We are still open and offering all adoption services. We are answering questions and supporting our clients, all while staying safe. Whether you are expecting a baby or looking to grow your family, contact us today to talk with an adoption specialist about your specific needs: (317)-255-5916.
Sitting across the table from a young woman who recently placed her infant son with an adoptive family, I noticed a tattoo on her inner wrist. “Tell me about that tattoo,” I asked. I was already amazed by her strength and composure. For someone who was deep in the throes of grief and sharing a life history of use and abuse from men, the inked word “Queen”along with a small crown seemed like the perfect metaphor for who she really was.
“I got this when I was with this other guy. He was the King and I was his Queen. So we got matching tattoos. He’s gone, but most of the time when I see this tattoo I don’t think of him. I just think of how strong I need to be and how strong I can be.”
While I was thinking this over, she went on to show me the inside of her other wrist. “This was my first tattoo,” she said. “I got it when I was a teenager. My mom signed for it and even paid for it.” This tattoo was simply a beautiful script with the words “Love yourself.”
“Are you able to follow that advice?” I asked. Her reply was honest. “Sometimes. But sometimes it’s hard.”
Taking on the role of “post placement specialist” has challenged my counseling skills, my patience, and my reserves of empathy. Yet it has been the greatest privilege and honor I’ve ever had in over 30 years in social work.
Women who have placed their babies for adoption have drawn on reserves of strength most of us could never find. My goal is to help each woman start to build back that inner reserve, step by step, bit by bit.
Queen. Love yourself. Women—we deserve to be treated with the respect due a queen. But if we don’t love ourselves first, it will be difficult to accept that respect, much less to expect it.
For birth mothers everywhere, you have my utmost respect. For adoptive mothers everywhere, you are also able to claim that title. And for all of us engaged in adoption, remember to love yourselves.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone in which you start that conversation completely at a loss?
It’s like the other person has been talking to you for over an hour, but in reality you have barely gotten past the hellos.
The fact is, none of us exist in a vacuum. We are surrounded by people and things, and these are constantly changing. Even when we are in a relationship with someone, we don’t spend every waking moment with that person, whether it’s our spouse, child, best friend, or parent.
One of the tricky parts of understanding the behavior of others is realizing that we might not have intimate knowledge of the precipitating factorsin their lives.
“Precipitating factors” is a fancy way of saying “come to find out.”
Here’s an example of “come to find out.” Several years ago, I worked as a child therapist in a large, urban, public school district with behaviorally challenged children. One day, around mid-morning, I received a crisis call from the third-grade teacher. “Eric” had just had a disruptive meltdown in the classroom, and in addition to calling me for help, the teacher had summoned school security.
When I arrived in the classroom, Eric was being escorted from the room by the school security officer. I asked the officer to bring Eric to my office. Once we were there, Eric began shaking and crying. Working backward, I learned that Eric was late to school that morning because his mother had overslept. Because his mother had overslept, Eric had not had breakfast, nor had he had his medication for ADHD. I broke into my snack drawer, and Eric began eating what turned out to be the first meal he had eaten since the previous day’s lunch.
Continuing the conversation, I asked Eric why he and his mother had overslept. Come to find out, Eric’s stepfather had been released from jail the day before, and his mother, stepfather, and assorted other relatives had been on a drinking and drugging binge until the sun was about to come up.
Is it any wonder that Eric had a meltdown in his classroom?
Navigating open adoption relationships brings its own set of precipitating factors.
Envision a Sunday afternoon phone call between adoptive mom and birth mom. Baby has been colicky and only slept about three hours from Saturday night into Sunday morning. Adoptive mom’s symptoms of endometriosis have been acting up again, and she is clearly in pain. Adoptive dad had to take an extra shift the previous night. Neither mom or dad wants to mention any of this, because they want birth mom to feel confident that they were the right choice to raise this baby. They want her to think all is going well and that they can handle this. They also want to stay in touch with birth mother, because they genuinely like and respect her.
