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Farewell and Best Wishes

Best wishes to our co-worker and friend Carlene. She will be leaving Act of Love on July 2nd. As sad as we are that she is leaving, we are happy for her new adventures.

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12 years ago Carlene started with Act of Love as a birth mom coordinator. Carlene helped many birth parents with her caring and loving support as they completed their adoption plan. From there she transitioned into working with adoptive families and assisting them in preparing their adoption file and finalizing their adoption. Carlene has been an asset in helping families and birth parents through their adoption process. She frequently receives compliments on her gentle nature and unique ability to help others feel comfortable and secure with the adoption process.

Carlene, we have been fortunate to have you in our lives. You are truly a diamond in the rough and will be missed by all! You have touched the lives of many and we are blessed to have had the pleasure to work with you.  Act of Love will honor Carlene with an Open House on Thursday, July 2nd from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Please feel free to visit during these hours to wish her well or send an email message for her to adopt@aactofloveadoptions.com.

3 Things Every Birth Mother Should Expect From the Adoption Process

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Whether it was an unplanned pregnancy, you simply can’t handle a child financially, physically, or emotionally, placing a child for adoption can be a foreign experience. As the birth mother, you’re going to need to ignore social stereotypes, and above all, never feel embarrassed or disgraced about your decision.

#1: People Are Going to Judge You
Hopefully you’re in a situation where your friends and family members are going to support you throughout the adoption process. Just don’t count on it. You should feel proud of your decision, and know that it’s going to benefit your child in the long run. Social pressures from the birth father, the adoptive parents, and friends and family members may attempt to persuade your decision in one direction or another. Know that this is your decision and yours only to make.
#2: You Have Rights
As the birth mother, you have the right to determine who your baby is going to live with. If you decide to place your baby with another family, you can choose that family. On the flipside, if you decide not to place your child then the same principle applies- no one can force you to change your mind one way or another.
#3: There Are Support Groups Available
Once the adoption has been finalized, and your child is with their new family, you’ll want to speak with a support group. This is a great way to remain connected to your feelings and make friends with mothers who are in a similar situation. Fortunately, there are many quality support groups available both online as well as in-person. Although placing your child with another family can feel like a difficult decision, you should feel some peace of mind knowing that it’s the best decision that you could have made for your child.

If you have questions for Dee, email Dee at adopt@aactofloveadoptions.com.  To speak with an understanding and caring adoption professional you can text 801-450-0094, email actofloveadoptions@yahoo.com or call the 24 hour/7 day a week hotline at 800-835-6360.  Your information is private and confidential.  We are here to help you!

African American Baby Boy Due August 2015 – No Longer Available

Expectant mother I is continuing to search for an adoptive family to adopt her African American baby boy that is due around the middle of August.  She desires an adoptive family that is willing to communicate throughout the child’s life by email and have possible future visits throughout the child’s life.  Expectant mother I also wishes to begin establishing a relationship with the adoptive family prior to delivery of the baby.

I reports that she has generally been healthy and has not experienced any major illness, injury or developmental problems during her life.  She reports that she is currently under the care of a physician for her pregnancy and current health issues.    She also reports beginning her prenatal care in January 2015, as well as, taking prenatal vitamins.  I states that she is not partaking in the use of alcohol, illegal drugs or tobacco.  Available medical records and further non-identifying information and social health history will be made accessible to approved Outreach families that are interested in being considered for this situation.  I reports that she currently has Medicaid coverage.   For further information on becoming an approved Outreach adoptive family and to receive further information regarding I’s situation, along with available medical records, please contact Act of Love at outreach@aactofloveadoptions.com.

Adoptive families that are home study ready and are interested in this situation, should contact Act of Love by email at outreach@aactofloveadoptions.com.  Families that are in the process of completing a home study may also contact Act of Love regarding the possibility of I’s Outreach Situation and other possible available situations.

