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Why Martin Luther King, Jr. Matters to the Adoption World

Today we honor incendiary civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., who rallied a nation in his quest to create a better country for us all. His love for humanity was unequivocal, and he was mercilessly challenged every step of the way—up until his devastating assassination on April 4, 1968 at just 39 years old.

He is a fundamental figure in American history, one of the most powerful and important leaders we’ve ever had, and in far too many ways we are still fighting the fight he led. His words and actions made him an American hero, but they speak powerfully to the adoption community as well. A community that is plagued by stereotypes and confusion across different cultures. A community in which individuals from many backgrounds come together to create beautiful families—ones which many do not understand. A community in which we strive to inspire our children to rise up against adversity, to dream bigger than they think possible, to find light in the darkness, to always do what’s right, and to have faith.

Adoption is about a dream. A dream of having a family. A dream of lifting up a child with unconditional love so they may live the very best life possible.

It is easy for this day to get ingrained in our consciousness as another government holiday that gives us a Monday off . But there is epic truth to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s power, and he has a great deal to offer those who have been touched by adoption. For those who have created transracial families that include black or African American children—he is a figure that cannot be ignored, and his legacy deserves to be front in center for your child.

Here are some of his most powerful words:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
The time is always right to do what is right.
I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

 

Adoption and Parenting Reads of the Week

Happy Friday!

How was your week? Wonderful, we hope. And if not, then may the weekend bring you calm and peace.

Our favorite reads of the week are below. They’re informative, inspiring, and make us proud to be a part of this incredible world that is the adoption journey. Thank you for sharing the adventure with us!

See you Monday. <3

Twenty children’s books to spark important discussions about race and tolerance. “Having honest and open discussions about race, tolerance, and acceptance from a very early age can set the stage for a much broader and deeper understanding of these issues as your child grows.”

There is so much talk about what you shouldn’t say to people who are adopting…but what about what you SHOULD say? 

This birth mother created an incredibly emotional video for the son she placed for adoption. The total tearjerker has, of course, gone viral.

Ethiopia has banned adoption of children by foreigners, in a move they say is to protect children from abuse abroad.

A lovely and insightful piece about what same-sex people should know about adoption.Look at your own homophobia: Although you’ll be judged and evaluated, nobody is going to be looking in your underwear drawer. I overcompensated by buying conservative beige clothes and over-bathing my dog. One smart thing we did was make our house child-friendly by putting up gates at stairs, covering electric outlets, and installing other safety precautions.”

Do you watch “This Is Us?” Everyone agrees: their portrayal of adoption and foster care is spot on.

Four reasons this birth mother chose to place her baby for adoption. “My love for little R doesn’t make up for the fact that I wasn’t ready to care for her. It wasn’t simply because I was young. I hadn’t yet learned how to take care of myself. At the time, I couldn’t maintain healthy relationships. I pushed away friends and family who wanted to help, surrounding myself instead with toxic people. I was not mentally or emotionally prepared to raise little R the way she deserved to be raised.”

Teens need families.

Treating anxiety in children. “Anxieties and worries of all kinds are common in children, necessarily part of healthy development, but also, when they interfere with the child’s functioning, the most common pediatric mental health problems. From separation anxiety to social anxiety to school avoidance to phobias to generalized anxiety disorder, many children’s lives are at some point touched by anxiety that gets out of hand.”

How to Handle Nosy and Inappropriate Adoption Questions

Sadly, we’ve all gotten them: completely inappropriate questions about the adoption process. Ranging from whether or not adoption yields “real” families, to general inquiries about a child’s background that are no one’s business—and likely wouldn’t be asked about a biological child.

This is a stressful and common situation for adoptive parents, as it puts both you and your children in awkward and uncomfortable positions. Not to mention, it can be downright damaging to have someone perpetuating myths, stereotypes, or judgmental opinions about adoption in front of your little ones.

So how do you handle it?

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite guides to this question, so you can bookmark and keep them easily on hand. Preparing yourself with a preferred response to some of adoption’s more uncomfortable moments will only support you in the long room.

