Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate Birth Mothers!
This coming weekend is a special time to remember all of the loving, brave and courageous young women who have so lovingly chosen to “place” their babies for adoption. These special women did not “give up” their babies; they found themselves in an unexpected situation and CHOSE adoption. They did not make a bad choice…THEY LOVED THEIR BABIES! Act of Love Adoptions wants every birth mother to know how special, loved and cherished they are and celebrates the wonderful life they have given to their child.
How You Can Empower Women and Celebrate Their Brave Decision:
Send a card with a special note expressing your gratitude and love
Include a picture of your child
Have your child create a beautiful self-portrait or drawing
Send a small token of your appreciation
Have a beautiful bouquet or outdoor plant delivered
Post a special message on Facebook
Take them out for a fun lunch or coffee
Go to a park and enjoy a nice walk
If you know a special woman who has chosen adoption, let them know what a beautiful decision they made to place their child for adoption. When some women find themselves in a situation with an unplanned pregnancy, they may not be in a place in their lives to give their child everything they wish, hope and want for them. Choosing adoption gives their child LIFE and provides them with a permanent, safe, and loving home where their child can flourish and grow.
Act of Love Adoptions celebrates the incredible “Act of Love” that each and every birth mother chooses. Celebrating LIFE – the most amazing act of love!
Coping with the Disappointment of a Failed Adoption
Adoptions with Act of Love, another agency or adoption professional can be one big roller coaster ride – one day you are giddy with excitement at the prospect of finally meeting your child, the next day you experience the crushing disappointment of your adoption falling through. Continuing to move forward in the adoption process requires faith and courage to go through this roller coaster ride. But sometimes, the plunge seems too quick and too deep. What do you do when your adoption placement fails?
Agencies, such as A Act of Love Adoptions, do their best to provide a good match between prospective birthparents and adoptive parents wanting to adopt. The agency staff will assist you through the adoption process including helping you to seek legal counsel to meet the legal requirements in the state where the adoption will occur. However, there are some instances that are beyond your adoption agency and your control.
Here are some ways you can survive a failed adoption and move forward with your dream of building a family through adoption:
– Avoid making spur-of-the-moment decisions. The intensity of what you are feeling may cause you to make rash decisions. You may feel like writing to your agency or birthmother. Do so, but wait a week before you send it. Read it again before you send it and if its contents seem proper, you can send it.
– Allow you and your spouse to grieve. The heartbreak brought about by knowing that your adoption will not be completed is not something you simply brush off, so that you can move on as soon as possible. Grief is a process that you need to go through for you to heal and have the courage to hope and try again. Spend time with your spouse as you work to strengthen your relationship in the midst of this trying time.
– After the grieving, comes the moving on process. Although you need to go through the process of grieving, you should not pitch your tent there. The temptation to do so can seem irresistible, but take it one day and one step at a time. Find ways to express yourself through the hobbies and creative outlets you usually enjoy.
– Do not play the “blame game”. It is easy to point a finger on yourself or your spouse for “not seeing this coming” or for failing to be a good judge of character. Or, you may think that you have not done enough to bond with the birthmother. However, who has the gift of foresight and can read minds? No one can, least of all you or your spouse. Rather than blame each other, set your eyes on the next steps you will take.
– Receive help from friends and loved ones. Remember, they love you and would like to share in your grief. They may not know what they can do for you, but they would like to help. Welcome their offers of help and show them practical ways they can help you and meet your needs at this time.
– Join a support group. The loss of a precious child that was not yet yours to begin with causes a unique kind of pain. Be it over a website forum or through a support group in your area, talk with prospective parents who have gone through the same thing you have. Those who have been through a failed adoption can hug you and tell you “I know exactly how it feels” because they do.
– Seek counseling. If you are still in the doldrums for quite some time, it may be helpful to get counseling or therapy. Counseling and therapy can draw out your feelings so you can grieve and process your loss. That way, you can more easily pick up the pieces and get ready to move on.
– Decide on your next steps. That is, only when you are ready to make major decisions. What other opportunities would you like to explore? Ask your agency what their policy is about failed adoptions and how they can help you move onto the next step in your adoption plan. Most importantly, continuing moving forward with your dream of being a parent and part of a act of love.
