Teaching Adopted Children Their Story

Source: Spirit-Fire, Flickr

Source: Spirit-Fire, Flickr

Parents of adopted children will one day face the question about whether or not to tell their child the story of how they came to join the family. An intensely personal decision, parents must make the decision that is best for the child and family. There is no easy answer about how to approach this subject or when. That is entirely up to the parents and the situation surrounding the adoption process. If you are an adoptive parent considering having this discussion with your child, we have a few tips to offer to ease the process.

Open Adoptions

Naturally, open adoptions will result in more conversations about birth parents. When your child is younger, you can begin to lay the groundwork. As the child grows up, you can expand on the story and explanation. For example, when younger the child can learn to understand that any visitation or contact is with a family member or other name you feel is appropriate. As the child grows up, you can explain the nature of this relationship more and the nuances of birth and adoptive parents. You can explain the significance and how their unique situation is different from their peers.

Grow the Conversation

As above, you want to grow the conversation as your child grows. A three-year-old won’t be able to understand all of the details like a ten-year-old can. Questions may come up as children are very curious (as we all know!) and can often sense things. Even if your own child doesn’t, other children might ask questions. It’s important to be prepared as adoptive parents and know what you wish to discuss and when.

One common question that arises as a child gets older is “why?” If this does happen, remember to not speak negatively about the birth parents or the situation. Coming from a place of positivity and love will help you down the road when a teenager might ask “why?” again. Balance your answer between giving an answer to the why and expanding on all of the positive ways this decision has impacted everyone.

As children grow up they will likely want more details, too. You can continue to grow the story of the adoption and the experience of your family together. Perhaps tell the story with pictures or any other information you have on hand. And remember to be patient as your child will be rewriting some part of their personal narrative as the story of the adoption grows right along with them.

Myths and Facts About Adoption

Question mark sign

Source: Flickr, Colin Kinner

There is an enormous amount of information about adopting children on the Internet, some of it is useful and some of it just clutters the rest. Clutter like comments on message boards or forums that perpetuate myths about adoption or foster care; comments that can sometimes scare or cause anxiety in prospective adoptive and birth parents. Together, we can tackle many of these common myths that you might come across as you research adoption options.

Common Myths about Birth Parents

One of the biggest myths that people see is that a birth parent will regret the decision for the rest of their lives. The truth is that for a prospective birth parent facing an unplanned pregnancy, making the choice for adoption can be a positive choice and one that is right for everyone. Regret won’t be part of the equation when people come to adoption from a place of love and support.

Another myth we see is that birth parents are uncaring. That anyone could think this means they have not truly considered the adoption process. When a prospective birth parent chooses adoption, it comes from love and unselfish decisions. Many prospective birth parents come across negative stereotypes on websites and find that there is a lack of community support to make the choice that is best for all. We hope to help eliminate those stereotypes and if you are an adoptive parent, speak out on the positive outcome of the process to keep this harmful myth at bay.

Common Myths about the Adoption Process

There are more articles on the adoption process than any other topic. And that is because so many adoptive and birth parents have questions and want to understand what every step might look like. You might come across myths saying that adoption damages the child or that the adoption process is secretive. The truth is that adopted children do as well in life as children who are not adopted. This is because both the adoptive and birth parents come to the decision and the process from a place of love and a total lack of selfishness. That child is loved by all in the process!

And as for secrecy, the level of information shared between adoptive and birth parents is entirely up to each group of people. Open adoptions provide more access by nature of the arrangement, but the adoption process today seeks to share information in a way that benefits everyone involved. Transparency is far more prevalent now than it used to be.

There are many more myths about adoption, which we will continue to tackle and dismantle. If you are an adoptive parent one of the best things you can do to help eliminate these myths is share your story with others and show them the beauty that is adoption.

Exploring Concerns of Birth Parents, Part 2

There are many questions and concerns that birth parents face when embarking on the journey to understand the options surrounding adoption. At Adoption & Beyond, we want you to be at peace with any decision you make, so we are providing a periodic blog series to address some questions and concerns that arise for many prospective birth parents. This blog is the second installment, but you can find the first one here.

