MFC / Post-Adoption

Mentor Spotlight: Meet Rachel Kara Pérez

Rachel was born in The Bronx and raised in a predominantly Puerto Rican household. During a visit to Spence-Chapin to get non-identifying information about her adoption, Rachel was told she would make a great Mentor. We're glad she agreed!

Joie Visits Spence-Chapin and Meets Her Adoption Social Worker

Linda Alexandre, Executive Vice President of Adoption Programs, recently met with a family who stopped by for a visit. Joie, age 9, shares her recollection of that visit in this blog post.

Support for Adoptees

Spence-Chapin offers various programs, events and services that support adoptees to build community, navigate adoption-related issues such as identity and get resources to thrive in their lives.

10 Tips to Help Teens Explore Identity

Katie Rogala, an adoptee and Spence-Chapin employee, shares 10 helpful ways to support your adopted child’s exploration of inner and outer self.

Mentor Spotlight: Meet Rebecca Pollack

Born in South Korea and adopted at 2 ½ years old, Rebecca is often asked whether she is Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, or Native American Indian.

Fostering, Adopting, and Raising LGBTQ Youth

Listen to the expert advice and tips provided by Modern Family Center staff in this podcast.

Mentor Spotlight: Meet Gyulnara Barnett

Gyulnara was adopted from Russia and reunited with her birth mom when she was in college. A participant in Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship, Gyulnara shares what it’s like to be part of an adoption community.

NYC Pride March: Save the Date

Last year Spence-Chapin staff and community participated in the NYC Pride March for the first time and had a memorable experience! We’re thrilled to be walking in the March alongside LGBTQ parents, their families, and their allies again on June 25th and we invite you to join us! We learned a lot last year. Here are 5 key takeaways.

1. There are multiple exit points throughout the march. Come walk with us for a few blocks or the entire route!

2. Marching contingents are given check-in and step-off times. We will wait in the formation area near Grand Central Station for about 2 hours before our group officially enters the march. If you join us, we encourage you to bring food, water, sunscreen, and other necessities. There are portable relief facilities and water filling stations at several points within the formation area.

3. Since we will have young children in our group, we will likely be placed at the front of the march meaning less wait time in the formation area.

4. The march typically takes 60-90 minutes to travel from formation to dispersal area (near Stonewall Inn).

5. We had fun and rewarding day in the sun! It was amazing to hear from spectators along the route about how they were connected to the adoption community.

All are invited to join us as we celebrate the LGBTQ community so bring your closest friends and family members. Email info@spence-chapin.org to learn more and sign up!

Preschoolers and ADHD

ADHD is defined by impairing levels of inattention, disorganization, and/or hyperactivity. Children as young as age 4 can be diagnosed with ADHD. Children are meeting huge developmental milestones physically, cognitively, and emotionally at this age. They are constantly learning new skills and absorbing everything around them. At the same time, preschoolers can sometimes be defiant and unpredictable and many of them act out their emotions in aggressive ways. They are verbal and opinionated people so, how do we know if our child is exhibiting typical preschooler behavior or showing early signs of ADHD?

Does your child: • Have a hard time starting projects such as homework? • Fidget or squirm when seated? • Have a hard time following directions? • Interrupt or intrude on others? • Forget things or daily tasks? • Have difficulty keeping materials and belongings in order? • Become easily distracted • Have difficulty working or playing quietly? • Have frequent tantrums?

All of these behaviors can make life at home chaotic and disorganized and affect your child’s academic achievement and social development. Spence-Chapin’s licensed professionals can provide parents with behavioral management tips and techniques to improve your child’s self-esteem and ADHD symptoms as well as decrease parental stress. CALL TODAY TO SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CONSULTATION 646-539-2167 Link: http://www.modernfamilycenter.org/counseling/

4 Ways to Celebrate Lunar New Year!

Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays for Chinese families and is also celebrated by other East Asian countries like Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan. This year is the 25th anniversary of Spence-Chapin’s China international adoption program and over 40 years of international adoption. Lunar New Year is a chance to wish family and friends a lucky and prosperous new year. Here are some ways you can celebrate the year of the Rooster: Enjoy Time with Family Holidays are a great way to get together with family. New Year’s Eve dinner is called “reunion dinner” and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Yum!

