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A Better Life in Arizona

A young mother of two small children in Arizona found herself pregnant and just about homeless. She had a nearby grandmother, but could only stay in her grandmother’s home for a few days and then would be put on the street. She was almost hopeless when she decided to look into adoption and placing her baby for adoption.

Looking through the phone book, she called many adoption agencies, hoping to find one that she felt comfortable enough to confide in. She called Utah based agency, A Act of Love Adoptions and learned all about how adoption works. She was pleased to find out how many options she had. She learned about open and closed adoption, and the requirements that adoptive parents must fulfill in order to adopt. She felt better after hearing about all the steps adoptive families have to go through to become

fully ready for adoption. Things like having a home study done by a licensed social worker, having background checks run through the FBI, and attendance at classes taught by adoption professionals and birthparents. Also, A Act of Love adoptive parents need to become CPR certified.

She also learned about the many choices birthparents have in making their adoption plans. They can request the counseling plan that best fits their needs; decide how open their adoption will be. Birthparents can visit or talk by Skype with adoptive couples during the selection process. After carefully considering all this information, she decided adoption would be the best thing for her. She then wrote a letter to the father of the baby — who was in prison a few hours away– and told him what she thought they should do. At first, he wrote her back saying he didn’t believe that adoption would be a good option. But, as they continued to correspond, he began to realize that with his inability to help her financially, physically or emotionally, adoption was the best choice.

So, they began to make plans. They completed all the necessary paperwork and submitted it to A Act of Love. They both decided that they would rather have a closed adoption and they would provide guidelines on the type of adoptive couple they would like, but wanted the agency staff to make the final selection. After placement, they decided they did not want any contact with the adoptive couple.

Act of Love staff worked with this birthmother to help her find the resources she needed for housing, transportation, food and schooling. She was very thorough in her follow through and did everything necessary to keep these benefits. She re-enrolled in her schooling as a medical assistant.

About a week before her due date, this birthmother went into labor. She had no transportation so she called a cab. The cab driver arrived and realizing the situation, he quickly took down the instructions and speedily arrived at her grandmother’s home where she put her sleepy children to bed. Running back to the cab, she noticed the driver getting a little nervous. During the 30 minute drive to the

hospital, her contractions worsened and she hoped they would make it. Apparently the cab driver was thinking the same thing because he began stepping on the gas! They arrived at the hospital and 20 minutes later a healthy baby girl was born!

Act of Love staff and the adoptive couple arrived in Arizona several hours later, after receiving the call from the birthmother that the baby had arrived. After talking with her counselor, the birthmother decided she would briefly like to say hello to the adoptive couple. They were very willing and grateful for this brief meeting. Hugs, tears of sadness and joy and expressions of gratitude were exchanged. All were grateful for each other!

As soon as she received the approval of her doctor, the birthmother left the hospital to go home and be with her two other children. She was filled with love for the baby she was placing and for the two little ones she was raising. Three days later, she met with the Arizona attorney and signed the adoption

paperwork. While still in prison, the birthfather also signed his paperwork, giving his consent to the adoption and relinquishing his rights. Both knew they were doing the best thing for everyone involved.

The birthmother went on to finish her medical assisting schooling and graduated four months later. She was hired by a doctor and is so grateful that she can now support her family on the income she makes from this job. The birthfather remains in prison and stays in contact with the birthmother.

 

“By Loving Him”

After much reflection this week, being with family always makes me think of two special people in my life that I wish could be with us during our holidays. Livi – our daughter who died at birth and Grayson’s – Birth Mom. These two people will always hold a special place in my heart and I think of them and remember them everyday.

Recently a friend asked, “Do you tell Grayson about his sister and his birth mom?” I responded, “I don’t tell him…I help him remember them both each and everyday and I tell him all the special memories I have of them both. I share with him, they are a part of our everyday life.”

