family’s story. You can honor her every day by sharing her adoption story in a positive light with your child. On Birth Mother’s Day or Mother’s Day, you can take some extra time to show appreciation and gratitude to the person who helped you become a parent.

If you are in an open adoption, you may choose to:

  • Take your child’s birth mother out to lunch
  • Share a special phone or video-call conversation
  • Send flowers or candy
  • Mail a handmade card or piece of artwork from your child

If you do not feel comfortable with these ideas, or have a closed adoption, there are certainly plenty of other ideas to consider. Some other ways to honor birth mom this year include:

  • Plant a tree or flowers
  • Give back to a local women’s shelter or charity-of choice
  • Spend time going through your adoption story and photos
  • Write a letter to your birth mom, and send to your adoption agency for safekeeping
  • Saying a special prayer or wish
  • Make a special meal and toast your birth mom at dinner

Of course, whatever you choose to do to celebrate Birth Mother’s Day, it is the thought that certainly counts. As you are already aware, it is not genetic connection or even parenting that makes someone a mother – it is love. This is something that mothers – both adoptive and biological – have plenty of, regardless of their circumstances or level of contact. Birth mothers are an important part of children’s history and identity, and they deserve the recognition and honor on this special day.

For even more information on adoption or sharing adoption stories with a child, reach out to Adoptions With Love. We are here, any time of day, any day of the week, to help you and your family. Happy Mother’s Day to all!


American Idol Contestants Touched by Adoption

Singing hopefuls are back at it with the new season of “American Idol” underway. As viewers tune in to watch whether contestants can stay in tune, they are also learning many personal stories about these singers and their backgrounds. Several American Idol contestants, for example, were adopted or have been touched by adoption in some way. In light of the 16th season of American Idol premiering last month, Adoptions With Love will explore some of their adoption stories and connections here.

  • Brandon Elder – Was Adopted

Brandon Elder is a construction worker from Alabama who won over the hearts of the “Idol” judges when he shared his adoption story. As he explained on the show, his birth mother was a teenager when he was born, and she “traded him” for a car to a couple who was also not ready to care for a child. Not long after, he was adopted as an infant by his mother, Patricia Elder. Patricia was a single yet determined mom who worked multiple jobs to help support her family. When Brandon was just 14 years old, Patricia was diagnosed with breast cancer. She passed away in 2016. Brandon sang an original song on American Idol, that he wrote about his mom. The judges were moved by his heartfelt adoption story and beautiful song.

american idol adoption stories
  • Marcio Donaldson – Adoptive Parent

Marcio Donaldson won over the judges as soon as he showed up to audition with his baby boy in tow. The 28-year-old Compton native shared his story about his troubled upbringing, including the fact that he ended up in the state foster care system. His sister, also in foster care, eventually faced many substance abuse problems. When she had a baby, a police officer and social worker brought him to Marcio’s home. Marcio’s choice was to adopt his baby nephew, or let him go to the state system. Marcio adopted Rashaad and has been inspired to sing and try to provide him with a better life. “I didn’t want him to go through what I went through,” Marcio said through tears on the show.

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  • MK Nobilette – Was Adopted

Being the first openly gay contestant in the show’s history, MK Nobilette wowed the audience – and judges – in the show’s original run during season 13. She was not the typical “American Idol,” according to the judges, but they saw a ton of talent in the young singer. Nobilette finished in the 10th spot during her season. She was born in San Francisco and adopted by her two moms when she was a baby. While her mothers separated when she was four years old, they both now have girlfriends—resulting in a large and loving extended family, which Nobilette describes as “very San Francisco.”

After her run on “American Idol”, Nobilette signed a record deal with San-Francisco based Velvet Rhythm Entertainment, and her debut single “Make Believe” dropped in 2015.

Image result for mk nobilette american idol
  • Aaron Kelly – Was Adopted

Fans of season 9 may remember an upbeat, talented 16-year-old who impressed the judges and hooked fans while his mother stayed in the wings to support the minor singer. Aaron and his two older brothers were adopted by their-then aunt and uncle, Kelly and Greg, when Aaron was just a toddler. The boys’ biological parents were struggling financially, and so their aunt and uncle stepped in to avoid social services placing them in foster care. Aaron finished in the fifth spot on “Idol,” becoming the youngest contestant to make it so far in the singing competition. He went on to appear on many daytime and late night shows, and has been recording music ever since.

Image result for aaron kelly american idol
  • Johnny White – Was Adopted

Before 19-year-old Johnny White impressed Lionel Richie on the most recent season of American Idol, he opened up about his tough upbringing. As he explained, his mother was addicted to drugs and his father was in prison for nine years. When Johnny was seven years old, he and his sister were placed in foster care. He was eventually adopted by a loving family, but says that the adjustment was not easy for him, and that he felt alone during this time. Music became Johnny’s outlet, and once he met a teacher and vocal coach who believed in him, he decided to make his passion his life. Johnny floored the judges during the audition phase, but did not make it past Hollywood Week of Season 16. White has since returned to his day job of putting auto parts on an assembly line, but says he has not given up on his dream and will continue to sing and audition for “American Idol in the future.”

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As evidenced by this list, it is clear that adoption touches all kinds of people, even singing hopefuls of “American Idol.” Check out our lists of famous men and famous women who have been touched by adoption.