Families interested in being considered for the Act of Love Outreach Program, will need to complete an AOL Application for Services (NO FEES or OBLIGATION prior to a match), provide an original signed notarized copy of the home study along with supporting documentation to meet agency requirements. Adoptive families that apply for the Outreach Program are NOT required to submit any agency fees prior to a match with a birth parent and are not obligated to AOL by submitting the Application for Services. To receive further information on the AOL Outreach Program, please contact Act of Love Adoption Agency at outreach@aactofloveadoptions.com or call 801-572-1696. The AOL staff is available to answer any questions you have regarding adoption or the Outreach Program and address your adoption needs.  All Act of Love situations are presented to full-service adoptive families prior to presenting to Outreach adoptive families.

Act of Love Adoptions offers individual services to families and birth parents interested in completing an adoption, as well as full-services. A free Adoption Orientation is offered, on the first Tuesday of every month beginning at 7:00 p.m. The next Adoption Orientation will be held on July 2, 2015 beginning at 7:00 p.m., at the Sandy offices. The orientation offers a casual setting designed to provide educational information to adoptive families considering adoption along with information to experience a successful adoption before, during and after placement.  Birth parents and adoptive families will be available to answer questions and share their experience. Call 801-572-1696 to receive further information on the orientation or to schedule a no-cost, private informational appointment. It would be our pleasure to support you on your adoption journey.

Commitment to Diversity: Why I chose my family

unnamed[1]I am an African female and my adoptive family is not. They are Caucasian. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that our differences did not cross my mind when considering them as a potential adoptive family.

I was raised in a household with an emphasis on respect, education, and culture. This is an environment that created me and that I wanted my son to grow up in. So when I was considering families this is what I was looking for. As I was presented with all these different families to choose from, I was a little thrown off that many of them did not look like me. I found out that very few adoptive parents looking to expand their family are African or African American. It may sound small minded but I had to consider, culturally, will my son’s upbringing be what I want for him?

I am blessed to be a first generation African in the United States. I can trace my lineage very far back. Almost all of my family is still in Africa. I want my son to know that. I want him to know that he comes from somewhere, that he is able to have some cultural identity growing up. I worried about problems he may have fitting in. Will other families accept him? Will people judge him? Will he have trouble in school? I worried as far as to where he will get a haircut!

I voiced all these worries to my adoption counselor and ultimately I was introduced to an amazing family. With three children of their own, they had already adopted an African American son. The adoptive mother explained her commitment to a trans-racial family and has traveled extensively. (Even to Africa!) She didn’t claim to know it all and acknowledged that it wouldn’t be easy. The entire family was warm and loving. Their family embraced education, respect and culture. I was impressed. Ultimately we chose each other. Now my son is their son.

Today I am happy to send suggestions about hair product or lotions. He’s only one now but I hope to continue to be a resource for my son in terms of his cultural identity. Ultimately, my son should be loved. He should be encouraged to grow and succeed. This is what I was looking for in an adoptive family and what I believe I found.

Pressure in Utah to Open Adoption Records

Many states have unsealed their adoption records for adoptions as far back as the 1960’s. Utah is a state that has yet to pass laws concerning sealed adoption records. There are many adoptees that are asking the state to help them open their records. One adult adoptee says, “The state makes it hard. The laws are just antiquated.”

While many adoptees feel this way, state lawmakers are taking into account the birthparents feelings. Some claim that at the time the adoption placements happened, birthparents knew the records would be sealed. So what would happen if we change the law at this point? Some birthparents may no longer have their anonymity and some birthparents may have a number of reasons why they do not want their records unsealed.

Other states have addressed this issue as they have passed laws to unseal records. They have put a timetable together where the birthparents have the opportunity to register with Vital Records to keep the records private. In those states that have put this procedure in place, the record remains private with no access if the birthparents choose.

The state of Utah does have a Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry. The registry is maintained through the Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics. Adult adoptees and birthparents can place their name and contact information on this registry. If both adoptee and birthparent register, then information can be given to both parties. If only one registers, no information can be received. At this time, more than 2,000 people have put their name and information on the Utah Mutual Consent Registry, and 1,500 of those are adoptees. One adoptee states, that she never knew the registry existed and doubts her birthmother does either.

Act of Love includes the registry information in counseling/education visits with the birthparents/adoptive families and in the placement and relinquishment packets. Act of Love believes it is important that the birthmother and family not only understand there is a registry, but also understand how the Mutual Consent Registry works. With that being said, the vast majority of the agency’s adoptions are open with ongoing contact, so the registry is just a backup or safety plan in case contact is lost.