It all began with choosing our adoption agency. As a social worker, I knew I simply wanted the best. I met with many different adoption agencies and called and interviewed, but my heart always came back to A Act of Love. From my first phone call to the check in’s with the adoption agency and post adoption services we receive …I and my husband both felt it was little ”acts of love” along the way that made our adoption process “from the heart and a beautiful adoption experience.

I remember the first time I talked to Grayson’s birth mom- she was like a long lost best friend. I simply asked, “How are you?” Because from the moment I heard her voice, I wanted to make sure she was okay. I was concerned about her and the huge choice that she was making. We both cried. Even as I write this I am crying…as a huge amount of emotions come to the surface. We were both strong, we both knew about heartache and wanting the best for a child.

We met the next day at the hospital. We waited for her in the gift shop. My husband and I bought her a big bouquet of pink roses and a card. I knew it was her, even though I never saw a picture as soon as she walked in, I just knew. I ran up and gave her a hug. We then started crying again. She brought her two brothers. We all went up into the elevator to the 3rd floor. Emotions were running high. Does she like me? Does she know how much we care about her and her family?
We spent a whole week with her and her family. We talked for hours on hours. We went to lunch and dinner together. We went to IHOP and meet Grayson’s brothers and sisters. It felt like we were a big extended family that crossed across the United States. We had a wonderful time together. We took pictures and videos with one another and this all created a wonderful adoption experience.  I could not have asked for more.

I remember talking to her on the phone arranging for our last meeting to go to breakfast before we left to go to the airport to come home. I remember telling her, “How do you thank someone for giving you their child?” She simply replied, “By loving him.”

I wish everyday she could see how much love together (his birth mom and me) has given to him for the choice she made of adoption.

 

 

Gratitude

At this time of year, the staff at Act of Love Adoption Agency gathers together in gratitude to reflect on all of the wonderful children,
birth parents and adoptive families that we have the pleasure to work with at the adoption agency each year.

Brainy Quote defines Gratitude as:  The state of being grateful; warm and friendly feeling toward a benefactor; kindness awakened by a favor received; thankfulness.

Act of Love is so grateful for the many blessings we receive from the friendships and relationships that we continue to build through the years at the adoption agency.  The staff is thankful to be a part of bringing birth parents and adoptive families together to build relationships and families.

Each time we see the happy, giggling babies, the relief and smiles from a birth parent that has received the kindness of a picture or letter from their adoptive family or a beautiful family, we know that Act of Love has been a part of a magical experience.

Act of Love is with our clients through the whole experience – the happiness, the trials, the tears of sadness and joy.  The words of Brian Tracy:  “Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”  These words echo the thoughts and feelings at Act of Love.  The staff is working daily to help our children, birth parents and adoptive families to know that “every step forward” they are moving toward achieving that “something bigger and better” – their goals & dreams.

By helping each other we realize the true meaning of Thanksgiving and the words of Henry Van Dyke, ” Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received.  Thankfulness is the natural impusle to express that feeling.  Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.

We wish you all bountiful blessings today and throughout the year!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Act of Love Staff

Hawaii Placement

A young, unmarried couple in Hawaii found themselves in a pregnancy situation that they were unprepared to take on.  Because of their young ages, (one still in high school and the other attending the first year of college) they were afraid to tell anyone of the pregnancy or seek help.  As the pregnancy neared the last trimester, they knew they needed to do something so they began to explore the possibility of adoption. After telling their families, they struggled for quite some time with the emotions of various family members, who felt it best that they parent the baby.  After thinking and talking and researching for a number of weeks, they felt adoption was the best solution to the situation they were in.  Both the birthmother and birthfather agreed that adoption was the right idea.  They were committed to each other and to making the best choice for their baby.  They began calling adoption agencies to receive information on how adoption worked.  In calling various adoption agencies across the country, they placed a call to A Act of Love Adoptions.  There they found the information they needed and felt comfortable with A Act of Love staff.

The baby was born several weeks early and needed to be in the NICU until his actual due date.  Together, the birthmother and birthfather had selected an adoptive couple from a western state and that couple, upon being selected, immediately flew to Hawaii to be with the baby and sign the necessary paperwork for adoption. After a great meeting with the adoptive couple, the birthmother and birthfather both signed relinquishment paperwork, knowing their baby was going to have a great life.

