Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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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30 Years of Building Loving Families: A Recap of Our Anniversary Celebration

As many of you know, Adoptions With Love recently celebrated our 30th anniversary as a private, non-profit, domestic adoption agency in Massachusetts.  Over the last three decades, we have helped bring over 2,000 children into loving, devoted homes through the positive act of adoption.

Since our beginnings in 1986, Adoptions With Love has worked to find the best possible homes for each child whom we have had the privilege of placing.  We have dedicated the last 30 years to providing the most compassionate, trustworthy, and personalized services to each member of the adoption triad – expectant/birth parents, adoptive families, and adopted children alike.  Each year, we learn something new.  Each year, we welcome more remarkable, courageous individuals into the AWL family.  We were truly blessed to have them celebrate this milestone with us.

The Anniversary Event

On September 11, 2016, on the greenery of Warren Center in Ashland, Massachusetts, hundreds of families came together to celebrate Adoptions With Love’s big thirty.  We spent the day connecting with both new and old members of the AWL family – those who came to us over 29 years ago and those who came to us just yesterday.  It was truly an event to remember.  The day was filled with laughter, great conversation, delicious treats, and activities for both the young and old.  Children, teens, tweens, and young adults gathered to swim.  Kayak and canoe on the lakefront, and even join in on a giant game of Jenga.  Many kids spent the day in our pop-up petting zoo or taking pony rides around the property.  All the while, we watched in sheer amazement at how supportive and vast the Adoptions With Love family has become.

We want to thank everyone who came out to celebrate this special time with us.  We want to thank our donors and advertisers who truly made our celebration possible.  The support you all have given us is immeasurable, and we are so blessed to have you be a part of both our 30-year journey and our forever family.  To view and share pictures of our 30th anniversary event, you may join our Facebook group here.

A View from All Sides

Adoption has changed greatly over the last 30 years, and we have seen it grow firsthand.  We have seen closed adoptions move to open.  We have helped expand the choices that are now available to expectant/birth parents making an adoption plan.  We have watched as birth families and adoptive families develop relationships with one another over the years.  We have built close relationships with these families, as well.

What many of you may not know is that, as part of our milestone 30th anniversary, Adoptions With Love embarked on a very special project.  Together with Stone Media Productions, we created a video tribute as a heartfelt testimonial to all the families we have worked with over the last three decades.

The video below features four remarkable birth mothers who discuss the difficulty of their decision and the positive outcomes that have come of open adoption.  The video also features several adoptive families who, before adoption, were not able to conceive a child.  We have also featured adopted children – some now young adults – who talk about their adoption experience and the love that they have for their birth families.

It is our hope that this video will live on in the history of our agency.  Most of all, it is our hope that this video will represent the unquantifiable, unconditional love that is among the adoption triad.  There is never too much love.

Every child deserves the best and that is what we hope to provide at Adoptions With Love.  Here is to 30 years of building loving families through adoption.

To learn more about Adoptions With Love, please call 1-800-722-7731 or visit adoptionswithlove.org/contact-us.


Looking for Answers: Open Access to Adoptee’s Birth Records in Massachusetts

Humans are full of curiosity. We are in constant search for answers. It is natural for us to desire an understanding of our history. We long to know where we came from, who our ancestors are, and how their past will affect our future. This knowledge shapes our identity. It can be hard to imagine life without it, but many adopted persons do not have answers to these questions.

There are only about 14 states today that allow adult adoptees to fully access their birth records.  These records include an adopted person’s original birth certificate, medical records, family genealogy, and many other pieces that may have been missing from his or her puzzle. While a handful of states currently allow partial access to these vital records, the majority of legislatures are still hesitant to open up such private information.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for example, became a “partial access” state in 2007. Since then, state law has denied adopted persons born in Massachusetts between July 1974 and January 2008 the right to fully access their birth records. Adoptees born before 1974 and after 2007, however, can access their vital records upon turning 18 years old without any discrepancies. Those born within these “gap years” are left lacking answers. They want to know this information.   People who are adopted feel entitled to and understand their pasts, but are restricted by the law.

Massachusetts’ expansion of all adoptee rights has been in the works for years, and the prospect of equal access to personal records is now finally surfacing. Currently, a revised legislation is pending to restore the rights of all adopted persons in the state, regardless of the year they were born. Ohio passed new legislation opening up adoption records to adoptees in March 2015, and a handful of other state legislatures, such as Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New York and Texas, are also considering “opening up” birth records to all adoptees this year.  Thousands in search of their biological parents may finally be given some real, concrete answers.