Source: Teza, Flickr

One concern or hurdle that some prospective birth parents face is a family that doesn’t support them. A family can be unsupportive of young birth parents that are debating adoption and a family can be unsupportive of birth parents that have already chosen adoption. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to remember that what the birth parent knows to be true is the best decision. It is a particularly difficult challenge because you are tasked with not only making a decision but getting family members on board, too. And they may not be able to see the situation from your perspective.

Unsupportive Families

If you are a prospective birth parent considering adoption because your family is not supportive of raising a child, then know that there are options for you. We offer adoption education and guidance, along with assistance with doctor appointments and transportation. All of our counseling and education services are meant to explain the options to you so that you can make the right decision for you. There is no pressure to make an adoption plan; just the knowledge that every prospective birth parent needs to make the right decision.

If you are a prospective birth parent who has decided on adoption but your family doesn’t know or is not supportive of this decision, then know that the decision is yours to make, not theirs. You are not legally required to tell your parents that you are pregnant or that you are planning an adoption. And if your family does know and they aren’t supportive, we can help you work with your family during this period to make it less stressful for you.

Counseling Solutions

When facing a family that doesn’t immediately support your decision, it may be time to seek counseling or mediation help so that a trained professional can help you speak to your family. These choices are never easy and often bring a lot of emotions from everyone, so having a counselor present can make a huge difference. If this is something you are facing with your family, let us know so that we can help you come to an understanding with them and find some peace.

These concerns are just the beginning for many who are considering adoption. If you have more questions, then consider reading our Prospective Birth Parents section on our website that includes everything from adoptive rights to frequently asked questions and contact information.

Exploring Concerns of Birth Parents, Part 1

There are many questions and concerns that birth parents face when embarking on the journey to understand the options surrounding adoption. These decisions are based around not just information but also emotions and intuition. At Adoption & Beyond, we want you to be at peace with any decision you make, so we are providing a periodic blog series to address some questions and concerns that arise for many prospective birth parents.

Source: Teza, Flickr

A common concern is that prospective birth parents feel they would not consider adoption if they cared for their child. Let us say right away that adoption can be truly the most loving and selfless choice a prospective birth parent can make for their child. There are numerous reasons prospective birth parents consider adoption, but a lack of care is not one of them. It takes great care and time to fulfill a pregnancy, especially one surrounded by so many unanswered questions. The choice of adoption is often made because the prospective birth parent put the child’s needs before their own. Such a choice is not without sacrifice and challenges, all born out of a deep care of and desire to provide for the child.

If this is a concern for you, then consider reading “Dear Birthmother: Thank You for Our Baby” by Kathleen Silber and Phyllis Speedlin (an adoptive parent). The book is composed of actual correspondence between birth parents and adoptive parents, all to dispel the myth that birth parents do not care for their children. Reading the conversations also helps answer many common questions prospective birth parents have and provides some shared experiences and insights.

This one concern is just the beginning for many who are considering adoption. If you have more questions, then consider reading our Prospective Birth Parents section on our website that includes everything from adoptive rights to frequently asked questions and contact information.

Birth Mother of the Week

Birth mothers are heroes. If you’ve adopted a child, or you’re looking to an adopt a child, you know what a selfless, incredible act it is for a birth mother to decide to put her baby up for adoption.

She knows that she’s not able to provide the care, attention, or resources that a child might need, so she gives the gift of a family to those who want nothing more than to have a child in their lives.

From time to time, we like to take the opportunity in our blog post to pay tribute to an incredible birth mother. This week we came across this story about a birth mother who decided to send her breast milk to the baby’s adoptive family.

While breastfeeding is not a necessity, the mom wanted the baby to have the experience of getting breastmilk in the early days of her life. For three months, the teenager pumped milk and sent it to the baby’s new parents.

Obviously this wouldn’t work for most situations, especially for closed adoptions, adoptions from foster care, and international adoptions. But that doesn’t mean those birth mothers aren’t also worthy of our deep appreciation.

Do you have a story of a selfless birth mother? Share with us on Facebook!

 

Our Favorite Books for Birth Parents

books for birth parentsHere at Adoption & Beyond, we take great care to ensure that the birth parents that we work with are well-informed and knowledgable about their impending adoption journey. Choosing adoption for a child is an extremely delicate and difficult decision, and we completely understand that.

These are our favorite books for birth parents who are currently considering adoption, in the process of choosing an adoptive family, or are awaiting the birth of the child.