As the adoptive parents spent time at the hospital with the baby, the birthparents expressed their love for this couple and their relief that their child was being given the love and attention he so desperately needed.  Without transportation, the birthparents could not have spent this kind of time with him.  In addition, they were both attending school and one needed to be in class in order to graduate. Both the birthmother and birth father truly felt that they had made the right choice in choosing adoption.  They were very glad they talked with A Act of Love Adoptions to come up with the perfect adoptive family and the right adoption plan for them.

December African American Baby Boy – Matched

Act of Love Adoption Agency is helping birthparents C&C with making an adoption plan for their African American baby boy that is due December 30, 2012. Birthmom reports that she has not used any substances during the pregnancy including drugs, alcohol or tobacco. She reports that she is healthy, taking prenatal vitamins and that she began her prental care in the second trimester. Birthparents would like to meet the adoptive family and to have pictures and letters sent through the adoption agency. If you are a home study ready adoptive family and interested in working with Act of Love Adoption Agency with this situation, please contact Act of Love at outreach@aactofloveadoptions.com. Adoptive family will need to complete all of the Act of Love requirements.

African American Baby Girl – Matched

B.T. is making an adoption plan for her African American baby girl that is due December 2, 2012. Birthmom reports that she carries the sickle cell trait, her father has the sickle cell disease and that birthfather does not carry the sickle cell trait. She also reports that she is healthy and has seen a doctor for 5 prenatal visits and is taking prenatal vitamins. B.T. reports that she has not had any substance use during the pregnancy including: drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Birthmom is looking for a family that is willing to meet her around birth and send pictures and letters through the agency. If you are a home study ready adoptive family and are interested in more information, please contact Act of Love Adoptions at outreach@aactofloveadoptions.com. To receive further information, adoptive family will need to complete Outreach paperwork and meet the requirements for Act of Love Adoptions.

African American Baby Boy

H.B. is making an adoption plan for her African American baby boy that is due December 29, 2012. H.B. reports that she is healthy and that she has not used any substances during the pregnancy including drugs, alcohol or tobacco. She reports that she does carry the sickle cell trait and that the birth father does not carry the sickle cell trait. She also reports that prenatal care and prenatal vitamins began at 21 weeks. Birthmom would like an open adoption with pictures, letters sent through Act of Love Adoption agency and meeting the adoptive family at time of placement. She is looking for a local African American or bi-racial adoptive family. If you are a homestudy ready family and interested in this adoption situation, please contact Act of Love Adoptions at outreach@aactofloveadoptions.com. Outreach paperwork will need to be completed to receive further information, as well as adoptive family will need to meet all the requirements for Act of Love.

Get Ready for Your Adoption Placement!

It’s never too early to begin preparing for your adoption placement!  As many adoptive families will tell you, once you’re approved for adoption, the process can seem to be moving very slow and then all of a sudden move very fast.  If you’re approved with Act of Love Adoptions it’s a good idea to have a plan set in place.  Prepare to be away from home for 10 to 14 days for the adoption process and ICPC clearance.

If you have pets, make arrangements to have family, friends, or neighbors care for them.  Have someone lined up to watch your house, get your mail, water plants, etc.  Most adoptive families also let their employers know their plans for adoption so they are aware you could be gone quickly for up to two weeks.  This really helps in cases where you get the call on a weekend and have to leave a message that you will not be in to work on Monday.  If you have other children that are not going to be coming with you, make plans with family or friends and let their teachers know that you may be leaving suddenly for your baby.  Making plans in advance for your other children will also help with their transition and waiting for their new little brother or sister.

