The Growth of Open Adoption

In an interview with BreakThru News, IAC’s National Associate Counseling Director, Jennifer Bliss, talks about the Independent Adoption Center and open adoption. Jennifer discusses the growth of open adoption in our society and how the views of adoption have changed drastically over the years. Open adoption has become prevalent and is no longer a big secret that it once was for many women. She goes on to discuss positive adoption language, the process for adoptive parents and birthparents, and the benefits for everyone involved in the adoption triad.

To learn more watch the video below:

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Birthparent’s Guide to Grief

511rvvZM-6L._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_Placing a child is one of the hardest decisions a woman can make. It takes a lot of thought, selflessness and strength to place a child with another family.  Many women who choose adoption don’t have a rule book or a step-by-step process on how to even deal with what comes after placing, but now there is a book that has been created in hopes of providing some guidance.

Jessalynn and Alysia are familiar with the decision to place a child. Post-adoption, both women felt they needed support to get through the emotions that come with placing a child. Through an idea from a friend, they created the Birthparent’s Guide to Grief: A 12-Step Process. Using their experiences and insights from other birthmothers, they developed this guide to help other women heal and work through their emotions.

This guide beautifully breaks down the emotions and grieving process involved with placing and post-adoption. It is a great tool to help birthmothers sort through their initial reasons for placing and solidifying the choices they’ve made for the well-being of their child. The worksheets in the guide are very well thought out and aid in not only looking within, but looking outside of one’s self to sort through the healthy vs. toxic factors in life.

In “Step 2: Understanding that we are not alone in our journey,” the authors remind those reading that there is a big adoption community to lean on, regardless of how much they want to isolate themselves. The worksheets that follow help birthmothers to take an inventory of the support that surrounds them in their lives – the healthy and not so healthy ones. It’s a constructive way to weed out any toxic relationships that might hinder a birthmother from healing and growing through the emotions associated with placing a child. It also prompts birthmothers to reflect on themselves and what they can do to create healthy relationships in their lives.

This straight-forward 12-step guide is a must for women who have chosen adoption. The authors have used their experience to really dive into the core of what a birthmother goes through and what she needs moving forward to accept her decision to place. You can find Jessalynn & Alysia over at Tied at the Heart, a website dedicated to supporting birthmothers.

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A Birthmother’s Experience

Editor’s Note: The following is a post written by birthmother Ruth Easter, about her experience placing her child for adoption and the support she received throughout the process.

April 21, 2009 is a day I’ll never forget. “I’m pregnant,” I said to him. Half of me was happy since my adoptive parents had been unable to conceive, I had always been scared of the possibility of not being able to bear my own children. The other half of me was terrified, because my chosen birth control method had failed. “You tried to trap me into a relationship by getting pregnant! Neither of us are ready for a baby right now,” he said. I cried for days and days, trying to figure out what to do. I didn’t want an abortion, but I knew I was unable to give my child the life he deserved.

I decided to look into adoption, but my heart was already breaking at the thought of being separated from my baby. Being an adopted child myself, I knew how significant and life-changing of a decision it was. I started looking at different adoption agencies online, praying to God asking for help in making the right decision.

I knew there were some non-negotiable things that I was looking for in an adoptive couple. I knew how many abandonment issues I had, due to not knowing anything about my biological family, so an open adoption was the only answer. I wanted a stay-at-home mother, just like my own mother had been. I was also looking for someone that was East Indian, so that my child would be able to have first-hand experience and be around others of his ethnicity. I was raised in a Christian conservative family, so religion was a definite factor. I knew that was a lot to ask for, but that’s what my heart wanted, even if it didn’t seem possible at the time.

I found IAC (Independent Adoption Center) online, and decided to give them a call. My counselor/social worker Jennifer was very kind and compassionate, and sent me an information packet in the mail. I started browsing through waiting families and found Siddharth and Anne Margaret Manay. After reading their profile, I decided to email them and tell them the basics about myself. I was worried about whether they would be open to a child of mixed ethnicity, but they assured me that it was not an issue.

