Using positive adoption language is important in every-day life. If you are involved in the adoption process it’s important that you know the positive terminology so that you can pass it along to your family, friends and co-workers who may not know what they are saying can be construed as offensive.
Each week we will review a positive adoption term and it’s unconstructive counterpart. If you have any suggestions for positive or negative terms that we haven’t covered yet, please leave them in the comments, or email Alex
Today’s positive adoption term is “Born to unmarried parents” and its unconstructive counterpart is “illegitimate.” It’s common sense that you don’t want your son or daughter being called illegitimate. Just because your child was born to parents who were unmarried at the time does not discredit their immense worth.
At Adoption STAR we hope you, your spouse, or child will never encounter such negativity, whether it is purposeful or not. However if you are in a position where you hear the term “illegitimate child”, and you feel the need to correct the person, the correct terminology is “born to unmarried parents.”
Good Morning everyone! We’ve made it to the end of another week, I hope everyone has fun plans this weekend.
A North Carolina man is upset with the children’s video game “Portal 2.” This family has 10 year old daughter who was adopted from China, and when they were playing Portal 2, where the main character is adopted, the villain of the game said “”Alright, fatty. Adopted fatty. Fatty, fatty, no parents.”
In the video, the father said he had no idea what to do and immediately shut the game off. Their daughter has not brought up the subject, so the family is taking it to mean she is not ready to talk about adoption yet.
As a parent what would you do in a similar situation? Also, how much responsibility should the video game creators take in making sure a game rated “E” for everyone is not offensive?
An article by ABC News entitled “Why it costs more to adopt a white baby” was recently posted on our Facebook wall. Many people on our staff found the article offensive, as did commenters on the Facebook page.
One Facebook follower commented that the last line of the article was classless, and I completely agree. There was no need to end the article with the quote “When it comes to adoption, America needs an enema and I’m hoping god made me the chocolate laxative.” First of all that sounds like a quote from a Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler movie, and while both are funny comedians, that line came out of left field in the article and not only was it in poor taste, it did not fit the tone of the rest of the story.
While parts of the article were offensive, as we said on the Facebook page earlier, we agree with the premise of the article that adoption fees should not be based on race. I thought the best case for not basing adoption fees based on the race of the child was made by Cindy Friedmutter, the Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. Friedmutter said “People who are willing to pay high fees for healthy kids don’t always get perfect children. If you pay $50,000, it doesn’t mean that (the) child is going to be healthy, gorgeous and smart.” Friedmutter is saying that by charging the higher fees for healthy (or Caucasian) babies, that adoption agencies are almost guaranteeing perfect children to these families, and obviously there is nothing guaranteed when it comes to children.
My biggest problem with the ABC News article was that it seemed to put all adoption agencies under the same category to fit their story. Why didn’t they interview more private agencies that don’t vary the rates dependent on the race of the child?
I think this article had the potential to be interesting and enlightening, but instead became offensive to positive adoption agencies by using quotes such as “”When it comes to adoption, America needs an enema…” and touting main subject Rev. Ken Hutcherson, who not only gave the laxative quote, but also said that he wanted to see all adoption agencies run only by volunteers and funded strictly by contributions. Hutcherson’s claims that this is the best way to manage adoption agencies nationwide, seems like an overreaction to the current issue of adoption fees.
What did everyone else think?
Everybody has his or her personal favorite band, whose music they can just listen to over and over again and not get tired of it. Mine is the Beatles, specifically the Sgt. Pepper, White and Abbey Road albums. How does that relate to adoption? Well, since coming to Adoption STAR I’ve found myself thinking about what I will name my first child (despite the fact that I’m in my mid-20’s and children are probably not in my future for at least five years.)
Anyways, I realized a lot of the names I was coming up with had to do with Beatles songs. Sgt. Pepper was already out of the equation, since that was the name of my cat, but the name Jude stuck out in my head. I like the name Jude, it’s an easy name to remember, but also not a name that you hear every day. Plus “Hey Jude” is just a fantastic song.
Will my eventual first child be named Jude? Who knows, maybe I’ll find another band to take the place of the Beatles, but I highly doubt it.
When choosing a name for your child what factors did/will you take into consideration?