Decorate Red is the main color of Lunar New Year and is believed to be lucky. Bring your family good fortune by filling your home with red décor.

Attend a Cultural Event Festivals, parades, and fairs are arranged in many cities and towns both nationally and internationally. At these events, families can see traditional dragon dances and other performances. Organizers might even hand out traditional Chinese products and snacks. Check out what’s happening in NYC on Lunar New Year: http://betterchinatown.com/upcoming-events/

Eat Lucky Foods Certain foods bring symbolic meaning. The Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for surplus. It is believed that eating fish will bring a lucrative new year.

We hope that you and your family have a happy and healthy 2017 and we wish all of our families that celebrate Lunar New Year Gong Xi Fa Cai/Saehae Bok Mani Badeuseyo!

To learn more about our post-adoption services for adoptive families and adoptees, visit our website: www.modernfamilycenter.org/adoption-support.

Share Your Story: Birth Parent Perspectives

Listen to Aline, Latoya, Mariah, Melissa, and Scott share their stories about making a plan for their child with the support of Spence-Chapin. Spence-Chapin provides free, confidential, and unbiased options counseling for pregnant women & biological parents.

Aline's Story: Birth Parent Perspectives - Watch Aline talk about the comfort she received from her Interim Care Provider.

https://youtu.be/7k_KfKsYing

 

Latoya's Story: Birth Parent Perspectives - Watch Latoya talk about finding post-adoption support from Spence-Chapin.

https://youtu.be/Aep_Ba1vSg4

 

Mariah's Story: Birth Parent Perspectives - Watch Mariah talk about why she chose open adoption.

https://youtu.be/_rCWzmbO0Ps

 

Melissa's Story: Birth Parent Perspectives - Watch Melissa tell her story about how Spence-Chapin helped her through a difficult time.

https://youtu.be/razlsWn8be8

 

Scott's Story - Watch Scott tell his family's story about how Spence-Chapin helped them find hope.

https://youtu.be/383NfwauWIw

Biological Parent

Call us 24/7 at 1-800-321-LOVE. Contact the writer Lucy Shaw at lshaw@spence-chapin.org.

Latoya's Story

Latoya Sinclair is a birth parent who placed her son for adoption without the help of Spence-Chapin. Five years later, she found Spence-Chapin's support group and has become an advocate for other birth mothers. She wanted to share her story publicly and to help other women in her situation get the support and respect they deserve. In 2005, at 15 years old, Latoya became pregnant. “I was on the track team, just an average teen.” She remembers her cousin having dreams about fish, which in Caribbean culture means someone is pregnant. She didn’t think it could be her, but her cousin convinced her to stop at the hospital while they were on the way to the supermarket. When the doctor told her she was 2 weeks pregnant, “I kind of had a blank moment,” she describes. “I didn’t really have a reaction until the next day.”

Latoya recalls telling the biological father, “He was older than I was and had other relationships. So I thought it was something more than it was.” He wanted Latoya to have an abortion. At the time, it would have cost her 700 dollars. But when the time came to do it, he denied the baby was his and refused to help. “He just left me in the dark, by myself,” Latoya says.

Latoya lived with her aunt and uncle at the time and they did not want Latoya to raise a child in their house, with her being so young and the biological father being much older. Latoya’s aunt took her to see the family obstetrician and sought her advice. The doctor mentioned that she was seeing a couple who were unable to get pregnant and wanted to adopt. Latoya’s aunt arranged for a brief meeting with the couple. In the meeting, Latoya asked if she would be able to have an open adoption and see her child, and the couple said no. Latoya decided she did not want them to adopt her baby.