Many adoptive parents worry that when their adult children find their birthparents that they will abandon them as parents. One adoptive mother said that she helped her son find his birthmother and it was wonderful for him. But, it ended up heart wrenching for the adoptive mom when he told her he wanted to be with his birthmother now.

Most adult adoptees say the experience can be a fulfilling of who they are. The pieces are all put together and they feel complete. Others have not had such a great experience. One adult male called his birthmother and she said he was mistaken and she was not his mother.

As more states open their adoption records to adult adoptees, the pressure will be on lawmakers of states like Utah where the information remains sealed. Those states, who have taken the extra step to allow birthparents the right to keep their records closed, have made a wise decision. In this way, privacy is not invaded if a reunion is not wanted.

Sources:
https://www.kutv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/Push-and-push-back-on-opening-closed-Utah-adoption-records-134277.shtml#.VV4wO9pVhHw

What is the “Outreach Program” and how does it work?

Act of Love provides two programs to adoptive parents looking for a child to adopt.  Many adoptive parents choose to be part of the “Applied Full Service Program.”  But for some, the Applied Full Service Program is not what they are looking for.  For these families, the Outreach Program may be just what they are looking for.

There is a big difference between these two programs.  Both are good programs for adoptive families, but they have two different goals and purposes.

The Applied Full Service Program is for adoptive families who want Act of Love to more actively promote them with birth parents and are willing to pay Act of Love’s fees up-front in order to enjoy this preference.  In this program, Act of Love will require both the adoptive family and the birth parents to identify the criteria they would like to consider when making the decision to either place or receive a child for adoption.  These criteria will include the level of “openness” and post-adoption contact in the adoption each adoptive family and each birth parent desires.  Act of Love will compare the criteria of adoptive families in the Applied Full Service Program against the criteria of every birth parent working with Act of Love.  If the criteria are similar, Act of Love will show the family’s profile to the birth parents in the hope that the birth parent will want to learn more.  Thus, families in the Applied Full Service Program have the opportunity to be shown to every birth parent AOL is assisting that meets the birth parent’s criteria.  Furthermore, adoptive families in the Applied Full Service Program who meet the birth parent’s criteria will be shown to that birth parent before he or she will be shown any families who are part of the Outreach Program.  In order to be part of the Applied Full Service Program, adoptive families must pay a portion of the Agency Fee up-front.

The Outreach Program fills a specific need.  From time to time, there is a birth parent for whom AOL is not able to find a suitable family from within the Applied Full Service Program.  When this happens, AOL then turns to the families in the Outreach Program.  In other words, if a birth parent cannot find a suitable family from the Applied Full Service Program, AOL then presents the birth parent with information about adoptive families in the Outreach Program.  What this means is that Outreach families will most likely not have the opportunity to be shown to all of AOL’s birth parents; the birth parents may choose an adoptive family from the Applied Full Service Program before any adoptive parents from the Outreach Program are shown to the birth parents.  Although the chances of finding a child through the Outreach Program are lower, there is one decided benefit to the Outreach Program: There is no application fee to join this program.

In short, when Act of Love has an adoption situation, it first presents it to adoptive families in the Applied Full Service Program.  If AOL is unable to find a suitable match, then it notifies Outreach families.  If AOL cannot find adoptive parents in either the Applied or the Outreach programs, it will use other methods to search for suitable families.

Most often, the Outreach Program is used by adoptive families who have obtained all required home studies and background clearances, are now simply looking for a child to adopt, and who are working with multiple adoption service providers to locate a child for adoption.

Why should I apply to the Outreach Program?

If you are ready to adopt right now, and would like the opportunity to receive more exposure to actual adoption situations with no strings attached this is the program for you.  By getting pre-approved to adopt in your home state, you can save precious time when an adoption opportunity presents itself in the Outreach Program.  Many times AOL may be able to send your family profile to a birth mother the same day she tells Act of Love that she would like to look at Outreach families.

