Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dealing with a Stork Drop...

So I was in the middle of a “craptastic” week that had nothing to do with our adoption journey.  (I need that word added to Webster’s…)  Sudden death of a close friend, work stress, family stress, issues with my car all contributing to a bad mental state.  Then out of the blue we get an email from our agency – a stork drop opportunity.  (Stork drop definition:  opportunity where a baby was just born and the mother decides on an adoption plan at the hospital.)   

First excitement - nothing else going on matters.  This is our most important goal; everything else can take second place for now. 

Ok, read the email.  Read it again.  Read it a 3rdtime.  This is not the “perfect situation” - far from it.  Actually this situation really shouldn’t have been presented to us based on our grid.  Deep breathe.  I later found out this was a blast email because the situation didn’t exactly fit anyone’s grid. 

Call the agency to get further details.  Definitely leaning towards the “no, this is not our baby” side.  Mike (DH) and I discuss.  He is quickly able to see through all the emotions and points to a few lines on our grid.  “We decided on this months ago - this baby is not for us” he says.  Just to be sure, and since the agency offered, I get the medical records emailed.  It reinforces the decision that “this is not our baby.”  Politely email the agency back and pass – sending our prayers that the baby finds the right family.

Now comes the guilt, the worry, the second guessing, and the “What ifs.”  What if the agency holds it against us that we passed on this opportunity?  What if this was supposed to be our baby?  What if this was fate talking after the death of our friend?  How to I justify turning my back on a baby… any baby?  I’m a bad person!  Horrible!  I talk this through with friends – friends who are both inside and outside the adoption world.  Nobody thinks any worse of me.  They all agree that we made the right choice.  This is all in my head.  

Lesson learned – researching and creating your grid in the cool, unemotional planning stages is important.  Sticking to your grid under the pressure of the moment is very hard.

Written by Andrea 
Future mom

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Adopting Yourself

The ironic part about adoption is that for an adoptee the first and final steps of their lives are the same. Ultimately we must all adopt ourselves and accept who we are and where we came from. Or where we did not come from. The life of an adoptee is complex and unique because we are all uniquely complex in being singular as human beings. Never allow someone to tell you that your life is a statistic or that you fall within a group. Break that stereotype by showing people that you are not a group, you are a fucking person.

There is a war being waged in the adoption world. This war is not between two sides, it is not between “evil” and “good,” and it cannot be quantified by numbers as so many try to. The war on adoption is a personal battle fought by people within the struggle. The opinions of those on the outside are rarely worth much. The reason for this is due to how sensitive the topics are. You have adoptees that hate the world, adoptees that hate their birth parents, adoptees that hate foster parents, adoptees that hate nations, adoptees that hate their past, and adoptees that just want to forget that they are adopted. On another side, not the “other side,” you have birth mothers that were coerced into giving up their children, you have birth mothers that were forced into giving up their babies, you have birth mothers that hate adoption, you have birth mothers that advocate for adoption, and you have birth mothers that think abortion is a better alternative to adoption in every case. The extreme nature of these sides is due directly to their own lives and the opinions those lives have formed.

When I was two years old my mother left my sister and I on a street in Pusan. She returned days later to get my sister only after a change of heart. I spent ten years trying to reconnect with them only to have her shut me down and out continuously. My personal story, my personal experience, formed my hate for my birth mother and many people call me a “true adoptee.” I don’t accept that label. There is no “true adoptees” or “fake adoptees” in this world, there are simply children that weren’t wanted or loved by their parents and those that were. Do some young women get tricked, forced, or coerced into giving up their kids? Absolutely this happens, I was raised in the bible belt here in America and know what that culture can be like. It is also not hard for me to imagine such pride and shame being used in Asian countries where shame plays such a large daily role. Although I allow my past to color my feelings towards my birth mother, I do not allow it to shape my opinion of adoption as a whole. That is the difference I think between me and many birth mothers who appear to be overly reactive towards adoption due to their personal past and pain.

Adoption is a GOOD thing. No one can change that opinion in me. Sure, I’ve seen the statistics that adoption causes suicidal tendencies and that it isn’t really helping. It amazes me how often people use stats that include “X out of 5” because using 5 really makes the scale tip right? I hate when people throw statistics at me without basis. I don’t care if “Sally Adoption Advocate” is the top adoption writer in the world. If Sally didn’t interview EVERY FUCKING ADOPTEE IN THE WORLD then Sally cannot make the statement “70% of adoptees in this world do ____.” What adoptees did you interview? Far too often these anti-adoption sites will state such facts and it annoys the shit out of me. Samples are just that… samples, you cannot write a factual report on adoption without taking a HUGE international sample and still that won’t be accurate. Otherwise your facts are shit and I don’t buy them. Adoption isn’t a movement or a focus group… it can be the gift of love given by a humble heart.

