Monday, November 30, 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Daily Photo Blog - 11/22/15


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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Daily Photo Blog - 11/21/15


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Friday, November 20, 2015

Daily Photo Blog - 11/20/15


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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr

Newly Released!!

Check it out here!

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Daily Photo Blog 11/6/15

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Daily Photo Blog 11/4/15


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Monday, November 2, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Books of the Week!!

Weekly Books on Adoption!

Please make sure you always read these books before introducing them to your child!

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Our Families Photo Blog - 10/30/15

Parenting Fun!!

Here is a private look at our families and our adventures together!!

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Adoption Summit Experience - November 2015

As an adoptive parent, I know what it is like to feel challenged by the unique and complicated demands of life as an adoptive family. As an adoption coach, I know how other families struggle to locate resources that understand adoption and are attuned to the needs of child and parents--both adoptive and birth parents. Living as an adoptive family has often felt like a trek up the steep slopes of Mt. Everest. I suspect other adoptive families experience similar moments of overwhelm and confusion.

Imagine finding and talking with a knowledgeable guide who’s also walked that path and survived. Imagine feeling heard, understood and supported, with empathy not judgment. Imagine being able to know what will best serve your child, yourself, your partner, and, your child’s birthparents. How might that kind of unified resource help your family? Imagine no more.
On Nov. 10-12, 2015 and Nov. 17, 2015 a collaboration of adult adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and adoption professional join together to present “The Adoption Summit Experience.” This free, on-line summit is unique as the three individual perspectives join forces to become one voice—a voice that speaks with respect and compassion for all individuals involved in an option.

"Our goal is to create an opportunity for anyone, anywhere who is interested in adoption to lean in and listen to conversations from different perspectives," says Parsons, creator of the event. "Every presenter volunteers their time and energy to make adoption better in some way. These are people who have transformed their relinquishment and adoption challenges into action for positive change. This event is a first of its kind.”

Summit presenters will address adoption from all “sides” and will share the insights and learnings that we have acquired along the way.  We want to take our hard-won wisdom and infuse it with purpose to create a more collaborative and mutually supportive understanding of adoption. All presenters are directly living adoption either as first parents, adoptees or adoptive parents.
As listeners hear the “other” viewpoints, we hope to awaken empathy and understanding of how we are inextricably and permanently interconnected. Instead of compartmentalizing adoption into adoptee issues, birth parent issues and adoptive parent issues, we accept this interconnectivity as the reality of adoption. By understanding the needs of each part of the adoption triad, we can work together to make adoption better for all involved.
Are you in an open adoption, trying to determine how to make it work? Do you wish you knew how to enjoy and balance your happiness against a backdrop of the grief and loss of your child’s birth parents? Do you wonder how to handle your own triggers? Do you ever wish you could chat with several birth mothers to ask them questions to help you relate better with “your” birth mother/s? Then this summit is for you!
Are you struggling to handle the challenges of adoption and yearn to speak with parents who have “survived” similar events and whose family remained firmly attached and thrived? Do you wish you knew alternative parenting strategies—ones tested by other adoptive families? Then this summit is for you!
Are you looking for guidance on good resources? How do you evaluate which therapists, coaches, social workers, etc. understand adoption and are properly prepared to guide you? Do you know which books truly serve your family and which perpetuate outdated social myths? Then this summit is for you!
Imagine learning from adult adoptees what worked, didn’t work or what they wished their parents had done for them. How might that knowledge help you be a better parent to your child?
Have you ever wished you could talk honestly about your family struggles with no fear of judgment? Imagine confiding in peers who understand the joy, frustration, fear and commitment that adoptees face? Then this summit is for you
Watch this welcome video from Adoption Summit sponsor and adult adoptee, LeAnne Parsons as she invites you to “Come Climb with Us” at the free, on-line adoption summit. All who are interested in adoption are welcome and urged to participate. Register today:
Gayle’s presentation at the summit will focus on books as an ideal resource for introducing and sustaining healthy adoption conversations both within and beyond the family. It will include three bibliographies: one for children, one for parents and one of books written by adult adoptees.

Gayle H. Swift is the co-founder of GIFT Family Services which provides adoption support before, during and after adoption, an adoption coach, adoptive parent, former foster parent and co-author of the multi-award-winning, "ABC, Adoption & Me: A Multicultural Picture Book." She blogs regularly at “Growing Intentional Families together” She also writes an Adoption-attuned blog titled, “Writing to Connect” which reviews books through a High AQ lens. While some are specifically about adoption, most are not. She strives to help parents notice teachable moments in whatever books they share with their children.  

Our Families photo Blog - 10/29/15

Learning is fun!