Is there an application fee?
No.  Unlike enrollment in the Applied Full Service Program, you do not need to pay Act of Love any up-front fees to be included in the Outreach Program.  If you are matched with a child, however, you will ultimately upon match be obligated to pay an “Agency Fee” and the same expenses those families in the Applied Full Service Program pay for a successful adoption upon match.  The total cost that any adoptive family pays, whether in the Applied Full Service Program or the Outreach Program, depends largely upon the unique circumstances of each adoption situation.

 What is the wait time?

Wait times vary.  Adoptive families in the Outreach Program may wait only days before being chosen by a birth mother, or they may wait in excess of one year or more.  Some families don’t place through the Outreach Program because, for example, they may receive a child through another source.

Wait times can be shorter and your chances of getting chosen increase if you are pre-approved to adopt in your home state.  On average, a birth mom looking at Outreach families can receive fewer than ten profiles from pre-approved Outreach families before she decides to contact a family.

What kind of adoptions are these?

Outreach adoptions are based on individual birth parent needs. The majority of the Outreach adoptions will require some form of openness.  “Openness” refers to the level of contact that the birth parents want to have with the child and the adoptive parents.  There are three general categories of openness:

A. Closed – no contact after placement with adoptive parents.

B. Semi Open – requiring letters and pictures at least once a year.

C. Open Adoption – requiring actual contact with the birth parent(s) after placement, such as visits or phone calls.

Most birth parents involved in the Outreach Program will only desire letters and pictures for a predetermined time.  Act of Love can assist you with this post-placement contact.

Can I continue to work with my adoption professional during this process?

Yes.  Act of Love encourages you to continue to work with your current adoption professionals.

 What does the Outreach Program cost?

Although there are no up-front fees in the Outreach Program, an adoptive family that adopts a child through the Outreach Program will ultimately pay the same Agency Fee paid by adoptive families in the Applied Full Service Program.  The total cost of any adoption, however, ultimately depends upon the unique circumstances of each adoption situation.  Total adoption expenses range between approximately $22,000.00 and $45,000.00, depending on each adoption’s unique circumstances (This may or may not include medical/legal expenses).  Aside from the Agency Fee, which is fixed, factors affecting the total costs include, but are not limited to, birth parent expenses, medical expenses, legal expenses, etc.

 How and when is the Agency Fee paid? 

Most birth mothers who look into placing their children with adoptive families in the Outreach Program are due to give birth within six months, at the latest.  Half of the Agency Fee is due when you are matched with a birth mother.  The remaining balance is due 30 days before the child’s expected due date.  Thus, if you are matched when there are fewer than 30 days before the expected due date, the entire Agency Fee will be due at that time.  Please see below for a more detailed description of the Agency Fee.

 For Further Information?

For more information on Act of Love programs, contact the AOL office through email at adoptions@aactofloveadoptions or call the office at 801-572-1696.  Act of Love offers a free informational Adoption Orientation the first Tuesday of every month to answer adoption questions in a casual, no-obligation setting.  Private informational meetings can also be scheduled by contacting Act of Love. 

Open Adoption Education

The topic of adoption is rarely ever discussed today without the words “open adoption” also being discussed. Most adoptive parents who have adopted in the past 10 years and those who are looking to adopt will expect the birthparents to request some form of ongoing contact.

Studies have concurred that open adoption is very beneficial for the adopted child. But the studies do not tell anyone how to prepare or implement an open adoption. Due to the lack of training and information, some adoptive parents find the process exciting, but at the same time a little stressful, anxious and sometimes scary.

As an adoptive parent, the idea of openness can be a little unsettling. Many adoption agencies present adoptive parents with the pre and post-adoption contact the birthparent is asking for in the openness agreement as they present the situation. This is a very good practice. The adoptive parent can then read about the situation, the fees involved and the openness request. Adoptive parents will know from the beginning what will be expected of them as far as openness goes. One word of caution: If the openness agreement does not feel right to you as an adoptive parent, do not say yes to this situation. If you do not plan to honor the agreement completely, you need to be upfront with the birthparent(s). It would be better for them to find an adoptive parent(s) that wholeheartedly agree to honor the openness and post-adoption contact requested.