Latoya’s pregnancy was a very lonely time. None of the adults in her life understood what she was going through or how to help her. She began to withdraw at home and focus her attention and energy on being an excellent student. “I would go to the doctor by myself and see everyone with their boyfriends or husbands and get very sad,” recalls Latoya tearing up a little.

Due to the age difference with the biological father, Latoya had to testify in a trial against the biological father, for statutory rape. At the end of her pregnancy Latoya decided to go back to planning with the couple she met through her doctor because she felt that she had no other choice. She didn’t know she could turn to a licensed adoption agency to help her understand her rights and options in this critical time.

After a difficult 23-hour labor, Latoya delivered her son. She was disappointed that she wasn’t the first person to hold him and felt a range of emotions while in the hospital. She was happy to have bonded with her baby in hospital, and the adoptive parents would visit often.

The year after the placement was very difficult for Latoya. “People expect you to just go on with your life,” she said, “like you didn’t just have a human being inside you.” She started her Junior year of high school without the emotional support she needed. She was depressed but her family just kept telling her to “be strong”.

While the adoptive parents did not agree to on-going contact with Latoya, they did end up sending a photo and letter through the doctor a year after he was born. Receiving this photo increased Latoya’s desire to connect with the adoptive parents and remain in contact with her son. But this has been difficult for Latoya to do on her own, not knowing how to navigate and strengthen a relationship that was never clear to her when it started. Her son is now 9, and she has seen pictures and videos of him and exchanges a few text messages with his adoptive parents once or twice a year.

Latoya’s story is still unfolding. She has finished college and has a career in government helping others that she enjoys. She continues to strive for the relationship she deserves with her son and his adoptive family.

Endnote: As an adoption agency, we at Spence-Chapin are here to support women like Latoya and promote their voices as part of the adoption discourse. If Spence-Chapin had been involved when Latoya was pregnant, she would have received options counseling, been counseled on her rights to open adoption, and provided with an attorney at no cost. She would also have been able to choose families that wanted open adoption. Unfortunately, Latoya only found Spence-Chapin five years after she placed her son for adoption and did not have the support of an adoption professional when needed it most. But we are inspired by her strength and commitment to share her story and be a role model for others.

Read Latoya's interview with SC staff here or watch Latoya describe what would've been different if she made an adoption plan with Spence-Chapin, below.

If you have a friend, family member or client in need of options counseling, we can help. Please call us 24/7 at 1-800-321-LOVE. Contact the writer Lucy Shaw at lshaw@spence-chapin.org

U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child

Citizenship laws can be confusing for adopted people and adoptive parents. Here is information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to help you navigate obtaining citizenship for an internationally adopted person. All information represented below is from USCIS not Spence-Chapin. Learn more on their website: https://www.uscis.gov/adoption/bringing-your-internationally-adopted-child-united-states/us-citizenship-adopted-child

Documents That Generally Serve as Evidence of U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child

U.S. Passport* Issued by U.S. Department of State (DOS) Visit travel.state.gov for more information, including full instructions, current fees and application.
U.S. Certificate of Citizenship Issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Visit uscis.gov for more information including full instructions, current fees, and application.

*All passport applicants must prove their U.S. citizenship and identity to receive a U.S. passport. A Certificate of Citizenship is generally sufficient to apply for and obtain a U.S. passport for an adopted child. If the adopted child has not received a Certificate of Citizenship, you must submit other proof of acquisition of citizenship, including a certified copy of the final adoption decree (and translation if not in English) and evidence the child met all the conditions in section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) while under the age of 18.

Note: Some federal agencies may check immigration systems to verify citizenship status. USCIS systems will not be updated with a child’s citizenship status unless the family obtains a Certificate of Citizenship.

Lawful Permanent Residence or Citizenship Upon Admission into the U.S.

