Individuals facing an unplanned pregnancy who wish to place their child up for adoption have a weighty decision on their hands. They want to make the best decision for their personal life and child. This could cause a host of emotions ranging from hope to utter confusion.
Some mothers facing this dilemma may worry if they’re being selfish, especially if they have the financial means to care for a child. Others may worry about who the child might end up with. Others just want to make sure they’re making the best decision possible.
Only you can decide which decision is best for you. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the parameters surrounding this decision. If you’re considering adoption placement, consider these important questions:
Are There Different Forms of Adoption?
Adoption used to be perceived as a sealed envelope; the birth family a mystery never to be solved by the adopted child. However, there are several agencies that offer different forms of adoption. Now, many birth families are able to have supervised contact with their child. Depending on your goals as a birthmother, you can choose the type of adoption that works for you and your needs.
Do I Choose the Family My Child Goes With?
Yes. Birthparents have the opportunity to select the best family for their child. You can determine your specific preferences and discuss those with the agency. After careful consideration, you’ll have the final say in where your child goes.
Will My Child Resent Me?
Unfortunately, this is an answer that varies from child to child. Some children are thankful for their parent’s choice. Others may feel a pang of resentment. Fortunately, there are several resources for children to tap into once their curiosities begin to set in. Should they start to feel resentful, there are tools available to help them cope with their emotions. Although this doesn’t take away from your curiosity, it does provide some form of comfort.
How Can I Cope With This Transition?
During the adoption process, birthparents have the opportunity to receive counseling. This will help them process this huge change in a positive manner. In addition, there are several peer-to-peer support groups that help birthparents navigate this process. Taking advantage of these resources is key to enduring this complicated process.
Will My Community Understand My Decision?
Many people wonder if those around them will support their decision. Unfortunately, the answer to this question greatly depends on the person and their situation. There will be some people within your direct circle who don’t agree with your choice. However, there will be some who are 100% supportive. No matter their stance, you should only be concerned with your perspective. If you’re comfortable with the decision you’re making, that’s all the validation you need to live a happy and fulfilling life.
Making the decision to place your child up for adoption is a personal one; one that requires careful consideration. It’s best to deeply reflect on the pros and cons in order to make the best decision for you and your baby.
There has always been an increased need within the domestic adoption system for non-white or mixed race children to be adopted. Aside from age and disability, race can sadly be another factor that can cause a child to wait longer within the system for a permanent home.
Sadly, adoptive parents can often worry about the perceived issues of adopting transracially, and while there can be some challenges in incorporating a child of another race into your family, the benefits are also plentiful. In this article we’ll be taking a look at how to help your child navigate questions of race and identity as they age.
Challenges you May Face Raising any child, be they your biological child or domestically or internationally adopted, is never without its challenges, but there can be some issues you might encounter that are more specific to transracial adoptees. There usually will be little issue with concepts of race and identity in the early years, but as a child ages, and particularly when they start school, some difficult questions may arise, for example:
“Why do I look different from the other boys and girls?”
“Why do other children’s mommies and daddies look the same as them?”
“Why am I different?”
As a child ages further and progresses into the preteen and teenage years, questions may become more complex and can become a challenge for parents to answer. There may be questions surrounding racism, perceptions of beauty or cultural history. This can also be the time when almost all adopted children, regardless of race or culture, begin to ask ‘why me’ and become curious about their origins and biological parents.
What You Can Do as Parents to Help Acknowledging your child’s’ race and cultural history is an essential facet when parenting a transracial adoptee, as neglecting this can cause you to unintentionally harm your child. Race and culture is a huge part of our identity, and if this is omitted from a child’s upbringing they can be left feeling detached or isolated. In the worst case scenarios, they may even deem their race or culture as inferior to that of their adoptive parents’ and seek to suppress their identity to conform to you instead of celebrating their uniqueness.