Giving Support to Birthparents
A Act of Love Adoptions has built a reputation for taking excellent care of birthparents that are in need of support and information for an adoption plan. The staff at Act of Love is focused on being available and supportive to birthparents, especially at this time when an unplanned pregnancy can be stressful and confusing.
Having support from their community and loved ones is very helpful to birthparents, as they complete their adoption plan. The family who has adopted the child, the birthparent’s loved ones and friends, as well as, the people who relate to them on a regular basis need to realize that birthparents are extraordinary people who have made a difficult decision and need continued respect and support.
The first days after birthparent signs relinquishment paperwork can be some of the most difficult times. They will need a support system that they can rely on. Here are some ways you can help:
– Acknowledge that the birthparents remain the parents until they decide to terminate their parental rights. Their child is legally their child until they choose to terminate their parental rights and they reserve the right to change their mind regarding a placement plan for their child. Parental rights should be made clear to birthparents.
– Respect their choices. The choices and plans made for their baby should be respected. It is important whether planning for an adoption or in parenting that there is a healthy plan in place for the baby to thrive and be loved.
– Recognize their loss. Birthparents who decide to terminate their parental rights experience a loss. It will be natural for birthparents to grieve and to feel a loss. Knowing that the decision birthmothers and birthfathers make to place their baby for adoption and knowing it is the right decision, takes a great deal of strength and courage. The decision to place a baby for adoption is bittersweet. This act of love, which will bring so much happiness to a waiting family, is nonetheless painful. This decision may be brought about by wanting what is best for the child, at this time in their life, but the birthparents will still need to grieve. It is helpful to support the birthparents by acknowledging their loss and being able to listen to their needs.
– Allow the birthparents to grieve their loss. It is important to allow birthparents to feel what they are feeling and express their emotions. Having a good post-adoption plan for support in place that includes counseling is critical to the healing process to take place.
– Appreciate their choice. For parents who have adopted, acknowledge and show appreciation for how the birthparents have entrusted their child to your family. For loved ones and friends, try to focus on them rather than on how their choice has made a family happy. Let them know how much you admire the courage and love for their baby that they have shown and how much strength they have shown thus far.
– Share the child’s milestones and happiness with the birthparents. An open adoption can provide closure for the birthparents by knowing that their child is safe and loved. An open adoption can promote a healthy relationship for the child, birthparents and adoptive family.
– Offer your help. It can be as simple as being there to listen, assisting them with day-to-day tasks or keeping them busy (such as going to the movies, taking a walk, etc.) This may also mean giving them some space, if this is what they need. It will be comforting to them to know you are available to offer your love and support.
Support for Birth Parents – Key to a Successful Adoption
Act of Love Adoptions helps birth parents to create an adoption plan that includes support for post-adoption. At the core of every healthy adoption, Act of Love believes it is essential to help birth parents create a plan to move forward with a successful and healthy life following the placement of their child for adoption. This plan can include counseling, assistance with confinement period (financial support – depending on your state laws & emotional support), a post-adoption contact plan with the adoptive family, support groups and resources.
Act of Love applauds the efforts of Birth Mother Baskets (BMB) and founder Gina Crotts. Gina having been a birth mother herself understands the importance of offering “support, hope and courage to expectant moms”. Through her 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Ms. Crotts vision and mission for BMB is “Creating a safe and positive space for all birth moms to feel comfortable enough to share their stories and be heard without judgment…”
Having an advocate that can provide a safe and secure environment, along with financial, medical and emotional support will help birth parents make the best decision regarding their child. Act of Love Adoptions has been helping birth parents for twenty years with best practices in planning for an adoption. The experienced professional staff creates a warm and loving environment where birth parents can select an adoptive family, if they choose, and make decisions for their hospital plan, post-adoption contact with the adoptive family and post-adoption support.
If you or a friend are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, contact Act of Love Adoptions to receive a free counseling session or talk with an experienced staff member to consider all of your options. The staff is composed of birth parents, adoptive parents, siblings of adopted children, adoptees and other staff with years of adoption experience. You can reach a staff member 24 hours/7 days a week at 1-800-835-6360.
Our “Bonus Baby”!