Under section 320 of the INA, an adopted child will automatically acquire citizenship upon admission to the United States if he or she satisfies these conditions before turning 18:

  • Qualifies as an “immediate relative” under INA 101(b)(1)(E), (F), or (G),
  • Is admitted as a permanent resident, and
  • Is residing in the United States in the U.S. citizen parent(s)’ legal and physical custody.

INA section 320 became effective on February 27, 2001, when the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) was signed into law.  The child must have been under the age of 18 on the effective date in order to have benefited from the CCA.

Note: If a child does not acquire citizenship from the original prospective or adoptive parents, the child may still be eligible to acquire citizenship if later adopted by different U.S. citizen parent(s), provided they meet all the requirements in section 320 of the INA.

If the child is not eligible for automatic citizenship upon admission to the United States, they will become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and may become a U.S. citizen once all the conditions of INA 320 are met. If the requirements are not met, the child will still be an LPR and may apply for naturalization under INA 316 once eligible to do so. The chart below outlines the visa classifications, process to obtain evidence of an adopted child’s U.S. citizenship, and the documents that generally serve as evidence of U.S. citizenship for an adopted child.

Obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship

If the adopted child does not qualify for a Certificate of Citizenship upon admission, you may still apply for one if your child satisfies the eligibility requirements. You must follow different processes to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship, depending on whether the adopted child will reside inside or outside of the United States with the U.S. citizen parent.

  • General Eligibility: (Please refer to the chart below for more specific guidance.)
    • The adopted child meets the definition of child under INA Section 101(b)(1)(E), (F) or (G);
    • The child is under 18 years of age when all conditions are met; and
    • The child must have at least one U.S. citizen parent (by birth or naturalization).
Child Will Reside Inside the U.S.

(Pursuing U.S. Citizenship under INA Section 320)

Child Will Reside Outside the U.S.

(Pursuing U.S. Citizenship under INA Section 322)

How to Obtain a Certificate of Citizenship

File Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.

Additional Requirements:

  • The child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent after being lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

Note: Please refer to the Form N-600 filing instructions for information about required evidence, fees and where to file. If the adopted child received an IH-3 or IR-3 visa and met all of the INA 320 requirements upon admission to the U.S., the child will receive a Certificate of Citizenship automatically and it is not necessary to file Form N-600.

How to Obtain a Certificate of Citizenship

File Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322.

Additional Requirements:

  • The U.S. citizen parent (or a U.S. citizen grandparent, if applicable) meets certain physical presence requirements;
  • The child is residing outside of the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent (unless the parent is deceased);
  • The child is temporarily present in the United States after being lawfully admitted, and maintains such status; and
  • Child under age 18 takes the Oath of Allegiance before a USCIS officer, unless waived.

Note: On the Form N-600K, petitioners may request a specific USCIS office or preferred city and state for interview, as well as a preferred interview date that is at least 90 days after filing the Form N-600K. After USCIS receives and processes the form, USCIS will send an appointment notice to the family to appear for an interview at a domestic USCIS field office on a particular date.  The family may apply for a B-2 visa or other available nonimmigrant visa for the child to travel to the U.S. and must pay the required fee. A nonimmigrant visa is not needed if the child obtains an immigrant visa, and is admitted as an LPR, but will not be residing in the United States.  The family may apply for the visa at the same post that processed their adoption case or apply at another post if they currently live in a different country.

Children of Armed Forces/Military Service Members and U.S. Government Employees

  • The adopted child of a U.S. citizen armed forces member who is accompanying their parent abroad on official orders may be naturalized without having to travel to the United States for any part of the process if he or she qualifies under INA 322.
    • Additionally, a U.S. citizen parent who is a member of the armed forces may count any period of time they resided abroad on official orders as physical presence in the United States.
  • An adopted child of a member of the armed forces or U.S. government employee issued an IR-3or IH-3 will be eligible for automatic issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship upon admission even if he or she intends to return abroad; provided all of the other conditions under INA 320 are met.
  • An adopted child of a member of the armed forces or U.S. government employee issued an IR-2 visa will not automatically be issued a Certificate of Citizenship but the parent may file a Form N-600 after admission or Form N-600K (even if they intend to return abroad), provided that all of the other conditions under either Section 320 or Section 322 of the INA are met.