If you would like to grow your family through adoption, please visit adoptionswithlove.org/adoptive-parents. If you know or love someone who is pregnant and would like to learn more about this choice, please do not hesitate to reach out by calling Adoptions With Love toll-free at 1-800-722-7731. We are here for you.


How the Adoption Journey Works

Whether you are a hopeful parent looking to grow your family, or you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may be considering adoption. Adoption is a very positive choice. Adoption helps many people realize their dreams of becoming a parent when they are unable to have children biologically. Adoption also helps expectant/birth parents in times of crisis, allowing them to choose a loving, forever family to raise their child in a safe and stable home.

Adoption is a positive choice, but it can also feel like an overwhelming process for expectant/birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents. Perhaps that is why you are here. You may be asking, “How does adoption work?” and “Where do I even start?” Adoptions With Love is here to guide you through this journey. We work with both prospective adopting families and birth parents looking to make an adoption plan. We will work with you to explain how adoption works, every step of the way.

It is important to know that adoption works differently for everyone, depending on their circumstance and where they live. Adoption laws, and therefore the adoption process, can vary state to state. Adoption also works differently for birth parents, expectant parents, and adoptive parents. However, the first step typically remains the same:

Start with an Agency

Birth parents and prospective adoptive parents alike must start in the same place: Finding a trustworthy and knowledgeable adoption agency. If you are just starting the adoption process, consider an agency that offers a full range of services, including counseling and support. You should always feel supported and comfortable throughout the adoption journey, and never pressured into an adoption decision. The right adoption agency will be one that listens to you and your wishes, and that promises to be there for you at every step in this process. The adoption agency you choose should also have experience with adoptions in your state, as well as understand your state’s adoption laws. For help on choosing the right adoption agency, check out this free guide.

For more than 32 years, Adoptions With Love has been helping connect birth mothers with families looking to adopt. We are a private, domestic, non-profit, full-service adoption agency. Our mission is to place children with loving, safe, forever families who will help them flourish and thrive; we strive to find the best home for each child.

How Adoption Works for Birth Mothers

Once you have chosen an adoption agency, you will be contacted by a compassionate adoption social worker. Together, you will take the time to learn more about your different options, including the types of adoption plans you can choose. Today, you can choose an open, semi-open, or closed adoption plan for your baby. Open adoption plans are often a positive choice for birth mothers and adopted children, as they allow for ongoing contact between the two families.

Openness can mean different things to different people. Perhaps annual letters and pictures, emails, or phone calls from the adoptive family would be a comfortable option for you. Perhaps you would like in-person visits once a year with the adoptive family. Or, you may prefer to stay anonymous throughout the entire adoption journey (and beyond). This is completely up to you. No matter your decision, your adoption social worker will be there, without judgement, to help you create the best possible plan for you and your baby. Adoptions With Love offers full support services for all types of adoption plans.

Once you have decided on the adoption plan you would be most comfortable with, you will have the option to choose adoptive parents for your baby. Many birth parents find peace of mind in choosing the adoptive family. If you would like, Adoptions With Love can provide you with profiles and photo albums from families waiting to adopt. You can scan these to get to know each family, understand their backgrounds, hopes, and values, and see how they will lovingly care for a child. As an expectant mother, you know what is best for your baby and can select the adoptive family that best meets your wishes. All the waiting families at Adoptions With Love are carefully screened and background-checked, to ensure the safety of their homes. No matter your choice, know that you will be choosing a stable, caring family who can provide a wonderful life for your child. You can also meet them, if you wish.

After choosing an adoptive family, your adoption counselor will also work through the other stages of the adoption process. She will help you make a plan for your hospital stay and birth, as well as through any legal documents and next steps. Your adoption social worker may also help you arrange meetings, tell friends and family the news, and help out with any necessary prenatal care. For more information on navigating the adoption process at each stage of your pregnancy, download our free guide here.

How Adoption Works for Adoptive Families

Once you have settled on an adoption agency, it is time to prepare for the journey ahead. As a hopeful family, you will need to complete an adoption application with your agency. This will include submitting personal information and any required documents. Afterwards, you will be contacted by an assigned adoption social worker from your agency of choice.

Your adoption social worker will need to know all about you and your family, so that we can ensure the best possible match. We will get to know you through a series of interviews and home visits, formally known as an adoption home study. The home study process will help us understand your wishes as a family, your reasons for adopting, and ensure that you are ready to become a forever parent.

As part of the adoption process, you will also be asked to prepare a family photo album and profile. This will detail your story, interests, and hopes for the adoption. Your adoption agency will help you compile these albums and other items together, and share them with expectant mothers looking for a family.

Adoptive parents should also prepare to meet with a birth mother, once selected. If she desires an open adoption, you may sit down with the birth mother and your adoption counselor to discuss each other’s wishes, ask any questions, and make plans for before and after birth.

Whether you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, have just given birth, or are looking to grow your family through adoption – Adoptions With Love is here to help you through the process. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your call. Contact 800-722-7731 for more information.