Therefore, one of the most important things you can do to help your child navigate questions of race and culture is to actively celebrate both your own race and culture as well as the child’s, to not only show them that all colors and creeds are beautiful, but encourage them to have a strong bond with their own racial and cultural identity. There are many ways that parents can do this. For example:
Encouraging the child to interact with individuals of their own race
Reading books/promoting learning about both transracial adoption and the culture of the child
Learn the child’s’ native language, or set about learning it together as a bonding exercise
Find same-race/ethnicity mentors for your child
Hold open conversations about racism, and confront these problems openly
Cook dishes prevalent in the child’s culture
Celebrate a spectrum of cultures
A Strong Leader At the heart of it all, as long as you display correct behaviours for your child to model, incorporating and encouraging your child to celebrate their race and ethnicity will come naturally. By forming a bond based around listening, trust, and understanding, as all good parents do, any issues your child might face can be faced together as a family unit.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), also known as ‘Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’ is a medical term used to describe the permanent birth defects to a baby that have been caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. This damage is caused when alcohol reaches the fetus through the woman’s bloodstream via the placenta. The alcohol disrupts the oxygen supply to the baby which is essential for fetal development.
Sadly, parenting a child with FASD can be all too common within the domestic adoption system, and even more sadly, the effects of alcohol exposure to the child can be far-reaching and permanent. Therefore, in this article we hope to shed some light on the realities of parenting a child with FASD, and offer some helpful parenting tips to ensure your adopted child thrives with you.
Common FASD Symptoms FASD is described as a ‘spectrum disorder’, so the effects of alcohol exposure to each unique child can be highly specific and stretch across a broad range of symptoms (or a ‘spectrum’, if you will). Many factors can also impact the severity of effects, such as the amount of alcohol consumed over time, or the developmental stage in which the most alcohol was consumed.
Some of the most common effects of FASD include:
Struggles with problem solving
Pre/Post-natal growth deficiencies
Common FASD Parenting Struggles While the effects of FASD are most keenly felt between the ages of birth to 3 years old, the effects of FASD are life-long, and in regards to parenting, this can mean altering your approach accordingly. The table below shows some common examples of FASD issues and their parenting solutions for each key age marker.
Tires when feeding (falls asleep)
Is easily distracted away from eating
Finds clothes itchy or irritating and wants to remove them
Bathing, brushing, and teeth cleaning are a struggle
Clumsy motor skills
Feed smaller amounts more often
Reduce distractions at food time, i.e. no talking, TV off
Opt for soft clothes, remove tags, put socks on child inside out
Break these tasks down into manageable sections
Encourage physical activity
Talks well, but has poor understanding
Poor math skills
Trouble socialising/making friends with children of own age
Use commands such as ‘show me’ or ‘tell me about…’ to check understanding
Provide concrete objects (such as beads to count) to help child to understand abstract concepts
Help teach your child social skills.
Physically and sexually mature while being emotionally and socially immature
Easily led by others
Start sex education learning early, keep conversations open
Teach your child risky behaviours to watch for
General Parenting Advice In general, the best thing parents of a FASD (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Spectrum Disorder) child can do is create a place of clarity. Break tasks down into manageable sections, make checklists, and keep your instructions simple. Be prepared to repeat instructions on learned tasks on a daily basis, and most of all be patient and aware of your child’s responses.
Cases of FASD can lead to parenting challenges for adoptive parents of both domestically and internationally adopted children, but the key thing to remember is that with love and understanding even the most seemingly insurmountable of obstacles can be scaled and overcome.
In the USA, the average age of children awaiting domestic adoption is 9 years of age. While babies and toddlers are usually adopted quickly, older children sadly have to wait several years to be adopted, if at all. However, adopting older children can be equally as rewarding as adopting younger children. It simply requires an open mind, open heart, and a slightly different approach.
The Benefits There are so many benefits to adopting an older child, which sadly a lot of prospective adoptive parents aren’t aware of. Listed below are some of the key benefits you should consider before you rule out adopting an older child.
