Friday, May 29, 2015

Friends through Adoption...

I arrived at this strangers home one Saturday in July of 2008. I was nervous to say the least. I had been to a support group meeting before but this was different. The other group I had belonged to was about endometriosis; it had women there with all the same stories and did pretty much all the same procedures. This was IVF and no matter what anyone thinks, no two stories are the same. I had just miscarried for the second time the month before and the trauma from knowing I could have died was still in my mind. But I needed help. I needed more than just talking to my husband. I needed friends who knew what I felt. I had said years ago that I thought support groups and therapists were quacks. Who needs them!! Apparently I did!! I looked up on the RESOLVE website to see if there was any group out there that dealt with loss and IVF. And there it was - it read a group for MISCARRIAGES!! Great! I was in!

As I approached the door, I hesitated. I knew this would be another start to something for me. When you open yourself up to others, it changes you. I was just about to tell a room full of strangers about my journey up until now and I was about to throw up.

The host was nice and welcomed me in and led me to the room downstairs. She seemed too busy to chat and was running around getting things together. I had never been to meeting at someones house before. I was used to going to a meeting room in a hospital. So I sat on the sofa waiting for the meeting to begin. As they went around the room I heard woman after woman tell there story about their eggs and their retrievals and how many times they had IVF. All I kept thinking was I can't do this! I can't be in this room. My heart was beating so hard and I felt a lump form in my throat. The closer they got to me the worse I felt. I couldn't see myself stick another needle in my body. I couldn't watch another baby die. My body obviously couldn't do this. But I want to be a mom! GOD help me get through this meeting and I will promise to go to church again! It was the girl next to me turn to speak. She was very pretty and I remember she had the best black curly hair!! I stared at it wondering how I could get my hair to do that... UGH! I was distracted to say the least. This young girl began to give her update and it actually made me laugh. NOT OUT LOUD!! She was 28 and had her transfer the day before and she had like 40 something fertilized eggs and she is worried that none will work or whatever. 40!!! And 28 years old! Is she kidding me!! Now please don't take offense but all I thought was 40 fertilized and SHE is worried??? Of course she didn't know at the time but the transfer worked and she got pregnant. I always wondered what ever happened with the other fertilized eggs. Anyway...

Finally It was my turn. Someone said to me "You have been quiet". Of course I was, I was terrified. I think I began my story by saying "I think I'm in the wrong group"and told everyone I started looking into how the adoption process worked. I told them about my miscarriage and gulped the entire way through it. That lump never went away but I did it!!

After the meeting I had a chance to quickly say hello to the host and we chatted about adoption briefly. I knew nothing at that point about how to adopt so there was not much to say. She gave me her number and I left. Thank god that was over. Now what!!

I won't say that I was sorry I went... cause even though it didn't seem to be there right place for me, I got two very important things out of it. One - I knew when it was over that adoption was clearly what I needed to do... no more needles! And two - the host that was running around that day, well she ended up being my BFF. It was Josette. And without her I would never had gotten through this.

Over the next couple of months I scheduled every orientation and meeting I could to learn about adoption. I went to APC (Adoptive Parents Committee) and there I met lawyers and adoptive parents and social workers. It was overwhelming but good. I met with another attorney I heard about on a separate occasion and learned all the weird things I would have to do if doing private domestic adoption. 800 number? Ads in newspapers?? Huh?? I went to three different agencies and heard what they had to say. It was a great learning experience. You see back when I was researching, the internet was not very good. Websites weren't very detailed and getting information was super hard. The best way to verify anything at that point was to go and see for yourself.

I gave myself to October 1st to pick what I wanted to do; agency vs. private; international or domestic. But I needed more. I knew the best learning tool would be to get information from "real" families that did this already. Books are great, professionals are great, but actual adoptive families who went through this journey is what I needed. I started asking all my friends if they knew anyone that had adopted and slowly I began "interviewing" families. What route did you choose? Why? How much? How long? I spoke to about 11 families. It was amazing how much information people were willing to give out! I never told anyone what I spent on stuff never mind a baby! You can see I was so naive and had no clue! I kept my notes organized in a notebook that I would eventually use for writing info about potential situations.

I went back onto the RESOLVE website and found an adoption support group. I figured I did it once right? Let's try it again!! This time was so different!! I was in the right place. There were only four families there but it didn't matter. I felt at home! We met another couple that were thinking about adopting from Poland which was her home country!
And funny enough that couple did adopt from Poland years later and we all going on our 5th annual camping trip this summer!

At the September meeting we met even more people!! Including a familiar face, Josette! The host from the IVF group was there. Apparently my knowledge of nothing helped her decide to learn more about adoption! The meeting was great! One woman broke out her book of tricks and showed me profiles and newspaper ads and 800 number bills and lists of attorneys and wow!!