“We’ve always referred to Shayne as our “bonus baby”! He is our youngest and third child. All three of our children are adopted. We feel very blessed that God choose us to be Shayne’s parents. He keeps us smiling every day. He has a wonderful sense of humor which leads to him being very social – Lot’s of friends! He is currently in the 9th grade. He plays football in the fall. Part of the ski club (loves to snow board) during the winter months. Participates in track and field during the spring. Come summer he loves to spend his days at the lake swimming, boating and fishing. He is an active member of our church.
John and I were a bit older (42 and 43) when we were blessed with Shayne. We always say he’ll either keep us young or bury us young! Thank goodness, we think his easy disposition and sense of humor are keeping us young.” – Jill
Act of Love Adoptions is so grateful to John, Jill and Shayne for sharing their wonderful adoption story! It is such an honor to be able to be a part of the lives of our birth parents, adoptive parents and children and to watch them all grow and change over the years. Act of Love sends many happy wishes to all of our birth parents, adoptive families and children!!
Support Birth Mother Baskets
Act of Love is reaching out to offer support to Birth Mother Baskets, an organization that supports birth mothers who have chosen an adoption plan for their child. Birth parents so selflessly choose adoption for their children and show an unconditional love that is beyond what anyone can imagine or define. They are making a plan for their child, at a time in their life when they know that it would be best for their child to be a part of an adoptive family.
The hopes, dreams and wishes that birth parents have for their children far out-weigh their own needs. Birth parents are not thinking about their life or what they need, but what their child needs. They are heroes and deserve the utmost respect, love and care.
Birth Mother Baskets has shared with Act of Love that they are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is focused on educating expectant parents who are considering adoption and also supporting birth parents post placement. They offer Expectant Parent Peer (EPP), Birth Mother Friend (BMF), Birth Mother Baskets University (BMBU) and their standard Birth Mother Baskets (BMB), to educate, support and counsel expectant parents through the placement process. BMB works very closely and is supported by CAIRS solutions, ParentFinder, Child Connect, and NZMG.
They also shared that part of their program is sending Birth Mother Baskets to birth mothers who have placed so they don’t have to go home empty handed, but most importantly so they can know that someone loves them. The baskets can be purchased by agencies, adoptive couples, or just a friend.
With their recent feature in Cosmopolitan magazine, they report a great response to the retreats that they provide for birth mothers. This focus and response has shown BMB the need for more retreats to be held. By holding the retreats, BMB believes a birth mother can heal, realize she is not alone, she is loved, and she has self- worth. Please help support the retreats that will empower birth mothers and support them in their healing process.
You can help by providing donations for a venue, food, supplies and help with retreat preparations. If you can help in supporting Birth Mother Baskets or would be interested in attending a retreat, please contact Jessalynn at Jessalynn@birthmotherbaskets.org.
What Should I Do?
Clair was working, going to massage therapy school and had just decided to leave a relationship that she had been in for a couple of years. She had felt like it was time for her to move forward with her life and reach the goals that she wanted to achieve in life. For the past few years she had been in a relationship with Chase and enjoyed spending time with him, but now she felt like she was moving forward with her life and he was not setting any goals for himself. He was not getting any further education, living on a friend’s couch and was not currently working. Even though Clair had feelings for him and cared about him, she knew it was time to move in a different direction with her life.
Things were going great – she had some new friends she had met at school and she was getting ready to graduate. Her life was finally taking shape and she was excited for her future when she realized that she was pregnant. Many thoughts went through her head and she was so confused about what she should do. There wasn’t any doubt the birth father was Chase and Clair was afraid to tell him. She didn’t want to feel trapped with Chase and knew she was not ready to be a mother. Clair’s parents had always told her that she needed to complete school and be in a good financial place before she had children.
Clair decided that she would start researching her options and she found some adoption agencies on-line. She reviewed their websites and read the reviews on each. Her next step was to get the courage to call each of the three agencies that she thought looked like good options. After calling the first agency, she was feeling so uncomfortable, confused and upset, but then she called Act of Love Adoption Agency and spoke with a caseworker. She was surprised at how kind and understanding they were and how they just wanted to listen to her and help. They talked about Chase and the caseworker suggested that Clair talk with him and offer for him to call in and speak with her, as well. Clair was not completely comfortable with the idea, but knew she had to talk with him and her parents.