Adoptive Families penned a great piece about dealing with negative and nosy adoption questions, featuring one adoptive mother’s particularly grievous experience and how she plans to handle rude inquiries moving forward. “Predictably, the questions started. Is she adopted? Where’s she from? How long have you had her? Was it really expensive to adopt her? Isn’t it a shame how people in some countries just throw away their girls? On and on the interrogation rolled, undeterred by my terseness. The man seemed completely unaware that he was probing into parts of our lives that we have every right to keep private. How does one deal with a person whose idea of small talk is telling a 2-year-old that she was thrown away?”

The Love Builds Families blogs highlights a variety of awkward questions often asked of adoptive parents, and a helpful array of responses that range from very polite, to informative, to swift and immediate shut-down. Example: “’Who’s her real mother?’” You could respond with, I’m right here! Or Am I not real? Another way to approach this question is to reply by answering the question using the positive adoption language by saying that both her mother and birthmother are real but play very different roles in her life.”

The Adoption Network Law Center offers four unique approaches for dealing with unwanted adoption questions: answering with specific information, using humor, providing a decoy, and refocusing the situation. After explaining those tactics, they provide examples of different questions you may be asked, and how you can employ each technique to craft the answer that’s most comfortable for you.

The Adoptive Families Circle, an online community, features a divine thread of responses from a woman who has received endless rude questions about her transracial family, and reached out to the community for advice. Their real-world experience is invaluable. One woman, Jane, a social worker, offered this as part of a lengthy and deeply informative response: ““Why do you ask?”  That turns the tables, putting the other person in the position of explaining what information they are really looking for and why they want it. That, alone, may drive home the point that you are not going to give away personal information—that they are being intrusive and that that is unwanted attention. How they answer, though,  can help us decide what to do—to offer to talk with them by phone at another time if they tell us that they or someone they know are considering adopting, or to be more direct in letting them know that we are not open to giving away personal information.”

This excellent piece from Esme offers beautiful options for handling uncomfortable scenarios, as well as valuable affirmation that you are not required to say ANYTHING about your children that is not comfortable for you or your child.

Above all, remember that your family’s story belongs to you and you only—you do not owe anyone anything. (No matter how much they pry.)

<3

Adoption and Parenting Reads of the Week

Happy New Year!

Wow, 2017. You sure were something, and we’re not terribly sad to see you go. But there are high hopes for all we can achieve in 2018, that’s for sure.

Here is our first roundup of the new year, featuring all the parenting and adoption reads that caught our eye this week…as always, there is so much interesting content out there!

Big hugs to you, and we’ll see you Monday!

How to advocate for your child when no one is listening. “You start to wonder: “Will anyone ever listen to me?” The therapist won’t. The teacher won’t. The pediatrician won’t. They don’t think attachment disorders are real. They think you’re crazy for insisting that foods high in sugar, or containing food dyes, are triggers for your child’s behavior. They dismiss FASD as ADHD and hastily prescribe meds for treating it without really listening to your perspective. You’re lost. And you’re ready to quit. Again, rest assured…we’ve been there. You’re not alone. Not even close!”

Many adopted or fostered children come from traumatic backgrounds. Here are some valuable thoughts on how to understand trauma, as well as how you as a parent can help aid recovery.

If you’re planning on going through an adoption process this year…here are some excellent resolutions to  help keep your sanity and happiness in check.

Why are we casting older foster youth aside? “We are trying to change a foster care culture that criminalizes, penalizes and discards our youth. We will never know the trauma of being removed from home. Or what it’s like to relive that trauma with each new placement. But we can help our youth to heal. We can show up and be the upstanding adults they never thought existed.”

Writing a letter to a child you’ve placed for adoption can be incredibly difficult. This compassionate and thoughtful guide can help you through the process and articulate something you feel proud of.

This story about a forgotten war orphan will tug at all your heartstrings.