The Third Choice: A Woman’s Guide to Placing a Child for Adoption
Authors: Leslie Foge and Gail Mosconi.

This book is a comprehensive view of the choices available to a women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. It also takes a woman through every step of the adoption decision and what to think about, consider, and expect with each step of the adoption process.

Lifegivers: Framing the Birthparent Experience in Open Adoption
Author: James L. Gritter

Although Gritter himself is not a birth parent or adopted person, he definitely gets to the heart of the matter of being a birth parent, and empathizes with the situation in a very genuine way.

Pregnant? Adoption is an Option: Adoption from the Birthparent’s Perspective
Author: Jeanne Warren Lindsay.

In this great read, birth parents share their stories of responsible – and difficult – adoption planning. They speak of the families they chose for their child and the open adoption relationships they’re building, all centered on their child’s well-being.

Out of the Shadows: Birthfathers’ Stories
Author: Mary Martin Mason

This book presents a very honest look at the role of a birth father, and gives insight into life after adoption.

Saying Goodbye to a Baby, Vol. 1. A Book About Loss and Grief in Adoption
Author: Patricia Roles.

Topics in this well-rounded read include the original adoption decision, living with the decision later in life, the adoption triangle, search and reunion, guilt and anger when looking back, and when to get counseling.

Dear Birthmother: Thank You For Our Baby
Authors: Kathleen Silber and Phyllis Speedlin.

Using actual correspondence between birth parents and adoptive parents, this book debunks the myth that birth parents do not care about their children and do not think about them later. It also helps adoptive parents and adopted persons better understand birth parents.

You can find these books and some other choices on our Recommended Reading page. And if you are interested in learning more about the adoption process, you can request a birth parent information packet or simply contact us today!

“Mother, A Cradle to Hold Me” by Maya Angelou

Mother, A Cradle to Hold Me

By Maya Angelou

maya angelou

“It is true
I was created in you.
It is also true
That you were created for me.
I owned your voice.
It was shaped and tuned to soothe me.
Your arms were molded
Into a cradle to hold me, to rock me.
The scent of your body was the air
Perfumed for me to breathe.

Mother,
During those early, dearest days
I did not dream that you had
A large life which included me,
For I had a life
Which was only you.

Time passed steadily and drew us apart.
I was unwilling.
I feared if I let you go
You would leave me eternally.
You smiled at my fears, saying
I could not stay in your lap forever.
That one day you would have to stand
And where would I be?
You smiled again.
I did not.
Without warning you left me,
But you returned immediately.
You left again and returned,
I admit, quickly,
But relief did not rest with me easily.
You left again, but again returned.
You left again, but again returned.
Each time you reentered my world
You brought assurance.
Slowly I gained confidence.

You thought you know me,
But I did know you,
You thought you were watching me,
But I did hold you securely in my sight,
Recording every moment,
Memorizing your smiles, tracing your frowns.
In your absence
I rehearsed you,
The way you had of singing
On a breeze,
While a sob lay
At the root of your song.

The way you posed your head
So that the light could caress your face
When you put your fingers on my hand
And your hand on my arm,
I was blessed with a sense of health,
Of strength and very good fortune.

You were always
the heart of happiness to me,
Bringing nougats of glee,
Sweets of open laughter.

I loved you even during the years
When you knew nothing
And I knew everything, I loved you still.
Condescendingly of course,
From my high perch
Of teenage wisdom.
I spoke sharply of you, often
Because you were slow to understand.
I grew older and
Was stunned to find
How much knowledge you had gleaned.
And so quickly.

Mother, I have learned enough now
To know I have learned nearly nothing.
On this day
When mothers are being honored,
Let me thank you
That my selfishness, ignorance, and mockery
Did not bring you to
Discard me like a broken doll
Which had lost its favor.
I thank you that
You still find something in me
To cherish, to admire and to love.

I thank you, Mother.
I love you.”

Maya Angelou was a remarkable woman, poet, leader, author, and mother. May she rest in peace.

Poem source: Poetry Mala.

15 Great Quotes About Mothers

Here at Adoption & Beyond, we really care about mothers. We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without the love and support of birth mothers and adoptive mothers who have come to us for guidance over the past fifteen years.