8 Ways to Incorporate Adoption into Your Thanksgiving Traditions

adoption at thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is arguably one of America’s favorite holidays. It is a special time, not only for giving thanks, but for bringing families together. It also happens to take place during National Adoption Awareness Month. Turkey Day is the perfect time for everyone touched by adoption to celebrate and honor their choice.

Here are some simple ideas for adoptive families and birth parents this holiday.

  1. Sharing Thanks

Just before digging into some turkey and mashed potatoes, go around the table and share what you are most thankful for. This is a great opportunity for adoptive parents to express thanks for their child’s birth parents, for helping to form their family. Children can benefit from hearing positive dialogue about their birth parents and adoption story. It is also a great reminder for birth mothers, who can reflect on their selfless choice and find peace of mind in knowing their child is being raised and loved by good people.

  1. Lay it All Out on the Table

Here is a more creative twist to this round table discussion of thanks: Write down what you are thankful for. Buy a light-colored tablecloth and some wash-resistant pens. Each year, you and your loved ones can jot down what you are grateful for, while looking back on the notes from years past. Think of it as your Thanksgiving yearbook, that you build upon each Thanksgiving holiday.

  1. Make “Thankful Jars”

Here is a great twist to sharing what you are thankful for. It does involve a bit more planning, but it is a simple and creative tool for getting the message of gratitude across. With this method, use empty jars designated for each guest at your Thanksgiving celebration. The jars may be decorated by family members or simply left plain. Ask everyone to write, on a small piece of paper, why they are thankful for each person and place it in the individual’s jar. Each guest takes home a gift of positive affirmations.

  1. Grow a “Thanksgiving Tree”

This is the perfect Thanksgiving tradition for the crafty family. Have the children find a leafless tree branch from the backyard and place it in a vase on the family table. Cut out leaves from colored construction paper and have each guest write what they are thankful for on a leaf. Attach the leaves to the tree using colorful ribbon for a personal – and festive – decoration.

  1. Capture the Moment

It goes without saying that photography is one of the best ways to capture precious family memories. Adoptive families should make it a point to take pictures together on Thanksgiving Day. Gather in front of the same backdrop each year, perhaps holding the same item. The item could be something particularly sentimental, such as a gift from the birth mother. It could also be in the same clothing or matching outfits. This is a fun tradition to enjoy each year, and it is extra special to look back on family photos of Thanksgiving through the years, to see how you all have grown as a family.

  1. Create a Scrapbook Page

Here is another creative activity for the whole adoptive family to enjoy. Make a memory or scrapbook page decorated with family photos taken on Thanksgiving and notes mentioning what each guest voiced as their greatest blessing. Both kids and parents alike will enjoy looking at this over the years.

  1. Sharing the Joy

Families involved in an open adoption can get the birth parents involved in the annual photo fun, too. If you have an open adoption or semi-open adoption arrangement, consider sending the pictures to the birth parents, with a letter of gratitude and an update on life each year.

Adoptive families could also send annual photos and updates to their adoption agency, like Adoptions With Love. Our staff loves to get updates and watch families grow! We also keep letters and photos on file, in case a birth mother does not have direct contact with the adoptive family but wishes to see photos or read letters down the road.

  1. Giving Back

In addition to giving thanks, adoptive families can consider giving back on Thanksgiving. Mentor a couple looking to adopt, or meet with a family currently going through the adoption process. You have been there. You know what it is like. Share your experience and offer any tips for going through the journey with a positive and patient outlook, especially for those waiting to adopt this holiday season.

Birth mothers can also give back this giving season, by helping other women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy or going through the adoption process. Sometimes, there is no greater support than the kind that comes from others who have walked in similar shoes – who understand what it feels like to make an adoption plan first-hand, and who can relate to them on a personal level during this emotional time.

Bonus – For Prospective Adoptive Families

Families waiting to adopt do not need to wait to start their thankful displays. Write a letter to your future child and have family members do the same. Jot down your hopes and dreams for your child’s future. You could even include the traditions you would like to have for Thanksgiving with your child. This is a fun exercise to help build excitement and positivity for the future adoption. Just like the annual photos or tablecloth of thanks, the letters will also be fun memento to look back on for the many years to come.

Thanksgiving is all about gratitude. It is the perfect chance for families of all kinds – adoptive, birth, blended, foster – to take a step back and reflect on all of their blessings. However you decide to celebrate National Adoption Month and Thanksgiving, savor that family time – and some extra turkey!

Adoptions With Love has even more helpful resources for our birth parents and adoptive families. Reach out to us anytime, day or night, for assistance in the Massachusetts adoption process.


National Adoption Awareness Month 2018

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. This initiative, funded by the Children’s Bureau, works to raise public awareness of adoption and bring attention to the need for permanent, loving homes for the many children in foster care.

Every year, National Adoption Month is dedicated to a special adoption-related theme, which helps support professionals working each day to match children with forever families. This year’s theme is: “In Their Own Words: Lifting Up Youth Voices,” which highlights the needs of older children in U.S. foster care. It is common knowledge that teenagers are adopted much less frequently than newborns and infants, largely due to their age. Because of this, teenagers are much more likely to “age out” of foster care, without ever gaining valuable family support or a permanent place to call “home.” Their well-being, as result, is often compromised. Placing older adolescents in healthy, stable care is an important step in ensuring that our youth have positive and successful futures. This is what National Adoption Month 2018 is all about.