As the phone call starts, the birth mom seems more quiet than usual. Adoptive mom almost senses a bit of a cry, but then second guesses herself and doesn’t ask about it. Birth mom ends the call almost as soon as it begins, and stares at her phone. On the phone is a text from her brother’s girl friend, who wants birth mom to loan her $500 to bail her brother out of jail. Birth mom doesn’t want to do this, and she doesn’t want to mention it to the adoptive family because she doesn’t want them to have a reason to stop communicating with her. Birth mom had wanted to plan the first visit, but her car had broken down again on Saturday, and she didn’t have anyone who could help her get it fixed. She was hesitant to say anything about the visit because she didn’t want to raise her hopes and then not be able to have the visit.
Neither side of this conversation has any idea what is going on before the conversation starts. Both sides are left feeling unsettled and unwelcome.
Can we ever come to find outall the factors that make for strained behavior or uncomfortable interactions in an open adoption relationship?
The answer is probably “it all depends.”So much depends on the relationship that is developed between those who are in the relationship.
Are you open to hearing the precipitating factors to behavior that puzzles you? Or do you find yourself thinking those are just excuses?
Are you willing to be vulnerable and share precipitating factors, at times causing your behavior to be unexpected or unusual?
Are you able to extend grace, understanding, and forgiveness?
For an open adoption relationship to work, the answer to all of this must be a resounding “yes.” Trust is built over time, with stops and starts, but the ultimate goal of open adoption is to create an environment of trust and commitment for the child.
Come to find out, we all need a little grace and understanding in all our relationships.
Today is Biographers Day. Yes, for those of you keeping track of obscure reasons to celebrate, May 16 is the day on which “commemorates the anniversary of the first meeting of Samuel Johnson and his biographer James Boswell in London, England on May 16, 1763, and honors all biographers.”
So why on earth is an adoption blogger even bothering to mention this, much less attempt a thoughtful blog on the topic?
This is an excellent question, and hopefully by the end of the blog there is be an answer.
I think this is worth noting because there is a little piece within each of us that wants to be known. Each one of us wants to be connected to another person here on earth. We want to be seen. We want to be understood.
All of this then connects to our own unique identity.
We identify ourselves by our work, our gender, our appearance, our religion, our neighborhood. We identify ourselves by our family affiliation—mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, granddaughter, grandson. You get the idea.
And then some of us find that we are identifying ourselves by means of how our family was created and our role within that family—primarily by the means in which we came to the role.
Confused yet? How many blogs and books are written about “adoptees?” Or “birth mothers?” Or “adoptive families?”
Mother’s Day has just gone by for 2019, and Father’s Day is coming. Were birth mothers and adoptive mothers celebrated equally? Will birth fathers and adoptive fathers share in the same recognition on June 16?
If someone were to write your biography today, what pieces of your identity would be most important? Or would your identity be defined by your roles?
If someone were to write my biography today, I hope they would include such things about me as my personality. I hope they would include how I made the world a little bit brighter for someone else. I hope they would mention my amazing family—including all the quirkiness and brokenness that has strengthened me and given me insight. If the biographer wanted to mention adoption, I would agree to that being a page, because there is no doubt the institution of adoption has played a huge role in both my personal and professional life. Yet I don’t want the title of my story to be Diane, Adoptive Mother.
I think I want the title of my story to be Diane, A Loving Person.
And your biography title? I’d love to share those as well.
Sunday is Mother’s Day, the day of honoring and appreciating the women in our lives. It’s the day of honoring those who nurture, encourage, and love us unconditionally.
As a society we show this appreciation with gifts—jewelry, flowers, spa services, and meals in nice restaurants. Typically a greeting card comes along with those gifts, or the card is the gift itself. Greeting cards say what we don’t have the words to say on our own. According to the National Retail Association, Americans will spend $843 million dollars on those greeting cards this year.
Greeting cards tend to fall into two categories: sentimental and heartfelt, or funny and smart-alecky. But what if life isn’t sunshine and rainbows right now? What if you aren’t in on the joke and you desperately want to be?
For many families, Mother’s Day is a challenge.
Undergoing fertility treatments or waiting for an adoption takes an emotional and physical toll. Other families have had to say good-bye to their child far too soon, whether through miscarriage, still birth, illness, or other tragic circumstances that lead to the unthinkable.
What kind of greeting card encompasses all the grief? What can be said to make this all be right?