*NOTE: The information on this page is meant to be a general guide. The charts provide an overview of citizenship issues related to adopted children and this page is not a definitive policy document. The facts of individual cases will be reviewed and adjudicated on a case-by-case basis. This page is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or by any individual or other party in removal proceedings, in litigation with the United States, or in any other form or manner.  Last Revised 9/2/2016.

Above is information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to navigate obtaining citizenship for an internationally adopted person. All information represented is from USCIS not Spence-Chapin. Learn more on their website: https://www.uscis.gov/adoption/bringing-your-internationally-adopted-child-united-states/us-citizenship-adopted-child.

Post Adoption Depression: The Elusive "Happily Ever After"

What are the signs of post adoption depression and what can you do to help yourself feel better? After all we’ve been through to adopt our child, we expect bliss. We deserve bliss!  And sometimes we get bliss. But sometimes instead of that euphoric feeling of accomplishment and love, we feel let down, exhausted, unprepared, and sad.

Truth be told, these are common feelings of all new parents regardless of how their kids join their family, but they can be worsened by the stress of adoption and the shame we feel.

Post Adoption Depression

Post partum depression or the baby blues is often talked about in our society (thank you Brooke Shields), and struggling new mothers are met with sympathy and support. Not so with post adoption depression or post adoption blues. Shame and our society’s general lack of understanding get in the way of support and acceptance.

Most adoptive mothers I talk with feel confused and guilty when they feel sad and irritable after their long awaited child finally arrives–and the key words are long awaited. This is the child that we’ve worked years to get. This is the child that we’ve probably spent a huge chunk of our savings to get. This is a child that we’ve been studied and questioned by heaven-knows how many experts to get. Now that we finally have her, we should be overjoyed. Right? If instead of feeling euphoric, we feel depressed, angry, and not besotted with love, then there must be something wrong with us. Right?

The shame that many parents feel makes it hard to get help and support. Who can they trust with this “dirty little secret”. They are afraid to tell their adoption social worker for fear that somehow their child will be taken away or they won’t be able to adopt again. They are afraid to tell their family and friends for fear that they won’t understand and that they will look ungrateful. This aloneness makes the depression worse.

It helps to know that Post Adoption Depression is common. On a Creating a Family Radio show on Post Adoption Depression: Causes and Prevention, Dr. Jane Aronson, adoption medicine specialist and founder and Chief Executive of the Worldwide Orphan Foundation, said that almost all of her patients feel conflicted emotions the first couple of months after they adopt, and about 75-85% report feeling sad or depressed.

Dr. Aronson thinks that post adoption depression is often caused by a mismatch of expectations with reality. And let’s face it, most of us have had a lot of years to build up unrealistic expectations.

Risk factors include adopting a school aged child, being an older or single parent, stress (financial, familial, etc.), and unresolved grief from infertility. Most of the time these feeling resolve within about six months when life begins to settle in and develop patterns, and you and your child begin to know each other.

What to Do If You Think You Have Post Adoption Depression

If after about 6 months or so, or if your feelings of despair or anger are more than moderate, get help!