Putin is angry about US adoption sanctions, and Russians orphans are paying the price. “But it wasn’t just would-be American parents who suffered. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Russian children who might have found families, and homes of their own, were forced to instead remain in Russia’s often overcrowded and underfunded orphanages and foster care institutions. Putin, in other words, hurt his own people too.”

 

 

How to Support a Birth Mother Who Has Made An Adoption Plan

Adoption can be very confusing for people, especially when it comes to the role of the birth mother. The struggle to understand why a woman would choose an adoption plan for her child can make it difficult to offer the kind of support she needs to make it through her process, and beyond. The good news is, it’s not your job to understand her reasons for choosing adoption. It’s not your process to go through. It’s hers. And your support is one of the most important things she needs right now. Here are a few tips for bolstering a birth mother who is preparing to place her child for adoption.

Don’t offer advice. There simply isn’t advice for this situation, especially if you’ve never been in it. And unless she specifically asks for you to weigh in, likely she doesn’t need your advice to move forward in choosing a plan, or adoptive parents, that best meet her needs and desires. So as much as you may want to help guide her through her process, we urge you to holster that impulse and focus on listening to her instead. Which brings us to our next point…

Active listening. Here is a great listening exercise for when you want to support someone and let them know you truly hear what they’re saying.

Birth mother: Talks, opens up, expresses what she needs to say.

You: Don’t say a single word. Even if there are uncomfortable pauses. Wait until she is completely done speaking, and then say, “Thank you for sharing.”

Birth mother: “Thank you for listening.”

You: “What I’m hearing you say is…” and then repeat back to her everything you heard her say without advice, without judgment.

It’s so simple, but when you focus on listening to what the other individual is actually saying, you stay completely present in the moment, giving them your full, undivided attention. When you repeat back what they said in your own words, it shows you were truly listening, that you value what they say and feel, and that you aren’t trying to step on top of that with your own advice, judgment, or opinion. It’s a powerful exercise. (And it works beautifully with spouses and children, too!)

Be curious…to a point. Many times when we don’t understand something, or don’t know what to say, we shy away from saying anything at all. But this can be incredibly alienating to someone going through an intense time and who may need to express themselves. When talking to the birth mother in your life, ask questions intentionally: how is she feeling? What is it like for her to create an adoption plan? What sorts of surprises or challenges is she experiencing? Don’t ask questions in a way that implies what you think the answer should be. Ask questions genuinely and honestly, and stay invested in her response. If she seems repeatedly uncomfortable talking about her process, then back off. Read your room.

Take her out for a good time! Chances are she has so much on her mind right now, and probably needs a distraction. Plan a special afternoon or evening outing, something that makes her feel relaxed and supports whatever stage of pregnancy she’s in. Having someone attentive to her wellbeing will mean the world.

Adoption and Parenting Reads of the Week

Back to reality!

If the holidays are your thing, we hope you enjoyed them. If not, welcome to the weekend anyway!

This weekend, as always, we’re sharing some of our favorite reads of the week. There are some beautiful and informative pieces about navigating challenges in adoption, as well as how to raise young ones empowered by empathy, resiliency, compassion, and assertiveness.

Enjoy, and see you Monday!

 

Eight attachment techniques to use with your adopted child. “Many adoptive parents are shocked and a little concerned when their child is finally placed in their home, yet they don’t feel an instant connection. In fact, it may even feel like your child doesn’t even want to be there. So how do you go about playing “catch up” and bonding with a child who was placed with you as a toddler, young adult or teenager? It’s not easy, but it is definitely not impossible. With some patience, consistency and creativity, you and your child will slowly create that connection you both desire.”

Five tips for finding the silver lining in your adoption challenge. “If you have several different ways of perceiving a situation, go with the most positive as your truth. This isn’t denial; it’s merely making reality “doable” and bearable. Resolve to take every possible negative outcome and turn it into a positive.”

What to expect from your first days home with your adopted baby. “The first emotion that adoptive parents tend to experience, and perhaps the one that surprises them the most, is guilt and it comes in a couple of forms. The first is a version of what all new parents feel. Becoming parents is hard and there will be moments, even during those very first days, that you experience feelings other than elation. And yet, after trying so hard to build one’s family, along with those other emotions comes guilt about feeling anything other than overjoyed about a successful adoption. It is important to understand that, as for all new parents, it is normal and expected to feel a roller coaster of emotions, some of which can be considered negative.”