Simply put, nothing can be said that makes all this feel ok. Yet the alternative of saying nothing diminishes the reality of the emotions and the experiences.
Then what can be said? What can be said to a woman waiting to become a mother, year after year? What can be said to a woman who has placed her child for adoption and is still grieving that loss? What can be said to a woman who will not be able to watch her child grow to adulthood?
All too often we hope that there are magic words that can be said to make these uncomfortable feelings disappear. And if we cannot find those magic words, we don’t say anything so that we cannot say anything wrong.
The magic is not in the words. The magic is in the caring and the being there.
If you know someone who may not be having the best Mother’s Day, let them know of your love and care. If you haven’t been in their shoes, you won’t know exactly how they feel. That doesn’t have to stop you from simply saying “I’m here.”Not knowing exactly how someone feels does not mean you can’t ask questions. It doesn’t mean you can’t listen.
And if you find yourself as one of those who is dreading Mother’s Day because of what you don’t have, take care of yourself this weekend. Don’t be afraid to let those who are close to you know that this is tough for you. If going to church is painful as you aren’t in any group that is recognized, don’t feel obligated to go! Talk about your hopes for your family.
Celebrate the love you have. Celebrate the love you give.
Adoption is packed with losses, whether it is infertility grief for a biological child that will never be, or the obvious grief for letting a child go to another family. Along with the grief comes the question of “when.”
When? When will I be better? When will I stop hurting? When will the grieving end? When will I feel like myself again? When?
One of the hardest parts of grieving is that it is uncharted. It is unique to each individual. It ebbs and flows. Other people will tell you things like “time heals all wounds,” but they are unable to say if that vague reference to “time” is a day, a week, a month or a year. It is merely “time.”
If only there was a solid road map or path for grief to take. If only it was a matter of looking forward to a year from now and knowing with absolute certainty that your emotions would be in check, that your feelings would not be sending you into the depths, and that the sun would again be able to shine, you could handle the sorrow of today.
You know where this is going. There is no such road map. There is no magic date.
Healing from a loss is a series of small steps forward.
There will be setbacks that feel as if the world is caving in on you. Keep taking those small steps forward. Disregard those who tell you “just get over it.” That phrase says more about the speaker and their own discomfort with grief than it does your own healing.
Resist the urge to compare your grief healing to anyone else’s.
Another person may look fine on the outside, and tell you that they are fine, but their inside is screaming a different story. And even if that other person really is “fine,” that other person is not you.
The good news of grieving is that the “when” will come. It will arrive for you at its own pace and its own speed. It may ease into your days, surprising you as you realize the pain has lessened.
Until that day arrives, know that there are people who will listen and hold space for you. Your grief is your own, but you are not alone.
“Even though my baby sister is going to be adopted, can I still talk with her as she gets older? You know, give her good big brother advice?”
Amanda here. This was said by a young man about my son’s age as I sat next to him and his mother. His mother was making an adoption plan for her soon-to-be-born baby, a baby that was unexpected and whom she truly didn’t believe she good give good care and stability.
The “not placed” siblings have always tugged at my heartstrings. In my early years of standing by women making adoption plans, the concept of separating siblings was truly one of the most difficult pieces of my job. I knew that it was hard to watch a woman say good-bye to her baby, but it was more difficult to watch the older siblings say that same thing.
This difficulty no doubt comes from my own life story.
I grew up in northern Indiana in an extremely small town along with my two brothers. I am the middle child and the only girl. My brothers and I had no choice but to be playmates as there was no one else within miles of the cornfields. My father was a union electrician and my mother stayed home with us. There were no play dates, no activities, no music lessons. If we wanted something to do, we found something to play together. My favorite childhood memories are those times—the three of us together, simply playing. Now that we are all adults, we are very different individuals with our own unique personalities. Those who know us well cannot believe we are all full siblings as aside from our physical appearance, nothing much else is similar. Regardless, I believe much of what makes me who I am comes directly from the childhood experiences and relationships I developed with my brothers. They were always by my side. They always had (and still have) my back.
When a woman chooses adoption, her decision impacts not only herself and her baby, but the people who love her and care for her as well.