No Baby Years -. The early years can be quite the strain on family units and can leave parents stressed and completely worn out. Avoiding this time period can give you the chance instead to focus on building a strong bond with your new child from the moment of their arrival to your home.
Aware of the Past – An older child not only has a more complete history that can be told to you via caseworkers, but they are also aware of their own experiences and feelings. This means you can work with your new child to discuss, explore, and potentially overcome hurts of the past.
Healing – Leading on from the previous point, domestically adopting an older child means that through conversation with the child and working together, you can truly help begin the healing process.
Grow Together – Because they are more aware of themselves and are able to communicate more openly with you, you’re able to work with your child to build trust and form a strong bond.
Quicker and Beneficial – While probably not your primary concern when adopting, adoption of an older child is usually quicker and easier, and the child will have a variety of financial benefits in place, such as free college tuition.
There’s Still Firsts – Whilst many adoptive parents want to relish the usual firsts such as first words and steps, there are plenty of first for parents of older adopted children to enjoy, such as the first time they call you ‘mom’ or ‘dad’, or say ‘I love you’, not to mention other social and emotional milestones.
The Challenges Of course, adopting an older child isn’t without its challenges, and while even young children who are adopted will have their own struggles, with older children these issues are usually more outwardly expressed and keenly felt. Some potential challenges you might face include:
Fear of rejection
Lack of trust/scepticism
Difficulty bonding (on the side of the child)
Of course there may also be challenges specific to your child, such as disabilities, mental health conditions, or spectrum disorders such as autism or FASD. All these potential problems should be considered, and potential strategies researched before deciding whether adopting an older child is suitable to you and your family dynamics.
Love Conquers All If you weigh the pros and cons of adopting an older child and decide it is the best option for you, then remember with love, persistence, and patience great things can be achieved. Remember that love isn’t just shown by words or displays of affection, it is shown through deeds, listening, and understanding, and your child is likely to be far more receptive of this than you realize.
Whether domestic or international, adoption disruption or dissolution can be an upsetting reality for many hopeful parents and children each year. In this article we’ll be taking a closer look at the causes of such events, and how you can prevent or come to terms with this happening.
What is Adoption Disruption?
Adoption disruption occurs when the adoption process ends after the child is already placed in their adoptive home, but before the adoption has been legally finalized. This will result in the child entering foster care, or being placed with alternate adoptive parents.
What is Adoption Dissolution?
Adoption dissolution occurs when the legal relationship between adopted child and adoptive parents is either voluntarily or involuntarily severed. This occurs after the child has been legally adopted and will result in the child leaving their adoptive parents’ home and enter foster care or be placed with alternate adoptive parents.
Why do Adoptions Become Disrupted?
There can be many reasons why adoptions may become disrupted such as;
The adopted child’s age
Emotional and behavioural issues
The child’s strong attachment to their biological mother/father
Being a victim of abuse (pre-adoption)
Being matched to the parent and not their foster parent
Lack of social support (particularly from relatives of adoptive parents)
Unrealistic expectations (in regards to the parent’s expectations for the adopted child)
Insufficient information on the child or their history
Poor parent preparation
An excess of case workers working the adoption case (which can often occur in domestic adoptions)
Lack of sufficient support services
There can also be factors specific to the child, their unique circumstances, or the family they have been placed with that can increase the potential for adoption disruption. The most common factors are as follows:
African American children have a higher risk of adoption disruption
Two or three children that are placed together
Children who have experienced abuse
Children with disabilities
Children who have experienced neglect
Children who have spent a large amount of time in care institutions
Why do Adoptions Dissolve?
Adoptions can dissolve due to any of the above reasons or factors. While a fair amount of study has been given to the cause of adoption disruption, when it comes to adoption dissolution research is far less abundant. In general, aside from cases where the child needs to be removed from the adoptive home for their own safety, the cause of an adoption dissolving is usually simply down to the child being an incorrect fit for the parents/family, and vise versa.
