Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"A Deadly Adoption" Lifetime Movie Review

I finally got my DVR to tape the Lifetime Movie, "A Deadly Adoption" starring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig.  Maybe I should have taken the hint that my DVR refused to tape it as a sign. 

I refused to read other reviews so it didn't skew my opinion at all.  I did see however some pre write ups that it was a parody and then some said it was a comedy and THEN some said a drama.  Ugh!!  But when you see Ferrell and Wiig starring in anything at all, how can you take it seriously.

I tried very hard to take out the fact that I am adoptive parent and review it from an unbiased stand point.  It was hard to stay interested when my husband was laughing the entire time.  He kept saying "how do you expect to put on a Lifetime movie about adoption and I NOT comment!!!"

The story begins with Wiig getting into an accident when she is 6 months pregnant causing her to lose the baby.  So far I was paying attention since some of the people I know moved to the adoption journey due to a traumatic pregnancy experience.  OK good so far.  (Only 5 minutes in!)

We are now listening to Wiig talk to her friend about the potential adoption and that her husband isn't really into it and can't move on from their loss and the agency they are working with is bringing over a potential birth mother to meet them.  

So far I'm paying attention ...

The agency social worker (possibly) brings over the potential birth mother while Wiig is watering the lawn!  Hmmmm If I knew a potential birth mother was coming over I would totally be calmly watering my flowers at my home!  Or I would be running around like a mad woman cleaning the house and figuring the best outfit and throwing things in closets to hide crap!! 

A car door opens and a fantastically beautiful young woman steps out with a very short summer dress looking extremely put together for someone who is living in a shelter (which we later find out).  Everyone sits down at the kitchen table and discusses the adoption and by the end of the conversation Wiig decides that the potential birth mother should live with them until the baby is born!  Wait what?  She asks the social worker if that's ok and the social worker then proceeds to say that this is done all the time!  Wait what again?? 

Ok now I'm starting to drift off a little cause my adoptive parent side is creeping out!  BUT I put it back inside and keep watching.  

Well now we are subjected to a change in story plot.  In movies or TV you are watching at least two story plots - plot A and plot B.  At first from the title you think this movie will be about adoption but after the young woman moves in to their home, the main plot isn't really about adoption!  It's about Ferrell having an affair years ago with this woman and now she wants him back and blah blah! (Typical Lifetime movie).   From my stand point I am now happy cause I don't have to hear any more incorrect lines about adoption and I can now focus on the rest of the movie!  Yippeeee I can forget all the things I am mad about right now.  

Unfortunately, now that I'm paying attention (still shushing my husband), I realize this is a terrible movie.  The acting isn't even that good.  Wiig at one point finds out her husband cheated on her because he blamed her for the loss of the baby and to watch her reaction as an actress was just horrible.  I'm sorry coming from an acting and TV production background, it is hard to bypass the fact that she can't cry on cue and when she does its bad! 

I won't tell you the ending cause I hate to be a spoiler!! I think they had an idea that went south for the winter.  I am a huge fan of Wiig and Ferrell and they are amazing at comedy.  This was a movie that didn't quite make it as a parody or drama or even a comedy.  I feel bad that I didn't like it but to me it really was a true lifetime movie - bad production - bad story - bad acting!


Written by Chemene
Adoptive Mom
Group Leader

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Monday, June 29, 2015

What are you open to? (Part I)

What are you open to? (Part I)

      What are you open to?  This was a question I was asked at the beginning of our adoption journey.  I was taken aback by the question, to be honest.  If I were able to become and maintain a pregnancy then I would be open to what ever the future was- there wouldnt be a choice. But I digress.  So after attending a few workshops about adoption we learned that situations come up that may be controversial or maybe considered less desirable to many families.  Maybe would have a greater likelihood of producing a child who may have some needs or delays or would make you a conspicuous family.  Apparently as an adoptive parent you have a choice. (Who thunk it?)  What were we open to? What were we willing to accept?  What were we willing to deal with or handle? What types of situation might we want to be considered for?  That is really a tough question to ask yourself when you are (Ill just say it) desperate to be a mom.  Hey I was tempted to say we were open to anything green, three arms, four eyes, if it is human count me in. and then I realized this of course is a life long commitment and since I have a choice what degrees of needs might we be willing a handle- be able to handle?