On October 1st we made the final decision to go private domestic. Signed up with a lawyer, got an 800 number and got certified! On the day we got certified, January 11, 2008, we got up early to get dressed up. I will be honest and I will say that knowing I was gonna stand in front of judge worried me. There was a fear that standing there in a judges presence he would see through my innocent look and he would know all the bad things I did as a kid and lock me up! I took bazooka gum from a store when I was 5!! I mooned a group of boys when I was 12!! He would know I was a "wild" child. Ugh can you tell I watch way too much TV!!

We stood in front of the judge and had to answer a few questions. Is everything we stated in this paperwork true? Have any of you been to therapy? Have we been arrested?? Blah blah ... Each question was answered with a NO!! It was easy!! Until he asked something like will you be good parents? And auto pilot was on and I said NO!! He threw it in to see if I was paying attention! Guess I wasn't. I froze and then started laughing and said ooops YES!! My attorney and husband and thankfully the judge burst into laughter!!

It took about 30 seconds and we left! That was it! We had to wait for a bit in the waiting area for our attorney to be finished with her next few clients. I noticed another couple in the waiting area too. Guess who again - Josette! At this point Josette and I kinda realized something was supposed to happen here. It was way too coincidental that we kept meeting. So after we certified we all decided to go to breakfast!! And that my friends was the start of my journey into private adoption and a wonderful partnership/friendship!!

Written By Chemene
Co-Leader of the Long Island Adoption Group
Adoptive Mom
Homemaker and proud of it!
Join us at our next PRE/POST General meeting on June 5, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Our story - Part 2

Our son was born on May 28, 2008 the happiest day of our lives.
(Happy 7th Birthday Shane)
I couldn’t believe that this was real and truly happening. I was holding our son! We thanked (B) over and over again. We thanked her for the wonderful gift that she had given us, Something that no one else could do. John told her that she was our angel. We couldn’t stop thanking her for the wonderful blessing that she was giving us. She did for us something that no one else could. She gave us a child. John and I spent the whole afternoon at the hospital. My pocket book was practically jumping across the floor with all the text messages from my sister. She was the only one, other than 1 good friend that new about (B). We had so many disappointments before that we wanted to be sure this was going to happen before we shared the news with anyone else. We were able to feed, burp & change our son while getting to know (B). It was a very special afternoon.
May 30, 2008
We got up early headed out to breakfast and anxiously awaited our final visit to the hospital. After breakfast we got the truck washed and installed the car seat. We called (B) to see if she needed anything. Her only request was coffee. We arrived at the hospital around 1:30p.m. (B) was feeding Shane.  We received a phone call from (B)’s attorney. Apparently her daughter was hit in the head with a softball and had to go to the emergency room.  She wouldn’t be able to meet with us until 4:30p.m. We were so disappointed, of course concerned for her daughter, but disappointed. After getting that news we asked (B) if we could get her something for lunch. We thought she may need some time alone at this point. She too was hoping to be discharged from the hospital today.  We stepped outside of the hospital and called our attorney. We found out that the relinquishment papers now wouldn’t be signed until Monday. This was very upsetting to us since we had expected them to be signed on Saturday. We were just so concerned because another surgery was a possibility for (B) since she was in so much pain. God forbid she had surgery and didn’t make it the baby would be in the system and not in our custody. When we arrived at her room John realized that we’d forgotten her soda so he ran back down to the truck. While John was out (B) said she wanted to talk to me. My stomach dropped and I felt nausea. She came over to me and said that she had spoken to her husband last night and told him that she would never have been able to go through with this adoption had she not fallen in love with us over the past few days. She just asked that we love him with all our hearts. My stomach sank with relief. She hugged me and of course I cried and thanked her over and over again reassuring her that he was already loved more than words can say. She said she already knew we loved him she could see it in our eyes.
Written by Christine
Adoptive Mom

Join us at our next PRE/POST General adoption support group meeting on June 5, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Will I Love Him The Same?

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit I felt this way, but I did.

After years of failures trying to have a family, through many failed fertility treatments and adoption heartbreaks, I (as many of us do) was starting to think it wouldn't happen.

Then, suddenly, around 6pm the day after New Years Day in 2010 (a Saturday), I answered a call that forever changed our lives.  I picked up the phone and heard a woman's voice "Hello Mr. V?" I responded back that it was indeed me. "The baby was born yesterday. You can pick him up on Monday." Wait. What? That's it. This is the call? She was so monotone and spoke with the same tone as someone telling me my dry cleaning was ready. It was surreal. I remember being stunned and all I could say was "She went through with it?" I then handed the phone off to my wife as I knew I’d forget any details that would follow.

The next day was a blur. We, with the help of some adoption friends, ran around like lunatics getting everything we thought we needed to bring a baby into our house a day later.

At the same time, amid all this craziness and anxiousness, I realized something was off. I felt very melancholy. The same question had been in my head since we agreed to try to adopt, and now that it was actually happening, it was pushing through all of the feelings I thought I should be having at that moment. Will I love my adopted child the same as I would have a biological one?