How to Prevent Disruptions/Dissolutions Sometimes there is simply nothing you, your partner, or your family can do to prevent disruptions from happening, but in general, being correctly prepared, informed, and realistic with your expectations for the adoption and the adoption process will help ensure your new child has a healthy transition into your home.
Accepting Disruption/Dissolutions This can be an unimaginable and horrendous event for all parties involved. You may have been dreaming of adoption for some time, or have already formed an attachment to the child in question. However, sometimes the best thing you can do for an adopted child is to move them on to a home which will be a better fit for them where they can be truly happy. Remember that this isn’t a failure on your part, and remember that if you keep your home and your hearts open, a child that is a better fit for your family may not be too far away.
In the context of adoptions, the home study process is a series of information-gathering interviews that your social worker will ask about you and the family you would like to create through the adoption process. Over the course of three to six months, your social worker will conduct a comprehensive interview with you as well as from other relevant parties involved.
This home study process sheds light on your family background, details about your daily life, and your reason for wanting to adopt. Let’s take a look at some of the common myths surrounding the home study process and look at why this process is important to your upcoming adoption.
Unnecessary Fears of the Home Study Process
Many prospective parents think they have to be completely ready for their adoption before the home study process begins but that is not true. The purpose of the home study is to gather information about you as a whole, not just as a parent waiting to put a child in a fully-furnished room. It is just as necessary to discuss your family background, your employment and education, and any parenting experience. While it is important to show your social worker where your adopted child will live, they are also interested in the broad picture of your future family and what that whole will look like.
Another common myth of the home study process is that a home needs to be spotless with minimal signs of day-to-day life. This would raise more flags than presenting a more “lived in” home. No one will come into your home and look in closets and drawers. That level of invasiveness is not permitted nor necessary for the home study process. Your home should be a safe environment for a child, but it doesn’t have to be museum-quality.
Important Questions of the Home Study Process
A social worker does the need to know if you have basic safety features inside your home. Door and window locks, fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke detectors are standard features every home needs to protect your family. You will also be asked if you keep any firearms in the house. These should be kept in a locked safe with a seperate ammunition case.
Many prospective parents also worry about their personal history. If you do have a criminal history, it is always best to be honest about your past. Questions will be asked, but approach the situation by opening up a conversation first. Be as forthcoming with details as possible to paint the clearest picture you can about the incident or situation. Building trust with your social worker is one of the major keys to a successful adoption.
Final Remarks on the Home Study Process
Your age, race, and marital status do not necessarily affect the home study process. Many single parents are a now able to adopt. LGBT couples are starting their families with adopted children. Parents who are not homeowners can have successful adoptions. The home study process is a very important time in your adoption process, so be open, honest, and natural so your social worker will see the value you can give to a child.
When adopting a child, there are many factors to discuss and contemplate. Domestic adoptions are known to have many perks for prospective parents. Domestic adoptions have a faster processing time and also afford new parents the same parent-child rights as a child born naturally to them. Domestic adoptions can also provide new parents with a more detailed medical history of the adopted child. Let’s look at some quick facts about domestic adoptions.
The Medical Benefits
If you adopt domestically, the amount of medical information available to can be quite extensive compared to international adoptions.
Many birthparents will allow adoption agencies to share OB/GYN records along with family histories and detailed information about interests, talents, and hobbies. Not only may the child be interested in these details, but it can also help parents to understand if the child leans more towards artistic hobbies, music, or sports.
This type of detailed information can also help paint a more realistic picture of the child’s adoption. If the child later understands the socioeconomic backgrounds of their birth parents, it may help them to see the bigger picture of why their birth parents chose to place them with an adopted family.