      Our social worker gave us a list to guide our decisions- things were on that list that I could never have thought of.. race, gender, mental illnesses I had never heard of, incest, rape, 1 or both expectant parents currently incarcerated, habitual drug use, alcohol use, and on and on.  The list then broke down into different types of drugs that we might be open to (what whoa!) some I didnt even know what they were.  There were the opiates: heroin, crack, cocaine, vicodine, oxycontin, methadone, morphine, etc. and there were the street drugs shall we say: marijuana, meth, amphetamines, spice, K, Molly, etc, and there were prescriptions like xanax, and subuxxone and antidepressants and antipsychotics.  The list went on for 2 pages.  I was overwhelmed.  My husband shut down and said we wouldnt be open to any anything but a perfectly perfect pregnancy.  Was there such a thing?  My mom got pregnant on purpose, did everything the doctor told her and neither my sister or my brother or I are perfect.  My husband certainly isnt perfect.  Is anyone? 

      I couldnt accept closing the door to so many potential situations.  I turned to the internet.  Website after website.  Article after article.  Some horror stories, videos of newborns experiencing horrible withdrawal symptoms, and then an article from The New York Times.  (You can read it here http://nyti.ms/17VeNDO)  And the sun came back out!

      That New York Times article changed my outlook.  Basically it summarized some long-term studies that all came to the basic conclusion that babies who were exposed to opiates (and most other drugs) in utero are usually just fine when they grow up.  Will they suffer through withdrawal? Probably.  Will they need Early Intervention Services? Maybe.  Will they grow up to be normal humans? Probably.

      After reading the New York Times article I hopped into my car and drove to a local medical school library where I spent hours reading study after study.  Basically, drugs arent a good thing BUT most usually dont cause lifelong disabilities when the child is raised in a stable, loving home without all that comes with addiction.  Short-term or correctable/manageable effects do happen and most likely would.  These would include:

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)- which is a fancy name for withdrawal.  Withdrawal symptoms apparently vary greatly and are dependent more on the individual baby then on how much exposure there was.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Symptoms often begin within 1 - 3 days after birth, but may take up to a week to appear. Symptoms may include: Blotchy skin coloring (mottling). Diarrhea, Excessive crying or high-pitched crying, Excessive sucking, Fever, Hyperactive reflexes, Increased muscle tone, Irritability, Poor feeding, Rapid breathing, Seizures, Sleep problems, Slow weight gain, Stuffy nose, sneezing, Sweating, Trembling (tremors), and/or Vomiting.  (Okay so those can be scary!)  There are several protocols to support a baby experiencing NAS.  They include environmental accommodations like creating a dimly lit environment free of loud or sudden noises, using a white noise machine, shhhhhhing, tight swaddling, kangaroo care, and limiting movement around a room.  There are also medical interventions such as administering morphine, methadone or Phenobarbital.  These medicines would be given in the NICU and require weaning over several weeks.  NAS can last anywhere between 1 week and 6 months.  Would it be ideal? No.  Could we handle it? Yes.  Well there it was.  So yes we were open to drug exposure.  Now to tackle the rest of the list.

Written by Dorothy
Adoptive Mom

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Adopting an Older Child Internationally

Adopting an Older Child Internationally
7 Ways to Ease the Adjustment and start the bonding process

By Elizabeth Westermann, LMSW

The adoption of older children from foreign countries is becoming more common as fewer infants and young toddlers are available for adoption by US families. Building your family by adopting an older child brings much joy, but it can also be challenging. After all, the majority of your new child’s life has been spent in a different country, and in an environment that is likely to be very different from your own. The bonding process will take time. From the child’s perspective, they are suddenly living in a strange land, with strange looking people, different sounds, smells, and a very strange sounding language. They are likely scared, confused and grieving the loss of all they have left behind. They may not understand the concept of family as you know it. These and many other issues will arise as you begin to adjust to your new child, and your new child to you. Here are a few tips on how to get off to a good start during the mutual adjustment and bonding process.

1.  Look through your child’s eyes. In order to see things they way your child sees them; you need to gather as much information on your child before they are placed with you. Research traditions and the culture of your child’s birth country. Use the information provided by your adoption agency to understand your child’s living conditions. Are they in foster care, or in an orphanage? If they are in foster care, how many other children are in the home? Do they attend school? Where does the child sleep? How does their culture of origin define family? Is their experience in a family the same as the cultural norms? What is the role of mother and father in a family according to their culture and experience? What do they like to eat? Use this information to create a deeper level of understanding and empathy with your child. The answers to these questions, and more, will give you a way to see the world through your child’s eyes and be better prepared for the initial adjustment period.

2.  When will they call you Mom and Dad? When an infant learns to speak, their first words are often “Mama” and “Dada”. When an older child is placed in a new family, they may not feel comfortable calling you Mom or Dad right away. Their definition of what a mother and father are in relation to their role in the family, may be different then yours. Give them time to establish a bond, to trust that you are their forever family and you are there for him. Set an expectation for him, that you eventually expect him to call you Mom and Dad, but you understand this will take time.