Of course, there would still be provisions under this updated law if it were to be passed in Massachusetts. Birth mothers who placed their child for adoption during this 33-year period would have the option of filing a “no-contact” form. This form would prevent the release of any identifying information, and would ultimately keep her personal records sealed. Without this request all records would become obtainable to her child.

Initially, it seems like the obvious answer in all of this is to simply pass the bill and completely open up birth records in Massachusetts. Adoptees should have the right to know their histories. Many states have already permitted access, so why is there still a debate?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer here. The fact is, these lawmakers are dealing with a very emotional and complex subject. They must consider both the adoptee’s right to know as well as the birth mother’s right to privacy. Until they can compromise the two, it will remain a complicated subject.

Supporters of this bill believe that adoptees have the right to view their birth records, to gain insight on their family history and on potential genetic health risks. Those that oppose the bill feel as though birth mothers were promised privacy, and their identities should therefore be protected. At Adoptions With Love, we believe there should be a balance between the two sides.

An adopted person has the right to know who they are, genetically, medically, and ethnically. A birth mother should also maintain her right to anonymity, if that is what she requests. A birth mother today may not be the same person she was years ago when she placed her baby for adoption. It is inevitable that her life has changed.  She may now have a stable home, a significant other, a steady job, and even other children. She may be at a point in her life where she is more than ready to see her birth child. Conversely, she may be in a situation that is simply not right for this kind of unveiling. She may have never told anyone about the adoption, including a current spouse or other children. She may not be emotionally or physically prepared for a reunion. She may not want to be contacted yet, and that want should be respected.

Going through an intermediary, such as Adoptions with Love, can make the process of rediscovering a loved one much easier. Not only can we serve as a neutral, third-party in negotiating the relationship between adopted child and birth parent, but we can also assure the relationship stays on good footing. Through emails, letters, even private investigations, we can help you reconnect with family, find a friend, or gain any answers you have been seeking.

Adoptions With Love is a nationwide adoption agency, and our team of compassionate counselors and attorneys has been specializing in full service adoptions since 1986. For more information visit our web site here, or call us at 1-800-722-7731.


An Adoption Story Fifty Years Old

An adoption story revealed at death.  My cousins told me this story after we buried their mother and they visited the grave of Aunt Annie.  They told Aunt Annie that she could rest in peace because her daughter was doing well.

Family mysteries often are shrouded in the secrecy of unnecessary shame and guilt.  Such a mystery was revealed to me this past June in my own family.  While visiting with my cousins Elizabeth and Jessica, they began to tell me that a woman named Susan, who is about our age, recently contacted Elizabeth saying that she believed that she is related to them.  Luckily, this all occurred prior to their mother’s death, so they were able to discuss this with her.  It turns out that Aunt Annie, their father’s sister, had become pregnant in 1958, gave birth to a baby girl and made an adoption plan for her daughter (Susan).  What was discovered is that Annie had become pregnant while on vacation and her family persuaded her to make an adoption plan; in 1958 it was totally unacceptable for a single, Caucasian woman to raise a bi-racial baby on her own.  Her family was not going to accept this child.  Annie remained close with her nieces and nephew throughout her life but she never revealed this secret and, sadly, took it to her own grave.

As the story unfolded we found out that Annie had always wondered about her child and there was always a void in her life.  Susan, now a 52 year old woman, always wondered about her history and never was sure of her racial background.  Finally, she was able to have many questions answered after contacting Elizabeth.  While at the grave site for her mother, Jessica went over to her Aunt Annie’s grave and told her that her daughter Susan had contacted them and that she was fine; she need not worry anymore.

After learning this, I discussed it with another aunt, who will turn 89 this month.  She knew it all.  I encouraged her to share whatever she knows with Jessica and Elizabeth so they could share this information with Susan.  This story left me with feelings of sadness; mostly for Annie, who was never able to resolve or even given the opportunity to work through the loss of her child, and for Susan who at the age of 52 is finally learning more about her identity.

Stories like this one make me proud to work in the field of adoption, especially now where we have an atmosphere of openness. Open adoption enables understanding of ones’ origins is vitally important for a person who is adopted.  This aids in identity formation.  I am glad that we work closely with expectant parents contemplating adoption and continue this work with them as they grieve their losses and rebuild their lives.  Adoption is a journey that lasts many lifetimes and the work is never complete.