As open adoption has evolved over the years, it has been found to be very beneficial for the adoptee. Healthy identity development is gained from an adoptee having access to all aspects of their history. If there is a sustained relationship between birth and adoptive families, it will strengthen the child’s development and learning. If both parties focus on what is best for the child, it will be a meaningful and lasting relationship that all will cherish.

Two important parts of an open adoption include communication and commitment. When there becomes a concern in the relationship, communicating feelings in a respectful manner will help resolve the issue and keep the relationship in a positive place. It is important to consider the other’s role in the adoption triad and be empathetic to what the other may be feeling. This is especially true of the child. The child will reach a point in his/her life where they may not be interested in getting together as one big extended family. When this happens it’s important not to push the child, but patiently wait until the child to work through his/her emotions and matures.

Having an open adoption in writing is helpful to use as a guide. It is important that the basics are met, but creating an authentic relationship with the other person is the most important. Common courtesy is greatly appreciated. If some beautiful pictures were taken by a professional photographer and they haven’t come back, let the birthparents know that they are with the photographer and will be forwarded as soon as they are received.

Having an open adoption is a wonderful way to blend two families into one. With mutual respect and love, agreements can be honored and the bond will grow strong. All will benefit: the birthparents and the child, the adoptive parents.
Sources:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/april-dinwoodie/6-key-factors-to-consider-for-an-open-adoption_b_7157382.html

Precious Memories

Two women sat on a hospital bed holding on to each other with full hearts and happy faces. A beautiful baby girl had just been born minutes before and as the nurse tended to the baby’s vitals, birthmom and adoptive mom took the time to just be together and quietly share this precious event. Looking at them, you would have thought they were sisters, women who had grown up together and knew each other better than anyone. Having only met in person earlier that morning, the two both felt as if they had known each other for a very long time.

After a beautiful phone call on Mother’s Day when the birthmom told the adoptive couple she had selected them, the birthmother said she was already bonded to the adoptive mom. She said the phone call made her Mother’s Day so happy that she could tell the adoptive mom she was going to be a mother after waiting for so long.

On the morning of the scheduled induction, the birthmother and the adoptive couple met in person. They immediately felt like old friends and they chatted about everything. The birthmother, doing a natural birth, needed to walk to help her body progress. She and the adoptive parents walked and talked for a couple of hours. They talked about their lives and how their journey had brought them together. The birthmother showed them pictures of her family and told stories about her growing up years. They really got to know one another.

When the time came that the birthmother could no longer walk, they went back to the hospital and were preparing for the birth. Quickly changing, the birthmother knew it would not be long. Within 5 minutes the baby was delivered and the adoptive mom cut the umbilical cord. It was a wonderful, happy moment for everyone. The birthmother wanted the adoptive mom to be the first to hold her beautiful new baby.

The birthmother felt great. She had delivered completely natural without a bit of medication. She had a smile on her face from the time the baby was delivered as she watched the adoptive couple fall in love with their baby. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was meant to be; that she had found the perfect family for her little one. She couldn’t have felt happier. She even said, “I feel like I’m here with my best friend to see her new baby.”

As the birthmother left the hospital, they all made plans to meet and visit some places that were special to the birthmother. The home she grew up in, a family cabin in the mountains, and places where her father had worked. All were excited to continue on this path of an open adoption. They all expressed their love and happiness and gratefulness to each other.

It was an adoption put together with respect and love. It was a beautiful event to have witnessed. As the birthmother lovingly put it, “God’s hand was definitely in this one.”

Seeking Adoptive Family for Caucasian Baby Due in September 2015 – Matched

Expectant mother G is continuing to search for an adoptive family to adopt her Caucasian baby due early in September 2015. G has requested Act of Love Adoption Agency to continue assisting her as she searches for an adoptive family.  She continues to seek an adoptive family for her baby that is “active in the LDS faith”.  Her openness and post-adoption contact consists of pictures and updates from the adoptive family through email until the child reaches adulthood.  It is G’s wishes to spend time with the adoptive family prior to birth and again when the baby is born.