Have some basic baby items purchased and ready to go.  At the very least, you will need a car seat, a few outfits, undershirts, blankets, bottles and diapers.  (This shopping is lots of fun!! – even for Dads.)  When the baby is released from the hospital you will usually receive a gift pack.  The gift packs usually include a few diapers, some premixed disposable bottle of formula, as well as a can of the formula that the baby is eating, and some odds and ends like a bulb syringe, a pacifier, and a scalp brush.  You can buy and bring with you as much as you want to carry in your luggage, but many families also purchase a fair amount of supplies here (especially formula since you won’t know which kind the baby will be eating).

Be looking ahead at how you will make flight reservations and maybe which hotels you will want to stay at.  If your baby is born in Utah, you will be flying into the Salt Lake City airport.  The Act of Love Adoption Agency office is located in Sandy, Utah about 25 minutes from the airport.  The hospitals in the Salt Lake Valley are about 20 to 30 minutes from Act of Love.  Last minute flight reservations can be costly.  Many adoptive families have used frequent flyer miles, check for deals on the internet, been able to get better deals by talking to managers, received recommendations of travel agencies specializing in adoption, etc.   Most adoptive families stay close to our office in Sandy; however some prefer to stay in the downtown Salt Lake City area or by the airport.Act of Love has found that most adoptive families like some sort of suite arrangement with kitchen facilities.  The suite arrangement makes preparing and sterilizing bottles easier and allows you to stay cozy and comfortable as you prepare your own meals.  Salt Lake City also has many vacation rentals available in the area.  Act of Love can provide brochures and referrals for adoption friendly accommodations.

Babies are typically discharged from hospitals in Utah between 24-48 hours after birth.  If you arrive in Utah sometime the day after delivery, you most likely will not spend a great deal of time at the hospital.  Some birth parent(s) want to take the time they have to be with the baby at the hospital and prefer the adoptive family not be at the hospital.  Other birth parent(s) cherish the time that they have at the hospital with the adoptive family.  Once the birth parent(s) sign their relinquishment, Act of Love can complete the paperwork with you, which is usually done at the Act of Love office and YES! you get to take the baby with you after discharge from the hospital.  If you do not live in Utah, once the baby is discharged from the hospital you will be waiting for Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) to clear the state of Utah and your home state, so you can travel home .  If the baby is born in another state, ICPC clearance for an Act of Love Agency adoption will start in the state where the baby is born, be sent to the Utah ICPC office (Must happen as Act of Love is licensed in the state of Utah), and will be sent from the Utah ICPC office to the adoptive family home state office.

While waiting to go home, many Act of Love adoptive families go stay in Park City at the ski resorts, explore Sundance Resort, or drive south a few hours to southern Utah and stay at the National Parks.  (Just don’t leave Utah with the baby!)  The adoptive family will need to pick-up documents from Act of Love once ICPC gives clearance for the baby to leave the state of Utah.  The best advice from Act of Love staff is to treasure and enjoy this special time with your new little bundle of joy!

Many adoptive families ask Act of Love about ICPC and the reason it is needed.  Anytime a child moving across state lines, from one state to another, the Utah ICPC office and the ICPC of the home state of the adoptive family must review and approve the paperwork before the child is allowed to travel from one state to another.  Act of Love staff will prepare and submit the ICPC packet.  The ICPC process is included in the adoption fee and the adoptive family will not be involved in this process.  The Act of Love office will notify the adoptive family of the ICPC approval and give the adoptive family clearance to leave the state of Utah and travel home.  The ICPC packet includes things like copies of the birth parent(s) non-identifying information, relinquishment paperwork, medical records for the baby and the adoptive family home study.  Thus, the ICPC cannot be completed until after the baby is born, the birth parent(s) have relinquished, and the baby has been released from the hospital.  Act of Love prepares and delivers three copies of the ICPC packet to the Utah ICPC office in downtown Salt Lake City.  Utah and your home state will each keep a copy and once the process is complete the third copy will be sent to your supervising agency, which is your agency or licensed social worker in your home state assisting you with post placement visits. As you are preparing for your adoption, make sure you have an agency or LCSW in place to complete your post placements.  It is important for the adoptive family to inform the agency or LCSW that they are working with Act of Love Adoption Agency in Sandy, Utah and have been placed with a baby for adoption. Most ICPC offices are housed in state human services or family services departments (*thus nothing happens with ICPC over weekends or holidays).  Most of the wait time for ICPC occurs as your home state reviews the paperwork.  The home state will thoroughly review items in ICPC packet as the baby is coming into their state and in most cases the adoption will be finalized in the adoptive family home state.  Sometime the ICPC will ask for additional information and Act of Love does their best to supply those requests as quickly as possible.  Once your home state approves the clearance for the baby, the ICPC office will communicate with the Utah ICPC office and the Utah ICPC office will communicate with Act of Love that the baby is cleared and the adoptive family may travel outside of Utah.    If you come to Utah for the birth or your baby or a little before, plan to be in Utah the additional time for the ICPC process to occur (plan for 10-14 days).  Once the ICPC clearance has been received, the adoptive family is free to travel home with their new bundle of joy!