How to raise assertive and confident young women.

Why foster youth students in Seattle are beating the odds.

How to raise kind and empathetic children across every setting.

The secrets of resilience: what does it take to overcome life’s adversities? “Social scientists have shown that these risks are real, but they also have found a surprising pattern among those whose early lives included tough times: Many draw strength from hardship and see their struggle against it as one of the keys to their later success. A wide range of studies over the past few decades has shed light on how such people overcome life’s adversities—and how we might all cultivate resilience as well.”

Dispelling Adoption Myths

We’re almost ready for a new year—that means clean slate, fresh start, new beginnings!

There area many myths about adoptions, and we feel very strongly about dispelling those myths because they create unfair stereotypes and expectations about the adoption process. For those of you considering an adoption plan in 2018, we’ve laid out some of the most popular falsehoods that dominate adoption dialogue, exposing what’s true and what isn’t so you can begin your new adoption process empowered with correct information.

Myth #1: Birth parents can show up at any time to take the child back.

Truth: While there is a period of time in each state, before the birth mother has signed off her rights, that she may rightfully and legally decide not to go through with the adoption, once those rights have been signed off and the adoption is finalized, no birth parent can come back to claim their child. The only exception to this is if the child was adopted illegally or under false pretenses—even then there is no true system or right to reclamation, but that would fall under a different legal jurisdiction.

Myth #2: Adoptions take forever to complete

Truth: While the general time span is 1-2 years (including processes like the home study, matching, and legal documentation), adoptions can happen in as quickly as one day or a couple months—it just depends on your situation.

Myth #3: Adopted children can’t be loved the same as biological children.

Truth: You ask any adoptive parent and see what they say about this.* Incredibly, deeply, profoundly false.

*Note: This is a fear that many adoptive parents have, and they deserve a safe space to explore how they’re feeling without expectation or judgment. It is never appropriate or okay to ask an adoptive parent to measure their love for their child, or to weigh it against feelings they have for a biological child.

Myth #4: Adopted children thrive best with heterosexual parents.

Truth: There is no study, no proof, and no evidence to suggest that adopted children do not thrive beautifully among a diverse array of family situations. In fact, a recent study suggests just the opposite: there is no emotional or physical difference between children of same-sex and heterosexual parents. Just as biological children grow up in myriad different types of homes, and turn out in all sorts of different and wonderful ways, adopted children thrive and exist in the same manner.

Myth #5: You can only adopt a child who is the same ethnicity as you.

Truth: This couldn’t be further from the truth! If you are willing to bring a child into your home and love them, and take care of them and make them your child for life, then there is no limit on who that child can be, where they come from, or how different—physically, ethnically or otherwise—they seemingly are from you. That is the beauty of adoption…every one has the opportunity to become part of the family they deserve. And there is no discrimination in that.

Adoption and Parenting Reads of the Week

WOW! It’s almost Christmas! We hope you’re able to relax and have fun this weekend, and that you’re not in the midst of too much craziness preparing for the holiday.

Take care of yourself, and enjoy some of our favorite reads of the week! So much good content swirling around the world of adoption. We’ll see you next week!

<3

The Kentucky judge who wouldn’t hear gay adoption cases was found guilty of misconduct.

This woman shares her beautiful story of adopting four siblings simultaneously, and why she is such a huge believer in adoption and foster care.

In more and more modern adoptions, birth mothers stay connected to their child. This birth mother shares her story.

This is an excellent piece about how to create routines with your youngest ones. “Consistent routines, activities that happen at about the same time and in about the same way each day, provide comfort and a sense of safety to young children. Whether it is time to play, time for a snack, a nap, or a loved one to return, knowing what will happen next gives babies and toddlers security and emotional stability. It helps them learn to trust that caring adults will provide what they need. When children feel this sense of trust and safety, they are free to do their “work,” which is to play, explore, and learn.”

