Realizing you are unexpectedly pregnant can be a scary and overwhelming experience. There are many thoughts and ideas running through your head along with fear. It’s always good to know all of your options and this blog post is going to take you through 10 helpful steps of the adoption process.
The Adoption STAR website has a full page devoted to these steps, so I’m going to synopsize each step, and if you are interested in learning more, please visit the full version on the Adoption STAR website.
All expectant parents who work with Adoption STAR are eligible for all of the services we provide, free of charge, whether or not you make an adoption plan.
- Free counseling
- Help with medical bills and other pregnancy related expenses
- The ability to speak with other birth parents and/or adoptees to learn about their personal experiences
- Invitations to participate in our support groups.
- 24/7 availability, etc., etc.
Step 1: Making the First Contact With Adoption STAR: There are several ways to privately contact Adoption STAR. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out an information request form. If you feel more comfortable on the phone you can call Adoption STAR at 1-866-691-3300. You will also be provided with a counselor’s cell number should you wish to call her via cell or text each other at your convenience.
Adoption STAR counselors are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and your contact will remain strictly confidential. It is important to learn about all of your options during your pregnancy so that you have the resources possible to make the best decision for both you and your child.
Step 2: Initial Appointment (If desired): The Adoption STAR staff will work to meet all of your needs with this initial meeting. You can meet with our birth parent specialist at your home, the Adoption STAR offices or another location if you so choose. If you are not ready to meet in person, we can set up a meeting by phone, email or regular mail.
Step 3: Informational Packet and Application: By filling out and returning the application form that Adoption STAR will mail to you, you are not committing to placing your baby for adoption. Instead you are agreeing to learn more about the adoption process and may withdraw at any time.
You can return the application by mail or in-person at an upcoming appointment.
Step 4: Explore all of your options: Your adoption counselor will meet with you. Their role will be to learn about your specific situation so that she can help you receive the help and support you will need during your pregnancy.
Your counselor will also help you go through all of your options, including, but not limited to parenting
Step 5 – Explore Adoption With An Adoption STAR Counselor: You will be introduced to the many different types of adoptions and options within the adoption process so that if you decide to make an adoption plan, you will be able to tailor a plan to meet yours and your baby’s best needs.
Step 6 – Creating an Adoption Plan: We strongly encourage you to select your baby’s parents, and your adoption counselor will work with you to go over your preferences for an adoptive family.
Step 7 – Creating a Birth Plan: Your birth plan is typically a written document prepared by you with the help of your adoption counselor. The Birth plan is then provided to the hospital and obstetrician prior to your due date.
One item that is important to include in the birth plan is who will be your support person for labor and delivery. Here is an example of what your birth plan may look like.
Step 8 – When the Baby is Born: You will be feeling many different emotions at this time, and that is completely normal. Your counselor will do her best to prepare you ahead of time for what to expect.
Step 9 – Placement Day: As long as you are still comfortable with your adoption plan it would be at this time that you would place baby with adoptive family. You can choose to be present at the time the adoptive parents receive the child or you can select not to be present.
Step 10 – Post Adoption Support: Over the next weeks and months you will feel a range of varying emotions and it is recommended that you permit your adoption counselor to stay in touch with you after placement. Participating in one-on-one, small group and support group counseling and activities is truly important.
You asked and we answered. We receive emails on a regular basis from people touched by adoption, asking us to write about different adoption-related topics.
Recently the staff of Adoption STAR tackled these six questions.
- “Educating high school kids about the benefits of adoption vs. keeping the child at such a young age. As your child grows, how would you handle this topic?” – Adoption STAR family advocate, Lisa Geiger, wrote about a conversation she had with her 16-year-old daughter about teenage pregnancy and adoption.
- “How do you separate the joy of your new arrival while dealing with the grief on the birth parents side? Particularly in very open adoptions where a close relationship has been established.” – Adoption STAR CEO and Founder, Michele Fried, tackled this topic with a blog post about dealing with these emotions, including a personal anecdote.
- “How to address adoption with grandparents – (as a birth parent as well as an adoptive parent)” – Michele also wrote a blog post with advice on how to speak to and educate your parents (potential grandparents) about adoption.
- “How do you handle a situation when one of your children has an open adoption and the other has a closed?” – Adoption STAR Intake Specialist, Zack Fried, wrote a blog post about how he and his brothers and sisters deal with this exact situation.
- “How do you address adoption with other siblings?” – Adoption STAR Ohio Program Director, Angela Laman, write a blog post giving advice on how to speak to your other children, as a birth parent, about adoption.
- “Attending several meetings on behalf of parents whom are adopting, they have the biggest concerns of having the portfolio they create be one that is inviting.” – Adoption STAR E-Marketing Coordinator, Alex Rubin, spoke with two birth mother’s about what they were attracted to when they were going through profile books.