Domestic and international adoptions have many legal differences. However, cost is not one of them. The cost of an adoption, no matter where the child and parents are located, depends on the arrangements between the birth and adopted parents. The agency involved will help mitigate these factors and provide legal documentation of the fees necessary to complete the process between the two parties involved.
Importance of Location
Adoptive parents should be able to travel where necessary at any time in order to visit the birthmother when permissible. Some parents may choose to stay close to the birthmother until the baby is born and released from the hospital. Each situation is unique to the birthmother and adoptive parents. The agency will help navigate location logistics to negotiate a working plan for both entities.
The Timeframe for Adoptions
Adoption agencies can also help with the timeframe from application to closing. Many families are able to complete an adoption on average from two to twelve months. Some adoptive parents may find themselves waiting longer, depending entirely on their situation and requests of the parties involved. However, factors that can shorten or lengthen the duration of the process include the adoption budget, the home study process, the adoption plan, the birth parents’ wishes, and whether it is an open or closed adoption.
Domestic adoptions have many benefits for prospective parents, such as a faster adoption timeframe, access to medical histories, and the ease of meeting a birth parent where they are geographically. Cost is specific to each adoption. Adoption agencies can help prospective parents negotiate this aspect. The adoption process is a very complicated one but the benefits far outweigh the momentary strife to get to the end goal. Adopting a child and bringing them into your family will be a lifelong blessing.
Writing an adoptive family profile is one of the most important things you will do in the adoption process. This is essentially an open and honest letter to a birth mother, sharing who you are and why you want to adopt her child.
This profile or letter will be what a birth mother uses to evaluate you and decide whether you are a good match or not. This sounds like one of the most important interviews of your life, and it is, but it should also be honest and open. Your adoptive family profile should be an authentic representation of you and your family. Let’s look at topics to cover in this important adoptive family profile.
One of the first things a birth mother will do is look at a photo of you. This picture should be a high quality image with bright colors. It should depict you in a natural state. Some adoptive parents choose to use a professional photograph taken by a studio. Others may opt for a photo showcasing their favorite hobby, talent, or with a large family group. This isn’t a popularity contest, but it is best to give the birth mother a few pictures that represent who you are as a whole. If you love cooking, playing with dogs, and traveling, be sure to incorporate these subjects in a few pictures to give the birth mother a well-rounded idea of your favorite things.
Paint a Picture with Stories
Anyone can tell you that they like to travel and see new things. What really draws a person in is to share a story about hiking the Grand Canyon and getting caught in the rain, only to be blessed with a beautiful couple’s portrait with a rainbow in the background after the sun broke through the clouds. Share stories of your life with the birth mother. Involve her in the highlights of your adoptive family profile. It will go a long way to make her feel a connection with you, rather than just reading a sterile bulleted facts sheet.
Make the Ordinary Exciting
There is some basic information the birth mother will need, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Your relationship status, family status, city, school district, and family background can be important aspects to share, but you can include stories with these items as you did above. Talk about your significant other and the way they show their love. Describe your town and all of your favorite places you like to go and why. Talk about your family if you have a large group of members who will be eager to welcome a child into the fold.
Present the Necessary, Capture the Interest
It is possible to share the necessary information succinctly while also make it interesting. If you wish to tell a birth mother about your extended family, you can do so without giving the details. Just tell her how many family members will be available and how their support can help a child to grow and mature.
The purpose of the adoptive family profile is to connect to the birth mother emotionally to create a relationship with her that will lead to a successful adoption. Be honest about who you are and what you want to bring into a child’s life. The right birth mother will respond to your profile when the match is too strong to deny.
When you’re planning your birth plan, you want everything to go smoothly. In addition to having material things for your plan, you also want to plan for the unexpected that could occur during your birthing process. That means understanding the difference between going the natural route and seeking an epidural.
Many women begin their birthing journey by choosing a natural option. They want their child to enter this world in a holistic and safe way. However, any mother will tell you that birthing pains are no joke, and epidurals are a medically safe option for those who wish to mitigate that pain.