  • Talk with your social worker. The vast majority of social workers know that these feelings are common and will be able to offer support without judgement.
  • Find a therapist with experience in depression–meaning any good therapist. They don’t have to specialize in depression caused by adoption. If you’ve struggled with infertility, however, I do think it’s helpful to find a therapist who understands the losses associated with infertility. Here are some suggestions on how to find one.
  • Dr. Aronson feels that most family doctors are more than adequate to treat this type of depression.
  • If your child has a pediatrician that specializes in adoption, share your feelings with her/him. They’ve heard it before, I promise, and they can offer help and support. Even if your pediatrician isn’t an adoption specialist, she will likely be able to offer you support and advice.
  • Most important–join an adoption support group! I can’t stress enough how soothing it is to be surrounded by people who have been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to prove it. Just knowing you’re not alone takes the pressure off and allows time to start the healing. If you are fortunate to live near an active in-person support group, fantastic. If not, or in addition, join an online group such as the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group. The ready availability of someone to talk to 24/7 is priceless. Believe it or not, sometimes it’s easier to open up to someone you don’t know in “real life”.
  • Listen to a Creating a Family show on Post Adoption Depression. Dr. Aronson offers a kind and honest approach to parenting. She suffered from post adoption depression after her second adoption and she talks frankly about it in our interview.

 

Take Good Care of Yourself

I know you’ve heard it before, but you really must take care of yourself those first months home.  Eat, sleep, and exercise are obvious, but equally important in my book is making sure you have some time to yourself, even just a little, to do something you enjoy. It might be going for a walk, window shopping for an hour at the mall, or grabbing a cup of tea with a friend, but try your best to have something to look forward to every week.

Did you have a rough transition post adoption? Would you have called it post adoption depression? What did you do that helped?

 

 

Think you may be suffering from post-adoption depression? Call us today for a free phone call with a social worker (646-539-2167)!

 

This content was originally published by Creating a Family, the national adoption & infertility education nonprofit. https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/post-adoption-depression/

5 Parenting Tips: How to Improve the Behavior of Children with ADHD

Mother helping son with homework Parenting a child with ADHD requires a special type of patience and understanding. When every task is a battle, days can feel exhausting before you’re even out the door.

Follow these 5 tips to help improve the behavior of your child with ADHD.

  1. Stay Cool – Often children with ADHD scream and yell during their meltdowns. When disciplining your child, keep the volume down and keep calm.
  2. Keep it Positive – Don’t just punish bad behavior, remember to reward good behavior too! Taking the positive approach is more effective than delivering ultimatums. Praise your child 4 more times than you criticize them. Children with ADHD report having lower self-esteem than their peers. When you lead by example, your child will develop the skills necessary to manage their ADHD, will believe in themselves, and will succeed in all aspects of their life.
  3. Give Your Child Concrete Tasks – Children with ADHD are often forgetful. When you provide them with clear, succinct, and specific tasks, they are more successful than if you give them 5 things to complete at once. Get down on their level and look them in the eyes when you speak to them.
  4. Make Sure the Punishment Fits the Crime – Ask yourself, “is this punishment necessary or am I displacing my anger?” If your child has already been disciplined in school do they need an additional one at home?
  5. Discipline Early – The longer you wait to apply these parenting strategies, the more your child will have to unlearn.
  6. BONUS TIP: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Experienced experts can provide parents with behavioral management tools and offer educators child-specific classroom interventions – Call 646-539-2167 today for your FREE consultation.

Spence-Chapin’s Modern Family Center provides a holistic and personalized ADHD treatment plan for your child by partnering with parents, educators, school psychologists, and school counselors. We can help transform your child’s behavior and strengthen your entire family. Call 646-539-2167!

Older Child Adoption Resources

We know it can be difficult for families to find educational and supportive resources around the country. Here are organizations that are here to support adoptive families: CASE The Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) strengthens the well-being of foster and adoptive families, promotes adoption awareness, enhances adoption sensitivity, and develops the skills for professionals and families to empower children to thrive. • Resources for Parents: http://adoptionsupport.org/education-resources/for-parents-families/ • Find an adoption competent therapist: http://adoptionsupport.org/member-types/adoption-competent-professionals/

NACAC: • Annual conference • Webinar series • Adoption Subsidy and International Adoption https://www.nacac.org

PACT • Library of books about adoption: http://www.pactadopt.org/app/servlet/resourcelist.ResourceList

Creating A Family • Online education and support groups for adoptive parents: https://creatingafamily.org/adoption/

Open Adoption from an Adoptee's Perspective

We talk a lot about open adoption from the perspective of the adoptive parents and birth parents, but the real experts are the people at heart of the experience—the adoptees. Adoptees that have grown up in a fully open adoption are just now coming of age. The video, embedded at the bottom of this blog, is of teens and young adults raised in a fully open adoption. Here are some excerpts of what they said. Keep in mind that these young people were all adopted through the same agency, which is known for educating and supporting the open adoption process.