Expectant mother G continues to report she is healthy and has not experienced any major illness, injury or developmental problems during her life. G continues to report that she is not partaking in the use of illegal drugs or tobacco.  She does report having a couple of drinks during the beginning of her pregnancy. Her report is that she is continuing to receive prenatal care and taking vitamins.  Available medical records and further non-identifying information and social health history will be made accessible to approved Outreach families that are interested in being considered for this situation.  G reports that she has recently been approved for Medicaid.   For further information on becoming an approved Outreach adoptive family and to receive further information regarding G’s situation, along with available medical records, please contact Act of Love at outreach@aactofloveadoptions.com.

Home studied adoptive families who are interested in this situation, should contact Act of Love by email at outreach@aactofloveadoptions.com.  Families that are in the process of completing a home study may also contact Act of Love regarding the possibility of G’s Outreach Situation and other possible available situations.  To be considered for the Act of Love Outreach Program, adoptive families will need to complete an Application for Services (NO FEES or OBLIGATION prior to a match), provide an original signed notarized copy of the home study along with supporting documentation to meet agency requirements. Adoptive families that apply for the Outreach Program are NOT required to submit any agency fees prior to being matched with a birth parent and are not obligated by completing an application. For more information on the Outreach Program, contact Act of Love Adoption Agency at outreach@aactofloveadoptions.com or call 801-572-1696. The staff will gladly answer any questions you have regarding adoption or the Outreach Program.  All Act of Love situations are presented to full-service adoptive families prior to presenting to Outreach adoptive families.

Act of Love Adoptions offers individual services to families and birth parents to help complete an adoption, as well as full-services. A free Adoption Orientation is offered, on the first Tuesday of every month beginning at 7:00 p.m. The next Adoption Orientation will be held on July 2, 2015 at the Sandy offices. The orientation is in a casual setting designed to provide educational information to adoptive families considering adoption along with information to experience a successful adoption before, during and after placement. Call 801-572-1696 to receive further information on the orientation or to schedule a no-cost, private informational appointment. It would be our pleasure to support you on your adoption journey.

Words that Affirm: Positive Adoption Language

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

This quote is, in reality, far from the truth. Words may even hurt more than sticks and stones because the damage is inflicted where the wounds may not heal as quickly. Words have their own special power and should be used with sensitivity and care. In the same way that words can hurt, words can also build up, give meaning and educate.

Positive Language in Adoption

For the longest time, adoption has been viewed in a negative light. This is still reflected in words that are spoken without careful consideration for the adoption triad. That is why adoption professionals, adoption agencies and families who have adopted need to actively campaign and work to promote the use of positive adoption language. At A Act of Love Adoptions, we are committed to using and promoting positive adoption language.

The careful and conscious use of positive adoption language can actually showcase the wonder that is adoption. It also conveys our respect for the people for the families, birth parents and children. Using positive adoption language shows that adoption, like childbirth, is a valid and loving way of building a family. This is about creating a safe environment for those in the adoption triad, by carefully avoiding the use of terms that mean well, but can actually be hurtful.

Here are some examples:
– Birthparent. The birthparent should refer to both the birth mom and dad. This recognizes that a child has both a birth mom and a birth dad.  This term should also be used when the birthparents have finalized their decision for adoption.
– Avoiding the word “real” or “natural”.  The terms “real” and “natural” imply that there is an opposite – something that is not real or unnatural. The parents who have adopted the child are simply “mom and dad”. The parents should refer to all children as “my children”, giving no distinction between children by adoption or by childbirth. Biological children are not to be referred to as “real children”. In the same way, the birthparents are referred to as such and not as the “real or natural parents”. This prevents adoptees and parent who adopted from being insignificant and unvalued because they are not considered “real”.
– Not referring to your child as “my adopted child”. This description may denote that there is something qualitatively different with a child who has been adopted as opposed to a child by natural birth.
– Placing for adoption vs. giving up or surrendering my baby. The term “giving up” has negative and hurtful connotations, especially to the child and the birthparents. The child may feel unvalued. The term also implies that birthparents did not care about the child. However, adoption may just be their choice out of their love for the child and their desire for what is best for him. “Place for adoption” is more emotionally neutral, as is, “making an adoption plan”. “
– Is adopted vs. was adopted. “Was adopted” connotes that the fact of a child’s adoption is part of their life events, but not something that defines their identity. “Is adopted” connotes something that is ongoing.

 

Adoption
is An Act of Love

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