If you’re expecting and want to plan your labor, check out our natural versus epidural comparison.
Going the Natural Route
There is a lot of strength and beauty in choosing natural labor. Natural labor means the expecting mother will reject all forms of medication and push their child out without the numbing effect of an epidural.
While this option is considered ideal by some, it’s often not practical when the pain is insurmountable. Sometimes, expectant mothers wait too long to receive their epidural. When this happens, they have no choice but to take the natural route.
If you’re dead-set on choosing an all natural route, you may want to look into home, water, or holistic birth options. This is an excellent choice for mothers who want to have a spiritual experience with a like-minded team of medical professionals.
Preparing your mind for this event is key to enduring the pain. Should you go the natural route, it’s best to gather as much coaching and information as you can ahead of time to prepare yourself.
Going the Epidural Route
The epidural is like a sanctuary for mothers in pain during labor. Administered by a professional, this numbing medication is inserted by a needle into the patients back. Within minutes, the medication kicks in, thus creating a numbing effect. This helps the mother push without feeling the pain of contractions.
Getting an epidural has its drawbacks. The mother must remain completely still while the large needle is inserted in their back. Should they move, they could risk paralyzing the lower half of their body. In addition, there is a specific span of time that is open to getting an epidural. Unfortunately, once you’ve missed this period, you must endure the pain and undergo the natural route. Because of this gap in time, it’s best to decide before going into labor if you want this option or not.
Although it’s wise to plan for your labor, you never truly know what could happen during your birthing process. Each woman has the responsibility to choose the best plan that’s right for her and the baby’s health. Therefore, it’s best to do a surplus of research prior to giving birth so you can have a well-rounded idea of the best options for you and your family.
Adopting a child is a beautiful act. It creates an incomparable bond between two individuals that is designed to last a lifetime.
Depending on the age of the child, many parents choose not to discuss the topic of adoption for fear of unleashing an overwhelming amount of emotions and questions. However, there are some parents who want to discuss the topic of adoption with their children as a means to further develop a transparent relationship. Discussing the adoption openly is generally what is recommended by experts as the healthiest decision, as well.
Deciding to take this route is rife with questions regarding how and when to reveal this information. If you’re one of the parents who wants to open up the doors of communication and discuss adoption, check out these five tips that will make the process easier.
Choose the Right Time
Timing is everything when it comes to delivering sensitive information. If you’ve made the decision to tell your child about their past, you want to make sure you’re telling them at the best time possible.
Telling them before an important event, holiday, or milestone may do more harm than good, especially if the child has no clue. Wait to tell them when you know they are mentally and physically able to process the information.
Show Your Love
It’s imperative that you emphasize your unconditional love for the child. After revealing their past, the child may feel like an outcast, especially if there are biological children in the household. Let them know about much you care and love them unconditionally. This will make the conversation go smoothly and help them understand their unwavering place in your family.
Your child may be curious about their biological parents. This may prompt them to go looking for their biological family. Don’t discourage this or take offense. The child just received powerful information regarding their background. It’s only natural for them to want to seek a deeper understanding.
In addition, don’t feel offended if your child wants to know their biological family. This doesn’t mean they don’t love or need you. They simply want to learn more about their past.
If your child is mentally mature, don’t hold back any information regarding their biological parents; both good and bad. Being transparent will gain your child’s trust and help them understand their background. Withholding information could only make your child insecure.
Give Them Time to Process
This is some heavy information. Therefore, give your child time to process what you told them. Perhaps they need space or time to understand their newfound lot in life. Give them the opportunity to grow with the information given.
In addition, offer your unwavering support. Let them know that you are there for them regardless of their response. This will give them the time and space needed to navigate this information.
By implementing these five tips, you’ll have the information needed to have an open and honest discussion. It is our hope that by having this conversation, you’ll strengthen the relationship between you and your children.