This National Adoption Month, the U.S. Children’s Bureau is working to create opportunities for young people – whether they’ve been reunited with family, placed with an adoptive family, or entered adulthood independently – to be heard and to share their perspectives of living in foster care. Hearing about their experiences is important in spreading awareness about the loving act of adoption. These voices give those working in the child welfare field a valuable tool in educating communities and families about adoption and foster care. The National Adoption Month website also provides resources specifically designed for youth who might want to get involved or share their personal stories.

The History of National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month has been celebrated every November for more than two decades. It all started in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where, in 1976, Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week to spread awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. Then, in 1984, President Ronald Regan made an official proclamation for National Adoption Week. It was not until 1995 that President Bill Clinton – a man touched by adoption himself – expanded this initiative to stretch an entire month. Three years later, President Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan to expand the use of the Internet as a tool to find homes for children waiting to be adopted from foster care. In 2008, President George W. Bush provided an explanation of National Adoption Month in Spanish, opening up the inclusivity of the initiative.

The Importance of National Adoption Month

More than 437,000 children and adolescents are currently in the foster care system, waiting for a loving family to welcome them home permanently. The average age of children entering the foster care system is over six years old. On top of these statistics, there are thousands of expectant mothers across the U.S. in search of permanent homes for their babies.

Children are usually placed in foster care because their parents are unable to care for them. Unfortunately, these children are often the victims of abuse and neglect. Sometimes these children have lasting scars and need families that can provide the love and stability each child deserves.

Each year, local, national, and State adoption agencies, as well as adoptive family, foster, and kinship care groups take time to recognize National Adoption Awareness Month. They use it as an opportunity to educate the people in their communities about the positive act of adoption, by planning special activities, events, and programs to help raise awareness and dispel myths about the act.

This year’s theme has great potential to reach the public in a very personal way. Youths who have experienced foster care first-hand – whether they have been placed with a permanent family, been reunited with biological family, or outgrown foster care on their own – can share their personal accounts to help others. Their testimonials can be used to help adoptive families, recruitment practices, and even help shape child welfare policy and adoption processes.

This National Adoption Month also poses a great opportunity for clinical professionals across the United States to share more resources about the positive act of adoption – not just for adoptive families, but for expectant and birth mothers, as well. Making a private adoption plan is one way to prevent children from entering the foster care system. Private, domestic adoption agencies such as Adoptions With Love can work with expectant and birth parents to help them making thoughtful, caring plans for their child’s life.  Many of the women that consider adoption are already single parents, struggling to care for the children they have at home, or trying to work within the child welfare system to regain custody of their children.

What is Adoption?

In understanding the heart of National Adoption Month, it is important that we understand what adoption means – and why it is so meaningful for children all over the world. Adoption is the legal process by which a child becomes a permanent, legal member of a new family. Adoptive families have all the same legal, social, and emotional rights as biological families. When children cannot be safely reunited with or raised by their biological families, adoption is often the most positive outcome.

According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children: “Adoption can affect child development in profound ways. Data collected from studies over the past three decades supports adoption as a superior means of promoting normal development in children permanently separated from birth parents… For children suffering severe neglect or abuse in early life, an adoptive family is a remarkable environment for healing emotional and physical trauma and reversing developmental deficits.”

Despite popular belief, children who were adopted lead lives very similar to their non-adopted peers. In fact, studies show that adopted children are read to, sung to, and told stories to more often than non-adopted children. They are also more likely to have regular, family dinners with their adoptive parents, and are at lower risk of substance abuse as a result. The majority (90 percent) of children have positive experiences with their adoptive families. The most positive outcomes are often in open adoption plans.

Open adoption is a type of adoption plan that can stem from a private adoption or foster care adoption situation. It means that the adoptive family has contact, knowledge of, or some extent of relationship with the biological family. Open adoption is becoming increasingly common, and is beneficial for all members of the adoption triad. You can read about the benefits of open adoption here.

Celebrating National Adoption Month 2018

There are several ways adoptive families, as well as clinicians, social workers, and other professionals, can get involved with National Adoption Month. If you are an adoptive family, one of the most impactful things you can do is share your own adoption story. Post photos along with the story on social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtags #NationalAdoptionMonth and #30DaysofLove, to spread the word about this loving act.

Clinical professionals can also honor National Adoption Month by educating young women, families, and others about the positive act of adoption, and all that is involved in the adoption process. Too often, young women facing an unplanned pregnancy do not know that adoption is an option for them. They are unaware of the benefits of adoption, the steps it takes to make an adoption plan, or are afraid of what others (including the baby’s father) might think. It is important for these women to learn about adoption, as well as their other options, in a safe and confidential environment. It is important they have access to educational resources. By making an adoption plan, these expectant/birth mothers can prevent their child from entering the foster care system. If you have a patient or client who would like to learn more about adoption, we are happy to speak with her confidentially, without any pressure.