  • If I was in a closed adoption I think there would be times I would feel like I don’t belong. …I don’t have to go on this soul-searching journey to find out who my parents are and where I’m from. For me, it’s right there.
  • I’m incredible grateful, saying that I’m grateful doesn’t really begin to cover it. My life is amazing and I really owe it to [open adoption].
  • Open adoption is like a gate you can pass through when you want to or need to.
  • I know my birth mom will be there for me if I need her, and that’s such a comforting thought to know that she cares and why she gave me up and to know the reasoning behind it and to know that it was for me to have a better life.
  • Open adoption has made me more open to other types of families and family structures and the way people live.
  • I love my birthmom, she’s like a big sister to me. She’s very open with me and it’s comforting to know that not only can I talk to my mom, my adoptive mom, but also my birth mom.
  • My birthparents are part of my family and I love them. They are great role models for me and I respect what they’ve done.
  • I see my birthmother every few years and she is there for I know my birth mom will be there for me if I need her, and that’s such a comforting thought to know that she cares and why she gave me up and to know the reasoning behind it and to know that it was for me to have a better life.
  • Open adoption has made me more open to other types of families and family structures and the way people live.
  • I love my birthmom, she’s like a big sister to me. She’s very open with me and it’s comforting to know that not only can I talk to my mom, my adoptive mom, but also my birth mom.
  • My birthparents are part of my family and I love them. They are great role models for me and I respect what they’ve done.
  • I see my birthmother every few years and she is there for me. She’s caring and very much a role model for me. The few thousand miles between us makes the moments we have together even better.
  • It’s been very important to meet my birth parents rather than being pen-pals.
  • An in-person meeting is way better—WAY BETTER—than anything you can achieve online. Skype is close, but not as good. Being there in the flesh is meaningful and fun.
  • Seeing them in person is like having an old friend come to visit who you haven’t seen in a long time.
  • We visit during the year when we can and in the summer I usually fly out and visit my birth family. Sometime my parents come for some of the time and sometimes I spend time with them on my own.
  • I Skype my birth dad every couple of weeks, but seeing him in person is so much more impactful for me.
  • My parents are completely encouraging of me having as much contact with my birth parents…. We have tons of photos of my birth family all over the house. It’s really nice.
  • My mom and dad are always talking about positive things my birth parents do. My birth mom just had a big achievement in her life and my mom wouldn’t stop raving about it. It’s cool seeing how much they support them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxijc_jt0C0&feature=youtu.be

This content was originally published by Creating a Family, the national adoption & infertility education nonprofit. https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/open-adoption-from-the-childs-perspective/

Tips for Surviving the Transition Home with Newly Adopted Kids

We spend so much time, energy, and often money on the process of adopting a child that it is tempting, once the child is finally in our home, to sigh with a sense of “Mission Accomplished” and give ourselves a mental high five for a job well done. Far be it from me to rain on anyone’s parade, but…

Getting the child home is the beginning, not the ending of your adoption journey.

Now is where the rubber meets the road–the actual raising of this beautiful child. If you are lucky you will have a period of relative calm while both you and the child figure each other out and learn each other’s expectations.

If you are really lucky, this calm turns into a smooth transition with both you and your new son or daughter gracefully moving into your new roles.

If you are in the majority of people adopting an older child (child past infancy), however, the honeymoon period is followed by a rough patch of testing and pushing limits on the child’s part, and often fear and questioning on the parent’s part.