Over time, we regularly conversed over the phone, and they drove to meet me while visiting family. We instantly bonded and when I showed them the first ultrasound, Siddharth decided to nickname the baby “Bean.” I knew that they were everything I wanted for my child, and they agreed to financially assist me. It seemed to be too good to be true, but I prayed and prayed, and cried a lot. Half of me knew they were perfect for my child, but the other half of me was hypothetically deciding what kind of future my child would have if I decided to keep him. Read more »

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A Deadly, Not Really Adoption Story

Let me preface this by saying I do not watch Lifetime movies, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into with watching A Deadly Adoption. I was halfway hoping that it would be a satire cracking jokes at the dramatization of Lifetime movies, especially with the stars of the movie being two of the best comedians of the Saturday Night Live cast. However, I had to accept it wasn’t happening.

The opening scene brings us to Robert & Sarah’s (Will Ferrell & Kristen Wiig) home, celebrating their daughter’s first birthday. A pregnant Sarah, standing at the dock, desperately wants to take the boat on the water and Robert is hesitant. Then dramatically (of course) out of nowhere, the wood railing she was leaning on snaps and she flips backwards into the water. Cue dramatic running and diving into the water to save her. Fast forward four years later and Robert & Sarah are planning to adopt due to losing their baby.

Now, at this point you’ve come to the realization that there will be no jokes and Ferrell and Wiig are seriously, serious. So once you get past that, you are pulled into questioning, “why is it A Deadly Adoption?” Cue the beautiful birth mother, Bridget, who wants to meet Sarah & Robert immediately. She claims to be staying at a shelter, which obviously isn’t true given the fact she is so well put together, pristine and in a beautiful sundress. Nonetheless, this prompts Sarah & Robert to invite Bridget to stay with them during her pregnancy. This being a Lifetime movie, instantly I thought, “bad decision!”

That was one of the many things wrong with this movie. The overall portrayal of adoption and birth mothers was completely off base. For one, we saw no preparation on the part of Robert & Sarah as far as joining an adoption agency or going through any type of process. It basically cut right to a social worker bringing over an expectant mother to meet. It was far fetched from the reality we know to be “matching” in an adoption process, and the time it takes to get to that point. In contrast to how we prepare our clients here at IAC, A Deadly Adoption had no regard for the training and education involved in planning to adopt.

The media is laced with false examples of what adoption is and what it looks like, and A Deadly Adoption was the icing on the cake. We’re constantly fed a false, negative image of birthmothers and this movie further sullied this image by portraying a young woman with obvious bad intentions. By no means is this representative of birthmothers. For one, the vast majority of birth mothers aren’t homeless or mentally ill. Instead, it would have been nice to see a pregnant woman genuinely interested in placing out of love for her child.

Lifetime didn’t do a great job at representing birthmothers, but they did a great job at creating the typical “lifetime villain.” The plot was essentially the worst and most unlikely way an adoption could go, and really had little to do with adoption at all. It was less of a focus on actual adoption and more centered on a family and an unsound woman with something obviously up her sleeve.

Overall, the story line actually pulls you in because you want to know what Bridget is up to. Once you’ve accepted the fact that they’re going all the way with this, you laugh at the dramatics, you tolerate Ferrell’s attempts at emotion, you get pulled into the twists and turns, and you laugh again at the ridiculous happy ending. All is well at the end of a Lifetime movie, and Will Ferrell & Kristen Wiig can hopefully go back to what they do best: making comedies.

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Open is the New Adoption

Today most people would recognize actress Kate Mulgrew from her role on Netflix series Orange is the New Black, but she’s been a respected actress since her role in the 1970s sitcom Ryan’s Hope. It was during this time, about 40 years ago, that she made the decision that has drawn the focus away from her characters and on to her real life.

In her new memoir, Born with Teeth, she tells the story of how she became pregnant at the age of 22 and, ultimately, decided to place her baby for adoption. This was the late 70’s and so adoption looked a lot different. Instead of choosing the family to parent her baby and developing an ongoing relationship, she saw her baby only briefly before she was gone.

Below is a clip from CBS in which Kate Mulgrew tells her adoption story:

Often adoptions that were closed eventually become open, as in the case of Kate and her daughter. This outcome is the predictable result of the normal and healthy desires of both birthparents and adoptees to know each other and their full history.

The reunion that Kate Mulgrew and her daughter were able to experience is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, not everyone involved in a closed adoption gets this chance. At IAC, we are thankful that open adoption is now recognized as the best form of adoption, and available to women in every part of the United States. Truly, Open is the New Adoption.

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Indiana Adoption Birth Records Law

A new law under debate in Indiana’s statehouse would change the rules for thousands of adoptee’s, possibly giving them access to their birth records for the first time.

People adopted before 1941 and after 1993 already have access to their original birth certificate, the new law would expand that access to all adoptee’s, regardless of the year they were born.