If you are looking for more adoption-related information, please do not hesitate to reach out to Adoptions With Love. We are a private, licensed, non-profit adoption agency that has been matching children with loving families for more than 32 years. We work with expectant/birth mothers across the United States, as well as hopeful adoptive families in Massachusetts. Our caring staff is available to chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


8 Popular Halloween Costumes with Non-Traditional or “Blended” Family Backgrounds

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Halloween is creeping closer. This is a great time of year for children and adults alike to dress up in costumes, enjoy festive parties, and head out for a night of trick-or-treating. If you are thinking that Halloween is just a bunch of hocus pocus, you may not have considered the opportunity that this spooky season presents.

Adoptions With Love always keeps an eye out for opportunities to spread awareness about adoption and the “modern family” today. You see, there is no longer a “norm” for families – nowadays, we see families in all shapes and sizes, from all different backgrounds and make-ups. Single parents, same-sex parents, step-parent and grand-parent adoptions, interracial families, and more. And this Halloween, we cannot help but notice all of the unique family stories that many popular costumes and characters carry.

There are many popular characters that have roots in non-traditional or “blended” families. And you may see many of them running around this Halloween season. Last year, we discussed the always-popular costume of Superman, who was adopted by the Kent family. Looking for some last-minute costume inspiration? Here are some of the popular Halloween costumes for 2018 that also tell of a unique family background:

spiderman halloween costume

1. Spider-Man

Just like Superman, Spider-Man is always a popular costume. The quintessential Marvel character has a unique story, just like many families touched by adoption. Spider-Man is Peter Parker’s alter ego. Peter is a teenage boy being raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in New York, after his parents were killed in a plane crash. Although a super hero, he is spared none of the struggles of ordinary life; he experiences difficulties with friends, family, sweethearts and employers. His super powers enable him to do good, but not to improve his own lot in life. His simple humanity has earned him millions of devoted fans over the years, of many generations.

2. MaleficentImage result for maleficent halloween costume

Fans of the 2014 Disney film “Maleficent” can find meaning in the development of this classic villain’s story. The unique twist on “Sleeping Beauty” tells the story of how the fairy turned toward the dark side before putting Princess Aurora in a death-like sleep. The most surprising outcome of this version – spoiler alert! – is that Maleficent watches Aurora grow up, and therefore comes to love her like a daughter. In fact – another spoiler alert! – Maleficent is the one who ends up breaking the curse with her “true love’s kiss” on Aurora’s forehead. There is a “Maleficent 2” in the works, which will, no doubt, delve deeper into this beautiful adoption story. This makes for the perfect costume for any child. Plus, the costume is pretty cool!

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3. Batman

Here’s another superhero with a dramatic beginning. Bruce Wayne had a tough start to life, witnessing his parents’ murder at a young age. This inspires the vigilante to swear vengeance against criminals, an oath tempered by a sense of justice. Kids of all ages love dressing up as this classic DC Comics star. Pair your little caped crusader with Catwoman and the Joker to complete this family costume theme!

4. Frozen’s Kristoff

Parents, “Let it Go,” the craze over these Disney characters is not going anywhere. Kristoff, the man Anna meets on her way up the north mountain, has a unique family story, as well. When he was young, he was an orphan and taken in by trolls, who raised him as adoptive parents. This costume would pair perfectly with other popular “Frozen” characters, such as Elsa, Anna, and Olaf to complete a family costume.

kristoff adopted by trolls

Image result for princess leia and luke skywalker costume

5. Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker

With new Star Wars movies being released and new storylines unfolding, we are sure to see a lot of Star Wars themed costumes out there this Halloween. Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, well-loved siblings from the series, are two that also have a unique family story to share. Princess Leia was adopted and raised by the royal Organa family, while Luke Skywalker was raised by his aunt and uncle. Their birth mother was Queen Amidala of Naboo, who passed during childbirth. Each grew up to be heroes in their own way, with Leia becoming a princess, politician, soldier, and leader, and Luke becoming the brave protagonist who always fights for the good side. A great brother-sister Halloween costume idea!

Image result for harry potter costume

6. Harry Potter

Harry Potter is one of those costumes that we do not anticipate going away. He, a storybook hero and skilled wizard, also grew up in a unique family situation. His parents were killed when Harry was just a baby, and he was placed into a kinship adoption – to be raised by his aunt and uncle. Unfortunately, his family life was full of neglect and isolation. Because he was a child of magic, his aunt and uncle saw him as different than their other children. When he is sent to Hogwarts, however, he flourishes despite the adversity he faced as a young boy. He is able to find hope and meaning by learning more about his biological family history, as well.

7. Fuller House

Whatever happened to predictability? Everyone’s favorite 90s TV family makes for a great throwback Halloween costume and pop-culture reference. More importantly, these classic characters share an important message for blended families. In the original series, Danny, the father figure, is assisted in parenting his three daughters with his brother-in-law, Jesse, and best friend, Joey. Together, this quirky group comes together to warm the hearts of Americans for many years to come. This one is perfect for both millennial parents who loved the first run of the show, AND their kids who are watching the Netflix revival. It also helps to know that the 90s are back in fashion – think flannel and high-waisted denim – so putting together some DIY costumes for this look should be fairly easy.