3. Bring their Country of Origin home with you. When you travel to bring your child home, use this time to gather as much information as you can about the culture, traditions, and food. Bring your child to historic sites, museums, street fairs, concerts if accessible. Purchase household items such as cutlery, and dishes which are familiar to your child. This will make eating easier for your child when you get home. Take home music, books, and clothing from your child’s country. Your child may be used to a certain type of fabric, so bring home clothing that feels familiar and comfortable to him.

4.  Break the language barrier. Many adoptive parents worry about the potential for a language barrier with their newly adopted child. You may wonder how you will communicate with your child and meet his needs without a common language. Basically, the younger the child is, the easier it will be for him to learn a new language. From birth to age 7 is the optimal time for a child to learn a new language, and if a child learns English before age 10, there is not usually a noticeable accent from their native language. It will take more time for a child to learn English after age 10, but it will take some patience and extra work on your child’s part. Acquiring the English language should pose no difficulties if your child was proficient in his native language. However, if there are cognitive delays, or learning difficulties, then acquiring English language will be more of a challenge. During the initial adjustment period, learn to use non-verbal cues such as hand gestures and sign language. Speak English with your child from the onset. If your child is feeling angry and frustrated due to the language barrier, chances are you are feeling the same way. Find a person in your community who speaks your child’s native language who would be willing to translate. Try local universities, where foreign students can serve as a translator, or ethnic restaurants where employees speak your child’s native language. Download translation apps on your phone for quick access to vocabulary. Ensure your child receives English as Second Language (ESL) support in school. And of course, reading to your child will help his language development as well. It is normal and expected for internationally adopted children to feel frustrated when they cannot communicate, so don’t take it personally or blame yourself. Be patient, keep a good sense of humor, and know that it will take time.

5.  Look beyond their behaviors. As a parent of an older adopted child, it is always important to put their challenging behaviors in perspective. Look at the behavior. Remember where your child came from. They may appear withdrawn, have frequent temper tantrums, refuse to communicate with you, act out in anger, or harm themselves or others in your household. Remember that a child in foster care or institutional care is likely to have experienced neglect, abuse, abandonment and lack of attachment to any caregiver, among others. Their biological parents may have mental health issues or addiction. Their behaviors do not indicate that your child is “a bad kid” it is just their reaction to their negative past. Working with your child in a calm, therapeutic manner can make all of the difference. Providing security, structure and nurturing will help your child change and learn to trust you. With the help of professionals who are experienced in adoption-related issues, you can help your child learn to trust you and create a secure bond with you.

6.  Initially, it’s about learning to be in school, not the academics. Remember that your child may not have been in a school setting at all or it may have been a different type of school setting than in the US. His English language skills are developing and he is trying to see how he fits into this new “culture” of school in addition to being a part of the American culture. Give your child the time to form a level of comfort in school, make some friends, and establish a relationship with his teachers. Placement into the appropriate grade level can make all the difference when it comes to building your child’s confidence. Many adoptive families have found that placing a child according to where they are developmentally, not chronologically, works the best. Consider your child’s maturity level as well as their academic ability when determining placement. Placing a child in the grade where he will be most successful is paramount. Success builds confidence, which builds self esteem, which leads to a child who is motivated to do better.

7.  It takes time. The majority of your child’s life was spent in a different country, in a different living environment, with different people. His experience in his birth country has impacted his life in every way. Remember, your child is experiencing loss and grief, as he moves from the only place he has ever known. You and your child are both on a learning curve; learning to live together, how to be a family and how to relate and communicate with each other. Keep your expectations in check, have fun, laugh -- a lot!! And enjoy the beginning of your parenting journey.

JOIN US AT OUR NEXT SUPPORT GROUP MEETING!  Check out our site for info!

TWITTER: @li_support

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Hope of Being a Mom...

Being a mommy has always been a dream of mine.  I have wanted to be a mommy as long as I can remember. My loving and amazing husband and I wanted to start our family together. We realized that having a biological child wasn't in the plan, but being parents was.

God was calling us to adopt. For ten months we placed adoption ads in newspapers, church bulletins, and online. We handed out our adoption cards to everyone in the hopes that they would share our desire to become parents with an expectant mother who wanted to make an adoption plan. We told everyone and anyone about our dreams to become a mommy and daddy through the loving gift of adoption. We received all sorts of phone calls and e-mails during those ten months. We joined different adoption support groups and made amazing friends who adopted and were looking to adopt. They showed us that it works. They gave us inspiration and knowledge. They gave us hope. Thank you. You all know who you are. We love you for being you.

