2011 was a big year in the adoption field in general and Adoption STAR specifically. With another year closing and a lot to look forward to in 2012, we thought we’d look back at some of the biggest adoption stories of 2011.
At Adoption STAR we were blessed to see the placement of two sets of twins in 2011. We also expanded our Internet presence in 2011, updating our website with a new agency blog and grew our Facebook and Twitter communities.
During “National Adoption Month” in November, Adoption STAR held many great events and seminars. These included our Annual Shining STAR Fundraiser, which supports our Special Needs Adoption Program and our Hair and Skin Care Class. We also held our Birth Mother’s Day party in May, our Adoptive Family Summer Picnic in August and Birth Family Holiday Party in December.
2011 was the year the media picked up on social media’s effects on adoption and adoption reunions.
Social Media can be a great tool in the adoption journey, however there are also challenges with having public profiles that anyone can view. In May, Adoption STAR released its official recommendations on how to have a “healthy and ongoing” relationship via social media as a birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee.
The Adoption Tax Credit was also a big story in 2011. The Tax Credit for adoptions finalized by December 31, 2011 increased to a maximum of $13,360, and for the second consecutive year, was a refundable credit. This means if your credit is more then what you owe in taxes, you will receive the rest as a cash-back. This will change for adoptions finalized in 2012 as the credit maximum will reduce to $12,650 and become non-refundable.
The other part of the Adoption Tax Credit story in 2011 was the delay that several adoptive parents waited to receive their credit. Some of these delays were due to errors by the I.R.S., and in a recent post on the Adoption STAR blog we focused on LGBTQ couples who were incorrectly denied their tax credit.
2011 saw the continuation of a trend in the declining number of international adoptions in the US. According to a report by the US Department of State, only 9,320 children were adopted in the US from foreign countries, which was a 15 percent decrease from 2010. These numbers have been declining since 2004 when over 22,000 foreign children were adopted in the US. The drop in international adoptions correlates with the increase in scandalous and fraudulent behavior in several countries, including China, where there are several reports of child trafficking.
New York State’s most controversial legal decision in 2011 was its legalization of same sex marriages. However, this did not have a radical effect on LGBTQ adoptions in the state, because New York State already allowed both partners in a same-sex couple to adopt a child. The biggest legal action in NYS in 2011 regarding adoption, was allowing newlywed couples to adopt. This amendment reversed a law that prohibited married couples from adopting during their first year of marriage. The reasoning for the amendment was that applicants do not need to be married in order to adopt, so the law was restricting newlyweds who could have adopted if they remained unmarried.
- One of the biggest overall news stories of 2011 was the death of Apple Founder, Steve Jobs. During Jobs’ reign as CEO, Apple became one of the most innovative and popular companies in the world. Jobs was adopted at birth and his death led many people to think about the prospects of “nature vs. nurture” and what Jobs would have become if he had not been placed for adoption. Obviously, this is a question that will forever be unanswered, but it is an interesting topic nonetheless.
- What do you think were the biggest adoption news stories in 2011?
- Stay tuned for future posts on what to expect in 2012 or visit us online to view our 2012 calendar of events. and see how you can become more involved with adoption in the New Year!
This post was written by Adoption STAR CEO and Founder, Michele Fried
While checking out at a local retail store, the cashier noticed an Adoption STAR envelope with the purchaser. She asked, “Do you work at Adoption STAR?” To which the woman with the envelope responded, “Yes, how did you know?” The cashier stated, “I noticed the envelope and am so excited to meet you.” The cashier began to excitedly share that she is a client with Adoption STAR and that she is a Birth Mother. She went on even while the checkout line grew, proudly sharing that she loves Adoption STAR and that she and the adoptive family connect often via E-Mail and Skype. She spoke about the agency staff and how important the agency still is to her today.
I was at a party just the other day and met a woman who works at a local bank and when she learned I worked at Adoption STAR she said, “There is a woman who comes into our bank and always tells me about her two children she adopted from Adoption STAR!”
And then there was the visit of a young adoptee who just about ten years ago met her adoptive parents for the first time and journeyed back to the sites and places where she first began. She met with me in the office where her parents and I shared the story of her birth mother contacting the agency and selecting her parents, “the call” to let them know they were selected and “placement day.” Though these stories were ones she heard before, it began to develop a new meaning by visiting “her” adoption agency.
These three stories are not uncommon for Adoption STAR. We are blessed every day with the ability to touch the lives of birth families, adoptive families and adoptees. My favorite phrase is being “touched by adoption.” And if you are, then you know how powerful and meaningful that phrase is.