Image result for fuller house

8. Jon Snow

For all the Game of Thrones fans out there, Jon Snow – the heir of the Iron Throne – is another great Halloween costume idea that celebrates an “adoption” like story. While not formally adopted, Jon Snow was raised by his Uncle, Ned Stark. Throughout his childhood, though, Jon Snow believed Ned Stark was his father, and that he was born out of illegitimacy. For those who are up to date, we know that this is not the case. His true parentage is kept a secret until he is much older. Jon Snow is actually the biological son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, the late Prince of Dragonstone – he was raised (and protected) by Lord Stark after his birth parents were killed in war.

Sure, Halloween is a fun for make-believe. It is also a great opportunity for families to bond over self-expression, creativity, and imagination. There is nothing quite like carving jack-o-lanterns and putting together clever costumes.  You can spend time walking through the neighborhood, making precious memories with your child. You can also use this time to connect with your child, and learn more about how he or she thinks and dreams, and possibly connect that back to his or her adoption story. With storied characters and heroes like these coming from unique family make-ups, it can be encouraging for your child to see that your family is truly special in its own way. Happy Halloween!

To learn about Adoptions With Love or how to start the adoption process, call Adoptions With Love toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 today.


8 MLB Athletes Who Have Been Touched by Adoption

Baseball is America’s favorite pastime. It is also a sport played by an array of American athletes, from all different backgrounds and walks of life. For example, there are some famous baseball stars who have been touched by adoption in some form – whether they were adopted or have grown their family through adoption.

With playoffs officially here (and with our home team, the Red Sox, playing this week!), Adoptions With Love takes some time to explore some of the many adoption stories floating around the many Major League Baseball teams. Here, we will learn more about these athletes who have hit a “home run” in the world of adoption!

  1. Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) was Adopted

St. Louis Cardinals’ Pitcher Jack Flaherty has talked about being raised by Eileen Flaherty, a single mom. The 23-year-old explains that he was adopted, and credits Eileen for making incredible sacrifices for both himself and his brother, Grady.

  1. Aaron Judge (Yankees) was Adopted

Aaron Judge is a New York Yankee slugger who has been on the rise to fame. He credits much of his success to his parents, who have always supported his dreams. Wayne and Patty Judge, retired physical education teachers, adopted Aaron the day after he was born in April of 1992. In 2015, the 2017 MLB Rookie of the Year told the New York Post that he felt “blessed” to have such a great relationship with his adoptive parents. “My parents are amazing, they’ve taught me so many lessons,’’ Aaron said. “I honestly can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.”

About his adoption, Aaron told the Post: “I feel they kind of picked me…I feel that God was the one that matched us together.”

“We’re more blessed than he is,’’ Patty said. “Both of our children are adopted. Aaron has an older brother, John, 29, who is teaching English in Korea, and we’re real proud of him, too. Really, it was all meant to be.’’

“I know I wouldn’t be a New York Yankee if it wasn’t for my mom,” number 99 told MLB.com. You can read more about Aaron Judge’s adoption story here!

  1. Rob Refsnyder (Yankees) was Adopted

Another New York Yankee star, Rob Refsnyder, has an incredible adoption story. His parents, Jane and Clint, adopted Rob when he was five months old. The couple was in Los Angeles in June of 1991 to get Rob’s Visa approved, so that they could fly him in from his native country in Seoul, South Korea. Suddenly, the plans began to crumble – literally.

“Before our appointment, we were having breakfast in a building across the street, and the earthquake hit,” Jane told Newsday. “Everybody ran out. Then I realized I left a briefcase with Robert’s original documents inside. So I ran back in to retrieve it.”

Jane made it out safely and Rob’s Visa was approved. They welcomed him home in early September of that year. Rob was raised in Laguna Hills, California, along with his sister Elizabeth, who was adopted from Korea three years earlier. Rob has also talked about how blessed he feels to have such wonderful, caring parents.

“They are my biggest fans, my biggest supporters,” Refsnyder told Newsday. “I have a great relationship with them. My dad and I are super close. My mom sacrificed a lot. She is super loving, super supportive. Couldn’t ask for a better set of parents.”

  1. Tanner Houck (Red Sox) has an Adopted Sister

Tanner Houck is another MLB athlete that certainly feels touched by adoption. The Boston Red Sox pitcher’s little sister, Reanna, was adopted by their mom when she was four years old.

This year, the Red Sox pitcher has vowed to literally “pitch” for adoption. He has also asked others to donate to the cause.

He explains: “I’m personally pledging $25 for every one of my strikeouts in the 2018 season. Each pledge or donation will go to the National Council for Adoption – who will ensure more children will be adopted out of foster care; women facing an unintended pregnancy will continue to receive comprehensive information on the positive option of adoption; and intercountry adoption will remain a viable, ethical alternative for building families. I’m excited to pitch for Reanna and the many other children around the world who will hopefully have an opportunity to have a life like ours.”

Tanner has truly been inspired by his little sister. “I remember meeting her for the first time when my mom brought her to my high school baseball game,” Houck has said of his sister. “I knew even then she was going to change our lives for the better, and we would help change hers.”

  1. Babe Ruth was Adopted, as well as an Adoptive Parent

George Herman Ruth was the eldest of eight children born to Baltimore tavern owners Kate Schamberger-Ruth and George Herman Ruth, Sr. While he was just one of the two children to survive infancy, his busy parents placed him in St. Mary’s Industrial School for boys when he was just seven years old. They signed their parental rights over to the brothers who ran the institution.