Other Beatles name options that didn’t seem to fit:
Mean Mr. Mustard Rubin
Polythene Pam Rubin
Lady Madonna Rubin
Rocky Rubin (Actually, that one has a nice ring to it.)
Original birth certificates have been in the news lately, first with the release of President Obama’s and now the state of New Jersey is close to passing a bill that will allow adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates, and open their sealed files.
This is a hotly debated topic in New York as well, as according to childwelfare.org New York is currently one of 26 states along with the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico to have sealed adoption records. The website says that the other 26 states have laws that allow for adoptees to obtain their original records.
According to the website, some of the states have laws to allow adoptees to obtain their original records through:
” – Through a court order when all parties have consented
– At the request of the adult adoptee
– At the request of the adoptee unless the birth parent has filed an affidavit denying release of confidential records
– When eligibility to receive identifying information has been established with a State adoption registry
– When consents from the birth parents to release identifying information are on file”
What side are you on in this debate? Do you believe adoptees should be allowed to obtain their original birth records, which would eliminate a lot of the privacy of the birth parents? Or do you believe the privacy of the birth family should be protected?
Since the Adoption STAR Blog started about one month ago, we have told many birth parent and adoptive parent stories. Today we will be telling the adoption story of an adoptee.
Christian, who is African American, was born in 1974 and his 17-year old birth mother, who is Caucasian, parented him for 11 months before he was placed into foster care. Christian said that his mother was given one year to get her life in order, or he would be placed for adoption. After that one year, Christian’s mother decided it was in his best interest to be adopted, and he always wanted to tell his birth mother how grateful he was to her for making that difficult decision.
Christian spent two years in the foster care system, and lived in four foster homes before being adopted by a Caucasian family who already had a biological son. Christian said his parents had considered adoption before even getting married, and following a few miscarriages decided adoption was the right path for them.
Because he was 11 months old when he entered the foster care system, Christian came to his parents with his birth mother’s last name, which was helpful when he decided he was finally ready to attempt a search for his birth family. His parents were always open about helping him connect with his birth family, but it wasn’t until 2006 that he was ready.
“I think my parents were so open about searching for my birth family because they had two biological children, and understood the importance of my biological family,” Christian said.
Unfortunately, when Christian began his search in 2006, he soon found his birth mother had passed away in 2005. While he was disappointed, Christian was able to find his birth mother’s parents, and he contacted them by phone. Christian said they were so happy to hear from him, and said they had prayed for him throughout the years.
Christian said that his concern throughout the search process was how he would be accepted, because it may not have been the best time in the family’s history to have their white teenager give birth to an African American child.
“I was unprepared to how open and loving my birth family was when we finally met,” Christian said.
Not only were his concerns unwarranted, Christian now celebrates many holidays with his birth family because his parents and brothers are often out of town.
After having a successful search experience, Christian felt he wanted to help other adult adoptees, so in association with Adoption STAR he started A.C.E (Adoptee Circle of Experience.) A.C.E. is a support group for adult adoptees, ages 18 and up.
Christian is currently enlisted in the Air Force International Squad and enjoys spending time with all of his family members.
The adoption profile book is a very important aspect to the adoption process. It allows the expectant parents to get a glimpse into the world of potential forever families for their child. It’s important that your profile stand out in one way or the other and to let your creative juices flow.
We have had families showcase their pets, or their love of nature or music, along with any other activity you can possibly think of. One way to make sure your profile is beautiful and creative is to have fantastic photos. This blog post from adoption.com shows how important a great cover photo can be.
While we’re certainly not saying that you need to go out and hire a professional photographer for your profile, it is important that you take the time to create a profile book that accentuates the positives of your family. Showcase your personalities, use your favorite colors, and make a book that is distinctly yours, and have faith that there is a birth family that will connect with your photos and words.
While we ask for 5 copies of your profile book, so that we have copies to submit to expectant parents, we recommend that you allow friends, family or your adoption STAR Family Advocate to review the book before you make copies. This will help eliminate any errors or identifying information that you may have accidentally overlooked.
If you are also interested in creating an online profile for Adoption STAR, please visit the Family Albums section of our website for more information.
