Today is the last day of February, making it the last day of Black History Month. Adoption STAR welcomes ALL clients, but unfortunately adoption has not always been as open.
Sammy Davis Jr., who was an original member of Frank Sinatra’s famous Rat Pack, broke color barriers in the 1960’s by not only marrying Swedish-born actress May Britt, but by adopting two sons with Britt. When Davis and Britt were married in 1960 many states forbade interracial marriages.
Today, there is still a stigma in the African American culture regarding adoption. In an earlier Adoption STAR blog post, birth mother “C”, who is African American, said that she made her adoption plan knowing that it went against the ideals of many African Americans.
“In the black community, adoption is really frowned upon,” “C” said. “I’m probably one of the first people in my entire family that’s ever done it…It was something that I knew needed to do, so I just did it.”
Despite this stigma, Adoption STAR statistics show that the African American culture may be opening itself more to adoption. In 2011, 21 percent of the babies who were adopted by Adoption STAR families were African American.
In the United Kingdom, it is currently acceptable for adoption agencies to base their adoption matching process on race to prevent transracial adoptions. However Education Secretary, Michael Grove, has said that he will fight to change these regulations.
“I won’t deny that an ethnic match between adopters and child can be a bonus. But it is outrageous to deny a child the chance of adoption because of a misguided belief that race is more important than any other factor,” Grove said in a article in The Guardian. Grove also said that African American children in the UK are currently three times less likely to be adopted then Caucasian children.
It’s great to see the UK is moving towards transforming its transracial adoption policies, however it is not enough to just adopt a child of a different race. It is important for the adoptive parents, and surrounding family and friends to allow the child to form his/her own identity, and educate them about their birth culture. It’s important to celebrate your child’s birth culture and adopt some of the traditional customs into your own family’s traditions.
On this final day of Black History Month, we invite everyone who is considering growing their family through adoption, to have a discussion with their loved ones on whether they are truly ready to adopt a child of a different race. Please visit the Adoption STAR website for more information on Adoption STAR’s adoption programs, including transracial adoption. You can also email the agency or call us Toll-Free at 1(866)691-3300
Five years ago “C” was a junior in college and in a steady relationship with her boyfriend. However when she became pregnant, “C” began looking into all of her options, and eventually contacted Adoption STAR.
“I knew my boyfriend wasn’t going to be around at all, and I wasn’t emotionally ready and physically ready (to be a mother),” “C” said. “I knew I wasn’t in the right place for it, and I wanted (my child) to have every opportunity.”
Despite feeling a range of emotions about her pregnancy and adoption plan, “C” continued to go to school throughout her pregnancy. She was taking her finals while nine months pregnant. She said that one thing that kept her going was Adoption STAR’s Birth Parent Specialist, Sue Shaw.
“I met Sue, and she made me feel so comfortable because I was really scared, freaked out and embarrassed. I just talked to her and went over the process.”
When it came to choosing an adoptive family, “C” said she started off very picky, and had a two-page list of everything she wanted in a family for her child. However when it came to actually selecting the adoptive family, it was because she followed her heart.
“It was supposed to be just a meet-and-greet to talk to them and see how they felt about the process, and I just fell in love with them,” “C” said.
She said that the conversation they had was one of the most natural she’s ever had, which allowed her to “follow her heart” while making the decision.
Before choosing a family, “C”, who is African American, also spoke with a Caucasian couple that had already adopted transracially.
“I met them and they were so happy. I asked them how society was treating them, and they said, ‘we don’t even care about (race), because she’s just our daughter, and that’s all that matters to us.’ That made me feel so good,” “C” said.
“C” and her child’s adoptive parents have a beautiful open relationship, and both families have been to each other’s homes on several occasions. “C” is Facebook friends with her child’s adoptive parents, but said that decision may not be right in every situation.
“I just felt like we were at that point in our relationship where we could be open and honest; I’ve been to their house, they’ve been to my house, it’s pretty much just anything goes,” “C” said about their relationship.
While she is very open with her child’s adoptive family, “C” said she is very selective with who she shares her adoption story with. She said a lot of her hesitation is because making an adoption plan is not common among African Americans.
“In the black community, adoption is really frowned upon,” “C” said. “I’m probably one of the first people in my entire family that’s ever done it…It was something that I knew needed to do, so I just did it.”
Though “C” was confident in her to decision to make an adoption plan, and with the family she chose, she said that the day after giving birth, everything finally sank in. She said that it was a lonely feeling not having her child after carrying him for nine months. One thing that has eased her pain is having an open adoption, which has allowed her to remain in her son’s life.
“It definitely helps that I get to see (my child) and get to talk to him and know how he’s doing,” “C” said. “Mostly I think about how well he is doing and how happy he is. That’s what I wanted, I’m getting exactly what I wanted.”
“C” is now in law school and will be assisting with the facilitation of the Blue Rose program at Adoption STAR, which is Adoption STAR’s birth parent support group. The Blue Rose meetings and events will allow birth parents to meet with other people who have gone through similar experiences and learn from each other.