You see, I come from a larger family. I am the youngest of five. My two older brothers and two older sisters are all married and have two kids each. We (they) are like the Noah's Ark of families. I've constantly heard that so and so's son gets his looks from his mom or little Billy gets his smarts from his dad. I wouldn't have that now. I would never be able to say that. No one would ever look at my child and make that kind of comparison. It really hurt.

We took our son home on that Monday and I really didn't feel anything. I went through all of the motions of trying to be a dad and learn how to take care of him. However, I didn't feel a connection. My biggest fear was coming true. This wasn't how a dad was supposed to feel about his child. There is supposed to be instant love and feelings that swell you heart.

I talked myself into that fact that the fear that he could be taken away in the first 45 days was probably causing these feelings. I was definitely afraid of getting too close because of that.  I used to joke that we were babysitting him, but deep down that was exactly how I felt.

The 45th day passed and we were in the clear. My wife and I celebrated and I was hoping that things would just click. Now I would finally feel what everyone talked about – an instant connection.

But I didn't. It was no different. Most days, I couldn't wait to go to work because I could forget about it – even if it was for an hour. I could stop beating myself up for what I wasn't feeling. I started to believe that maybe it was because he was adopted, or just maybe this was how parents feel about their kids, adopted or biological, and I just thought it would be more. I was really confused and very disappointed in myself. Disappointed I wasn't feeling what I thought I was supposed to. The love that was supposed to swell my heart didn’t exist. It was the hardest thing I have ever dealt with and I felt like a failure as a father.

Then one day - I can't say when or how - I realized that it clicked. I didn't even feel it happen. I suddenly felt myself looking forward to going home. Looking forward to seeing the big smile on my son's face when I walked through the door. He would wave his hands up and down because he was so excited to see me and that was the only way he knew how to express it. It didn't happen in a moment. It was over some time, but I embraced it and never looked back. The feeling of failure just faded away.

I still feel bad to this day that I lost that time with my son. I feel bad that I was so distant and not really a good father to him during those first months. He deserved better, but I didn’t know how to give it to him. He will probably never remember, but I'll never forget.

Ironically, five years later, I actually got the answer to my question and some perspective. By some freak miracle, my wife became pregnant and gave birth to a boy – a biological son. It wasn't planned and was a complete surprise. I was nervous and excited all at once. I looked forward to the moment when he was born and I would look at him and have that instant connection just like I always heard about.

In April of 2014, my second son was born. The nurse handed him to me, and I looked down at him ... and felt nothing. No instant connection. No swell of the heart. No feeling of pride. It was like my first son all over again.

It turns out the real problem was me. It was me who needed time to connect with a child. I apparently don’t get the “I just saw him and felt it right away…” feeling.  It had nothing to do with adopted or biological. It had solely to do with my own personal process.

I love both of my sons immensely and I love them both the ABSOLUTE SAME. I feel unbelievably embarrassed with how I originally felt and the question that was haunting me, but I guess that is what I needed to do to get to where I am today.

Hopefully if any of you go through something similar, you will get some comfort in knowing that it may take time, maybe even much more time than you think it should, but it is so worth it in the end to know what having unconditional love for your child feels like. It's a feeling like no other.

Written by Rick 
Group member
TV Producer
Adoptive parent
Join us at our next PRE/POST General Meeting June 5, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What I Learned About Open Adoption After I Wrote a Book About Open Adoption

Open adoption advocate and author Lori Holden was interviewed recently by adoption movie reviewer Addison Cooper. Here are highlights of their discussion.