 

Bonding and Attachment Issues

Attachment between humans is a complex process.  Although there are a few definitions out there, the one that I happen to like is:  “An affectionate bond between individuals that endures through space and time and serves to join them emotionally.”  Positive attachment helps children trust others, become self-reliant, increase feelings of self-worth, better cope with frustration, develop a conscience, think logically, and attain their full potential.  In short, it is the foundation for just about everything.

The first myth I would like to shine some light on has to do with the notion that adoptive parents are at a disadvantage regarding attachment.  Some adoptive parents have told social work staff at Act of Love Adoption Agency they worry about their ability to attach to an adopted child in the same way as a biological child.  Other adoptive parents have expressed their doubts about the adopted child’s ability to attach to them.  However, the professional literature and sum of my experience working at Act of Love is that most infants are able to form attachment with any loving, nurturing care-giver.  Neither blood ties to the child, the sex of the care-giver, nor any other factor is as important in the development of attachment as the care-givers sensitivity to the baby’s signals.

An attachment theorist and author, by the name of Rene Spitz, studied parent and child bonding for more than three decades.  Although he writes some on the opportunities for attachment that occur during pregnancy, he believed that the attachment and bonding process begins at or soon after birth of the infant.  He said, “The development of attachment after birth proceeds in a nearly identical manner whether the infant is genetically connected to the parents or not.”  Rene Spitz found many similarities between birth parents expecting a child and adoptive parents who were expecting a child that included; fantasizing about how the child will look, imagining what type of parent they will be, making physical preparations, and thinking about the types of experiences they would like to have with their child.

How important is it that your adopted children look like you?  What kinds of experiences do you look forward to having with your adopted child?  Rene Spitz brings forth an important bonding concept called “claiming” which begins when parentshave their first glimpse of the child, checking fingers and toes and looking for physical similarities between themselves and the child.  “Claiming” continues through most stages of development and includes behavior wherein the child is accepted into the family and made to feel cherished and valued.  How were you claimed by your family?  How will you claim your soon-to-be-adopted child?  Act of Love Adoptions offers counseling and Adoption Preparation Classes to help adoptive parents prepare for bonding and attachment.

In talking with adoptive parents about their bonding concerns, I have observed that not being able to breastfeed is at the base of some of their beliefs.  The bonding and attachment process involves the infant sending out cues and the parents responding to those cues in a variety of ways.  (For example; by talking or singing to the child (sound), holding and stroking the child, (smell and touch), providing a bottle (taste), smiling at the child (visual), changing the child (touch).  In brief, as long as the child experiences the care-giver using all of his/her senses, bonding and attachment will proceed in the usual way.  This “bonding through the five senses” is the basis for adoptive mothers and adoptive fathers feeding the adopted child with skin-to-skin contact.