With Birth Mother’s Day on Saturday and Mother’s Day on Sunday, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every woman who has worked with us in the past. You’ve truly made our journey an incredible one.

mother and childTo keep the love going, here are 15 great quotations about mothers and motherhood: one quote for every year we’ve been working alongside birth and adoptive mothers alike.

1. “Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love.”
-Mildred B. Vermont

2. “The phrase ‘working mother’ is redundant.”
-Jane Sellman

3. “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
-Abraham Lincoln

4. “The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”
-Honoré de Balzac

5. “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”
-Sophia Loren

6. “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”
-Jill Churchill

7. “Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease.”
-Lisa Alther

8. “Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving.”
-Gail Tsukiyama

9. “It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace.”
-Christopher Morley

10. “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.”
-Abraham Lincoln

11. The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.
Jessica Lange

12. “You count the hours you could have spent with your mother. It’s a lifetime in itself.”
-Mitch Albom

13. “Mother is a verb. It’s something you do. Not just who you are.”
-Cheryl Lacey Donovan

14. “No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.”
-Florida Scott-Maxwell

15. “However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.”
-Valerie Harper

We hope you have a wonderful weekend, filled with lots of love.

15 Amazing Quotes about Adoption and Birth Parents

child handsIf you’ve “Liked” us on Facebook, or followed us on Twitter or Pinterest, then you know that we love quotations. All month long, we’ve been focusing on spreading the love. To wrap up February, here’s a list (in no particular order) of fifteen quotes, relating to adoption and/or birth parentage, that we love and that we have shared with you in the past.

1. “They may not have my eyes, they may not have my smile, but they have all my heart.”
—Unknown. Shared on Nov. 7, 2013.

2. “Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart but in it.”
—Fleur Conkling Heyliger. Shared on Feb. 25, 2013.

3. “Family is not defined by our genes, it is built and maintained through love.”
—Amalia G., Independent Adoption Center. Shared on Aug. 2, 2013.

4. “Adoption was a bumpy ride – very bumpy. But God, was it worth the fight.”
—Mariska Hargitay. Shared on Jan. 13, 2014.

5. “A moment in my arms, forever in my heart.”
—Unknown. Shared on Dec. 11, 2013.

6. “Be PROUD that you’re adopted! Every kid is different.”
—11 year old who was adopted at 1 year old. Shared on Jan 9, 2013.

7. “I have four children. Two are adopted. I forget which two.”
—Bob Constantine. Shared on Dec. 9, 2013.

8. “A mother’s love for her child is like no other love. To be able to put that feeling aside because you want the best for your child is the most unselfish thing I know.”
—Mary, American Adoptions Birth Mother. Shared on Nov. 20, 2013.

9. “Adoption one child won’t change the world, but for that child, the world will change.”
—Unknown. Shared on Nov. 25, 2013.

10. “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”
—Desmond Tutu. Shared on Apr. 10, 2013.

11. “Adoption is not the call to have the perfect, rosy family. It is the call to give love, mercy, and patience.”
—Hope for Orphans. Shared on Feb. 20, 2014.

12. “As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.”
—Winnie the Pooh. Shared on Sept. 27, 2013.

13. ‎”Adoptive Mom? I am Mom. I need no other label or prefix.”
—Joanne Greco. Shared on March 2, 2013.

balloons

14. “There are times when the adoption process is exhausting and painful and makes you want to scream. But…so does childbirth.”
—Scott Simon. Shared on Jan. 29, 2013.

15. “[Adoption] carries the added dimension of connection not only to your own tribe but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties, and family. It is the larger embrace.”
—Isabella Rossellini. Shared on June 3, 2013.

The Experience Project: I Am A Birthmother

birth motherIf you are a birth mother, then you know the true courage and selflessness that is involved with giving up your child. If you are an expectant mother considering adoption, then you might be looking for someone who has also been through this experience.

Experience Project is a website that is dedicated to connect people with similar stories and backgrounds. The site has a specific forum dedicated to birth mothers. Some women are looking to share their stories, others are looking for advice on the adoption process. So far, over 220 birth mothers and expectant have contributed to the forum to discuss their experiences, and that number is still growing. This is a great resource that connects women from all over the United States.

If you are an expectant mother looking for more information about the adoption process, fill out our Birth Parent Information Pack request form, or simply contact us!