interview on open adoption
ADDISON: Your book just had its 2nd birthday this spring, and your two kids are now in their early teen years. What have you learned about adoptive parenting since your book came out, and would these new development have changed your book?
LORI: I’m realizing that if a child is going to have issues around his/her adoption (some will, some won’t -- the determining factors are an unpredictable mix of nature and nurture) these issues will likely be there whether or not you have openness.
By “openness” I mean not only possible contact, but also the way we parent, how open and vulnerable we make ourselves to our child. As you know, I have separated those two measures of contact and openness. It’s only partly true when you say you’re in an “open adoption” because you have identifying information and/or contact with birth family. Openness also refers to the degree to which you’re open to your child when she comes to you with questions, and how open you can be when responding in those moments.
If I were to update The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, I would be more in tune with the notion that for some kids (not all), there may be issues that stem from the adoption itself, no matter how much openness there is. Openness prepares the family to deal better with the issues that arise, but it doesn’t solve or prevent all issues. Openness is better than closed, but adoption can still be really rough at times.
Lori Holden's book on open adoption
ADDISON: What are some strategies to avoid taking things personally that aren’t personal, and avoid becoming over-reactive, especially in our open adoption arrangements?
LORI: The image that I have is of the doctor checking you out with one of those reflex hammers, which she uses to tap you right below your kneecap. You don’t think about reacting, you just automatically kick – the original knee-jerk reaction. We see this both in relationships between adoptive and birth parents and in online exchanges that are emotionally charged by its participants, by adoptive parents, by birth parents, by adoptees.
In knee-jerk reactions, people react instead of respond. Information and processing isn’t going on in the higher levels of the brain, but rather we give a more visceral, un-thoughtful reaction, which is very different from a considered and chosen response.
When you find this happening to you, stop and breathe. Breathing is always there for you, and it’s the thing that takes you back into your thinking mind. Breathing helps you realize, “I can tell by my reaction there’s something here for me. Why did I get triggered by this?” Such introspection can help you see into your own psyche – and begin to heal your own wounds. This wouldn’t trigger me if I weren’t afraid it was true. If you’re triggered by something you’re reading online, there’s probably something in you that needs to be dealt with -- and not just in the other person.
For example, if somebody tells me I have stinky hair, and I don’t have stinky hair, I’m not going to respond to it because it doesn’t make my knee jerk. But if someone tells me, “You don’t spend enough time with your kids,” I may feel like lashing out at the person who dared to point that out. Deep down, I do feel guilty for not spending more time with my kids and for being on the computer. Maybe I should be interacting more with my children, but HOW DARE YOU TELL ME. And I WILL MAKE YOU PAY FOR DOING SO!
ADDISON: It sounds like the stuff that resonates within us either matches something we know to be true about ourselves, or something that we fear to be true about ourselves.
LORI: Exactly right. For example, let's say your child says, “You’re not my real mom.” If you’ve already worked that through within yourself, then that is not going to stick to you. You’ll be able to say, “I understand that you feel that way, but I’m here and you’re stuck with me and I’m never going away.”
If you haven't acknowledged your own hurt place, you may knee-jerk instead, focusing on your own feelings and deflecting your child’s. You may blurt out something defensive like, “I have a legal document TELLING YOU I’m your real mom!”
Which is the opposite of helpful to your child.
You can address your child’s feelings better when you’re not triggered. When I examine myself and realize that I DO spend time on the computer, but I also talk with my kids a lot and am present for them, I have neutralized the fear and the accusation won’t stick to me. Or, maybe when I evaluate myself I find that something I read online DOES stick to me, it can serve as a call to re-balance where my attention goes. It’s important to think about the things that we react to, and look behind the feelings.
That’s what the breathing does. It gives me that pause, that bit of space to turn a reaction into a response.
For a portion of this interview dealing with common fears in open adoption, see
Addison Cooper, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and the founder of Adoption at the Movies, where he has reviewed over a hundred films for foster and adoptive families. He has also written for Adoptive Families, Foster Focus, Focus on Adoption, Fostering Families Today, The New Social Worker, and Adoption Today magazines. Addison is a supervising social worker for a foster care/adoption agency, and lives in Southern California. Find him on Facebook and on Twitter @AddisonCooper.
Lori Holden, MA blogs at and is the author of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, a guide that tops the suggested/required reading lists at adoption agencies around the country. Lori writes at the Huffington Post and is a regular columnist at the Denver Post’s Parenting Magazine calls her blog a Must Read and Adoptive Families magazine has named her a Top Blogger. She has written about open adoption for Still Standing magazine, The American Fertility Association and others, and has guested on many radio and TV shows. Lori appeared in the inaugural cast of Denver’s Listen to Your Mother Show. She's involved in planning this summer's Domestic Adoption Camp through Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families, located in Denver. Lori is mom to 14 year old Tessa and 12 year old Reed, which may explain her frequent need for yoga. And maybe red wine.
Lori is also available to deliver her open adoption workshop to adoption agencies and support groups.
Join us at our next POST adoption meeting on May 29, 2015
Join us at our next PRE/POST General meeting on June 5, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

Waiting to Adopt while Single, Black and 50’ish

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 DO ADOPT 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 birth mother 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
Future Mom

Join us at our next POST adoption meeting on May 29, 2015
Join us at our next PRE/POST General meeting on June 5, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Special Little Girl...

I'd like to take a minute to talk about Mother's Day. I know it's already passed and we've already talked about it here but I had something happen that I'd like to share with all of you.

Believe it or not, I wrote that opening on Mother's Day and the rest has been written so many different ways I started to get lost in what I wanted to say. I started to whine about how this isn't fair and I should get to be a Mom too! I whined about how my Mom spends so much time with her granddaughters she might as well move closer to them instead of visiting them a week at a time. I even whined about how I tried to make Mother's Day plans with my Mom and she sort of blew me off! All of that kept getting scratched out and I kept coming back to my opening sentences because this wasn't supposed to be all about my sadness or disappointment.  This is supposed to be about the wonderful thing that happened to me that day. I think I finally got what I wanted to say, here goes.

I was sitting home Mother's Day feeling sorry for myself and frustrated because I had just gotten off the phone with my mother who I had tried to make plans for the day with all during the previous week.  She couldn't decide what she wanted to do and I got sick of asking so Sunday came around and we still hadn't made any plans. Finally at 2:30 she calls me and says "I thought we were getting together today?" So, by the end of the conversation I felt guilty for ruining her day and depressed for myself. I raged a little and my poor husband took the brunt of it with amazing grace considering his personality type.