In order to continue touching others ~ we ask that during this “season of giving” that you will remember Adoption STAR with a tax-deductible donation. Financial gifts like yours help support the good work Adoption STAR does. Without your support, we would not be able to provide the services that are so needed. You may send us a check made out to Adoption STAR or you may visit us online to make a donation
To date we have assisted in over 500 adoptions and this March we will celebrate our 12th birthday. These milestones are due to the commitment we have to our core values, vision and mission statement and because of the donations we receive.
Our Core Values to provide education, counseling, support, and advocacy supply the foundation on which our mission is built, they shape the way we pursue our vision, and underpin the way Adoption STAR interacts with our clients and the community.
Our Vision builds upon Adoption STAR’s strengths of offering ongoing support services to ALL birth and adoptive families. As an Agency of dedicated staff we strive to ensure that clients receive a consistent and high standard of care and service. We work to expand and advance our support programs throughout every stage of the adoption journey. In addition, the Agency advocates for equality and fair treatment for all parties involved in adoption.
Our Mission is clear: The Agency takes a strong stand on adoption education and believes no one can make a decision to adopt or place a child for adoption without fully educating themselves on adoption and its many options. Adoption STAR is an agency committed to the best interests of children and will offer all birth families regardless of race, health, circumstances, or disability, the option of adoption for their child. Adoption STAR is an agency dedicated to maintaining connections between adoptive families and birth families and offers education and support with an adoption plan.
Best wishes for a very Happy and Healthy New Year and thank you for remembering Adoption STAR.
The founder of Kwanzaa, Maulana Karenga, will be celebrating the holiday in Buffalo this year. He is the keynote speaker on Friday evening at a celebration held at the Buffalo Museum of Science.
Samuel L. Radford III, who is the chairman of the Buffalo celebration, said in a Buffalo News article that Karenga has attended the Buffalo celebration on almost a yearly basis.
“Buffalo has one of the largest Kwanzaa celebrations in the country, so Dr. Karenga honors that by making the commitment every year,” Radford said.
Radford also said that Buffalo celebrates Kwanzaa for all seven days unlike other cities that may have larger celebrations, but only do-so for one night. Radford attributed Buffalo’s traditional celebration to why Karenga attends the Buffalo event every year.
According to an article on History.com, the term Kwanzaa is based on the Swahili term “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits.”
The seven days of Kwanza each have their own principle, and today (Wednesday) is the third day of Kwanza, which is Ujima or “collective work and responsibility.” According to the History.com article, this principle is meant to build or maintain our community together and our brothers and sisters problems are our problems and we work to solve them together.
This fits well with many of the beliefs and goals of the Adoption STAR agency. At Adoption STAR we work together with birth families and adoptive families to find loving forever families for all of our children. We also offer education and support to all of our clients to help them through their most challenging moments whether it is deciding whether to place a child, grieving their infertility, or any other situation that may arise.
One of our many goals in 2012 is to increase volunteerism and client and community involvement. As the principle says, we wish to “build or maintain our community together.”
According to the History.com article, the other six principles of Kwanzaa are:
Day 1 – “Umoja” or “Unity”
Day 2 – “Kujichagulla” or “self-determination
Day 4 – “Ujamaa” or “Cooperative Economics”
Day 5 – “Nia” or “Purpose”
Day 6 – “Kuumba” or “Creativity”
Day 7 – “Imani” or “Faith”
The Buffalo News article said that Kwanzaa is a “nonreligious” holiday, and the History.com article echoes this by stating that the holiday gives leeway for each family to celebrate in their own way. Many Kwanzaa celebrations will include “songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading and a large traditional meal.” Families will light a candle for each night of the holiday while discussing that night’s principle.
Buffalo will be celebrating day three of Kwanzaa tonight at the Frank E. Meriweather Jr. Library, which is located at 1324 Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. Author Queen Afua, who wrote “Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind and Spirit” will be the keynote speaker, which will be followed by a dance.
For more information on other events during Buffalo’s celebration of Kwanzaa, please click here.
Kwanzaa Celebrations in other areas:
The city of Rochester is also celebrating all seven days of Kwanzaa. Wednesday’s celebration will take place at the North Street Recreation Center, 700 North Street, from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm. For more information on this celebration the website says to contact the Kwanzaa hotline at (585)436-6453. For more information, please click here.
The Southwest Community Center, 401 South Avenue, will be hosting a Kwanzaa celebration on each of the seven nights. Each night begins at 6 pm and will culminate on January 1st with Kwanzaa Fest where there will be “dinner, dancing and music.” For more information, please click here.
There will be a Kwanzaa celebration at the Shenendowa Methodist Church, in Clifton Park on Wednesday. According to the Albany Times Union, Kim and Reggie Harris will be providing musical entertainment. Please click here.