She called Chase and asked him to meet her for coffee the next morning. They met at the coffee shop and Clair shared with him that she was pregnant and that he was the father. Chase was surprised and shocked. It took a couple of weeks for Chase to be able to express how he felt to Clair, but he also knew that he was not ready to be a father. He asked her if she was really serious about adoption and told her that if she was he would like to be a part of making the adoption plan. He also offered to help her get to the doctor and told her he would get a job and help her with other expenses.
Even though Clair did not feel like she was in a good situation, she knew that she had the support of Chase and of the adoption agency. Act of Love had met with her and helped her get a care plan for her and the baby. They had started working on an adoption plan and selecting an adoptive family. Clair was able to talk with her parents and they agreed that the adoption plan was best for everyone. Her parents felt very comfortable with the support Clair was receiving from the adoption agency and were happy that Clair and Chase were choosing an adoption plan that would allow them to continue receive updates about the baby throughout his life.
Clair and Chase chose a wonderful adoptive family and had the opportunity to meet them and start a relationship. They spent time together getting to know each other and talking about their hopes and dreams for their little boy. Both Clair and Chase went on to finish their education and are now both working, happy and different relationships. They both receive updates on their little boy and both express how happy they are that they worked out the best possible plan for their little boy. They know he is loved and cherished and that brings them both peace and comfort.
The Ties That Bind Transracial Families
All families are unique, but blended transracial families become a more interesting example of how love and commitment can bind even the most different of people. Families who adopted from a different race and culture (often referred to as blended families) include not just people of different personalities but people who have different skin and hair color. The cultures and family histories may also be vastly different. There may be a combination of children by natural birth and by adoption, or adopted children from different races and cultures. Nevertheless, blended families who made A Act of Love to adopt are families in every sense of the word, with their struggles and triumphs.
Here are some of the sources of conflicts and struggles in blended families:
– Obvious Differences. Children who have been adopted transracially have this sense of being different. This feeling of being “set apart”, along with the unwanted attention it generates can be uncomfortable at best or even hurtful to the child.
– Conflict between siblings. Siblings have a natural love-hate relationship. However, siblings that come from different backgrounds may take this love-hate relationship to a new level due to the differences in their culture and appearance.
– Loss of privacy. For blended families, curious, annoying and sometimes insulting questions and comments from other people are the norm, rather than the exception. Your public outings may elicit stares from others. Complete strangers may come up to express an unsolicited opinion.
Some Tips to Help Make Blended Families Work
– Communicate, communicate, communicate. In other words, engage the members of the family who will be most affected – any existing children you have either naturally or through adoption. Talk to them about their feelings and fears about a new sibling, especially when the new addition may be so different from them. Read stories about adoption and transracial families. Take every opportunity to get him involved with the adoption process and excited with the prospect of a new sibling.
– Prepare yourself. Ask, “Am I committed to building a transracial family? Am I a great resource of celebration and joy over my children’s uniqueness and differences? Can I receive questions about my children with good humor or at least tolerate them?” Parents have a key role in helping each child handle the issues of a transracial family with composure and humor.
– Teach your children to recognize that the ties that bind them are as strong as any other. If you have a combination of children by birth and by adoption, the former may feel superior over the latter. This same issue may also be present with siblings where one sibling is more similar in appearance to you than the other sibling. Your key role is to reinforce that however each child came into your family; he is a cherished member and stands equal with the rest of the siblings.
– Recognize and even celebrate diversity. Rather than pretending that all your children are from the same background, you can acknowledge that there is indeed a difference and that these differences should be a cause for celebration for the family. Read up on your child’s culture and find opportunities to honor your child’s cultural heritage by observing some aspects of that culture such as food, customs and holidays.
– Treat each child equally. Even as you celebrate one child’s cultural heritage, make sure you do the same for all children. Be alert and fight against the impulse to treat a child differently because he was adopted or has come from a different background or culture.
– Get support. Join a support group that also has a number of transracial families, especially with families who have children from the same culture and race as some of your children. You can gather regularly to share insights about your families and how best you can handle specific situations. Your children will also do well to see that you are not the only family that has members from different races and cultures.
– Prepare your children. Rather than sugar-coating the fact that your family gets some unwanted attention because of your uniqueness, discuss how they can best respond to the attention.
The Sparkle in Their Eyes!