Within just a few minutes I got a text that turned my whole day around:

This little girl comes into my store every week with her sisters for their music lessons. She loves me and wants to come home with me she tells her mom,who thankfully is a wonderful woman and we can joke about it. She crawls up in my lap behind the counter at the store and insists on ringing up the customers herself (she's 8 by the way) and I help her with her math homework and her penmanship. For one to two hours a week I get to pretend!  She may not be my little girl but she helped me to remember that my happiness may not come from the same place as everyone else but I have touched a lot of lives in a positive way.  So "Happy Mother's Day" to me too! 

Written By Bonnie
Group member
Future Mom
Retail Business Owner

Join us at our next POST adoption adult meeting May 29, 2015
Join us at our next PRE/POST general meeting on June 5, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Virtual Twins...

I had never even heard the words “Virtual Twins” before – two siblings born less than 9 months apart, until after we realized we had them. Our journey started out similar to most – doing IUI and IVF for a few years with no luck. Anytime my doctor mentioned the word adoption I got upset – did we really want to start all over again? And would it even work? Since donor egg was successful for so many people, we decided to try that instead. When that didn’t work, we tried donor embryo and then a second try at donor egg. During the last year of this when nothing was working, we thought we’d try adoption in parallel. So we signed up with a lawyer, got certified, and started advertising. I was convinced adoption would never happen for us, but my husband wanted to give it a try so we did.

Within the first year we had two failed adoptions – one where the birth mother changed her mind a week before the birth and another where the birth mother changed her mind after we had the baby for 3 days. Just before this second failure I had a transfer of our last 2 embryos where I did get pregnant for the first time ever, but after a month the heartbeat stopped. So we lost a baby after 3 days and we had no embryos left – we had hit rock bottom.
Fast forward 8 months to September. Within a few weeks we got two calls, one from an expectant mom in Pennsylvania and another from Indiana and they were due about a month apart - both with girls. We spoke with each one about once a week. They were talking with other prospective parents too and after a few weeks they picked us! We couldn’t believe it! But we didn’t let ourselves get too excited – we had already been through this twice before. I remember the lawyer’s office asking us if we would take two babies if both situations worked out, and I remember saying, “Of course, but we’ll be lucky if just one situation works out!” (Little did we know…)
M was going to be delivered via C-section a few days before Christmas in PA, and C was due mid-January in IN. So a few days before Christmas we traveled to PA for M’s birth. Her birth mom asked me to be in the delivery room and wanted me to be the first one to hold M! It was amazing! The C-section only took a few minutes and she was born! During the next 3 days we got to know M’s birth mom better which was great. She signed the papers and had to say her goodbyes to M. It was heartbreaking to watch. We went back to the hotel and started to wait for the ICPC paperwork to go through. Christmas was spent in the hotel room. The only restaurant open was the Chinese food place, so we had Chinese food for Christmas dinner, like in “The Christmas Story”. The holidays slowed down the paperwork, so a few days later we were still in the hotel room, when we got a call at 10pm from the other birth father in IN saying that the birth mom just checked into the hospital and was in labor – 3 weeks early!
We started to panic. What could we do? We couldn’t leave PA yet – the paperwork wasn’t finalized! And we hadn’t told the birth mothers about each other. We quickly called our lawyer to find out what to do. The plan was for my in-laws to drive to the hotel the next day and stay with M while we drove to IN. They borrowed a car seat and got to our hotel the next afternoon. We felt terrible leaving M – we only just got her, but we had to go. We drove through snowstorms and highway closures, and the next day we arrived in IN to meet the birth parents and C for the first time. The birth mom was checking out of the hospital that afternoon, so we only spent a few hours with them before them left. The birth parents signed the paperwork, said goodbye to ‘C’ and there we were with another baby! I think we were in shock – within nine days we went from no family to having two baby girls! After all the years of IVF and adoption failures it finally happened. It didn’t seem real.
In the meantime, the paperwork in PA was done, so my in-laws headed home with M. We brought C back to the hotel room. The paperwork with IN got caught up with the New Year’s holiday, then the weekend, so finally a week later we were able to go home. By the time we got home it had been 2 ½ weeks since we left. It felt great to sleep in our own beds again, but life would never be the same after that.
After the 45 day wait period was over, we finally told the birth parents that we had adopted another baby. We felt guilty not telling them before, but we were afraid they would change their minds and we couldn’t go through the pain of giving back a baby again. But as it turned out they were happy that their babies would grow up with a sibling. That was a huge relief.
We suddenly had virtual twins. Everywhere we went people asked if they were twins. People seem to be fascinated with twins. Sometimes we would say no and tell their story, other times we just nodded and smiled. These two girls would probably never have met during their lives, but now are sisters because their birth mothers happen to read our ads in the newspaper. Funny how things work out…