The Catholic orphanage and reformatory became Ruth’s home for the next 12 years. Ruth formed a strong bond with Brother Mathais at St. Mary’s, who encouraged him to work on his passion and clear talent for baseball. Ruth caught the eye of Talent Scout Jack Dunn at the age of 19, and in order to circumvent the custody order (which was to be set in place until age 21), Dunn became his legal guardian.

“Babe” earned his nickname during an early appearance playing with the Baltimore Orioles. As most baseball fans know, he went on to play for the Boston Red Sox before being traded to the New York Yankees.

Babe Ruth was married twice. During his first marriage, he and his wife, Helen Woodford, adopted a daughter named Dorothy. Babe remarried four months after Helen passed away in a fire. His second wife, Claire Hodgson, was a widow. She also had a daughter, named Julia. Babe and Claire adopted each other’s children.

  1. Jim Palmer (Orioles) was Adopted

Hall of Famer Jim Palmer had known he was adopted since the age of seven, but he did not have any interest to learn about his biological family until much later in life. The former Baltimore Orioles pitcher adored his adoptive parents. His adoptive father died when he was young, but Jim admired his stepfather so much that he decided to take his last name. When Jim was 72 years old, he was ready to learn about his birth family through DNA testing, at the urging of his wife.

“I lucked out,” Palmer said about his upbringing to the Baltimore Sun. “I won the lottery when it came to my adoptive parents and a stepfather in Max Palmer. So, all the time when you’re playing, people go, ‘Would you like to know [about your biological parents]?’ … But it just never presented itself.”

  1. Tug McGraw (Phillies) was a Birth Father

Franklin Edwin McGraw was one of the most popular baseball stars of the ‘70s and ‘80s, working as a relief pitcher for the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1980, he led the Phillies to their only World Series victory. He learned later in life that he had fathered a son, named Tim, who went on to become a Country music superstar. Tim and Tug reunited when Tim was 18 years old, and the two enjoyed a close relationship until Tug’s passing in 2004.

  1. Willie Mays (Giants &Mets) is an Adoptive Father

Willie Mays is known as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. In his personal life, he became a father when he and his wife of three years, Marghuerite, decided to adopt. In his personal memoire, My Life In and Out of Baseball, Mays talks about the love he has for his adoptive son, Michael:

“It was in ’56 that Marghuerite and I were married. She had a daughter by her first marriage and in ’59, in San Francisco, she and I were to go to an adoption agency, and that is how my son Michael came to live with us. He was three days old when we adopted him. I don’t know what the chemistry was, but from the first moment I set eyes on him, I knew this was it. And it’s been that way ever since… All I can say is, he changed my life, my purpose, my outlook.”

As baseball fans enjoy the post-season competition, remember that adoption is all around us. Many people – neighbors, friends, and famous stars – have been touched by adoption, including many of this classic sports’ greatest athletes, today and in the past.

If you or someone you love is facing an unplanned pregnancy, know that adoption is a positive act. Adoptions With Love can help. And if you are interested in growing your family through adoption in Massachusetts, Adoptions With Love can also work with you. Contact us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-722-7731 for more information.


Adoption Storylines in Grey’s Anatomy

ABC’s longest-running drama series, Grey’s Anatomy, is setting records this month with its fifteenth season, which kicked off on September 27th. The hit television series delves into the stories, the work, the relationships, and the passion of ambitious medical staff members at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. What you may not realize, though, is how much Grey’s Anatomy also touches on adoption.

While not always at the forefront, adoption has remained a constant in the storylines of Grey’s Anatomy. Throughout its fourteen seasons, we have gotten to know adoptive parents, birth parents, as well as adoptees. We have watched stories about foster care, about search and reunion, and about identity formation in adopted children.

With the season 15 having just begun, Adoptions With Love talks about the role of adoption in Grey’s Anatomy – and how it touches some of our favorite Grey’s characters – below.

Zola’s Adoption Story

zola adoption greys anatomy

Perhaps the most well-known adoption story in Grey’s Anatomy is that of Zola. Zola Grey Shepherd, formerly Zola Limbani, was a six-month-old orphan when she first came to Seattle Grace hospital. She was one of a group of young patients from the Namboze Clinic in Malawi, Africa, and was there to be treated for spina bifida – a birth defect of the spine. While treating Zola, Doctor Derek Shepherd fell in love with the little girl. He later suggested to Meredith that they adopt Zola. At this time, Meredith had been struggling with infertility and the couple was unsure if they could have children biologically.

“I was holding her yesterday, and she was crying and then she stopped. And I’ve held a lot of babies, I’ve fixed a lot of babies. But, I looked down at Zola, and I don’t know what it was, but I just couldn’t imagine her being with any other parent or with any other family. We’ve been trying so hard to start a family, and she needs one. Let’s adopt her.” – Derek Shepherd, Season 7

After several interviews with a social worker and careful review by the court, the adoption of Zola was finalized. Meredith and Derek became parents in Season 8 of Grey’s Anatomy.