What happens when a birth mother rejects her child?

Trauma and the holidays…on giving and receiving.

This young woman, born with fetal alcohol syndrome and abandoned at birth, shares her miraculous story and what it’s like to be adopted.

How to create structure during the chaos of the holidays. There are SO many excellent resources on this list!

How angry adoptive moms are changing the game for vulnerable children. “We quite LITERALLY took on the burdens of the world. Poverty. Orphans. HIV/AIDS. And it’s huge. Bigger than us. It hurts. We can’t do this hard thing alone. And yet, too many are. It is true we adoptive moms can be angry. In your face. Pushing our agenda on you. Preachy. Sounding arrogant at times. But here’s why…. We don’t have the energy to hide our feelings and our insides anymore. Hiding them is a luxury.”

Holiday Gifts for Birth Mothers

Depending on your relationship with your child’s birth mother, gift giving may be something you’re interested in this holiday season. If so, it can be challenging and confusing to think about what to offer her—what is not enough, what is too much? Below are some of our favorite gifts for birth mothers…they offer thoughtful touches to her day and let her know she’s on our minds and in our hearts.

wrapped christmas presents

A pampering basket. What woman doesn’t want to pamper herself with luxurious body goods? She’s been through a lot in her life, no question, and we love this gift as a valuable promotion of self-care. Mix a few of your favorite items with products like body scrubs, face oils, and masks.

A handmade item from your child. What parent doesn’t adore a special token made by their child? This is a beautiful way to show her that you both are thinking of her, as well as to extend a thoughtful piece of the child you both love so dearly. You and your child can always enjoy an afternoon crafting together, for the added bonus of a project that connects you through quality time.

A beautiful bouquet of flowers. Non-intrusive, completely un-presumptuous, and always special. Flowers offer a lovely way to say, “I’m thinking of you” without being over the top. They’re always a total day-brightener and a joy to receive.

A framed photo of your child. For birth parents and adoptive families with a more open relationship, photos are such a valued form of communication. Letters and phone calls are wonderful, but there’s something very special about being able to see your child’s growth, their facial expressions, what they look like when captured in happy moment. Place it inside a beautiful and thoughtfully-chosen frame for an extra special gift.

InfantAdoptionGuide.com has some excellent gift ideas, but one of our favorites is getting her a book, so she can record herself reading for your baby or young child to hear. This is a such a thoughtful way to bring her into a treasured family routine.

AmericanAdoptions.com also has a lovely gift guide, which extends to birth fathers as well. They mention making an adoption memory book, which we think is so cool. You an offer mementos from your adoption process, special pictures, and perhaps a few blank pages so you can keep it going as your child grows up. So special!

Are there any gifts you gave to your child’s birth mother that were well-received and appreciated? Let us know, we’d love to hear!

Adoption and Parenting Reads of the Week

Whoa! Almost a week until Christmas! How are you feeling? There is nothing more challenging than balancing family, work, and all the management of the holidays. It can be easy for our own self-care to fall totally off the radar, so this weekend, do something that delights you. Even if just for a little bit. Focus on joy instead of tasks, and don’t worry…the tasks aren’t going anywhere, so you may as well enjoy yourself in the meantime, eh?

Perhaps you’d like to indulge in some reading this weekend? Here are our favorite pieces that popped up around the web this week. Enjoy!

This emotional and powerful video shares the stories of foster youth hoping to be adopted.

Can a child put themselves up for adoption?

Have you seen This Is Us? Its truthful portrayal of adoption is touching people in unprecedented new ways.

We love this guide for parenting your adopted teen.

It seems so unreal, but what happens when your relatives aren’t excited about your plan to adopt?

How parenting kids from trauma is a lot like being a pilot.

Forming new family traditions with older children.

Love this must-read adoption books for your holiday wish list!

Holiday challenges in adoption: what happens when one birth family gives gifts, and another does not? 

Depressions in teens who were adopted…what do we need to know?