We are always looking for more topics to blog about, if you have any questions you would like answered on the blog, please send your questions to Alex Rubin at email@example.com.
Happy Thursday everyone!
The Washington Times recently did an interview with Dr. Jane Aronson, who is renowned for her work in adoption medicine and is the founder of Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO), which works with orphans and communities in third world and developing countries.
We have mentioned in previous posts that the number of international adoptions by US parents has dropped steadily since 2004, but Aronson and WWO are looking at other options to help these children. http://adoptionstar.com/child-placement/international/
Aronson said she would like to see funding in these communities that would allow for other care options besides orphanages. She also believes many of these children can be helped just by being engaged. In the article, Aronson said that that these children need to be exposed to “medical care, education, art, music (and) athletics.”
One idea that Aronson and WWO are working on is the “granny model, where orphaned children are placed with older women, who can help raise them.” This seems like an interesting option to help many of these children. It may not be a forever family, but the idea seems to be that these children would receive one-on-one attention and feel the love of a parental figure.
If you are considering international adoption, Adoption STAR has programs in Hungary and Bulgaria. The Adoption STAR website also has a section devoted to helping you choose between domestic and international adoption.
The adoption journey is shared in many ways whether it is by book, song, film, poetry or other creative outlet. The highs and lows for all members of the journey allow for a lot of interesting, heartfelt and informative material to be created. Today we will be sharing a poem entitled “The Legacy of an Adopted Child” by an unknown author.
Legacy of an Adopted Child
Once there were two women who never knew each other,
One you do not remember — the other you call Mother.
Two different lives shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star — the other became your sun.
The first gave you life and the second
Taught you to live in it.
The first gave you a need for love
And the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality; the other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent; the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions; the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile; the other dried your tears.
One gave you up
It was all that she could do.
The other prayed for a child
And God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me through your tears
The age old question through the years:
Heredity or Environment –
Which are you the product of?
Neither my darling, neither –
Just two different kinds of love.
If you have written an adoption poem or have a favorite one that you have read, please share it in the comments for everyone to enjoy, or you can send the poems to Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have covered the Adoption tax credit in detail on this blog before, so this is more of a refresher for those that need more information on the adoption tax credit.
NJ Today recently published this article which highlights six important aspects for adoptive parents to remember about the adoption tax credit.
As Adoption STAR mentioned in past blog posts, if you adopted in 2010 or 2011 you can be credited as much as $13,170 from “qualified adoption expenses.” The article defines qualified adoption expenses as “reasonable and necessary expenses directly related to the legal adoption of the child who is under 18 years old, or physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself or herself.” According to the article, these expenses can be adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel expenses.
Many adoptive parents have filed for this tax credit and have been waiting for their claim, and this is because the IRS is reviewing all of the cases to “safeguard against improper claims” according to the article. However, if you are expecting a refund for more than the adoption credit, you will receive this part of your refund while your adoption tax credit application is being reviewed.
For more information on the Adoption tax credit speak to your Adoption STAR family advocate as well as a tax professional.
As adoptive parents your adoption experience does not end after the placement of your child, in fact it is just beginning. As a parent you will grow from each experience with your child. Parenting itself can be a challenging experience, when adding adoption issues, parents and children will have plenty of challenging experiences along their journey. By receiving post adoption education you can make your family’s journey a more positive experience.
Below is a list of many of the post adoption education classes and workshops offered by Adoption STAR. If you would like more information on these classes, visit the adoption education page on the Adoption STAR website and email email@example.com.
Post Adoption Education Classes:
- Raising the Adopted Child – How to talk to your child about adoption and much more.
- Financial Planning For The Adoptive Family – Facilitated by adoptive parents with experience in the financial field. Learn more about the adoption tax credit, etc.
- African American Hair and Skin Care Classes – Facilitated by hair care professionals; class is geared to parents raising Black and Biracial children.
- Transracial Adoption Panel – Members of the adoption triad will discuss questions and share experiences regarding transracial and transcultural adoption.
- Growing in Your Transracial Adoption – How to grow a healthy transracial family in our society.
- Growing in Your Open Adoption – Focuses on developing a positive relationship over time with your child’s birth family.
- Growing in Your Adoption of a Child with Special Needs – Learn how to navigate the special needs system and learn from a panel of special needs professionals and parents of children with special needs.
- What We Have Learned So Far: Panel of Adoptive Parents of School-Age Children Speak to New and Waiting Adoptive Parents –Find out how adoption has changed the lives of fellow adoptive parents and take the opportunity to learn from them and ask questions.