New York City
There are many Kwanzaa celebrations throughout the week in New York City. For more information on a celebration close to you, please click here.
The New Harvest Cafe and Urban Arts Center, 1675 Arlington Avenue, NE Columbus, OH, will be hosting a “Kwanzaa Celebration of Creativity (Kummba)” on Saturday, December 31, from 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm. For more information on the event, please click here.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
The African American Research Library and Cultural Center, 2650 Sistrunk Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, will be hosting a Kwanzaa celebration on Wednesday from 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm. The event will include steel drumming, a panel discussion, dance drama and poetry. For more information on this event and others during the week, please click here.
Add the Columbus, OH info if there is no Cincinnati info
To read the full history.com article on Kwanzaa, please click here.
There is less then a week left in 2011 and many people are thinking about their resolutions for 2012.
At Adoption STAR, we are counting on you to make a resolution this year to get (more) involved with the agency. We are making it easy for you be sharing a list of some of the Adoption STAR committees that need your help.
One committee not listed in the above PDF is the annual Summer Picnic committee, and that may be something you wish to volunteer for as well.
Please send back the downloadable form above, by either scanning it and emailing it to Michele Fried or faxing it to her attention at (716)639-3700. You may also mail it the old fashioned way to our Williamsville office at 47 Plaza Dr, Williamsville, NY 14221.
You do not need to live near any of our office locations to join a committee! There are so many creative ways to get involved, so fill out the form and return it this week!
As far as heartwarming stories go, this is a pretty good one.
KMBC.com in Missouri, recently did a story on Jeff Quibell, who was adopted at birth by Don and Trudy Quibell. The interesting aspect of this adoption was that Quibell’s parents told him about his adoption journey from day one and were very open about all of the information they knew about his birth family. This was far from the norm when Quibell was adopted, in 1958, as many adoptions were shrouded in secrecy.
The video report said that while Jeff Quibell knew he was adopted he had no interest in searching for his birth family, “because he saw his adoptive parents, Don and Trudy, as mom and dad.” When Jeff was 40 years old, his doctor told him he needed his family’s medical history, which began a four-year search for his birth family. Finally, after four years, Jeff found his birth mother, Ann Padmos.
They formed a relationship quickly, and (this is where the heartwarming holiday aspect of this blog post comes in) spent Christmas together that year, where Ann presented Jeff with 44 ornaments, one for each year since he had been born. Padmos said that she had bought an ornament every year for Christmas in honor of the son she never knew and hung it on her tree.
The report said that Jeff and his birth mother speak regularly on the phone and that his birth mother has become good friends with Jeff’s adoptive parents Don and Trudy.
Don and Trudy Quibell deserve a lot of credit in this story for being so open about Jeff’s adoption journey and being supportive during his search for his birth parents. That they have now welcomed her into their family, surely makes everyone feel more comfortable with their relationships.
What makes a parent? Unconditional love and support of your children is the easy answer. Patience is for certain. But what about the law?
In most situations in order to be considered a parent by law, the child must be biologically yours or you must have legally adopted him/her. That definition of parent is changing however as more former live-in boyfriends and girlfriends are granted custody/partial custody of their ex-partners children.
In an article in the Sacramento Bee, attorney Deborah Wald said that “the courts are starting to look at parentage issues from a child’s perspective, which is a very big shift. Before, children were treated more like property. Now the courts are starting to ask, ‘Who do these children think their parents are?’ It’s a child-centered approach that relies on looking at behavior. Courts aren’t willing to take children away from people whom they rely upon.”
Recently we wrote a blog post on the “Changing View of the Traditional American Family,” and, according to the Sacramento Bee article, a court in California recently ruled that a “woman who never adopted her ex-girlfriend’s children was nevertheless their parent because she acted like one.” The article said that the court considered “acting like a parent” “providing for (the kids) financially, cleaning up after them when they got sick, and volunteering at their school.”
While this situation revolves around a same-sex couple, that is not always the case. The article said that courts began looking at parental relationships differently after a 2002 case that saw a woman’s former live-in-boyfriend granted custody of her child because, though he admitted he was not the child’s biological father, because “he had acted as his father since birth.”
Single parents often receive help raising their children from friends and family members, as well as current boyfriends/girlfriends, however attorney Elizabeth Niemi said in the article that “If you are a single parent, and there’s not another parent somewhere, you have to be careful about who you allow to have a relationship with your kids.”
What are your thoughts on the “re-definition of parenting?”
Tomorrow (Wednesday, December 21) at 8:00 pm, CBS will be airing a one-hour TV special “A Home For The Holidays” that will support Foster Care Adoption.