If you are a birth mother, who would be interested in sharing their thoughts, we would be very interested in hearing how you chose a profile. We’d also love to hear from adoptive families and potential adoptive families about their experiences with profile books.
© Michele Fried, Adoption STAR
Today the use of social media is the “norm.” However it is a new forum for those who are touched by adoption… allowing us to “find” each other on social media sites and stay in touch can provide both positive and challenging experiences. Before using social media as part of your adoption journey it is important that you educate yourself on the pros and cons of such a venture. Contact your adoption agency to see if they have a policy on the use of social media.
The recommendations below are broken up into four sections. The first deals with things to consider before you decide to conduct your adoption search via the Internet and social media sites, the second focuses on developing a plan for post adoption contact that addresses whether or not all involved feel comfortable with social media as a way to connect. The third section provides recommendations for those parenting older adoptees and the fourth section shares general recommendations for all parties. This document was prepared to address both the adoptive family and the birth family.
The Internet and social media sites are definitely incredible ways for prospective adoptive parents and expectant birth parents to connect with each other. In addition these same venues enables all parties to keep in touch if you “mutually select to do so.” This is the key. Do all parties feel comfortable with staying connected by way of social media? Have all parties discussed this between themselves before the connection occurs?
I. Guidelines for Prospective Adoptive Parents and Expectant Birth Parents who wish to “find” each other online:
1. Before you begin searching for information online share your plans regarding making connections with an adoptive family or birth family on social networking sites with your partner, if applicable. It is important that he or she be as interested in selecting this as a viable way to make an adoption plan.
2. Discuss your plans with your adoption agency representative. The agency has both professional and personal experience with adoption journeys via the World Wide Web and is able to educate you and support you through the process as well as help you navigate through potentially risky situations.
3. If you are a current social media user, before delving into your adoption journey, you need to rethink the ways you use social media sites. Do you currently share your confidential information on your profile? What type of posts do you typically make during the week? What type of political or humorous statements or links do you tend to post? If someone searched for you, and they are not currently an online friend of yours, what might they see on your site? Recognize that you may wish to utilize these social media sites differently than you have been.
4. If you are not currently a social media user or not a frequent user, then become very familiar with these sites and forums before you utilize them to begin your adoption journey. There are many features that should be understood regarding the different ways to communicate. Some communication is deemed private or public and often users become confused by which method they are using. Become very familiar with the privacy settings on each social media site and be aware that these sites often change setting options.
5. Social media sites allow for immediate communication between parties, sometimes such communication may be exciting at first but can also be misinterpreted or unwanted or overwhelming. To really get to know each other, it is recommended to rely on other forms of communication. Utilize the agency as a place to meet each other, or arrange a telephone call or restaurant meeting. It is important to still value personal contact.
6. E-mail communication while still an e-connection is a bit more private and personal. Email addresses can be set up just for this type of communication.
7. Consider the use of private websites and blogs before engaging in adoption searches via social media sites.
8. Once you are “matched” (whether it be via a social media connection or another more traditional way) be careful about sharing the news on a public forum because a match is not an adoption until after a placement occurs. Also the comments replying to your announcement are available for others to read and you may feel comfortable or uncomfortable with such comments.
9. Be careful to not share information about the adoptive/birth family particularly on public posts. This is important because this will ultimately become your child’s story and once it is viral, it is no longer private and no longer your child’s story to learn about from you as s/he grows.
10. Sharing photos and videos is a really neat part of the social networking platform. Be aware who will be privy to viewing these and perhaps revisit your privacy settings or share these items more selectively. Sharing photos is something for all parents to consider, not just adoptive parents and birth parents. If you are not comfortable sharing photos publically of your children than choose to send these via other online sites through private invitation only. Sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Kodak Gallery, etc., make it easy to upload and selectively share photos. Of course you can also email and mail photos as well. Hard copy photos are still an incredible gift to share with one another and may very well be a part of the requirement set up by your adoption agency and the parties involved in the adoption.
If you would like to read the rest of Adoption STAR’s social media recommendations as it relates to adoption, please visit the Adoption STAR website.
Two weeks ago I wrote a short post about the PBS Documentary “Off and Running,” which the adoption STAR staff watched at a staff training dinner. At the time I was hesitant to write about my opinions on the movie because I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to form their own thoughts. The two weeks also gave me the time to speak with different members of the staff, many of whom had differing opinions than I.