“I’m hoping to have a monthly get together where I and other birth mothers can just talk about all of our issues,” “C” said. “It’s not something you can just talk about with anyone, it has to be somebody who has gone through the process and knows exactly what you’re feeling.”
Thank you “C” for sharing your story!
On March 22, Adoption STAR will be turning 12 and we’re looking to celebrate with all of our clients and friends!
To participate in the celebration, all you need to do is create a short video wishing Adoption STAR a Happy Birthday, the more fun you have with it, the better!
There are only two requirements for this video celebration:
1. The original files for each video must be sent it (no YouTube clips)
2. Each video should include a version of the Happy Birthday song.
That’s it, anything else goes!
The family that submits the video that the Adoption STAR staff deems the most creative, will receive a Birthday present from Adoption STAR.
All video files should be submitted by email to Alex Rubin by Wednesday, March 14.
And now a Happy Birthday treat from the Beatles.
Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” is coming to theaters this Friday, and though I’m no longer a child, I’ve got to admit that I’m still excited…almost as excited as I was to see the Muppet Movie, which exceeded my high expectations. “The Lorax” is my favorite Dr. Seus book, narrowly edging out “Horton Hear’s a Who.”
One of my favorite quotes from “The Lorax” is a simple one, but personifies Dr. Seuss’ ability to make words come to life:
“‘Mister’ he said with a sawdusty sneeze,
‘I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.’”
Here’s hoping that the movie is able to keep the magic of the book.
If you’re looking for Children’s movies that have characters who are adopted or has an adoption theme, there are many options, including:
Movies with an adopted character and/or an adoption theme for older children include:
What are your favorite children’s movies with an adoption theme?
Waiting to be matched with an expecting family can be a stressful period for prospective adoptive parents, but it doesn’t always have to be. The trick is to remain active and busy; this is a great time to educate yourselves about parenting and the adoption process.
We recently asked our Facebook followers how they spent their time while waiting to be matched, and got some great responses:
- Belinda R: “I tried to stay busy, but I have to admit I shopped for baby items that were on sale. Clothes, diapers etc.”
- Janet R.: “Meeting other STAR families. Now we get together for play dates!”
- Dana S.: “Took painting classes and started to paint to keep my mind busy. I became a pretty good artist! LOL!”
- Lynn M.: “We were blessed! The first time was only a few short months and the second…well, that was a wonderful surprise!”
- Stephanie R.: “I have been taking Karate class to keep busy.”
- Jennifer G.: “I exercised to relieve stress, and shopped for baby items ”
If you are looking for more information on waiting, adoptive mother, Lesa Quale Ferguson, recently wrote a two-part blog post on her experiences while waiting to be matched, that all waiting parents can learn from. Adoption STAR also wrote a blog post for our old blog, that listed “25 ways to wait to be matched.”
Remember, your Adoption STAR family advocate is always available to help you through any challenges you may be having and to answer any questions. If you would like to contact Adoption STAR, please do so by email email or by calling us Toll-Free at 1(866)691-3300.
On Wednesday, February 1, Adoption STAR was proud to deliver the “pilot” presentation of the updated 2012 Infant Adoption Awareness Training Project (IAATP) Presentation at the Planned Parenthood of Western New York.
The IAATP is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services and provides adoption awareness and education to healthcare professionals. The project is offered in all 50 states, and Spaulding For Children, an organization in Southfield, Michigan, is in charge of the Project in 27 states, including New York. Spaulding subcontracts this grant to trusted adoption agencies, and Adoption STAR has been its host agency in New York since 2007.
Spaulding for Children has completed several revisions to the IAATP training over the course of the project’s lifetime, and their most recent revision was completed in January 2012. Any number of trainings transpiring in February in any of the other 26 states Spaulding for Children works with could have been chosen to deliver the first training with the updated material, but Adoption STAR was absolutely thrilled that our agency (and in turn New York State) was their first choice.
A big “thank you” to Spaulding staff members Jean Niemann and Diane Fox for traveling from Michigan to Buffalo to observe the training on February 1, and kudos to Planned Parenthood of Western New York for working to ensure the over 30 staff members in attendance received a thorough education on the option of adoption.
If you would like to host or attend a training session, please contact Adoption STAR IAATP Project Lead, Michael Hill, by email or phone at (716)639-3900.
For more information on the IAATP, you can also listen to an Adoption STAR podcast (below) with Michael Hill.
This is the fourth and final part of a four-part blog series on marketing yourself with your adoption profile book. It was written by John Yonkoski who is an adoptive father and marketing professional.
Know your Audience:
It seems a lot of people I speak with about our adoption assume our birth mom is a 16 year old girl whose parents made the decision for her. That’s not the case at all. She’s a 30 year old, Mother of four, taking college classes online while the kids sleep. She probably would have parented if her husband hadn’t filed for divorce.