If she has other children, as does “Mama M”, the impact and emotions of those children needs to be considered in the adoption decision as well. Very young children may not notice the growing belly or understand the idea of a newborn baby in their lives. Older children will likely notice and, like the young man who opens this story, not only have questions but want a voice.
One of the best aspects of the evolution of open adoption is that now siblings do get to maintain a connection with one another.
I facilitated a meeting between a prospective adoptive family and an expectant mom earlier this week, and the hopeful dad also came to this realization. “You know, I never really visualized other children being at these visits, but this could be really cool.”And he is right. Other children at the visit ARE really cool.
At ASC, we are passionate about supporting expectant moms through their pregnancies.
One of these ways is by being with her and her children when they meet the prospective adoptive parents for the first time. I have sat in on hundreds of these initial meetings, watched numerous siblings of the unborn listen to the adults speaking and not know what was about to happen. It has just always tugged at me.
Openness in an adoption relationship eases this tug. I am looking forward to watching this young man who reminds me of my own son get to hold and read to his baby sister at their visits. He has promised to continue to get good grades and get into college. He knows his baby sister will be watching. This is open adoption with siblings. My heart is smiling.
Perception. Adoption is one of those institutions in which almost every person has a view point. Maybe it’s because they were adopted, or their grandparents were adopted. Maybe it’s because you’re an adoptive parent, or you want to be one. Maybe, just maybe, your view point has been shaped by movies, books or the latest celebrity adoption. Ask ten different people what they think about adoption, and you are guaranteed to hear ten different answers.
Recently we asked families, both birth parents and adoptive parents, to share statements and questions from others that have left them hurt or discouraged.
None of what we heard was anything we hadn’t heard before.
Yet hearing them still, in 2019,was disappointing. It feels as if no matter how much education is out there, no matter the example our birth parents and adoptive families set, attitudes toward adoption are sometimes holdovers from another era.
Our adoptive families have been called everything from baby snatchers to saviors. Our birth mothers have been called everything from callous and cold-hearted to brave saints. Our adoptees have been called everything from orphaned to lucky.
Just how accurate are these pictures?
The answer probably depends on many factors. What generation are you from? What media has fed into your viewpoint? How many people do you personally know involved in the adoption triad? What experiences have you had with unexpected pregnancies or pregnancy scares? What experiences have you had in raising children? Where has the road of life led you?
Just as every individual carries their own unique, fingerprints and genetic code into the world, those touched by adoption are unique individuals as well. To paint any group with a single brush is risking limiting the individuals involved to a stereotype.
So we urge you to have a little compassion. Show a little empathy. Remember that there are individuals behind the stories and the words.
Scam. I’ve been scammed! I sent my money to a Nigerian prince, only to find out there is no Nigerian prince. I sent money to the IRS because they were threatening me with arrest. Only later did I find out it wasn’t really the IRS. I thought I was in love, and my man ran into some trouble overseas and needed money to pay a hospital bill. You know the outcome…it was a scam!
Adoption scams have been around for a long time as well.
Typically, this will involve a woman either pretending to be pregnant, or in some cases actually is pregnant, promising the baby to multiple potential adoptive parents. In the traditional scam, she will take money for living expenses from these families, only to have a change of heart when the due date comes and goes.
Of course, this is highly illegal. It is a Level 6 felony in Indiana. And most agencies, attorneys, and prospective adoptive families are on the alert for these.
But what if the payoff for the scammer is not money? What if the payoff is your time and attention?
As the use of social media becomes more and more prevalent in connecting expectant families to potential adoptive families, the possibilities for fraud also becomes more common. Recently the term “emotional scam” has entered the conversation after the promise of a baby being born “in the next couple of days” is offered to potential adoptive families without the request for money.
In these scenarios, an expectant mom reaches out over social media and begins talking with a prospective adoptive family directly. Usually the conversation goes very well and seems to be legitimate. The adoptive family begins scrambling to make plans to travel to another state, engage an attorney or agency in that state, and make arrangements for an adoption to happen!
Of course, there comes a point where the story falls apart. Maybe the potential family encourages the scammer to contact their agency or attorney. Maybe the potential family suggests a meeting and is met with resistance. Maybe the instincts of the potential family kicks in and they simply block this person from their phone and social media accounts.