Written by Allison
Group member 
Adoptive Mom

Join us at our next POST adoption adult meeting May 29, 2015
Join us at our next PRE/POST general adult meeting June 5, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Our beginning...Part I

Something inside of me always knew that I wasn't going to be able to conceive and birth a child. 
Long before I was married,  the one thing I always DID know was all I wanted to be was a mother. I always said I'm going to have two kids and then I'm going to adopt.  Adoption was always in my vocabulary. 
So let's fast forward to 2003, I was 30 years old and I meet my husband, we marry when I am 33, we start trying to conceive right away.  We are met with no success, infertility and years of fertility treatments. We are surrounded by friends and family that are moving along making their families. Along the way we lose plenty of money and even some friends, I was truly at a low point.
What now? At this point I was leading an infertility support group. Until one day fate entered my life and lead the way for me. In July 2007 I was hosting a meeting at my house and there was a new member there that was clearly NOT supposed to be there. This was not the right meeting for her.  She looked uncomfortable and didn't even speak. But after a couple of hours I turned to her and asked her to introduce herself.  She began saying she didn't think this was the right meeting for her (see I was right).  She told the group she had already began the journey of learning about how to start her family through adoption.  She was only there for support since she just had another miscarriage. I was listening so intently to her and light bulbs were going off in my head.   It was like the tunnel that had no light at the end anymore had just opened up and there was a bright beam shining in.  I finally saw some help! That person who opened my eyes to adoption would be my now closest friend and partner in crime Chemene.  
So this begins my adoption journey.  By a freak coinsidence we both found an adoption support group to join and ended up seeing each other two months later at someone elses home.  They taught us how all the resources they could; taught us the differences between agency and attorney.  So together Chemene and I went down the same path.  We got our home study done by the same social worker, hired the same attorney and even got certified on the same day.  That is when our friendship started. 
Now we were ready to find our family!  The phone calls began, the ups and downs started with some months of tons of what I would describe as phone call practice and then many many months with crickets chirping!  Chemene became my closest friend; the person who I would lean on throughout the process.  No one else understood what I was going through.  Of course my husband kind of did, but he wasn't taking the calls, scrutinizing every word that comes out of his own mouth.  Chemene  got it.  All through this time I had a full time job and placing ads in newspapers (this is before internet advertising) was its own full time job.  About 14 months in, we decide to hire someone to place ads.  I needed a break and I was at the end of my rope.  
Shortly after we hired someone, I was working with 7 expectant mothers.  It was crazy and super intense.  I felt that if none of these worked out, we would be done.  Five ended up to be scammers, one changed her mind and then there was K, the amazing young woman that changed our lives.  Her decision is what made made us parents...

More of this story to come!  Keeping following us for Part II...

Written by Josette
Adoptive Mom
Group Co-Leader 
Special Education Teacher

Join us at our next POST adult meeting on May 29, 2015
Join us at our next Pre/Post General Meeting on June 5, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015


I got the call on a beautiful sunny Wednesday afternoon at 3:20pm.  I was in the backyard spraying my neighbors’ kids with the hose while they were in my pool trying to escape it under water.  Earlier that day I took my neighbors daughter to the movies to see “Mama Mia”. She was only 8 at the time.  I was home because we were getting our pool inspected by the town one last time and awaiting our C.O. for the second floor extension. 
The phone rings and I immediately think “crap, I’ll never make it”.  I run and slide with my bare feet to the kitchen and grab the phone on the third ring.  My answering machine picked up and recorded the conversation which went exactly like this….

Dina – “Hello”

Agency – Hi, Dina I have called your house, your job and now trying your house again.

Dina -  Why, what happened??

Agency -  Well our baby boy was born yesterday and our social worker has been in the hospital with the birthmother and birth grandmother and they want to move forward with the adoption they do not want cradle care and would like direct placement for him tomorrow.

Dina – SCEAMING ON THE TOP OF MY LUNGS “omg omg omg is this the call???”

Agency – This is the call

Dina -  OMG ARE YOU SERIOUS?  This is the call I have been waiting for are you sure?

Agency – Well C  (our social worker) has been in the hospital with the birthmother since yesterday we didn’t want to call you until we knew for sure.  We don’t have any information on the birthfather.  We know he’s Hispanic and the birth mom is Hispanic

Dina – (practically passing out – not really listening now) OMG ROBIN ROBIN THIS IS THE CALL. Robin my neighbor comes inside now fanning me I continue screaming and crying and hyperventilating for the next few minutes.

Agency -  Ok Dina, cry but please don’t faint.  This is the best part of my job.  I love making these phone calls.  Now please get a pen and paper and write these things down because you will not remember what I’m going to tell you now. 

It was all a blur after that.  I hung up the phone cried and cried.  Then realized wait, she said TOMORROW…direct placement TOMORROW!!!!!  I had so much to do in 24 short hours.  

We waited three LONG years on that list.  Three years of heartache, tears, roller coaster emotions, adoption meetings and then on one Wednesday afternoon our lives were changed just like that….