Here is a private look at our families and our adventures together!!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Our Families Photo Blog - 10/28/15

Look forward to having to next years trip!

Here is a private look at our families and our adventures together!!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Our Families Photo Blog - 10/27/15

Summer Adventures are over!

Here is a private look at our families and our adventures together!!

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Our Families Photo Blog - 10/26/15


Here is a private look at our families and our adventures together!!

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

How Do You Help a Child That Doesn't Know They Need Help?

It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote something and tonight I sit here and I am not sure where to start... do I talk about the things that I am learning each day about adoption... I meet one new person each day that is trying to adopt and I find it to be a wonderful feeling knowing in some way I am helping someone on the other end of the phone learn how to transition into the adoption journey; to teach them resources to make them feel empowered not scared; that they feel safe and not alone.

Nope I will talk about that another time... do I talk about the ongoing learning experience with a child with special needs... learning how to deal with IEPs and meds or no meds; learning how to tell the difference between "he is only 5" vs. " he has developmental delays".


I got a text from my girlfriend the other day saying that it was wear orange to school day and she didn't have anything orange!  First of all, I am sure that I have a note somewhere that told me to have to dress my son in orange that day but of course I am very unorganized since my second child was born and getting only about 2 hours of sleep on average is killing my memory!  So I thanked her for letting me know and went on a rampage through the house for orange!  Thank goodness he owned something!  I always try to be supportive even if it's just wearing clothes to show your respect for a cause!

The thing is I wasn't paying attention enough to realize this orange day was for anti-bullying awareness.  I actually cried when i found out!  I wanted to put on orange myself but who the heck is going to see a stay at home mom during the day!  My son L is the sweetest and most polite little man I have ever met.  I can't take credit for all of that - I may have taught him to say please and thank you but it is up to him to do it on his own.  L is a loving boy but he is very naive!  Too naive!  He does have developmental delays but typical children of his age don't know this.  He acts like a 5 year old some of the time, but there are many moments when he is in a group that the excitement can not be controlled.  They seem annoyed by him and try and run away from him.  It's hard to watch. 

Anyway ... having typical friends and special needs friends is something that helps me learn about our society.  Many children are not taught how to deal with a child that is "different". They are not around them enough to be bothered.  So sometimes this leads to bullying.  In our situation L has been bullied many times over the last few years but for now he has no idea that it's happening.  But one day he will understand and that will be a major time to teach him.  When a child tries to hurt him, he thinks they are being cops and he is the robber and he has to go to jail.  Or a child will try and step on his foot to deliberately stop him from moving and L will laugh his head off thinking the child stepping on him is just being silly.  How do you explain bullying to a child with special needs?  How to you stop another child from bullying?  I can't be there all the time to help him...

Education!  That is one way of helping society learn how to deal.  Well that's my opinion anyway.

My mom told me years ago that she was a bully.  My little 5'2" mom was a bully.  She explained to me she realized it came from insecurity.  She, being the worrier that she is, decided that 50 years after she did the bullying she would email the people she hurt as a child and make sure she apologized! Ha Just imagine the person who bullied you as a kid came to you and said "sorry".  I would be floored! 

I was bullied up until I was in 7th grade.  I wasn't adopted, I wasn't a special needs child, I didn't have a pimple on my nose or wear weird clothes! I was blonde haired blue eyed little girl with a name Chemene!  That's all the kids needed!  I hated going to school and being "called out" as they said in the 80's.  I would always worry about who was going to be at the front of the school waiting for me!  I got lucky and my running abilities in track saved me.  Once the bullies learned I was able to win medals for the school they left me alone.

Funny enough I see some of those bullies on social media and I always wonder if they know they were bullies or whether or not they even care that they hurt someone like me.

I guess the point of my rambling here is anyone can be bullied and my son right now is a big target.  You can't teach someone to NOT be naive, you have to wait til they grow.  But how long can I protect him?  I guess we will see...I will protect him any way I can cause he is my baby! 

How do you teach about bullying? 

Written by Chemene
Adoptive Mom!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book of the Week - "Adoption is for Always"

Please consider reviewing any children's book prior to reading to your child.  Each book means something different to every family!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

To Decorate or NOT To Decorate??

After years of fertility treatments, hopes raised and crushed, we’re firmly on the path towards adoption: research done, picked our agency, homestudy complete, picked our attorney, and even picked our pediatrician.  What we haven’t picked is the color of the nursery – and I’m not talking pink or blue, yellow or green.

Actually, we haven’t bought a thing for the baby we hope to bring home.  Nothing.  Nada.  I could blame superstition.  My family is Jewish and we don’t believe in having things in the house prior to when a baby is born.  But, that’s not the reason.  Mike (DH) and I have discussed this and came to the decision, that no matter how long our wait, having the baby’s room decorated and ready would be added stress to an already stressful situation. 