Recently I entered into a discussion on a board that was full of birth mothers that were against adoption. They advocate for empowering the “mother” into keeping her child. The funny part is I agree that is a great thing! But in the same voice I will NEVER bash adoption or put it down. Many of these women do because they had bad experiences. Well, as I discussed, so did I, but I wouldn’t allow my personal experience in this matter to change my heart as a whole. That is not fair to adoptees stuck in hellish orphanages receiving two bowls of rice a day. I wonder if people that are against adoption have actually visited these places. Sure, someone will advocate for adopting foster kids or ADOPT AMERICAN like people are a product. That shit makes me angry as well and honestly it all comes back to my main point. In the end you must adopt yourself because acceptance of one’s self is the first and last step in life. There is nothing wrong with walking a road less traveled. The only thing ever wrong in life is to stop trying at life altogether.

-Opinionated Man
Jason C. Cushman

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Open Adoption - A Birthmother's Story

Hi my name is Angela ..... I am 25 years old.

Well I'm going to start off by explaining to you my life growing up and how things can come about in life so you can see how and why adoption is so important in my a woman who gave her son up at 17 years old....

I was raised by my mother who was a single mother. My father and her had a lot of hate towards one another because of his infidelity, so from that my father wasn't really in my life growing up.  I dealt with a lot of broken promises... so growing up it was just my mother and I until I turned 8 years old..... When I was 8 years old my mother had a baby boy who became everything to me, like he was my seriously!!  As the years went by my mother ended up getting married.  I was 13 at the time and the thought of having another man in my life I didn't really like.  That's when rebelling from my mother started to come about.  Growing up I was always heavy set, so at 16 years old a friend of my mother's sponsored me to go to a weight loss camp.  I ended up going to a weight loss camp and losing about 105 pounds. When I came back home from the camp I had the body of all bodies, which led to me losing my virginity and in November of 2007 I ended up pregnant.

I didn't find out I was actually pregnant until I was five months along, the reason why it took me so long to find out was because had a cyst on my ovary.  I can remember like if it was yesterday... I was in my living room in a lot of pain.  When my mother got home I was on the floor crying, so she rushed me to the hospital.  Coinsidently the same day I was rushed to the hospital, my cousin was giving birth to her twins; which was crazy to me.  Anyways... when I got to the hospital usually they check ur pee to check if your pregnant.  This time they didn't so I went for a sonogram because of my cyst and the doctor paused and said "you know your pregnant right?". I said "WHAT!!!!!" Mind you during this time my mother was outside the room hearing me scream and I started crying cause I didn't know what was happening.  I'm 17 now! I'm having a baby! I didn't know how to wipe my butt - now I have a baby in my stomach.  On top of that I was smoking and drinking and partying.  I was sooooooooo lost!  When my mother came in, the doctor paused the sonogram right on the baby and all my mother said was "ANGELA PLEASE TELL ME THAT'S NOT WHAT I THINK IT IS!!!" OMG just writing that gave me chills... and of course the first thing that came to mind was abortion.  I wasn't ready to be a mom.

So the next day my mother brought me to the abortion clinic. I was scared because people were outside protesting seeing me go in.  I was embarrassed but my mother just so happened to take one of there forms for whatever the case was which I didn't know at the time what it was for.  When I got into the abortion clinic and seeing the videos about it, I wasn't ready for it.   Honestly speaking I went in and asked them what I was having. The woman replied "A GIRL" and then said " YOUR TOO FAR ALONG". I felt at ease cause I really had a change of heart so my mother and I left.  Now we had to tell my step dad what was going on.  Ughh I was def scared lol.

The paper my mother took was about adoption which I didn't really know too much about.  So we ended up going to this adoption place which was a Catholic agency.  Now I don't want you to think that my mother was a happy camper - she wasn't.  OOOHHH LORD knows she wasn't!  So I was going through a lot of emotions.  So at the agency I ended up meeting this very nice woman named Carmen who she reminded me a lot like my grandmother.  Now the rules of my pregnancy was that I was not to tell anyone even the father because that would have changed the process of the adoption which I didn't feel was right but I was afraid,  so I listened and didn't tell anyone in the family.