Written By Dina 
Adoptive Mom

Join us at our next PRE/POST General meeting on June 5, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Not Alone - Part II

As I usually do, I had the news on this morning while I got ready for work. I wasn't paying all that much attention until the words "new miracle IVF treatment" broke through my thoughts.

I've seen three different doctors about IVF treatments so far and one told me I'm too old and have a less than 1% chance of success. Another told me I'm too fat and too old right after she told me and my husband that genetically I'm a 10. In other words that baby I can't possibly have would have been perfect. (Why couldn't she have lied to me and said that I carry something awful!?!) The third just wanted to spend as much of my money as she could. I was willing to give it a try anyway until I found out it was more than $20,000 per cycle and I would likely need about 5 cycles to be successful.

It was at that point that I started thinking about adoption and researching on the internet, but I couldn't shake the feeling of loss over not having a biological child. So while I was on the internet I looked for a support group.  I found this group and looked at the description over and over again but did nothing. Somewhere around a month later I finally got up the nerve to send a message. I know that sounds silly but in my mind, until I made contact with the group, I could pretend, "Maybe this month it will work and I haven't failed at the most basic function of being a woman."  Within a very short time I got a response from a woman that made me feel like we had been best friends our whole lives. I started attending meetings, making new friends and learning new things including that there are grants and ways to save on the cost of IVF. (Unfortunately I don't qualify for any of them)

On this news program, the new miracle treatment is for people with old or weak eggs... (OMG they're talking right to me!) The couple they interviewed are the parents of the first baby from this new treatment and they did it in one cycle! (At this point I'm all ears, I'll get ready for work later!) Then they pull the rug out from under me again. This new, amazing treatment is about twice as expensive as regular IVF and not available in the U.S. and probably won't be for many years.

I'll admit, I was a little crushed at the end of the report but I'm also a little happy because not too long ago I would have been a big puddle of tears at that moment but this time I thought of my group, how I have other options and most important of all,

Written By 
"Future Mom"
Retail Business Owner
Join us at our next POST adoption meeting May 29, 2015
Join us at our next general meeting June 5, 2015
See our website for details!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Becoming a “High AQ* Family”

Adoptions don’t just “happen” but by intention, persistence and determination. Completing an adoption is complicated, detailed, consuming and intrusive. To ensure children’s safety, strangers (social workers, etc.,) scrutinize intensely personal and private areas of a prospective adopter’s life. While conception involves only two people, adoption requires an entire team to accomplish, agree, and approve.

Professionals evaluate us. They decide if we qualify for parenthood. This process can leave even the most resolute prospective parent reeling. Only those with enough dedication and commitment will power through to completion and fulfill the dream: a child born from another mother joins the family. To outsiders, placement (Homecoming, Arrival Day,) may appear to be the happily-ever-after end of the story.

In reality, it is only the prelude because adoption is not an event; it is a lifelong process that will influence our children, ourselves, and our extended families. Permanently. Sometimes, this influence will be minor and at other times, adoption may be a dominating driver of complicated and challenging emotions, beliefs and choices. Sounds daunting. So how do parents prepare to succeed at adoption? The answer is: develop a high AQ, a thorough education and preparation for basic adoptive parenting in particular and parenting in general.

At any given moment, parents ask themselves is this situation adoption-driven or simply typical kid behavior? The answer is not always clear but it is important to not always fault adoption as the obstacle. Adoption is only a part of what shapes our children—a pivotal one--but still only one of many driving forces.

It is important to recognize adoption as a family experience. When we adopt a child, we are bound in a relationship of love and mutual caring. Together, we become an adoptive family. Notice that “family” is highlighted. Think about that for a moment. Adoption reshapes parent and child and connects us for a lifetime. Fortunately the journey is not a solitary. We rely on each other. Shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, we live in partnership. We celebrate joys, mark milestones, divide troubles and bear shared witness to one another’s lives.

Adoptive families face the same challenges all families confront. Plus, we also support our children through the complex process of braiding their birth and adoptive heritage into a healthy, cohesive whole. (Lori Holden, author of The Open-hearted Way to Open Adoption calls this unifying biology and biography.) We travel the extra mile to become the parents our children need us to be. We understand that parenting based on the strategies our folks used to raise us will not serve us. Adoption creates additional needs and challenges for our families and this requires additional parenting strategies and skills. Our parenting tool box must suit the realities of the task set before us.

Thus, we dedicate equal intensity and commitment to becoming educated on how adoption alters the parenting equation. This requires that we apply several types of “intelligences” to our strategies: Intellectual, Emotional and “Adoption –attuned.” We at GIFT (Growing Intentional Families together) Family Services, refer to this as developing an Adoption-attuned intelligence, a high “AQ.” 