One day God had a plan for my loving husband. He took him to heaven early in life. Out of the blue my beloved husband suddenly passed away. I couldn't believe it.  I still can't. I miss him dearly. Life is so precious. I wish that he was still here. But I know that he is always with us in spirit. He's always in my heart. I love him.

After my hubby passed away, I didn't think that I could still adopt.  But my friends and family assured me that I could. They fully supported my decision.  They knew that I could still be a mommy. My support system is truly amazing. I am so fortunate to have my family and friends in my life.  They are my cheerleaders. Thank you to everyone who has helped. You know that I couldn't be here writing this without your love and ongoing support.

A few days after my husband passed I listened to a voicemail on his iPhone. The message was that the Saint William (the patron saint of adoption) pendant that he ordered was in and that he could pick it up. He got me it for me for my birthday, but it didn't come in until after he passed. So I called up the gift store and told them that he had suddenly passed away. They were in disbelief. Apparently four days before he passed he went into the store. He told the lovely ladies at the church gift shop about our desire to adopt a baby. When I went in to pick up the pendant we cried and prayed together. These women sat me down and told me how excited that he was to adopt and that he wanted me to be a mommy so much. I needed to hear that. I really did. It was one of the first signs from him. I needed to be reminded that I could do this and that my life still had to be lived... My dreams could still come to fruition. I proudly wear the Saint William pendant. It was the last, but the best birthday gift that I got from him. It was a gift of hope.

You see, ten months after my husband went to live in heaven, he helped send me my angel.  Our sweet, beautiful daughter was born and was finally in my arms.  She's my heaven sent angel. The day I became a mommy I knew that my husband became her daddy too. My little angel has helped me in so many ways.  I love her to the moon and back. She's simply the best. I love her so much. It's amazing to be her mommy. I am so blessed. I am forever grateful to her birth parents for making such a loving and giving decision to place her with me. Every day I thank her birthparents, God, and my husband for helping make my dream of being a mommy a reality.

I have a lot of help with my daughter. I am truly one lucky mom. My parents and my husband's parents, our families, and friends are a huge part of our lives. I couldn't have done this without their support.  It truly takes a village.

For those of you who are on your adoption journey and are waiting to adopt, keep your faith.  God is good and will provide. When you are down and feeling blue, just know that in time your little one will be with you. Keep praying. Timing is something that we don't know, but if your heart is yearning to become a parent, then follow your dream. Keep plugging along. As my husband always said, "Just put one foot in front of the other".

Happy Father's Day in heaven to my loving and special husband. We love you.  We all miss you. Our daughter always looks at your pictures and says "dadda" all day long.  Love you. Xoxoxoxo

Written by a thankful mommy! Xo

Join us at our next meeting on July 10, 2015
for more information check out our website www.LIadoptionsupport.com

Friday, June 19, 2015

"I Am Adopted"

I was about 10. My grandma and I were riding in the car.
“I have something very important to tell you.”
“Okay Gramma.”
“I am adopted.”

I knew that when Gramma would talk about her parents it was like a secret. And her mother was German, but she was not. I had never met my grandma’s parents, they were older and had died long before I was in the picture.

Gramma cried. She was embarrassed, maybe even ashamed. There was some stigma attached to being adopted. I didn’t understand. It seemed clear to me. She had a lady that gave her life and another that was her mom. She had a family that was her own, regardless if she looked like them or not. She was loved and fed and cared for and cherished. She never understood that she was their dreams come true.

My great grandmother came over from Germany around 1917 at about 20 years old as a cook. She met and married the groundskeeper who has 10 years older than her. They tried unsuccessfully to have children and confided in their priest that they wanted a family. For many years they tried and prayed and tried and prayed. And they told anyone who would listen of their desire to have a family of their own. In an age of silence, they were not.

In March of 1928, their pastor met with them and said that a girl had been born at the hospital, no birth certificate, no parents, and this little girl needed a family. The hospital wasn’t too far and they would need to go get her as fast as they could.  They borrowed a car and drove 30 miles to the hospital by the beach, and then next day drove back. I can only imagine my great grandmother holding on to this squalling beautiful black haired baby…. And thinking .. my baby. My baby. My prayers were answered.

When I met my soon to be sister and brother in law and knew they were looking to adopt, I told them my Gramma’s story. And that I am a proud product of adoption, of hopes and dreams come true. Of answered prayers.

I love how they have open arms to the boys’ birth families. I love how they handle anything that comes their way. And I am a very very proud auntie to both of those little ones, because they share my DNA of dreams come true.