Opponents of the new law worry about the privacy of birthmothers, but the bill provides an opportunity for them to sign a no-contact form to prevent their information from being released to their birth children.

The following video, from WTIU, presents both sides of the debate:

Two things become immediately clear:

1. Openness in adoption is so important. All of the unanswered questions could have been answered had contact between birth and adoptive families been kept open. Open adoptions were not done until the 1980’s, and so the majority of the adoptee’s effected by this bill would have had closed adoptions. Even so, this further underscores one of the central benefits of open adoption.

2. Equality is the standard by which to judge this debate. The law should grant equal access to all adoptee’s, regardless of when they were born. Everyone, adopted or not, should have equal access to their birth records. This is not only important for medical reasons, its a human right.

The Indiana Senate has already passed this bill, and it is now under review in the House Judiciary committee. We urge the Indiana House of Representatives to pass this Senate Bill 352 into law. For details on the law please see this website: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/senate/352

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The Bond of Three Women

Editor’s Note: In this post, birthmother Ashleigh talks about placing her two children and the connection she has built with their adoptive parents.

I am a birth mother to two little girls. Placing my children with the same couple has been enriching and comforting. When I first met Maura and Kat, when I was pregnant with my first daughter, we instantly connected. They’ve become family to me, people I can confide in with my life struggles, as well as my accomplishments.

When I came to them pregnant for the second time, I was scared, shocked and upset, and I was hopeful they could give me support in a huge life decision. I was already struggling and raising my seven-year-old son on my own. I knew I was still not ready to raise another child at this time and the birth father was not in the picture. Them accepting to adopt this second child was such a relief. Having an open adoption with them with my first daughter Gia, and being so close to them, I immediately thought of them when I found out I was pregnant. My mind was at ease, and I knew this baby would have a wonderful life!

People around me always wondered how I could place one child, let alone two. Being a mother already, I knew placing was the best choice for all three of them. All I could provide is love. Some think that’s all you need to parent, but I’m blessed with an open mind and I’m able to see beyond that into what it takes to raise a child the right way.

I honestly don’t think I would have been able to place with another family. These women are people who I look up to, who I admire and strive to be something like. How lucky am I to have found them to adopt, raise and love these children? I felt safe, with no doubts while pregnant with the second baby and I genuinely feel God had a plan Maybe if our relationship wasn’t so strong it would be a different story. But our closeness, openness and honesty has allowed us to build a strong foundation of friendship and respect that will be beneficial for the girls as they grow up and ask questions.

I “met” the girls for the very first time (since their birth) on December 5, 2014. It was one of the best days of my life! Seeing first-hand what my choice has given these girls, the love that I felt in that home, everything has been worth it. I couldn’t ask for anything more. The three of us will always be there for them. It’s truly amazing, beautiful, and such a blessing!

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Is Adoption the Right Choice for You?

When facing an unplanned pregnancy, there are likely many different things running through your mind. Not only is this a time you are dealing with the logistics of a pregnancy (not feeling well, maternity clothing, medical care, etc.), in addition to the physical and emotional changes you are experiencing, you may also be dealing with the relationship you are or were in. For some women, they are also trying to decide if raising a child is the best thing for both them and the child at this time in their life.

Woman considering her adoption choiceEvery woman who becomes pregnant has options. She may choose to parent, place her child in a relative’s care, terminate the pregnancy, or place the child for adoption.

This is an important time to really evaluate all your options and take time to learn about each one before choosing which option is best for both you and your child. Some options are only available for a limited time, such as abortion, while with the other options, there is more time to make your choice.

Each option has it’s own unique set of pros and cons. When exploring adoption as an option, there are many things to consider.

  • Why are you considering adoption? Are there goals or dreams you are pursuing so parenting at this time doesn’t make sense for you? Will you be upset or resent the child if you parented and were not able to accomplish what you have set out to do? Do you want something different for your child than what you are able to provide?
  • Is the father involved and would he be supportive of placing the child for adoption? If he is not supportive, you may be limited in your option of placing your child for adoption. If he is supportive, that will make the process smoother.
  • Is your family supportive of your consideration of adoption? While your family cannot stop the adoption process, they often have an influence in your life. If your family were not supportive, what would the repercussions be if you did place the child for adoption?
  • Is there someone in your family who would want to either raise the child themselves or help you raise the child? If you were considering parenting your child, this would be an important element to explore so you know if you have resources within your family. If a family member wanted to adopt the child, they wouldn’t be able to stop the placement outside the family, but the potential influence they have in your life is something to be considered.
  • Do you have other children? If so, what type of relationship do you want the siblings to have? If this will be your first child, it can be difficult to imagine how you will feel once the child is born. If you are parenting, you may have a more realistic perception of what it may feel like to place the child for adoption.