Honestly speaking with my cousin having twins at 19 and now me, I think my mother didn't want to have a child also who is a teen with a baby.  So I listened to everything I went the rest of my pregnancy alone.  I spoke to my belly everyday which I started to bond with the fact i was having a baby.  I had no one to really communicate with I couldn't hang with my friends cause they all were partying and smoking.  I couldn't be around that so i started looking at how I was going to live my life with a child I couldn't bare to think what would happened honestly.  So adoption started to grow on me just a little because I didn't have his dad in the picture plus he wasn't ready either.

Later on when I was around 8 months that's when I found out I was having a BOY.....

On Aug 3rd 2008, the movie Dark Knight came out and I really wanted to see it.  So I went with some friends and in the movie I started to have contractions.  I didn't know what they were, I thought I was just uncomfortable... plus I didn't know walking increases it.  Like I said I wasn't ready for a baby.  So that night I got in trouble. I was nine months pregnant in Manhattan when I live in Brooklyn plus no one knew.  When I got home my mother was beyond upset - I got in so much trouble.  My mother thought I was actually lying so I went the night in pain.  The next day I had a doctors appointment and when he did the sonogram he said "Oh No! YOUR water broke u have no fluids Go to the hospital!!"

So my mother and I rushed to the hospital.  They checked to see how far I was dilated and I was only 1cm.  They told me to go home.  That night I went through a lot of pain and cried and cried.  The next day Aug 5th my mother just so happened to have jury duty and couldn't get out of it so my social worker Carmen came to bring me.  Let me tell you having contractions is no joke.  Getting to the hospital felt like years and all I wanted to do was walk lol. So when I got to the hospital I was throwing up crying! I was a mess!  I remember saying I wanted them to cut me open and the doctor said no lol.  I didn't know how to push lol.  About 2 hours later I told the doctor I had to poop and about 15 doctors walk in.  I was like "OK OK I DON'T HAVE TO POOP" lol.  They told me the baby was coming!  At that point my mother walked in and at 11:37am Matthew was born...

I remember looking at him and it still didn't hit me I just had a baby.  That very next day I went to feed him breakfast lunch and dinner.  I couldn't leave him alone knowing I was there.  I cant lie to you, I was having a change of heart asking myself questions like "why couldn't I just keep him?", "Should I tell his dad?" "Why couldn't my mom help me through the process?"  So on August 7th I left the hospital.  Not being able to see my baby destroyed me honestly.  Days later I met the family that adopted my son and I couldn't have been more at ease.  I got so lucky because from the moment I met them I knew they were two very special people - Dina And Jeff.  Although I did go through a lot of heart aches, the only thing that mattered was my sons well being and deep inside I knew it was the best choice.  My son deserves the world and I wouldn't have been able to give it to him.

After the process on holidays and birthday they will let me see him.  They taught him that he has two mommy's - one that gave him life and one that will be his protector.  I couldn't be more grateful. For about three years I cried a lot with my choice because I went through a lot!  I ended up in a abusive relationship and then loosing everything.... but just hearing Matthews voice I knew I had to work harder to show him I did something with my life.

I am now a teacher and I moved to Florida to get away from my life I was having in New York. I needed a cleaning up in my life. I turned to God and I was able to tell people my story without feeling scared cause holding it in was eating me up alive.  Now I can sit here and say I love the choice I made because God knows where Matthew and I would have been.

I just want to say thank you too Dina and Jeff because now Matthew is 7 years old and he is a handsome smart kid who is my little twin but has a great heart and loving just like his parents...

Written By Angela
Birth Mother

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Perilous Journey (Reviewed By Bonnie)

I had the news on again while I was getting ready for work (like I do almost every day) when I heard something about adoption. Of course my ears perked up and my attention completely shifted to the TV. They started talking about a couple who were adopting from the Congo and the agency that was helping them. From what I could gather from the news report, something went very wrong and it seemed that part of the problem was the agency handling the adoption. They then said that the whole story, including changes to the adoption laws, would be on later that night. I got really excited about this and quickly told Chemene all about it. I figured she would check it out and explain the whole thing to me when she wrote about it in the blog. HAHA! NO! She asked me to write it up. Hmmm, ok, I'll give it a shot. I mean, what the heck, I suggested it. Time to put on the big girl panties and go to work (so to speak) LOL!

I recorded the episode of "48 Hours" titled "Perilous Journey" and put it aside for about a week. I was dreading writing this post. How to start, how to hold your interest, how to do justice to a story and journey where I am still very much a newbie. Finally I couldn't put it off any longer. I did say I would do it after all.

I watched the episode, and couldn’t figure out what to do from there. I hated it! I put it aside for another week or so trying to figure out what I could say. Even as I'm writing, I'm dreading writing this.