When I think of how far we have come when we create our families, I recognize that I am blessed. Blessed to be a product of adoption 2 generations back and blessed to see the open adoption my sister and brother in law have embraced. We are all blessed to witness these two little men trail blazing their way into an ever-widening family that is filled with love, support and communication. There is no shame in that.

Written By Kim
Sister in-law of an Adoptive Mom
Proud product of adoption!
Group supporter and cheerleader!

Join us at our next PRE/POST meeting on July 10, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Finding Inspiration as a Foster Parent and Case Worker ...

It was a difficult time for my wife and me, and we both felt drained physically and emotionally.  Another child had left our family.  Another child from foster care that had been living with us for several months was moving to another home.  This time, it was a little different, though, and the pain of it lingered on for some time.

Little Devon came to our family late one night at 12:30 AM, an emergency placement that was to be with us only for a day or so.  A familiar claim for foster parents, that’s for sure. The four pound baby was on a heart monitor as well as a breathing machine, and required around the clock monitoring. Fortunately for me, I was on a vacation, and was able to look after the tiny infant at all times.  So small was he that he could fit in one of my hands.  To be sure, the first time I changed his diaper, I thought I might somehow break his small body.  His weakened condition required that he be fed once an hour, every hour, twenty four hours a day, as his tiny frame needed nourishment.  His first few weeks with us left me in an almost zombie like state; so exhausted was I from his hourly feeding and breathing treatments.

As expected, my wife and I quickly fell in love with little Devon, and when the child’s caseworker informed us three months later that Devon would be available for adoption, my wife quickly jumped at the opportunity.  I was a little hesitant, as this would be the seventh DeGarmo child, but as always, my heart quickly changed my thought process.  Indeed, I began looking forward with much excitement to the adoption of this little one forever into our family.

Sadly, Devon was not able to become a part of our family, and we were faced with our second failed adoption a month later.  The child our family grew to love as one of our own moved to another foster home, where his older sibling was; a foster home that soon adopted both Devon and his older brother.  I must share with you, it left me grief stricken.  For days, there was a tremendous pain in my stomach, and I felt as if I would break into tears at any given moment.   My wife was suffering, as well.  Four days after Devon left our family, I walked into the bathroom after work, and found my wife crumpled on the floor, sobbing; heartbroken from the grief she felt. 

So, why do I foster?  Why do I take child after child into my family, only to have my heart break time and time again when the child leaves my home to another?  Why do I run myself to the point of exhaustion, looking after a house full of children on lack of sleep and energy?  Quite simply; because there is a child out there, right now, that needs a home.  There is a child out there, today, who needs a family, and who needs to be loved.   I have been richly blessed with so much, I feel called to share those blessings with those in need.

I am often asked how I do it.  How am I able to care for so many children in my home, and how do I continue to have my heart broken repeatedly?  Well, the answer is really not that difficult of one.  My wife is a source of strength, to be sure, but I also look for strength in other places, as well.  I find strength in inspiration.  Whether this inspiration be from scripture, from poems, from quotes, or even stories from other foster parents, I find these inspirational stories, scripture, and sayings fill me with renewed strength, and with renewed energy.  To be sure, there are times when I need inspiration daily, just in order to make it through the day.  Other times, inspirational verses and stories fill me with joy, and encourage me to continue caring for others in need.

            To be honest, I often find inspiration in what you do. I am inspired by your devotion to caring for children in need. I am inspired by your service to others, and placing those in need before yourself.  I am inspired by the many stories I hear from foster parents, case workers, and advocates I meet across the nation.  Thank you, so very much, for all you do, and for making our world a better place.

-Dr. John DeGarmo

Dr. John DeGarmo is a foster and adoptive father.  He has been a foster parent for 12 years, with over 40 children coming through his home. He is the author of many books, including The Foster Parenting Manual, and the upcoming book Helping Foster Children in School.
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Monday, June 15, 2015

My Child's Identity...

Adoption has reminded me of a fact that I thought I knew, but obviously had to relearn. All kids are different. Yep, no matter what they may have in common, how they react to situations will be different. 

My younger son is adopted and as he has gotten older I have stressed myself out more and more as to how he will react and feel about being adopted. So many blogs I have read seem to focus on how hard it is for the adoptee, how much they struggle with their identity, feelings of not fitting or not being loved. I feared so much that he would somehow feel lesser than his older brother, disconnected from his family, just unloved. So, I overcompensated a bit and worried so much I gave myself migraines. Then one day I decided to really make sure the lines of communication were open, not just assume he knew he could talk to me or his dad, but assure him of that fact. I wanted to be sure he knew that I would answer any question, that he could talk to me about his biological parents, that my love for him and my knowledge of his love for me meant that I would not be hurt or upset by anything he had to tell me. His look of confusion (sort of a 'duh mom I knew that' look) and his complete blasé attitude about the whole thing, made me realize I was creating this huge mountain of problem where there wasn't one. Perhaps part of it is a boy vs girl thing (I was much more emotional at his age than he is), perhaps it's an age thing (but 13, almost 14 is a moody age) or perhaps I just kept stumbling upon those blogs of people struggling because when things are going well you don't think to write about it. 