Arizona Adopts Sofia

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If you are a Grey’s Anatomy fan, you likely know the long-winded love story of Callie and Arizona, and in later episodes, their daughter, Sofia. Callie is Sofia’s mother by birth, and Arizona is Sofia’s mother by adoption. Arizona adopted Sofia after realizing that, as Callie’s partner, she is very much a part of Sofia’s life and wished for it to stay that way forever. Arizona received legal parental rights and Sofia became her daughter on paper in Season 8 of Grey’s Anatomy.

Arizona and Callie went through some hardships in later episodes, resulting in Callie’s move across the country and a custody battle over which mama would keep Sofia in their care. In court, Callie’s lawyer questions Arizona’s role as a mother, inferring that she is not the real mother of Sofia. Arizona cuts her off, making a passionate speech about the realness of her motherhood:

“I’m going to have to stop you before you continue, for your own sake. You’re not going to imply that I’m any less Sofia’s mother because we don’t share the same DNA. Because that would be offensive. It would be offensive to anyone in the room who has an adopted child or is an adopted child, and for you to say that… I chose to be Sofia’s mother… and it was the best choice that I ever made.” – Arizona Robbins

Maggie Pierce was Adopted

Maggie Pierce was introduced in Season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy, as the new Head of Cardio at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. She was adopted as a baby and raised in Boston by two loving parents. She went to medical school and finished early, before fully knowing who her biological parents were. Turns out, they were doctors themselves. Two years prior to taking the job at Grey Sloan, Maggie started searching for her birth mother. She went to court to open her adoption records, and found out her birth mother was the amazing Seattle surgeon, Ellis Grey. When Maggie got the job interview, she knew she had to go.

Image result for maggie pierce and parents

Maggie’s biological parents are Ellis Grey and Dr. Richard Webber, making her the half-sister of Meredith Grey. However, upon coming to Seattle, Maggie had no knowledge of her biological father or her sister. They had no knowledge of her, either. Ellis and Richard had an affair long ago, and Ellis Grey was suffering illness. As a result, she placed Maggie for adoption. Meredith was only five years old.

This plotline is particularly special as we see Maggie connect the puzzle pieces and learn more about her biology, her adoption story, and her identity as a result. We see her deeply connect with her birth father and biological sister, while maintaining a strong relationship with her adoptive parents out East.

Owen Fosters Baby Leo

Throughout Owen’s storyline, it is clear that he wants nothing more than to become a father. In both his marriages, to Christina and then Amelia, his wives did not have the same desire to have children. In the most recent season of Grey’s, however, Owen finally gets his chance to become a dad. He files to foster-to-adopt, a program that would enable him to foster and potentially adopt a child who is in the welfare system. Owen expects to adopt an older child, because of the many teens in foster care needing forever homes.

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Not long after he files, Owen receives a call. A social worker is coming over with a baby boy named Leo. We find out that Leo was placed in the foster care system (perhaps temporarily) because his birth mother, Betty, is unable to care for him at the time. She is battling an opiate addiction and is also homeless. Leo’s biological father is her drug dealer.

While their storyline has not played out in full yet, we can already see that Owen has connected with Leo and loves him as a son. Will he get the opportunity to become Leo’s forever dad? We will find out in Season 15! If Owen adopts Leo, though, we anticipate that an open adoption situation will be arranged, so that Leo, Betty, and Owen can all stay in touch.

Izzie is a Birth Mom

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Izzie Stevens was an intern and later resident in early seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, alongside characters like Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, and George O’Malley. But did you know that she was also a birth mother? Before her career as a surgeon, at just a mere 16-years-old, Izzie faced an unplanned pregnancy. She also faced many hardships as a teen, having no friends due to her pregnancy and working hard to save for college on her own. Knowing she could not provide her daughter with the life she deserved, and knowing that Izzie had goals to become a doctor, she ultimately chose to make an adoption plan for her daughter.

In Season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy, as a doctor at the hospital, Dr. Stevens encounters a young new mother who is contemplating adoption for her newborn daughter.  She is struggling with her decision as she wants to be a good mom.  Dr. Stevens tells her “there is more than one way to be a good mother.”

Izzie wished to name her daughter Sarah, but her adoptive parents named her Hannah Klein. After 11 years, Izzie meets Hannah’s parents at the hospital. We learn that, at 11-years-old, Hannah is suffering from leukemia and in need of a bone marrow transplant. Izzie donates bone marrow to save her biological daughter’s life.

Fun Fact: Actress Katherine Heigl, who played Izzie on Grey’s Anatomy, is an adoptive mother! Read about her adoption story in our article here.

Shonda Rhimes is an Adoptive Mama

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Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, does more than just write adoption storylines – she also has a personal adoption story to share! The award-winning writer and producer is also the single mother of three daughters – Harper, Emerson, and Beckett. Rhimes adopted her oldest daughter, Harper, in June 2002 and adopted Emerson years later in February 2012. In September 2013, Rhimes welcomed her third daughter via surrogacy.

There are many other adoption stories weaved into the Grey’s Anatomy plot, but these are a few of our favorites. What do you think about how adoption is portrayed in Grey’s Anatomy? What do you look forward to in Season 15? Let us know in the comments below!

 

If you would like to learn more about adoption, please do not hesitate to reach out to Adoptions With Love. We extend our help and free adoption services to women facing unplanned pregnancies across the United States. We also help aspiring parents in Massachusetts build their families through adoption. Contact 800-722-7731 to learn more.