The focus was on a couple who chose to adopt 2 girls, siblings, from the Congo. They had three biological sons and they thought their family was complete. The husband is in the service and while he was deployed he saw children in need. He said he couldn't stop thinking about them and wondering if they were ok so he told his wife he wanted to adopt. They found the two girls on a website called "Celebrate Children International" and started all the necessary steps to adopt. Within three weeks they started having problems. There were issues with the paperwork, the children's health and even the document that related what was known about the girls' history and how they came to be eligible for adoption. Their contact at the agency, Sue Hedberg, becomes less than helpful and the couple had to take the adoption into their own hands.

At this point, I'm more than 15 minutes into the program, I've seen the wife cry twice, there has been no talk about changes to the international adoption laws and I'm starting to get frustrated.  Months go by, nothing happens other than a letter stating that the couple is recognized as the parents of the girls. Sue Hedberg becomes for difficult and evasive. They've been told that there is an issue with the adoption and they can not yet take the girls to America, so they decide to go to the Congo and take the adoption into their own hands. They hire a new attorney and that’s the last we hear about that situation at all.

Then the show shifts gears and begins to talk about a whole new country and a whole new group of people. The only carry over is Sue Hedberg and Celebrate Children International. They start talking about a little Guatemalan girl, her only days old sister and the American woman who wanted to adopt her. Several weeks into the process things start to go wrong. Suddenly the little girl is no longer available for adoption because her mother showed up with people with guns demanding her children back. Much later in the program we find out that the mother lost her children when they were abducted by her employer. The employer apparently convinced her that it would be better if she took the children for a little while so the mother could work and make money to take care of the girls.  It was quite some time later and with the help of the woman trying to adopt that the mother did get her children back. (30 minutes, still no talk about changing laws but at least something good has happened)

Finally, we start getting into legalities. We come to find that Sue Hedberg works with countries whose laws are the loosest. She doesn't look into where the children come from, she turns a blind eye to discrepancies. Also she has been denied Hague accreditation twice due to what they called "ethical concerns, a lack of honesty, and a willingness to work with unscrupulous facilitators".

The frustration is coming back! How can she be allowed to still be in business? What is going to happen to stop this and correct the problems? We're about 45 minutes into the program at this point and I am feeling like I got suckered in.  They said they were going to talk about changes to the international adoption laws but so far all they've really talked about is a family from Kentucky trying to adopt two girls from Congo and a woman from Tennessee who almost adopted a kidnapped girl from Guatemala.

Oops, spoke too soon! We get less than thirty seconds discussing how starting in July of 2016 there will be a law in place requiring all agencies to operate under the same set of standards. WAIT ONE MINUTE HERE! There isn't already a set of standards that all agencies must follow!?! Seems to me that somebody is a little late to the party with that set of rules! Besides, we’re talking about kidnappers and human traffickers, am I really supposed to believe that a “set of standards” is going to fix this?

The final few minutes of the program shows the Kentucky family finally getting the necessary paperwork from the government in the Congo to leave the country, their reunion with their sons and their final comments.

I have to say, I am completely underwhelmed by this program. I went into it thinking I would get an education about the current laws and the upcoming changes, but instead I learned very little while watching a family struggle to adopt two children they can't even be sure (in my mind) weren't abducted. They glossed over the discrepancies in their background and paperwork and pushed forward with the adoption. I also am disgusted with the fact that an agency, up until now, didn't have to follow a specific set of rules. How is that morally right or even legal?  Obviously, I have a lot to learn about adoption and the law!

Check out the episode here!

Reviewed By Bonnie
Future Mom
Group Member
Retail Store Owner

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

15 Ways to Adopting a Newborn Quickly

15 Ways to Adopting a Newborn Quickly
by Rebecca Gruenspan


So, you’ve finally decided that adoption is the path to parenthood for you and one of the first things you are probably wondering is how to adopt a baby quickly. If you’re anything like I was, I had been dreaming about becoming a mother for way too many years, then struggled with infertility before even starting the adoption process. I was ready to be a mom RIGHT NOW! 
You’ve heard about how long adoption can take…and it can. BUT, the good news is that it doesn’t have to. Seriously. It is VERY possible to adopt a baby in less than a year…or even sooner. 

Infant adoption is the most common when adopting privately from an agency or attorney. When you set out on your path, you will have a number of decisions to make both at the beginning and along the way. While you may not incorporate all 15 of these suggestions, if you incorporate most of them, you will put yourself on the fast track to adopting your baby quickly.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s jump in:
#1 - Let everyone know of your plans to adopt a baby – you never know who knows who or how you will be matched with the right expectant mother. It’s also great to have that support around you.