The thing I learned was that, whether your child is or is not struggling with his identity, make sure those lines of communication are open. It might be painful to hear that they sometimes wonder about their biological parents or they feel lesser than, but if they can't come to you, then who can they turn to? And just maybe, you will find that your sleepless nights could have been salvaged if you had just opened those doors up in the first place instead of worrying what was on the other side.

Written by Angela
Adoptive mom

JOIN US AT OUR NEXT SUPPORT GROUP MEETING!  Check out our site for info!

TWITTER: @li_support

Friday, June 12, 2015

Choosing an Adoption Agency or Attorney, a FREE e-publication from Creating a Family

Choosing an Adoption Agency or Attorney, a FREE e-publication from Creating a Family
A review by Barbara Herel

You just made a major life-changing decision – to create your family through adoption. Congratulations! Uh, now what? Enter The Creating a Family Guide to Choosing an Adoption Agency or Attorney.  
Brought to you by Creating a Family, The National Adoption and Infertility Education and Support Organization, this 52-page guide offers relevant and practical information about the International, Private Domestic, and Foster Care adoption processes.  
What’s more, it’s all presented in a clear at-a-glance way that won’t make your brain explode. 
As an adoptive mom via domestic adoption, what I especially like about this resource is the detailed list of questions to ask an agency or adoption attorney. This way a Hopeful Adoptive Parent, or even an Expectant Parent, can start a meaningful dialogue and connect with an adoption professional that is ethical and a good fit for them. There’s even a section specifically for LBGBTQ Community with tips for finding a gay-friendly agencies or attorneys.
Hopeful Adoptive Parents and Expectant Parents will also value that this multimedia guide has links to audio and video clips as well as pertinent blog posts, and online support groups – all located on the Creating a Family website, a trusted source for all members of the adoption community.
The Creating a Family Guide to Choosing an Adoption Agency or Attorney is FREE and available right now. This, right here, is your first logical step in the adoption process.
Wishing you the very best on your adoptive journey!  
Barbara Herel, freelance writer for Adoptive Families magazine, Adoptimist.com, and Long Island Adoption Support Group. She blogs about her open adoption at Improv Mom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Friends Lost...

"Just relax!"
"You need to take a vacation!"
"You must be doing it wrong."

I can't even count how many friends I lost along this road of IVF and adoption. It really hurts especially when you have known them forever. It's an eye opener to see who your true friends really are.

I still to this day remember all the pain that I had to deal with as I was trying to start a family. I remember dealing with every pregnant friend and family member. I remember all the tears I shed wondering why they couldn't take a few moments to try to understand what I was going through - that starting a family is just not as easy for some people as it is for others.

I knew K for years and she I were very close. We knew literally everything about each other and she meant the world to me. It even seemed like she understood what I was going through. So much so that one day we were talking and she offered to let me adopt her embryos (that were left over from her IVF cycles - IVF worked for her). I didn't expect that offer and needed some time to think it through and discuss with my husband. I knew it wouldn't be an easy decision and we were already started the adoption journey. After a year of making a pros and cons list, we decided to go forward with it. She was my closest friend and I loved her and she was offering us an incredible gift.

We called her to tell her we accepted her offer. I was scared and excited. I had the opportunity to adopt and possibly even carry a baby! WIN WIN!!

It is still painful for me to talk about to this day, but on that call she let us know she changed her mind. Why you might ask? Maybe she decided to have more kids? Maybe she thought about it more and now felt uncomfortable with the situation. Nope! She told me the reason was that it was because I didn't belive in God and read the bible. She told the that even though that would come in time for me, she and her husband didn't think it would be a "good fit". Wait what? Where was this coming from? We never even spoke about religion? Never! You see I have a rule that I try to adhere to at all time - the three no no's to discuss with people - abortion, politics and religion. It seems no matter what your opinion, it doesn't end well. So I know this was never discussed. We then just ended the phone call nicely and never spoke again.

The pain was horrible. I couldn't believe she judged me like that - without even having a discussion. She didn't know anything about my religious views; she never asked. I guess she felt that if I didn't share her religious views then I wasn't good enough for her embryos. It's her right, obviously, but the pain of how it all happened was hard to handle.