- Raising An Only Child. Should We Or Shouldn’t We? – The panel on this workshop will consist of parents who believe in the positives of raising one child as well as parents who chose to raise more than one child.
- Telling Your Child Their Birth Story – Learn how to share your child’s birth and adoption story with them.
“I Have Roots and Branches” provides a detailed and personal window into the lives of people who have been touched by adoption; it focuses on the lives of twelve people including adoptees of all ages, adoption lawyers and birth parents. The film begins by introducing the adoptees while they participate in their favorite activities as well as engaging in traditions and everyday activities with their families. In fact, for the first part of the film, a viewer may not know these people were adopted, or why they are connected. I believe that it was director Flory Herman’s intention to show that adoption has touched more lives than we are aware of. This does a lot to address any unease that someone who is new to adoption might experience.
Against this background are monologues and interview segments depicting each perspective on the adoption process and its outcome. The film examines the emotions related to adoption, such as the curiosity of an adopted child about their background and biological parents. The film also addresses how a child will often times feel love and appreciation for their birth parent because they gave them the opportunity for a better life than they felt they could provide at the time.
A reflection given by birth mother Joann, who made an adoption plan as a nineteen year-old college student, brings clarity to the potentially confusing mix of feelings involved in the decision to make an adoption plan. She said that there is a difference between what she gave her child and what his adoptive family gave him: she carried him, gave him life, and he is a piece of her, but that his adoptive family loves him as their child, and his place in the family is undeniably secure. She said that “[she] wanted him to have the life that [she] couldn’t create for him”.
“I Have Roots and Branches” is available in the Adoption STAR video library and serves as an excellent introduction to the adoption journey for those considering adoption as well as the people in their lives.
For those who have not seen our new staff bio pages, we have recently added introduction videos for the staff members. I’d like to take the opportunity over the next few weeks to feature a different staff member on the blog.
This week’s featured staff member is Alex Rubin, who is the E-Marketing Coordinator at Adoption STAR.
Favorite TV show/movie: “Growing up my favorite TV show was Boy Meets World, and the show still holds up today. I Also loved Scrubs. As for movies, more recent films that I really liked were “Social Network” and “Dark Knight.” I have seen “Cool Runnings” and “D2″ more times than I care to count.”
Favorite band/artist growing up: “Growing up and today, my favorite band is The Beatles. I really liked Dave Matthews Band, Blink 182, Green Day, and Bush when I was growing up.”
Favorite band/artist today: “As I said above, The Beatles will always be number one. Today, I also really enjoy Mumford and Sons, Jason Mraz, The Killers and Muse and much more!”
Favorite aspect of working in the adoption field: “My favorite part of working in adoption, and especially working at Adoption STAR, is all of the great people that I meet, speak to, and work with on a daily basis.”
Sunday was the first day that gay and lesbian couples could legally marry in New York State, and the New York Times profiled four families who were looking forward to becoming a legal family in the eyes of New York State. The common thread in the four families profiled, was that they all had children, and in some way were getting married for their children.
Adoption STAR CEO and Founder, Michele Fried, touched on this topic a few weeks ago in a blog post. Michele made the point that the new marriage laws may not have a legal affect on adoption in New York State because gay and lesbian couples were allowed to adopt together in New York, despite not being married. While it may not have a lot of legal effects, Michele made a point of saying that it could have a large effect emotionally, saying that “what it does mean is that gay couples, though already legally able to adopt together in NYS, can now be legally bonded together, providing a safer, more secure forever family for a child.”
The families profiled in the New York Times article made the same point, saying that though they already felt as if they were married, marrying each other will create an even stronger family bond, especially for their children. One couple, Sarah Ellis and Kristen Henderson, said it best when Henderson told the New York Times that ““We feel like we’re marrying the kids. They are both hyphenated, Ellis-Henderson, and when we get married we’re going to do that, too. We’re taking our kids’ names.”
Another couple, Douglas Robinson and Michael Elasser, have two sons in their 20′s, and they are looking forward to their sons giving the toasts at their wedding celebration. Robinson and Elasser said that their sons have busy schedules and will have to travel for the celebration, however they will all be together for the wedding. “We are working the wedding around the kids,” Robinson said.
This is going to be a quick post, but I just wanted to remind all of our adoptive families, as well as Adoption STAR prospective adoptive parents, that the Adoption STAR Adoptive Family Picnic will take place Sunday, August 7, at Ellicott Creek Park, shelters 10A and 10B. The picnic will go from 1pm-4pm and promises to be fun for all attendees.
If you have attended the picnic in past years, please share your favorite aspects of the event in the comments section. If you would like to share your experiences with the picnic for a blog post, please email Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like more information on the event, or would like to RSVP, please call us at (716)639-3900 or email email@example.com. We look forward to seeing all of our families on August 7!