According to an article on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption website, “A Home For the Holidays” will share “stories of foster care adoption and feature performances from some of America’s most popular musical artists.”
The article said that performers will include:
- Justin Bieber
- Mary J. Blige
- Gavin DeGraw
- Martina McBride
- Christina Perri
Hosts for the show, according to the article, will be “Katherine Heigl, her sister Meg Heigl-Beltran, Denise Richards and Jillian Michaels.”
This post was written by Adoption STAR CEO and Founder, Michele Fried.
“Welcome to Holland,” was written by Emily Pearl Kingsley many years ago in an effort to assist people who have learned the child they are parenting has a disability. Though the poem focused on the topic of coming to view raising a child with a disability in a new light, the adapted poem below focuses on infertility and the unexpected feelings it brings and how adoption may end up being a richer and more rewarding path.
When you’re planning to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day still has not arrived. You re-examine your itinerary and it says you are supposed to go to Italy. Several more months go by and still your trip is delayed.
You visit the travel agent again and she says, “Maybe you should consider going to Holland.”
“Holland?!” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the itinerary. You will not be going to Italy. You can choose to go to Holland however.
The important thing is that you can still take your trip – it’s just that you are going to a different place. It’s not a horrible place. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
Yes, it is a different place. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for some time you may say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that may still be with you… the loss that comes with infertility. The loss of that dream is a significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be able to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.
The winter season doesn’t have to only be about hunkering down under the blankets, even in Buffalo! IVillage.com recently published 50 activities to do with your child during the winter months. Maybe there isn’t enough time to do all 50 activities, but here is my top ten from the list. (in no particular order.)
- Color the snow outside – “Simply fill spray bottles with water and food coloring and let your mini Picassos loose all over the yard.” This is a pretty cool activity, that I definitely would have loved doing growing up….and let’s face it, I’d still love to do it today!
- Put together a 2012 Family Calendar – “Write down every month on a separate piece of paper; fold and toss in a hat, and have everyone in the fam choose a month till they’re all gone. What do they win? Each person has 100 percent control over what picture will be featured on the 2012 calendar for that month. Embrace the good, the bad, the ugly and the downright embarrassing. (Sites like KodakGallery.com and Snapfish.com will create the final product for you. You could also turn to your local photo center at Walgreens or CVS.)” Another fun activity. The picture of my younger sister with popsicle all over her face: Hello miss July!
- Winter Fun Hunt – “Make a list of all the items you want the kids to find and print copies for everyone…Next, get seasonal stickers or stamps to place next to each found item on the list as a reward.” This can be a fun activity for all ages, as the younger children and older children team up to find all of the objects on the list.
- Bake and Decorate Sugar Cookies – “Make ’em, eat ’em, decorate ’em, gift ’em. Bake way more than you could possibly eat and come up with a giant list of people who you can give them to, like the lady who bags your groceries, your kids’ teachers or your neighbors.” – Who doesn’t love sugar cookies with frosting? I’m salivating just thinking about them.
- Make Your Own Snow – “You’ll need a string, white pipe cleaners, blue food coloring, sodium borate (aka Borax — it’s in the laundry aisle), a wide-mouth jar, boiling water and a pencil.” The article also gives these specific directions on how to make snow. For me, this is the coolest item on the list. If you’re living out west, down south or anywhere that doesn’t typically receive snow during the holiday season, what a great gift this would be to give your children?
- Catalog Digital Photos From 2011 – In the age of digital cameras, many times we upload our pictures on to Facebook or Shutterfly and forget they exist. How about going through your favorite photos with your family and choosing the best pictures to make a scrapbook of the year.
- Be a Tourist in Your Own Town – “Double decker bus rides, museum visits, walking tours — who says these things are just for tourists? Pick a day to pretend you and your family are visiting from out of town and look at your city in a whole new way.” For those in Buffalo activities can include the Albright Knox Art Museum, outdoor ice skating at Rotary Rink in Downtown Buffalo and soaking in the Buffalo architecture (including several buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright)
- Save a gift to open on New Years Eve - “Keep the party going by saving one holiday gift to open on New Year’s Eve.”- Really liked IVillage’s idea of moving “Secret Santa” to New Years Eve and re-naming it “Midnight Mystery.”
- Try Out A Winter Sport – In Buffalo there are no shorttage of opportunities for winter sports. There’s ice skating, sledding, tubing, skiing or snowboarding, and much more.
- Host a Karaoke Party – “Rent or borrow a karaoke machine and host an all-holiday sing-along party.” This can be fun for a family party or “adult only New Years Eve” shindig. Either way, you can never go wrong with Karaoke.