I lost countless other friends and co-workers during the IVF process since they couldn't understand why I was so unhappy about not being able to conceive. Mind you, they all had their own children. I was told some really insensitive things over the years - You are doing it wrong! The position is key! Maybe you should just adopt! There are so many kids in need of a family in those orphanages. Take a vacation, you're stressing too much. I want to believe they thought they were trying to help, but it all felt very accusatory. Why did they feel the need to say anything to me! All I wanted was a little compassion. I wasn't looking for a pity party, just some little sense of understanding. "Sorry to hear that" would have been great. I would get so mad that these were people I considered very close to me and realizing they didn't care the way I thought they would. The way I thought I would if the tables were turned.

Family was an entirely different story. I think I had this notion that family supports you unconditionally and will love you no matter what. Well that was far from the truth for me. I literally lost an entire side of the family through all this. One of my first cousins told me that IVF was f-ing with God, so thankfully I wasn't doing it again. My aunt told me to stop worrying and go on vacation. I felt I got more compassion from strangers than I did my own family.

I am sure one of the reasons I lost those "friends" was because I was changing and they weren't. You open up during this process and sometimes you don't realize it.

You have to open your heart with adoption even if it turns out to be open or closed. How can I expect for others to learn how to open up as well. 

Written By Chemene
Adoptive Mom
Support Group Co-Leader

JOIN US AT OUR NEXT SUPPORT GROUP MEETING!  Check out our site for info!
TWITTER: @li_support

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Loss + Grief = Clarity

The last few months of 2001 were pretty life-changing for me. We all know what happened on September 11th.  Terrorists took over those four planes, and three of them slammed into buildings. The twin towers blew up and fell down and disappeared from the city skyline. Sitting here writing that 14 years later, it sounds like some kind of violent video game. I can so vividly remember the utter unreality of that day.  
Less than a month later, I was faced with a different kind of shock.  My mom died suddenly. It's a long story, and perhaps material for another blog, but suffice to say, my mom and I did not have a typical mother-daughter relationship. She had health issues for my whole life and we certainly had more downs than ups. That said, losing her, like watching those towers crumble, was sad and sudden and unreal. And one thing that made me particularly sad was that my mom would never meet the child that I and she had been praying so hard I would conceive.

She died on October 2, about a week after I had undergone my last fertility-related procedure. Some time soon after that -- I can't pinpoint a date -- I finally decided I had had enough.  My husband and I had been riding the infertility roller coaster for five years.  Yes, we wanted a biological child.  Yes, I wanted to experience pregnancy. But in hindsight, and in thinking about those last few months of 2001, I think maybe those two earth-shattering events (in my little patch of the earth, anyway) had knocked some sense into me.  I had seen two towering, seemingly indestructible skyscrapers literally disintegrate within two hours on a bright sunny day.  I watched my mother die a few weeks later with no warning, leaving me feeling so many different things, but above all, lost. I was face-to-face with two fundamental sobering realities:  Life is short and it can change in the blink of an eye. I knew this already, but now the point had been driven home, with my infertility struggle along for the ride, occasionally even driving the car.  
I had finally realized that I wanted control back, and I just wanted to be a mom already. I wanted that more than I wanted to be pregnant.  And I wanted that more than I wanted to see if a child of mine would get my nose or my husband's eyes.  We started the adoption process soon after this "a ha moment" of mine, and the rest is history, as they say.  "When God closes a door, he opens another,” my mom liked to say.  My daughter is now 11. She will never meet her grandmother and she'll never see the World Trade Center, but I like to think the loss of each of them played a pretty big part in Our Story.  

Written by Aileen
Adoptive mom
Adoption Support Group Leader
JOIN US AT OUR NEXT SUPPORT GROUP MEETING!  Check out our site for info!

TWITTER: @li_support


Saturday, June 6, 2015

My Foster Journey...

I finally got an exciting phone call this afternoon from the foster care agency. I was asked to spell my name just to make sure they are filling out the adoption forms correctly. I couldn't believe it. After so many years of waiting... It's happening. My little girl will officially be mine. She will have the permanency that we all need badly.

Her biological father had appealed the decision to terminate his parental rights. Last week, we learned that he won said appeal. I was devastated. I thought the agency was going to start planning with him, and take my daughter away. I've witnessed that growing up firsthand with my first foster brother. He was with us from birth until 7. The adoption paperwork was done. A week before the adoption was finalized, his mother- who never had contact- finally showed up. The court reunited him with his mother 3 months later. There was No F'ing Way that I was going to let that happen with my daughter!!!