The room is cleaned out, practically empty.  I actually like stopping in there – which I don’t do often.  It gives me a sense that things will change and move forward.  It’s like a blank canvas – with the promise of something good to come.  It’s pleasant to anticipate getting to make that room into our baby’s room and watch it evolve and change over time – becoming more and more specific to the gender and personality of the child. 

If the room was decorated, crib and all, I think I would feel stuck in the wait – nothing changing – frozen in time – and I don’t need that reminder down the hall. 

I do dream about what I’d like to room to turn into when the right situation comes our way.  We have a registry set up - with essentials picked out.  Yes, I know what car seat I want, which bouncer seat, and a crib picked out.  We have a list of starter clothing, bedding, bathing necessities, etc.  But our plan is, when the time comes, to enjoy the ride – enjoy every second with our new family member.  If the sheets don’t match the curtains for a month or two – I will happily not give a darn.

Written by Andrea
Group Member
Future mom

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Waiting to Adopt While Single, Black and 50'ish

UPDATE: A couple of months after this blog was originally written, Lynn adopted a beautiful little girl and is now a mom!

Original blog written May 2015
There are messages all over the place that parenting is reserved for YOUNG MARRIED COUPLES.  Many adoption agencies have this NOTION about who qualifies to adopt.  Reason why as a Single, Black Woman who is 50’ish, decided to stay clear away from Agency Adoption because these words kept coming up; MARRIED COUPLES ONLY; AGE RESTRICTED; guessing, all others need not apply.  Well, anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t respond very well to being RESTRICTED.  I asked myself, am I legally restricted, morally, ethically or socially restricted?  So, I was more than prepared to wage a SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT to break these BARRIERS into the Adoption world.  However, ADVOCACY aside, at the end of the day, all I wanted was to bring my forever child home, so I decided to find the BEST MEANS to do that. 

So, why did I mention that I am also BLACK? And does RACE matter?  Well, NO, it SHOULD NOT.  But, while I believe that the label “Black” and/or “African-American” are important and valid cultural identity markers, these labels are also “social constructs” that create ASSUMPTIONS, as with gender, age, marital status, etc, etc, labels come with assumptions that lends to ARBITRARY RESTRICTIONS whereby people are pigeonholed into where they should fit and what should come with those fittings.  And, being one to not always buy into “SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS”, being a person of “sufficient maturity” to recall the social justice movements of the 70s and the  “Burger King” commercial jingle of the 80’s, “have it your way”, I was determined by my own stubborn nature to live my life my way AND “by any (legal and ethical) means necessary”!!  So, flash forward to 2015 and notions are still “out there” that Black people do not adopt, or at least if they do adopt, it’s a necessary situation, results from a family dysfunction or a family disruption; likely a kinship adoption; never independent, not privately, always somehow in the family or through “THE SYSTEM”.  And where do all these notions come from?  Well, at this point in my life……”Ain’t nobody got time for that”!!  But, what jumps out at me every time I visit an Adoption websites, is that Single Black people like myself, are rarely, if at all ever visible on these sites. Well, not a bad thing if you want to GET NOTICED!!     

Well, in spite of all my aversions to THE SYSTEM, my journey to adoption first began with the DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES (DSS), not because I felt that was the only place to begin as a “person of color”, but because the FOSTER CARE SYSTEM is very wide open to placing babies and children with parents of all age groups, any marital status, and just about anyone who qualifies may end up with a permanent situation which could potentially lead to a successful adoption.  Also, I began there because a large number of children in the Foster Care System are children of color and in need of permanent homes and I would have gladly opened my heart and my home to any child or sibling groups needing a temporary and/or a permanent placement.   However, I soon discovered that this was not the road for me and the very thought of working with THE SYSTEM was scaring the H… out of me. 

So, way before my journey to Independent Domestic Adoption began, I found myself at the Nassau DSS scared, alone and full of self doubt. And, no wonder, the system began its own investigation into motives and my intentions as if I myself had venture into THE SYSTEM…...worst experience EVER!!  This left me questioning my ability to parent ….what was I thinking!!!   All the while, months were passing by and I could not for one SINGLE moment stop thinking that there was a child out there, yet to be born, yet unknown to me, with whom I was already in love with and wanted so much to know….Crazy Stupid for some, but for me a valid reason and, perhaps the only SANE reason to move forward…..So, “where do I begin to tell my adoption story….My starting point began on a cold November evening in 2011, sitting in a MAPP class all wrapped up in a thick bulky sweater (room was ice cold!!) and all wrapped up in my self doubt.  The very first thing I heard at the very first session was, “the Foster Care System is NOT AN ADOPTION AGENCY”….”you are here (if you should accept this mission) to form a PARTNERSHIP with a child caseworker and the birth family for REUNIFICATION”; words that scared me from the very start, especially not being able to image at that point how I could love and parent a child for any length of time and end up having to return that child to a potentially bad situation and possibly unsafe circumstance…it was too heart-wrenching for me to imagine!! 