#2 - Work with a therapist or a coach who specializes in adoption to support you emotionally, help you work through your own fears around adoption, making sure you are really ready to move forward, and help you see issues that may arise in the coming days, weeks, months and years, to help you plan for those.

#3 - Have your finances in order before you get started – you never want to pass up on an opportunity that might be a great one for your family because you don’t have all your money in place yet. Know where your money will be coming from and once you apply to your agencies, have it at your fingertips and accessible within 1-3 days. Here are some great fundraising ideas. 

#4 - Work with an adoption consultant who can educate you about the process of adoption, vet agencies for you to alleviate the time it would take you, help guide you on putting together a killer profile and coach you to alleviate risky situations.

#5 - Keep the process moving – there is a lot of prep work involved in adoption. Do something every day to move it forward, and choose an agency that can complete your home study the quickest (call three and ask what their process is).

#6 - Put together a killer profile that speaks to the expectant mother, in her own language, so she can picture her baby in your family. Your profile is the one tool that will get her attention.

#7 - Apply with multiple agencies and attorneys, with low up-front fees, across the country in states with adoption-friendly laws. More agencies = a quicker match. An adoption consultant will put together a personalized plan for you.

#8 - Work with large, reputable agencies with a lot of activity, who makes between 25-50+ successful placements per year and who has been in business for many years. Make sure they can make placements in your state.

#9 - Have all your paperwork in order before sending it in to an agency. That includes your home study, your killer profile and all their paperwork (which oftentimes you can download directly from their website).

And on that note,
#10 - Be your agencies’ best client! Always be positive and polite!! Don’t be quick to say NO to anything, and if you do, give a few reasons why. And always, always say Thank You! (do I even need to remind you?)

Sticking with the agency theme one more time…
#11 - Check in with your agencies on a regular basis (every 3-5 weeks is good) and change up your mode of communication. The point is, you want to stay top of mind with them, without annoying them.

And on the flip side…
#12 - Check your emails and phone regularly. When you see a message from anyone on your adoption team (especially an agency or attorney you’ve applied with), respond quickly. This team is on your side and trying to help you adopt your baby quickly. It could be THE RIGHT situation, and you don’t want to miss it!

#13 - The more open you are, the quicker you will be matched. Being open to race, sex, medical background, mental health, contact with the biological family and an openness about adoption as a whole (check out Lori Holden on her wonderful site called Lavender Luz) will lead you to your baby that much quicker. That said, you MUST do what feels right for you and your family. This is super important.

#14 - Have an experienced OBGYN or Pediatrician on your team, who is knowledgeable on the effects of substances, medical and mental health issues on the fetus, who can answer your questions when presented a situation and will quickly respond to you. If you don’t have someone, Children’s Research Triangle provides consults.

#15 - Meditate / Visualize / Affirm – Who is your baby going to be? Paint a picture in your mind, see him/her and what it will be like with your new baby, write down an affirmation and be specific – when it will happen, what it will be like, etc., and read it every morning and night. Try to stay relaxed. I’ve incorporated The Miracle Morning into my life, and this would be perfect for you to incorporate as well, during an otherwise crazy roller coaster ride.

Plus one VERY important bonus one for good measure…
#16 - Stay positive – it’s an exciting journey and one that’s going to lead you to your baby.

Written By Rebecca

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Letter to My Son...

With the school year in full swing, I wanted to send a note to my son to let him know a few things!

Dear L,
Life gets busy sometimes and you don't get a chance to always tell a loved one how you feel. 

The last five years have not been easy for our family.  Before you arrived on this earth, your father and I had a rough journey to you!  It was so worth that hard journey.  We lost so much over the years of infertility; we lost so much more during the adoption journey. But looking back now none of those things we lost or complained about meant anything.  When we think about our journey to you, we realize we gained a new family of friends and support, we gained strength that we never knew we had and we gained you!  The most precious gift of life.

Your first years of life were very difficult.  It took away from what I would call the fun that a toddler should have.  Spending so much time in the hospital and all doctor trips took away from the times you could have been playing at a park or with friends.  You had to be taken out of My Gym cause we couldn't understand why you couldn't keep up with the other children.  How could we have known you about to have your first seizure.  Through all those days locked in a crib at a hospital and all those delays those seizures put you through, you were happy and amazing and you tried your best every step of the way.  You never complained being stuck in a crib for 48 hours with a thing on your head that looked like a turban. You laughed and giggled and loved the attention. 

The driving to and from doctors in all counties and cities and even Boston to help find a cure, you still laughed and enjoyed the "ride".  You were poked and prodded in all types of ways.  CAT Scans and MRIs and EEGs and cancer tests!  You did every test with a smile on your face. 