Most of the opinions revolved around Avery’s parents, who were the two polarizing characters of the documentary. Before we go any further, I’ll give a quick recap of “Off and Running” to catch everyone up:
The story follows 17-year-old Avery, who is the daughter of two white Jewish women who are raising three children of different races. Avery, who is African American, wants to meet her birth mother and is searching for answers about her past as well as her future. The ironic aspect of the movie is that her search for her birth parents, pushes her further away from the family that raised and loved her, for her entire life.
Now that we’re all caught up on the plot of the documentary, I’d like to take a few minutes to speak about the two mothers. The clip below is an extended preview of the documentary, and it includes parts of the two moments of the movie that made me cringe.
If you watched the video you will hear one of Avery’s mothers say “She was home one night this week, and that was the last we heard from her.”
Personally, I was shocked when I heard this. My thoughts immediately went to my own parents, and I know that if I didn’t come home one night while I was in high school, my parents would have been knocking down every door they knew, and probably would have filed a missing person’s report that night. Maybe that would have been an overreaction, and in fact there were some staff members who watched the movie who applauded the parents for giving Avery her space. I am not a parent and the reactions in the large staff training were emotional. One social worker who is parenting three young children said she wanted to have all of her children physically tied to her. Another social worker who is also parenting young children and counseling teenagers daily was disappointed in some of the reactions saying she wished more parents were like Avery’s parents. Another staff member shared that she took both paths. One, years ago where she was “out on the streets, making calls, panicking and looking for her teen son” and then years later experiencing a similar situation with another child, she is still overwhelmed but has chosen to allow that child more space feeling that this is the healthier reaction. As you can see, our personal and professional experiences play a big role in our reactions to new events.
Another discussion between the staff was whether or not Avery’s parents embraced her culture. I felt that Avery’s parents did not seem interested in embracing Avery’s African American culture. Avery admitted in one scene that she did not know what it meant to be African American. Other staff members felt her parents did try hard to have Avery connected to her culture.
One thing we did all agree on was that during the film one of Avery’s mothers says, “it’s like something really traumatic happened to her, but I don’t think it did.” I believe my jaw dropped to the ground the moment that I heard this quote. Every teenager goes through events that feel life altering at the moment, and I’m sure that a child who was transracially adopted and has no connections to their birth family would feel these emotions even stronger. I couldn’t believe that Avery’s mother couldn’t see that Avery was calling out for help, and that she was struggling with some very personal issues. There is no doubt that Avery was loved by her parents and brothers, but I just felt that she was not understood by any of them, which was very difficult to watch.
Another area of agreement, and one I believe I mentioned in my first post, is that “Off and Running” makes you really think about how an open adoption may have prevented some of the turmoil Avery experienced. If Avery had known about her birth family growing up, I don’t believe she would have had the pressure and anxiety of attempting to find herself at 17.
Luckily for everyone involved, this true-life story seemed to have a happy ending as Avery reconciled with her parents and brothers and started to go to therapy. The messages within this film are extremely powerful. It is a film that should be viewed by all parents as well as teens and young adults including those not touched by adoption or interracial experiences. The film has the ability to connect with all of us no matter what our personal or professional experiences have been.
Good Morning everyone! I hope everyone has something fun planned for the weekend.
We’ve been hearing a lot about all of the hurtles surrounding international adoption, and the treatment of the children in the orphanages lately, but here is a story of two identical twins who were adopted from Russia at two years old, and recently went back to Russia with their parents for a high school graduation gift.
The twins, Jennifer and Jessica, even visited the orphanage they lived in 16 years ago and met the woman who worked in the orphanage and took care of them.
The AP article said that there are over 250,000 children in Russian orphanages and “as many as 80 percent of Russian orphans end up in jail, become drug abusers or turn to prostitution or other crime.” As the number of Russian orphans continues to grow, the number of American adoptions of Russian children continues to decrease.
The article stated that according to the US State’s Department’s Bureau for Consular Affairs, there were 5,826 US adoptions of Russian children in 2004. This number decreased rapidly to 1,586 in 2009 and than to 1,079 in 2010.