No money has changed hands. Where’s the harm?
For anyone trying to adopt, the harm seems obvious. Hopes and dreams are on the line! The thought that someone choseyou, wantsyou, and thinks you will be great parents is the validation you have been looking for! It’s the next step in getting a baby. It’s the next step to parenthood.
For the scammer, the payoff is the attention that is received. It’s the listening ear, the sympathy, the time.
It’s the mental illness.
The good news is that families hoping to adopt and who are working with reputable professionals have support and emotional reserves on which to draw that will carry them through until their baby is in their home. The time spent with someone trying to scam them will pass and someday be a distant memory.
The scammer will be left looking for the next attention fix—scouring the internet for the next vulnerable person who will ease their loneliness and pain.
If you are not certain about a potential adoption situation, please contact your agency, attorney, or home study provider. The process of adoption is difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone.
You will hear it a million times, but it couldn’t be more true. There is no “typical” adoption. When we met our amazing, strong birth mom for the first time, we clicked like crazy, and laughed and talked our way through a two hour dinner. We thought she was due in two months. But when it was determined she might deliver earlier (like, three weeks from that first meeting earlier), my husband and I watched the amazing ladies of ASC spring into action to button up all the paperwork, and answer our one million questions.
Our birth mom generously invited me to be with her in the delivery room, so I could be with the baby from her very first moments.
We bought a car seat, and packed a “go” bag, so we could be ready to run to the hospital the second we got the call that she was in labor. We cleared our schedules and let our bosses know what was happening so we could have some time off when we brought baby home. We were so incredibly excited to be matched with someone that just felt “right”. Then we settled in and nervously waited to get the call.
But the call that finally came was our coordinator Leah telling us that the baby had arrived even earlier than what we were expecting, and the birth mom had changed her mind about placing her daughter for adoption.
It didn’t sink in what had happened.
All that build up, and all that springing into action, then no baby. Our prayer from the beginning of our adoption journey was not just to become parents, but that the situation with the birth mom felt resolved and right, and we knew she was at peace with her decision. So of course we understood that she had changed her mind, and we comforted each other by saying “this just wasn’t meant to be our baby”.
But it still really hurt. About two weeks after the fall-through, I found myself telling a friend “we lost a baby”, and just saying the words out loud really drove it home. We were back on the waiting list, back to square one, waiting to be rematched, still not parents. Thanksgiving came and went, and we dragged ourselves through it. My husband forced me to decorate for Christmas, and planned a trip for me to visit a friend in NYC to get my mind clear so we could be emotionally ready when the time came to be rematched and go through it all again.
Instead, we got another call from our coordinator Leah saying that birth mom had changed her mind back, and would we still be open to adopting her baby? My husband said yes right away, but I had so many questions, and honestly, my heart was still broken from the first go-around. I didn’t think I could bring myself to potentially lose the same baby two times! Leah answered literally every single one of my questions.
The adoption was set for the next day.
This baby girl was being placed for adoption. The birth mom really hoped that we would be her parents, but understood if we couldn’t get there that quickly after the fall through. Looking at our awesome daughter now, and seeing how perfectly she fits into our family, I can’t believe I questioned it for even a millisecond.
We truly got the child we were meant to raise, and are so happy we put our hearts on the line one more time!
Adoption day was so incredibly special. We drove to the agency, unsure of what would happen, if the birth mom would go through with it, trying to find the words to write in a card to express our gratitude in case we didn’t stay in communication and never got the chance to tell her again. We knew it must’ve been such a struggle for her to prepare herself to place her baby for adoption two different times, and we had been thinking of her and praying for her during the weeks after the fall through, just hoping she was doing well, and at peace with her decision. As hard as it was for us to go through the fall through, we couldn’t even imagine what she was feeling.
When we got to the agency, the paperwork had already been signed. It was done! She was our daughter! We walked to the back building, and our incredibly strong, amazing birth mom literally placed her daughter she had been parenting for the past month in my arms. Just like that, after years of waiting for a baby, all the doctor appointments, all the frustration and pain that comes with infertility, all the heartache, she made us parents, made us a family of three. It was such a powerful, and amazing, and surreal moment. The gratitude we felt (and still feel) is really indescribable.