Now, it is no cliché that “all roads on the journey to adoption will lead to the child that will be your own”.  I was supposed to be there in that MAPP class hearing these words. And, I would come to understand later why I was there at that moment… that very moment when I received my Foster Parent Certificate and was ready to all but give up on my dream of adopting, I was handed a flyer by one of the ladies leading the class.  She wanted to share an invitation to attend an APC (Adoptive Parent Committee) meeting for anyone considering Private Adoption; perhaps, one last sign that the Foster Care System was not the way for me to begin my journey to adopt.  Well, I did attend that APC meeting (the only one in my MAPP class) and it was at that very first meeting that I met many wonderful people at all stages of the Adoption process, they were single, married, heterosexual and same-sex couples, of all ages and all persuasions and yes, there was even a place at the table for me, Single, Black, and 50’ish.  The atmosphere was welcoming and the message was comforting…..YES YOU WILL ADOPT!!!

It was also at that same APC meeting that I met my attorney Jeanine Castagna, talking about the Red Flags in Adoption, a whole new world for me of ADOPTION ADVERTISING.  Jeanine gave me assurance that I will adopt and to put the whole Foster System nightmare behind me and not give up on my dream.  I attended an APC conference in 2012 where I met many more people on their journey to adopting privately and independently, domestically and internationally, as married and as singles, as inter-racial couples and/or as same-sex couples.  It was there that I meet my Social Worker, Ellen Hackett-Murphy and began to feel more comfortable with the Home Study process and telling my story, without judgment!  It was there at that APC conference where I met new friends, a Black married couple who were determined to adopt “in just a few month” they gave me hope that I could do the same!!! So, the adoption social movement had already begun and was gaining ground…..YES, BLACK PEOPLE DOADOPT PRIVATELY! 

What also encouraged me was attending an APC SINGLE’S SESSION where I met other single women and their friends and family who came out to support them on their journey.  An Adoption Therapist who led the session had adopted her daughter as a single “unattached” woman.  Everyone was at different stages of the process but most in the room had already adopted….they were there to SUPPORT….I was getting even more HOPEFUL!!  What most inspired me was the grace of one woman who would become a very dear friend and avid support person.  She had recently become widowed just after starting the adoption process with her husband; lots of tears in the room and an understanding that we are all connected in our humanity by loss and grief and that in life there will be moments of deep pain, moments of frustration and moments of anger when you just want to scream, and there will be people who will surround you and be there to understand; just because they get it!!  It was there that I first met Chemene and Josette and Pam; they were there to support their friend Adele.  In my estimation, the three function as “Adoption Support Supper Heroes”, there to INSPIRE, there to lend SUPPORT to anyone who has faith enough and courage enough and guts enough to become parents by whatever means necessary, there to let you know that you are never alone on this journey!! 

OK, so I am STILL WAITING and waiting and waiting and what a wait it has been!!  I started advertising in October of 2013; one year, six months and a couple of weeks now….30 birthmother contacts, ups and downs, encouragements and discouragements, but in the words of the great poet laureate Maya Angelou, “Wouldn’t take nothing from my journey now” …….now as I wait with more purpose and determination…now as I wait learning new life lessons and understanding the value of building solid relationships with expectant mothers (even when they change their mind)….just because they may be an essential link to my child’s HISTORY.  Now, waiting and knowing that it does not matter that I am single and 50’ish, at least not to the expected moms who have never once asked my age or questioned my intentions and have decided to call.  And perhaps, I will find a life partner one day who will be a wonderful husband and father for my child….but, even if that never happens, my child will have me, a strong and empowered single woman prepared to contribute value and substance to my child’s “BIOGRAPHY” which will be interwoven with his/her very own personal story.  My child will have the grace and wisdom of my MOTHER, who at 80’ish now has nine grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and will gladly welcome more while she is still doing well and have energy to love them all.  So, with each day while I wait, there are those things that drive me on this ADOPTION JOURNEY…the fact that I am determined, the fact that I am healthy, fit and YOUNG AT HEART, and the fact that I am supported by Adoption Super Heroes, all points me to this one fact, “YES I WILL ADOPT… and the CHILD, yet to be found, with whom I am already madly in LOVE, will soon become my very own forever Child, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!!!!     

Written by Lynn
Group Member 
Adoptive Mom