During the first year of life, an infant’s primary developmental task is building feelings of trust, security, and safety.  The way that infants acquire these feelings is through the day-to-day interactions with a parent or care-giver.  Many new parents, myself included, wonder if they will respond in the right way to their child’s needs.  The day I drove my son home from the hospital I remember being very concerned about my ability to “do it right.”  I had never bathed an infant before.  I didn’t even know diapers had a front and back.  I offer this counsel for any soon-to-be parent who may be wondering “what should I do…when…”  A good guideline in answering this question is “whatever will help my child learn to trust me.”  When a parent responds to the needs of an infant in a consistent dependable way; the infant feels regulated, calm, and is then freed up to begin processing their environment.  When an infant become hungry and cries; the attentive parent provides food.  This way of responding over time helps the baby to associate the sensation of being hungry with eating.  This cycle helps us to understand why children who come from abusive or neglectful homes not only have problems with trust, but they also have difficulty identifying the source of their body discomforts.  When I worked with children, who had been neglected in their first years of life; invariably they had considerable difficulty in distinguishing hunger pains from a full bladder, or experienced headaches or body-aches when what they really wanted was positive attention.

In most of the adoptions we are involved in, mutual attachment happens very naturally and easily.  Each year we have one or two adoptive parents who come in for counseling because one or both of them are having difficulty attaching to the child, but this is usually resolved with a counseling sessions.  Sometimes, babies can be extra fussy and difficult to soothe, because their nervous systems are still developing.  They may be sensitive to touch, sounds, smells, light and other things.  A significant number of babies have trouble digesting certain types of formula they are being given.  For these children, providing them with a feeding only increases rather than decreases their discomfort.  If this interaction goes on long enough, it can interfere with their ability to sort out and learn about their different body sensations and, in turn, their attachment.  Thus, it is very important for adoptive parents to experiment with different feeding positions, clothing, formulas, sounds, smells, etc…so that you can respond to your child only with interactions that soothe and comfort them.  If your baby is having difficulty being comforted, don’t wait to seek out the help of an experienced family member or professional.  The primary role of the social worker from Act of Love Adoptions that is doing your post placement evaluations is there to be your support person during the six months after placement.  It is important to contact your social worker immediately and explain the situation, so they can assist you with the problem.

This brings us to the next myth.  Some adoptive parents are concerned that it may reflect badly on them in the eyes of the social worker doing the post placements, if they ask questions about infant/child care or talk openly about any problems they are having.  I have even had adoptive parents tell me that they are worried that the social worker involved in the post placement counseling was going to take the baby from them.  When adoptive parents are worried about their ability to keep the child that has been placed with them; this, in turn, makes me wonder if their anxiety is having an effect on their “claiming” of the adopted child.  So, in regards to the post placement visits, let me make it clear that the social workers’ goals at Act of Love Adoption Agency are to make the placement successful, support the adoptive parents, assess the baby’s growth and development, and provide the documentation that the courts need to finalize the adoption.

Adoption in Alaska

A cute birth mother in Alaska found herself very unexpectedly pregnant.  After pondering her options, and considering her living situation at the time, she decided that placing her baby with a loving adoptive family would be best.  She knew it wouldn’t be an easy decision, but it was the right decision for her and her unborn baby.

This birth mother called A Act of Love Adoption Agency in Utah and began her amazing adoption journey.  She filled out paperwork, went to doctor appointments, and started to consider potential adoptive families for her unborn baby girl.  After looking at many profiles, one particular family stood out to her, and she knew this was the right family for her baby.  She talked to them on the phone and began a lifelong relationship with the family who would raise her baby.

The time for delivery came.  This birth mother wanted the adoptive family to arrive at the hospital shortly after the baby was born. Staff members from the adoption agency also headed to Alaska to support this courageous birth mother.

This sweet birth mother met the parents she had chosen for her baby, and there was an instant connection!  They would always share a bond that this baby created.

A wonderful attorney was involved with the process of this adoption to do the legal documents.  Everything went very smoothly and this birth mother placed her baby into the once empty arms of the adoptive family.  This beautiful adoption had come full circle.

The adoptive family was able to spend some time fishing and seeing the sights in Alaska as they waited for all the paperwork to be approved. At last, they were able to return home to a large extended family anxious to meet this precious baby girl who was an adoption miracle.

Adoption
is An Act of Love

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