I went into Rottweiler-Mommy-Mode (being a foster parent, you often have to) and started calling everybody. There wasn't a law guardian, or social worker who's brain I didn't pick. A few days later I get the most exciting news. We are overriding the decision of the appeal, and moving forward with the adoption. Apparently, we just needed a decision to secure all the loose ends... But the actual decision didn't matter. It just held up the process for 2 years. I was elated.

My daughter has been losing her patience. She tells everyone and anyone that she can't wait to finally be adopted. I know it's very tough for her, knowing that her little brother was adopted before her. Especially because they were supposed to be adopted the same day. She has become obsessed with it. I feel so badly when I hear her talking to her friends about it. I reassure her that it's going to happen, but in the meantime... We'll still live our lives and enjoy life together. I don't think she's buying it.

I decided that I will keep the adoption day to myself. She's waited so long, that I will surprise her. I will invite friends and family to meet us at court on her big day. I plan to pamper her and dress her up. I am giving her a piece of jewelry and asking her if she would take me as her mommy. I can't wait to see the look on her face...

Written By Ketsy
Foster Mom
Group Member

JOIN US AT OUR NEXT SUPPORT GROUP MEETING!  Check out our site for info!

TWITTER: @li_support

Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Review... The Family Book by Todd Parr


First up... 
The Family Book by Todd Parr

For me this is a MUST have book on your child's shelf.  My son is bi-racial and has special needs and it was hard for him to understand many of the children's book explaining how adoption works.  So I needed something more well rounded that didn't focus on specifically adoption. This book shows all dynamics of all families.  From step families to families that look like their pets!! This is a special book for everyone!

JOIN US AT OUR NEXT SUPPORT GROUP MEETING!  Check out our site for info!

TWITTER: @li_support

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Our Beginning - Part 2

When we started this journey, we were open to, at most, a semi-open adoption with pics and letters. The 5 months we were in contact with K, that is what she wanted as well.  We were following all of the suggested "rules", we didn't give our last name or town where we live.  We started talking to her in Nov of 2008, she was due in March 2009.  We went down to TN in Jan to meet her.  We went to her Mom's house and were met with true southern hospitality.  We, strangers to them, were welcomed into their home as if we were part of their family.  We met many members of K's family including her 2 children.  We sat at their table and enjoyed home cooked meals.  It was such an amazing experience.  Slowly the idea of openness was getting chipped away at.  We drove down in March, 3 days before she was scheduled to be induced.  K and I bond some more and again welcomed as family.  Chip, chip, chip... 
The day our son, D was born was one of the most bittersweet days I have ever experienced.  Here is this beautiful amazing little baby.  I am the first to hold him in my arms.  I was instantly in love!  Yet here is this beautiful, amazing young woman that I love and adore and her heart is breaking.  I was ecstatic and devastated at the same time, a feeling I don't think can even be explained.  
The hospital was amazing, we were given our own room at the hospital.  While there, K was in a different hall only allowing her mom and us as visitors.  Us?  The same people who are part of the reason her heart is breaking!  She just amazed me!  I sat in her room with her talking and crying.  When she asked me to write down my information just so she made sure she had it to keep in touch, it was easiest thing to do, wrote our first and last names and our address.  Chip, chip, chip....
K's sister J came to the hospital and we meet for the first time.  She was not sure about this whole adoption thing.  We hit it off instantly.  They came and visited baby D at the hospital, pictures of family members holding him.  It was all beautiful and surreal.   Chip, chip, chip....
K signs, baby gets discharged, off to the the hotel we go.  We get to the hotel and there is a "Welcome baby D" sign in the lobby waiting for us.  K's mom comes to visit us at the hotel bringing us gifts and a letter from K.  Chip, chip, chip....
Five days of bonding at the hotel, just the 3 of us.  People say how they can't imagine being so far away trapped in a hotel room for so long.  I say, a beautiful bonding time, we definitely cherish those 5 days!  D was born March 10, we got home on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th.  
This whole experience brings us full circle to my first blog entry about our last visit, this past Easter break.  I never would have thought when we started this journey that we would have an open adoption like we do.  I love our southern family!  I wish we lived closer to celebrate holidays and events like graduations with them.  While we were last there, K's brother-in-law said to me when he was saying goodbye to us, "Thank you, thank you again for letting us be in his life."  My response to him was, "No more thank you's.  We're family and this what family does, get together and see each other.  This is how it's going to be, so get used to it!"  
You never know where your journey will take you!  Keep your mind and your heart open!  
I am so thankful for our son and our extended family!  
Stay tuned for our youngest son's adoption story.

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

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