Adoption-attunement Quotient
Considers how adoption influences a child. The umbrella of AQ*includes:
Adoption-sensitive parenting techniques
Sound adoption language
Knowledge of the attachment process
Consideration of grief and loss issues
Respect for birth parents
Validating a child’s need to know, talk and care about birth parents
Modeling healthy boundaries
Educating family, friends and teachers on adoption
Remembering that a child’s story belongs to him
Recognizing adoption is a family experience
Encouraging playfulness & humor as a family value
Integrating a child’s birth heritage
Validate/acknowledge child’s losses and gains in adoption

Adoptive parents shape the breadth and depth of what we share as a family. Kids take their cues from us. We set the tone, establish the boundaries of “safe,” “welcome,” and “permissible” conversations regarding adoption and the wildly diverse emotions that it evokes. We recognize that the gains our children accrued through adoption do not erase their very real losses. We know love is essential and that it is not enough. We must go the extra mile time and time again.

We regularly and authentically invite adoption conversations. Periodically we drop seeds for future teaching moments. For example, we suggest that a talent, trait, or interest which our child demonstrates that is not generally seen in our extended family may be one of the gifts that emanate from their birth parents. This could easily segue into a chat about what a child thinks/feels/wonders/worries about regarding their birth parents. The conversation becomes a shared moment of intimacy where parents offer a safe harbor in which to explore a child’s hard thoughts and ideas. 

In the absence of clear permission to discuss such things, kids assume that the topic is forbidden. They shoulder the burden of their concerns in isolation. Instead of a bridge strengthening the bond between parent and child, a gulf is created, a “Do Not Talk Zone.” Unless parents sail beyond the calm illusion that all is perfect, kids lose the opportunity to inform parents of their struggles. They act “as if” everything is AOK but inside, they wrestle with complex issues they are too young to understand and for which they lack adequate coping strategies. As parents we wish that our kids didn’t have to confront the pain of their losses and we recognize that loss is an ineradicable fact of their lives. We do not withhold their story; we support them through it. Step-by-step, in age-appropriate, truthful language, we talk about it honestly.

High AQ* parents steep our families in a presupposition of adoption as a “both/and” relationship. We do not make them choose sides and pledge loyalty to only one. We can never be loved by too many people nor must we love only a limited number. Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao adoptee, adoption counselor, author and coach asserts in The Family of Adoption that adopted children have both adoptive and birth mothers and fathers but only one set of parents: their adopted parents. We coexist and we all are an integral and permanent part of our children. 

We enjoy engaging in “claiming” behavior that highlights ways our kids are like us. We demonstrate equal pride in the ways in which children are different from us and how that uniqueness enriches the family. By valuing their uniqueness, we prevent kids from inferring that they cannot be who their DNA programmed them to be because they mistakenly fear we would then reject them. Even if our children had been born to us, we could not love them more. An in depth knowledge of AQ* helps us to parent our children better, with empathy, information and understanding.

High AQ* parents understand that the parental experience of adoption varies in some profound ways from the reality of adoption which our children experience. Our delight at being parents does not blind us to some of the emotional struggles and ambivalent feelings that are part of an adoptee’s reality. We maintain an “open door” policy on adoption that clearly communicates to our kids that our commitment to them is permanent. It does not require them to surrender their interest in or attachment to their birth heritage. There are no contingencies on our commitment or our love. It is forever.

Gayle H. Swift is the co-founder of GIFT Family Services, 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.

Not Alone...

When I was asked to help write for this blog, I kept thinking "how can I possibly contribute? My husband and I haven't adopted, we didn't even try IVF yet!"  In many ways I am very much a newbie to all of this, but as I read all of the other posts, I started to see where I fit in.

I've joined an amazing group of people who are at a wide range of places in their journeys to create a family. They all have their own story to tell ranging from heartbreaking to awe inspiring, and I've started to figure out who to talk to when I want to hear that "Everything is going to work out exactly the way it's supposed to" or who will cry with me if that's what I need and even who will stamp their feet and whine with me about how we've all been dealt a crummy hand.

Many years ago my father told me my friends were nothing and family was everything. While I understand now what he was trying to say, I also know he obviously had no idea how things would be different for me.  Out of all the women in my family, going back five generations, I am the only one that has ever had an issue with infertility. I don't know how, but somehow I must have known I would have difficulty because I told no one that we were trying to conceive. (I didn't want the expectant questions and ultimately the pity every month)  For five years I suffered with the monthly failures and then the tests with no one to talk to except my husband. Finally we decided to tell my sister what was going on because she was always upset with me for not visiting her three children enough.  I tried explaining how it broke my heart to be with them and sent me into a depression with all the typical dark thoughts of how I would never . . . (well you know what I mean). I know she tried, but she didn't get it. I could almost hear her thinking that if I wanted children so badly, then I should be happy to visit hers. She then proved it by changing the subject to whatever silly thing hers had done recently.

It wasn't much later that I found this group and realized how wrong my father was and also just how "NOT ALONE" I really am!
Written By 
"Future Mom"
Retail Business Owner
Join us at our next POST adoption meeting May 29, 2015
Join us at our next general meeting June 5, 2015
See our website for details!