Let Your Inner-kid out and have a snowball fight – This was not one of the 50 activities to do with your children during the winter, and my question is….why not? Jumping in the snow, making snow angels, and having a good old fashioned snow ball fight is a great activity for everyone involved.
What are your favorite winter activities to do with your children?
This Post was written by Adoption STAR CEO and Founder, Michele Fried.
Deb and Susana were at the very early stages of the adoption process when a phone call changed their lives. Within 24 hours of that call they found themselves flying from New York City to Buffalo, NY where I met them for the first time.
It is interesting to me how there are some “placements” that I remember so vividly that I could recount small things that occurred and this is one of them.
I remember visiting with these women and getting to know them. I remember being so touched by how they held hands during my many questions.
Their original home study was dated January 22, 2002 and focused on becoming foster parents. They learned about Adoption STAR from a friend and never realized that this then two-year-old agency would introduce them to their daughter.
On April 18, 2002, Deb and Susanna met one of the most gorgeous babies I have ever seen. Her dark eyes were truly sparkling as she looked up into the faces of her mommies. They named her Micaela.
A few months later, Finalization Day arrived and Micaela revisited the Adoption STAR office with her parents and we oohed and aahed over this beautiful baby and how much she changed in just a few months. What a special visit that was as Micaela’s birth mother felt ready to meet the couple she selected as her daughter’s parents and had a wonderful meeting with them and seeing Micaela.
Over the years, Deb and Susana developed an incredible circle of friends, many of them touched by adoption (and Adoption STAR). They consistently sent letters and photos to the agency to hold for Micaela’s birth mother should she request them. The updates the agency received showed a happy and healthy baby growing up quickly.
In 2007, Susa emailed me with their thoughts about learning they were going to become parents: “We have always felt that the spirit of Micaela chose us. And that’s why the process happened so amazingly quickly. And how great you guys were, and how important it was that you advocated for us.” Deb added, “When we first got the call from you we thought you were calling to ask about paperwork that we were supposed to have transferred from the foster care agency. It is for this reason that we didn’t return your call immediately. The next day you called Susana on her cell phone and we realized we had been wrong. Once Micaela’s birth mom selected us, you realized that the foster care agency hadn’t really completed the process and that many documents were still needed. You scrambled and made it all happen, we did massive amounts of paperwork in record time and 24 hours after that first phone call we had Micaela in our arms. The process isn’t supposed to work that way, but it did, and that always made us feel like it was meant to be.”
A few months ago, I received another email from Deb and Susana, asking if they could make a plan to meet me at the agency office with Micaela. They wanted to bring her to Buffalo to take a look around at the area she was born and where they first met her.
On October 7, Deb, Susana and Micaela came to the Adoption STAR office. I had the pleasure of meeting this spectacular 9 ½ year old girl and reminisce with her moms about the day they met her. I learned more about Micaela and how well she is doing in school. I learned about the band she plays in and the type of dance she does and the sports she loves. I learned about the trips she has taken and saw photographs of some of her friends. Micaela didn’t have many questions for me or about the process but she was assured that we would do our best to provide the answers should she ever wish to ask.
We spoke about the difference between an open adoption and a closed adoption and the fact that though her birth mother was not actively involved in their lives, she was the one who chose Deb and Susana to be her parents.
I wanted to write this story not only because it meant so much to me to see a child almost ten years after placement day but also because how planned their visit was and what their Western New York visit included. They came to the city where Micaela was born and visited the hospital her birth mother gave birth in. They visited the adoption agency staff that met her as a newborn and saw her newborn photo on the wall in our office. They spoke openly and proudly about the process and allowed Micaela to know that the journey was about her and that they were always approachable to answer questions whenever she had them.
After their visit, Deb wrote, “Thanks again for taking the time to meet with us. It was great to see you and your new offices. We had a really nice time in the area and think that it was just what we needed to do in terms of our adoption journey. Micaela isn’t yet at the point where she is focused on the “why” questions and it felt important to make this trip before that point. We hope that it helps to make it clear that the space exists to have whatever questions or feelings she ultimately does.”
Her moms report that Micaela was quieter than usual after her visit to Adoption STAR and the other highlights of her first few days of birth. No doubt a bit overwhelmed, possibly processing some of the things she saw and heard. Hopefully knowing that the visit was to assist her in her own personal journey, one that is touched by adoption and Adoption STAR.
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November Memories Shared
This post was written by Adoption STAR Founder and CEO, Michele Fried I have always believed that National Adoption Month and Thanksgiving were perfectly placed on the calendar. How wonderful to bring awareness and celebration to adopti