Over the last few years you needed to attend a special school to help guide you through delays caused by the seizures and some delays that are just part of who you are.  And again you did every therapy with a smile.  They pushed you hard!  Even with your migraines you still woke up every morning and smiled and went off to school knowing you had PT, OT, Vision and Speech to deal with. 

You thrived in that school!  They taught you things that for most come naturally.  Your therapists and teachers had to teach you how to walk, climb stairs, eat, chew, swallow, write, look at someone in the eyes while you speak to them, stack blocks without having the urge to knock them down, stop you from running away and so much more.  You did amazing! 

You survived falling down a flight of stairs!  I still to this day look up to heaven and say thank you - it could have been a horrible accident that wasn't.  You have been on trips across the country and the islands.  And each trip you had a seizures.  One of them on the plane.  You have had to eat things that mommy wouldn't have touched as a kid never mind as an adult!  But you ate anything I gave you with a that smile!!

As you start your journey into kindergarten, I look at you and see a smart, confident young boy with the best sense of humor, who has come farther than anyone will know except your father and I.  I could never imagined how amazing it would be to become a mom - but I am even more amazed that God allowed me to be YOUR mom.  I'm glad I had to go through the infertility journey cause it lead me to adoption. I'm glad the adoption journey had a failure cause that failure then led me to you.  All of life's failures, accomplishments and heartbreaks are all meant for a reason.  We don't know them at the time and most of the time we don't find out why we had to suffer through them!  But I am lucky enough to know why I had to go through what I did!

One day I hope I get a chance to tell the one person who made this all possible that I love her for what she gave us!  Maybe one day?? 

I'm so happy I was there to share one of your life's milestones!  And I feel privileged I am going to be there for more!!


Written By Chemene
Adoptive Mom
Group Co-Leader

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Day at the Beach

A Day at the Beach

When I tell people about my "adoption group" I describe it as what started out as a wonderful group of hopeful parents-to-be who, together for the most part, had survived the perils and pitfalls of infertility and then together navigated a whole new set of perils and pitfalls, those of the adoption process. (Because contrary to popular opinion, you don’t “just adopt” after you decide to move on.  It’s “just” a whole new kind of rollercoaster.)  We helped each other choose domestic vs. international, then private vs. agency.  Then together we deciphered agency paperwork, encouraged those who were nervous about calls from prospective birthmothers, comforted those with failed adoptions and false alarms, and tried to pass patience and strength along to those who seemed to be waiting forever for a match.  And happily, ultimately, one by one, we celebrated the arrival of our long-awaited little ones from as near as Nassau County and as far as Armenia. 

But, I have always said that the best thing about our group is that our children will have each other to grow up with.  That for them, being part of this group will help "normalize" being adopted for them and remove any stigma they might feel otherwise.  

Well, fast forward about 10 years.  Most of our "junior members" range from ages 10 to 14.  We have done our best to have regular play dates but we are all scattered across Long Island, and the kids have school and sports and hobbies; so life has definitely gotten in the way of us seeing each other as much as we’d like.  We basically have annual gatherings for the kids, if that often. The kids so seldom see each other that when I bring up the adoption group to my daughter, now 11, I practically get a “Who?  What group?” in response.

So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect last week when we got together with some of the group for a day at the beach. We had 5 moms, 2 dads and 7 kids. It’s so much easier to throw together 4 and 5 year olds and have them play, no matter how familiar they are with each other.  Now we have a bunch of pre-teens, who can be picky about the company they keep and sometimes socially awkward with kids they are thrown together with.   So I was very interested to see how the day would play out.  Well, it couldn’t have played out better. My daughter, who had been anti-beach and anti-ocean since an ugly incident involving jellyfish last summer, was in the ocean practically all day, swimming and boogie-boarding, as were the rest of the kids.  They all had a blast.  Together. 

But the highlight of the day was during a swim break.  The kids were on a blanket behind the adults and we were all chatting. Suddenly I overheard my daughter blurt out to her group, “So… Who here knows their birthmother?”  I nearly fell off my chair.  Suddenly all the moms were oh-so-subtly turning our ears toward the blankets behind us.  It wasn’t a conversation that lasted long.  We heard a flurry of responses, from a “Mine was a sales girl” to “Yes, her name is….” To “No, but I know….”  The responses aren’t important.  What we all absolutely loved was that this conversation happened at all.  It was just like the question had been “Hey, who here likes soccer??”  It came up naturally.  I guess my daughter suddenly remembered that this was the adoption group and where else could she ask this question?  Such a cool moment on a hot summer day.