This is not an indication that the adoption is doomed or that you are a failure or that the child is bad. It’s simply means that you and your child are both human and going through a huge transition. Here are some tips to help you survive this transition home.

  1. Do something that you love or gives you pleasure every day. This is not a frivolous splurge; it is a necessity, and you need to budget for it or call in favors to have time for it. Read a few chapters of a book with a cup of coffee, go for a run, schedule 1-hour of guilt-free time on Facebook, try out a new recipeDo not be afraid to take a little time away from the child each day for some restorative self-care.
  2. Do something with your new child each day that you both enjoy. Curl up and read together; play a video game together; go for a walk or bike ride together. You need to create a pool of shared good memories for both of you to draw upon when the going gets rough. Schedule time for this to happen daily.
  3. Do something with your spouse (if married) once a week that you both enjoy. It’s easy for marriages to be forgotten in the crunch of early adoptive parenthood. Nurturing your marriage is time well spent.
  4. Look at your expectations. If you find yourself overwhelmed and questioning why in the world this seemed like a good idea, go back to your expectations. Were they realistic? Did you think you would automatically fall in love or feel like a mom or dad to this child? Did you think this child’s temperament would mesh smoothly with your temperament? Did you think that this child had miraculously escaped developing any annoying coping behaviors? Time for an expectation re-boot.
  5. Reframe in your mind the child’s annoying behaviors. Chances are good these behaviors were successful coping skills she learned to help her survive in her prior life. Your goal is gradual improvement as she becomes stable in this new life. This takes time.
  6. If one parent is struggling more than the other—don’t panic. It is common for one of the parents to not feel the same level of connection at first or to be more irritated by the child’s behavior. Nonjudgmental communication is crucial. The parent that is not struggling must listen to and support the parent who is struggling with extra help and more time off. This unequal division of responsibility won’t last forever, but is
  7. Schedule a few appointments with a therapist for yourself. It is easy to assume that all the adjusting is on the part of the newly adopted child; therefore, the child is the one that needs therapy. While the adjustment for your new child is huge, parents too are going through a lot of change and often need the wise supportive ear of a trained counselor. Creating a Family has resources to help you find
  8. Join an Adoption Support group. If you can’t find an in-person group (and even if you can) join an online support group such as the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group. People are available 24/7 who have likely experienced exactly what you are feeling, and they can help without judgment. We promise.
  9. If you think you might harm the child-get help immediately. Call your spouse, family member, social worker, or child abuse hotline.  You are not evil; you are not a bad person. You are someone under a lot of stress that needs help immediately. Help is available. You are not alone.

This content was originally published by Creating a Family, the national adoption & infertility education nonprofit. https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/tips-for-surviving-1st-6-months-with-newly-adopted-kids/

Honoring and Celebrating Family Connections

snowflakeHolidays are a time for connecting with loved ones and provide the opportunity for time travel – we visit our past, experience the present, and set intentions for the future. It’s easy to think about the family members we see and touch base with regularly. But what about those who were part of your child’s life before they were part of your family? It could be birth or foster families, orphanage caregivers, or early childhood friends. Even if your child was too young to remember these relationships, they are an important part of your child’s history and who they are today. Finding ways to bring their birth family, birth culture, and past into the present is important for deepening your relationship with your child.

Be imaginative about honoring those connections. The rituals and traditions you create with your child can be tangible and concrete, like putting together a Lifebook that has pictures of those important people, sending letters and cards, or setting up a visit. If you don’t have direct contact, the rituals can be symbolic. Go for a walk in the park where you first decided to adopt; eat the favorite food of that important person every Thanksgiving; collect stones from important places in your child’s life. The smallest detail can have a huge impact on your child now and in the future. Remember, be creative and make it a special tradition that is unique to your family. Your child might not like or understand the meaning of the rituals now, but it is important that you’re doing all that you can do to document and celebrate your child’s past so they can cherish it in the future. When you honor those who are connected to your child, you are honoring your children, their story, and your family’s roots.