Such a happy visit at Act of Love! It was hard to tell who had more of a sparkle in their eye, the beautiful fourteen-year-old girl or her father that recently visited Act of Love Adoptions.
The impromptu visit from this amazing adoptive family was such a happy time. The incredible smile and happiness from this family and the love they have for each other brought joy and laughter to the Act of Love office. The staff that had worked with her birth parents remembered the birth parents and how amazing they had been. The staff shared the resemblances that they noticed with this young girl and she beamed with happiness. She shared that they loved music and was in the marching band at her school.
This young woman was so thrilled to see where it all started with her family. She shared that she had always wanted to visit the adoption agency and meet the Founder, Kathy Kunkel, and the staff that had helped her family. This proud father shared that not a day has gone by that he isn’t absolutely sure she was meant to be in their family.
The gratitude that they showed for each other and the staff members at Act of Love were genuine and such a treat to the staff at Act of Love Adoptions!! What a beautiful family – Act of Love thanks you for sharing your love and joy with us!
Celebrating Adoption With Your Family
Adoption is most definitely not an alternative, albeit inferior way, to build a family, something you turn to when natural birth is not possible. Act of Love Adoptions believes that adoption has its own brand of magic and wonder. No matter how a family is built – by birth, by adoption or a combination of both – the family is every bit a family because of the ties of love that bind them together. Adoption is A Act of Love that is to be celebrated so that the children who came through the family by adoption will learn to celebrate the miracle of how they all found each other.
Celebrating adoption can help to raise awareness among family members and friends. As people learn to see the gift of adoption, it can hopefully impact the community such that the community will embrace adoption as a beautiful way to build a family and remove the stigma that adoption still sometimes bears.
Here are some ways to celebrate adoption in your everyday routine and activities:
– Celebrate your child’s heritage. Read up on major holidays celebrated by your child’s culture. Plan activities around these holidays that involve the family. From time to time, go to a restaurant that serves the cuisine or, better yet, learn to cook popular dishes that feature a certain culture.
– Find a family or support group that your family can meet with on a regular basis. The support group will help to emphasize to your children that growing in your heart is just as important as growing in your tummy. It can also emphasis that there are many families created through adoption. As you gain more experience, you can also gear up to be a mentor to new adoptive families.
– Practice adoption-appropriate language at home. Encourage friends and loved ones to use adoption-appropriate language. With this, you don’t say, “my real child” or “my adopted child”. Rather, they are all your children. Their birthparent did not “give them away”; rather they made a choice for adoption.
– Read books and watch movies about adoption. Have your collection of bedtime books and movies that feature adoption and the issues that children may be faced with regarding adoption. You can also use the library and the internet to seek out resources. Exposure to multimedia covering the topic of adoption will help children process their own feelings and can springboard discussions about their experiences.
– Learn to give. Of your time and money. Volunteer for adoption-related activities in the community, especially those held during Adoption Celebration month. Set aside some money to donate to a local adoption organization. Involve your children in these endeavors.
– Show love in simple ways every day. Showing love can come in the form of a hug, a pat in the back or a moment where you snuggle on the couch. This can come in the form of notes that recount the many ways you appreciate your child (i.e. “I appreciate your joyful attitude.” “I love the way you worked hard to print your name.”, etc.)
Celebrating THE one special day
It is a bittersweet day. Bitter because the birthparent will finally relinquish and terminate their parental rights to the child and sweet because the sacrifice of love that is made for the child. It is a day when the family enthusiastically welcomes another beloved member with open arms. Act of Love Adoptions encourages families who adopted to mark this day as a red-letter day and a cause for celebration in the family. This is commonly called the Adoption Day.
Some suggestions include:
– Retelling the child’s adoption story. Trace back the events that led up to his being part of the family. Be sure to be age appropriate when telling the story. You can take out your adoption journal and scrapbook and pore over the pictures and journal entries together.
– Holding a party. It does not have to be grand or elaborate but it can feature elements (food, décor) from your child’s cultural heritage. You can share a home-cooked meal or go out to eat. You can also organize an activity that your child will enjoy, such as a day at the amusement park, skating rink, mini-golf course or the zoo.
– Giving your child a gift. This is a great way to remind your child that he himself is a gift to the family. Again, it does not have to be grand or expensive. It can be a memento or a token of how your child is loved and cherished.