One of the best days of our life was probably one of the worst days for our daughters birth mom.
Her strength in that time is something we are excited to share with our daughter when she’s older, so she knows without a doubt that the decision to place her for adoption came from absolute love. We all sat together, talking and laughing about what super awkward new parents we were, our birth mom’s friend teasing us about how bad we were going to be at doing our daughter’s hair. We will always treasure that time we got to share together.
When our daughter’s birth mom was ready to go, we said our goodbyes, spent about twenty minutes figuring out how to buckle her into the car seat like total nervous new parents, and headed home.
It really is amazing how quickly you can fall in love with your child.
By the time we got home, a switch had flipped, and she was our daughter! The next couple of days were such a blur. We literally became parents overnight! With so much help from family and friends, baby gear and supplies showed up at our house, and we began to settle in. The lights on the Christmas tree my husband forced me to put up turned out to be a great way to calm a fussy baby. Friends and family visited, and everyone called her our Christmas miracle (and she was!). The trip to NYC was cancelled and my google searches switched from “cute winter boots” (to pack for my trip) to “best baby bottle for one-month-old”. With no planned maternity leave, our brand new daughter just slept in a swing next to me while I finished work projects, and we figured out how to work out this unexpected parenthood. It was such a crazy, sleepless, hard, amazing, joyful time!
We weren’t sure if we would hear from our daughters birth mom or not, we had left that decision up to her. After about two weeks, she got in touch, and was ready to see some photos and just check in. I was so scared to share photos with her. What if she wanted her back? What if this child we had already fallen in love with wasn’t going to be ours anymore? What if it was too painful for her to see her baby she placed with new parents? It didn’t matter that all the paperwork had been signed, and everything was official, that crazy strong (and sometimes irrational) maternal instinct still kicks in.
My husband and I remembered what we had been told in our pre-adoption class about honoring our birth mom by keeping our promises, so I took a deep breath, and sent a bunch of photos. And we got the most amazing response (we saved it to share with our daughter when she’s older). “I love the pictures. You just don’t know how happy I am that you two took her in as your own. Words can’t explain how I feel. Thank you for the pictures.” And it clicked. We were just three adults who will always be unified in wanting the absolute best for this little girl.
It is such a powerful and amazing thing to be a part of.
Literally one of my favorite things we’ve gotten to do as human beings. My husband and I both feel so lucky to have experienced what we can only imagine is adoption at its best.
Our daughter is now two and a half, and we look forward to our visits with her birth mom. They are always the best, most joyful days, and we continue to be in awe of her strength in this decision, and her dignity and grace. We are so glad to be able to give her the opportunity to see firsthand how happy and healthy her daughter is. And, of course, we are so, so very grateful that she chose us, and we get to be the parents of one awesome little girl!!
So much is written about adoption, but little of it is non-fiction. And the fictional books about adoption tend to be romanticized orphan tales—think Anne of Green Gables. This is unfortunate, because often times a good story is easier to remember than absorb than merely facts.
The novel Girls in Trouble steps into the gap and weaves an intricate story about open adoption that succeeds in portraying the emotions of one set of birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptee. Ms. Leavitt narrates the book from the stand point of sixteen-year-old Sara, “older” adoptive mom Eva, and eventually a teenage Anne, the adoptee. Along the way, readers catch a glimpse of the feelings and actions of others involved, like Sara’s parents, adoptive dad George, and birth father Danny.
Overall, this is a great read for any fiction reader with an interest in adoption. There are limits to the story, of course. To move the story along there must be tension and drama. To that end, Ms. Leavitt creates situations that are the nightmares of both adoptive and birth parents.
The book was published in 2004, before the takeover of smart phones and social media so prevalent in our culture. This is also an interesting challenge for the timeline of the story, as the story should be opening in approximately 1988, long before open adoption was widely practiced. This could explain why no one in this story was really prepared for an open relationship.
This is definitely worth the read. If you take the journey, think about with whom you most sympathize. What would you have done differently in that person’s shoes? Does this story give insight into a different perspective? Is there a part of the grieving process that especially rings true?