Placing your child for adoption does not mean you have to say goodbye to your child. If you choose an open adoption, you will be able to see your child grow up through visits, photos, emails, phone calls, and social media. You will be able to choose the family that will be right for you and your child. You will be able to get to know that family typically while you are still pregnant and, with the help of a counselor, will decide what type of ongoing contact will be most comfortable.

Your child will grow up knowing you and knowing you love them and that you made the best decision you could at the time of placement.

When processing your options, it is also important to reach out to respected adoption agencies to discuss what adoption would be like if you worked with them. You should be able to work with a counselor throughout the process to help prepare you for the emotions that are usually involved in placement, as well as the logistics of making an adoption plan.

Adoption is not the right choice for everyone, but it is one choice. It also is not an easy choice. If you have a trusted friend or family member to discuss your options with you, they can help you weigh the pros and cons to each situation.

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What Adoption Taught This Mom About Parenting

Editor: Stacy Pelander is a blogger, birthmother, and now expectant mother. She recently wrote about how her experience with placing her daughter in an open adoption has taught her many things about becoming a parent. It’s a great read we think you’ll enjoy.

Stacy Pelander and birthdaughterA question I get a lot, whether from strangers or my doctor’s office, is “Is this your first?”

The answer is complicated, because yes it is, but no it’s not. I have a daughter. Well, kind of.

Just before I turned 21 I had a baby girl who was adopted at birth by an amazing couple. I remember being in the hospital and holding her in my arms while I softly explained to her through my tears that I loved her very, very much, and that these people were going to give her the kind of life that I couldn’t—the kind of life I knew she deserved. With a heart full of love and not a single regret, but a sadness that to this day I can’t adequately explain, I left her with her adoring adoptive parents, and knew all the way to my core that her life was going to be just the way it was meant to be. I was absolutely right, and she is easily the coolest, most well-rounded kid I have ever known. (I know, I know, every parent is biased, but hey–I didn’t raise her, so I think my opinion is pretty objective.)

I’m also extraordinarily lucky; her parents agreed with me before she was even born that we would take part in an open adoption. I got pictures and letters a few times a year letting me know how she was doing until she was 12 or 13 years old, at which time she told her mom that she’d like to get to know me. Fortunately, her mother (one of the most amazing women I know), knowing her daughter’s maturity, gave her approval for us to communicate.

You can read the rest of her story and find out what she learned at her blog, Readyornotmom.net.

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Gay Adoption on The Colbert Report

On Mondays episode of The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert briefly discussed the topic of gay adoption in his usual over-the-top conservative talk show host style. It was during a segment about amicus briefs, which are legal opinions submitted to the Supreme Court by uninvolved parties. The guest, Allison Orr Larsen, says that the Court is being flooded with these opinions, so many that its becoming difficult to tell the credible ones from the not-so credible. By way of an example, Colbert brought up gay adoption:

Colbert: An example you’ve got here: The American College of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics take opposite positions on adoption of children by gay couples. Which one of them is, uh, reliable?

Orr Larsen: Well, it’s hard to tell right?

Colbert: Which one is against adoption of children by gay couples?

Orr Larsen: That would be the American College of Pediatrics.

Colbert: Sounds like good folks.

Of course, the bit was both hilarious and totally lacking in reliable information to support the position of Colbert’s character.

The American College of Pediatrics (the College) is a spin-off of the American Academy of Pediatrics (the Academy). The College was founded by a former member of the Academy specifically because he was displeased with the Academy’s stance in support of LGBTQ adoption. Here is a quick comparison of the two:

Academy: Supports gay adoption.
College: Opposes gay adoption.

Academy: Founded in 1930.
College: Founded in 2002.

Academy: Over 60,000 members.
College: Under 200 members.

Academy: The largest publisher on pediatrics.
College: Has handouts on their website.

So while Colbert’s character and maybe a handful of doctors support the College in their anti-LGBT efforts, the rest of the medical world and society at large stands with the Academy, and their pro-LGBT stance based on actual science and research.

Here is the whole segment:

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