Written By Aileen 
Adoptive Mom
Group Leader

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Books By Todd Parr (Reviewed By Chemene)

No who you are or what age - the one thing that helps in life is know you are loved.  One great lesson to teach our children is to make sure they know that no matter what they go through  that we love them.  Todd gives his examples (some silly) to show a child we love them...

"I love you when you are brave."
"I love you when your sick." 
"I love you when you share."

Basically he is making sure we let our children know "I LOVE YOU!" 

Great book for all children!!

It's OK To Be Different
This book tries to show silly ways people are different and make light of what some consider a big deal when it shouldn't be.  He uses the phrase "it's ok to be..." to include things like "it's ok to eat mac and cheese in the bathtub!" And "it's ok to be adopted."  People are labeled too easily these days and too much emphasis is put on the wrong things and this book helps make you realize you can be you whether you are adopted or have big ears or your small, medium or large.  Such a great learning tool for self esteem!

This Is My Hair!
What a simple book to help educate!!  It teaches children about being who you are!!  One problem kids have is learning how to have self confidence! Through fun bright cartoonish pictures, Todd explains how your hair can change in different situations.  It's funny and silly and perfect to let children know that it's ok to have big hair or no one!  Who cares what hair you have - just be you!  

This can be a teacher for all children of all races since so many of us, like me, have to teach about different textures and types of hair we all have!

What a fun, fun book!!

The Goodbye Book
The best part of my life is being a mom!  Parenting is so hard!  This year I had to teach my son one the hardest lessons in life that most of us have ages time learning about - when saying goodbye to someone.  Whether it be when he had to say goodbye to his cousins when they went back home to California or when we lost our precious little Phoebe (our cat).  For a 5 year old this is a hard lesson to grasp.  So hearing that Todd Parr was coming out this year with this new book, I got excited!  He has a great way of writing a book that is generic!! This can be used for all situations!!

Reviews by Chemene
Group Co-Leader
Adoptive Mom

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

There is Open Adoption and then there is us...

I am sitting here typing this as I listen to laughter coming from the living room. It is almost 1am and my wife and Kelvin’s birthmother are sitting on the couch giggling.  Kel went to sleep 5 hours ago, but there they are telling stories and talking about Kelvin’s birth, how fast he has grown, and life in general.  Tomorrow night, my wife will be sitting on that same couch with one of her best friends from college.  This will be with a woman she has known for about 15 years and has been through hell and high water with.  But the laughter will be the same.  This is what “Open” adoption is in our household.

When we started researching adoption, we had never heard about “Open Adoption.”  Talking to a close friend of ours from Washington state, he mentioned casually that he had 4 adopted children in varying stages of “open”. We spent long hours talking to he and his wife about it and were fascinated.  Like most, we were a little apprehensive at first, but the way they explained it made so much sense.  When we decided to really start down a path of adoption, we connected with a work colleague to ask about her experience with her agency and the process.  She was a meticulous project manager so we knew she would be able to tell us everything about what steps come in what order and what the cost was.  We were surprised when she told us her adoption was also “open.”  After long discussions with an agency and each other, we decided that this felt right to us.

When we began attending meetings with the agency who helped place Kelvin, they explained an “open adoption” as an adoption where there was contact and communication with the birthparents.  This was usually indirect, managed through letters and pictures that are sent to the agency and then forwarded on to the birthparents.  It sounded weird sending information through a proxy, but we were assured that this was the most typical form of open adoption and would give both the adoptive parents and birthparents ease of mind.  If we wanted a more open adoption, the agency held a once a year picnic where adoptive parents and birthparents could meet in a safe environment with agency staff present to help with any issues.  The first vision in my head was visiting someone in prison with guards standing around.  To be honest, we have been to these picnics and they are not like a prison but are very nice and a lot of fun.  But still, this felt strange.

So that was “open.” We learned that some families want more direct contact and even court mandated contact.  As the adoption was in Pennsylvania, we were asked on our profile key if we were willing to accept legally enforced visitations.  The profile also asked how many visitations we were willing to commit to as a “social contract” having no actual legal binding.  My wife didn’t even hesitate to write 12.  I was a little more reticent thinking that this could involve cross country travel.  We compromised at 6.  When we turned our profile key in, the agency asked us if we were sure and recommended we really think about what we were willing to do. We were sure and they again asked to make sure we weren’t just saying we were willing to be “OPEN” (yes, they stressed the whole word) so we would be more attractive to birthparents.

The reasoning is simple, there are people unfortunately that claim they want to be more “OPEN” so that they can be seen by more birthparents.  While I am sure this does happen, it is probably a very very small minority of potential adoptive parents that would claim to want true openness as a ruse to increase their chances of adoption. More common is adoptive parents who promise openness only to change their minds and become more distant. There are stories all over the internet and even in adoption circles of families that disappear from the social contract.

We were committed to being truly “Open.”  What happened is not something we thought possible.  We met both the birthmother and birthfather and immediately knew we didn’t want an intermediary.  We shared last names, phone numbers, and emails at the first meeting.  As the adoption moved forward, we kept in constant contact with both of them and their families.  The agency told us this was unusual and the best possible outcome. We agreed about the outcome, but felt like this is exactly what we wanted.  We signed the agreement for 2 visits per year for each of the birthparents (they were not together or even living in the same state by the time Kelvin was born).  We see them all the time and email or text almost daily.  Ok, my wife emails or texts almost daily as it is more her way. I’m lucky if I talk to my family once a month, much less once a week or close to daily.  We also run a private blog where we update pictures every day. Not once a month or on holidays – every single day since Kelvin was born there is at least 1 new picture and usually more like 10.  They look at the blog as do their families.  When a picture is really great, we get emails and texts from the whole family from our parents and siblings to Kelvin’s birthparents and their parents and siblings.

So I sit here and laugh thinking back and realizing that my wife nailed it the first time.  We see the birthparents at least 12 times a year and probably way more.  And she is sitting out in the living room laughing with Kelvin’s birthmother as if they were the oldest of friends.  All I can do is be thankful that the birthparents and their families are such amazing people and that we have all welcomed each other with open arms.  And it saddens me a little to think of all the families: birthparents, adoptive parents, and most importantly the adoptees who don’t get to experience this sense of a greater family.  But as for our extended family, I can’t help but smile.

Written By Noah
Adoptive Father
Group Member

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

"Mommy, I Really Want a Baby Brother" - Part II

Everyone had doubts but me....

Through the tears there were phone calls with family. I remember calling my sister and telling her that she was right and I was wrong she had a feeling that "L" was going to change her mind she told me that she was sorry she was right she wanted to be wrong. I asked her to please go to my house and remove everything that had anything to do with the baby. I couldn't go home and look at the room all set up and I didn't want my son to have to look at it either.

Jeff said should we go to the hospital? I said for what, he said to say goodbye to the baby. I said absolutely NOT I want to go get my son and go home we don't belong here. Shes not going to change her mind we need to go home now. But first we called a social worker to ask her advice. She did our homestudy so she knew our situation she knew what was going on. I could hear it in her voice how sorry she was. The pity. I despise pity!!!  I honestly don't even recall the advice she had given us. My mind was racing and all I could think was get me home to my son. Our truck was packed with baby stuff. I thought well if we go pick Matthew up he will have to look at all this stuff and wonder where his baby brother is. So I called my sister in law and asked that she please drive Matthew to us when we arrived home.

Our drive home was quiet. But we held hands. Jeff and I are very good at the hard stuff. We have been through worse than this. We get through it together.

We arrived home around 7 PM. My BIL and SIL pulled up with Matthew around 730. This was it this was the moment we had to tell him what happened. How was I going to tell him? I sat on the couch and watched him open the door. Once  he saw me he ran to me. I haven't seen him in three days so we were just so happy to see each other. He looked around and he said where is baby John? I said you know Matthew God really wants the three of us to be together just me you and daddy for always. "And John? No honey, not John. Just me you and daddy. Why not john? Because she changed her mind. "L" changed her mind. He looked at me and it clicked. He knew and he started to cry. I cried with him but then Jeff said hey do you want to see the puppy we will shop for this weekend? And just like that he wiped his tears and was so excited about puppy shopping. We were all so relieved.

The craziest part to all this was that after all my tears and how betrayed I felt I still wondered how L was doing.  We talked everyday for 5 months. We formed what I thought was a great friendship. It was never about the baby it was about our friendship. I swear if she would of just told me how she was feeling that night in the hospital I would have understood. I would of cried with her but I would of understood.

The saddest part of everything is what that baby missed out on. Matthew would of been the best big brother. Jeff and I aren't perfect but we love each other and we are good parents. He missed out on his own room, and unconditional love from all of us and our families. "L" missed out to. She would of been apart of us. Our family. She and her daughter would of been taken care of and loved as well. To me open adoption is the only option. It's how my heart operates.  Unfortunately "L" and her TWO children will be homeless now and that's the saddest part of this entire story. I pray Gods peace for her heart and for protection over them all.

Written By Dina
Adoptive Mom
Group Member

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