Like everyone else, I also made some assumptions about the birthparents that would view our adoption profile. I figured it’s probably going to be a female (possibly a couple). I knew they would be Caucasian (at the time, we were specifically seeking a Caucasian newborn). I figured alcohol (people drinking in photos) probably wouldn’t be an issue – but – could be a deal breaker (on the possibility there were abuse issues somewhere in the family). I assumed she wasn’t drinking or doing drugs while she was pregnant (since we were specifically seeking a baby that hadn’t been exposed to these substances). I figured they probably don’t have a ton of money. I assumed they would be less educated than my wife and I, but didn’t assume they would be incapable of comprehending big words. I assumed they would look at a stack of 10 profiles and pick three they liked (strictly based on the cover) and that if it was too wordy, they might set it down. I figured they value family and friends. I figured they value stability – both in terms of our marriage and having a place we call home for the foreseeable future (particularly since we were seeking an open adoption).
So, how did these assumptions affect our adoption profile? We axed any photos where people were drinking. We wanted to show that we were financially secure, yet not superficial and egregious (we spoke a lot about how important relationships, rather than money, were to us). We didn’t want to appear as some condescending authorative figure by “dumbing down” the way we spoke and the words we used. We used lots of photos. Had we been open to other races, I would have included more photos of my diverse group of friends (I would consider that critical). We showcased the time and money we’ve invested in remodeling our home.
You may not agree with the assumptions I made and your assumptions may be different. As it turns out, mine were spot on with our birth mother. From our profile, she really connected with us. It’s no surprise, our profile was written just for her.
If you’re working with an agency, ask questions about the birthparents they work with. Reflect back on the decisions you made when completing your grids. Try to get an understanding of who will be reading your profile and tailor it to their needs. Remember – you’re writing the profile for the birthparents, not for you. Their opinion matters, not yours.
Get meaningful feedback from others. If you ask someone, “how do you like it?” they’ll respond with “it looks good”. Instead, say “tell me three things you would change”. In my case, my Sister in-law (who’s a graphic designer) opined that it was a little (not a lot) busy. Her suggestion was to spread it out a little more and have more pages.
From a graphic design perspective, she’s right. However, although looks are important for a profile – they’re not everything. Had we taken her advice, we would have had to remove some of our content (otherwise it would be too many pages). I appreciated her insight, but didn’t make any major changes to our profile.
My point is, don’t take any feedback as Gospel, but do consider the responses. Revise as appropriate, but don’t submit a profile that hasn’t been meaningfully critiqued.
Provide Bight Size Pieces of Information:
Have you ever gone to a website – and – before you know it, you’ve been there for 20 minutes? It wasn’t your intent, but it happened. Why do some sites have this affect? Because they give you a bit of info – you like it and want more. So, you click and get more. The process repeats. The site literally sucks you in.
Their secret is that they don’t just give you it all on one page. Because, you would see all the material and think “I don’t have time for this” and leave. Don’t make the mistake of overwhelming your reader by sharing your life story on the first page (or any page for that matter).
Similarly, give them the good stuff right up front – what you really, really want them to know. Put the less important stuff towards the end. For example, the details about our families were the last pages of our profile. Why? Because birthparents care less about our families than they do about us. It was clear we had family, that they live nearby, and that we are close with them. However, what they do for a living and their personalities is less relevant and requires words.
Describing our families is going to require space – I want the “premium space” upfront devoted to us. My rationale was that if they made it to the end of the profile, they were interested in us and would be willing to read about them. Equally likely, they might not even see the need to.
In our agency, birthparents are presented “up to ten profiles” at one sitting and they’re not required to give them all equal time. They’re not required to review them completely. Play it safe by assuming they have short attention spans. Don’t blow the chance for them to get to know you.
The arrangement of the pages (and the content) is so important that I would say that if our profile were read from back to front, it would have been terrible and uninteresting (even though everything else is the same). I doubt our birthmother would have read much of it and wouldn’t have taken the time to learn about us.
Again, best stuff up front with the profile becoming increasingly wordy as the reader becomes increasingly interested in what you have to say. Your goal is to suck the reader in.
Don’t be a ”Debbie Downer”
Life isn’t all rosy and perfect for any of us. But, there are some things you just don’t really share with everyone. And, when you do share it – you don’t really want to agonize about it and bring others down. The same goes for your profile – most people know better than to divulge all the details about a marriage that ended with a bitter divorce and ugly custody battle.
In adoption profiles, the most common example I’ve seen is infertility. It seems many profiles hope to get empathy from the birthparents in hopes of being selected. It is fine (recommended even) that you share it, but keep it positive. Talk about what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, or how it opened your eyes to the beauty of adoption. Don’t agonize over it.
After all, any infertility issues you may have experienced will make much more sense when you meet your little one. Trust me.
Need help with your profile? Contact the author at email@example.com.
Adoption STAR does not guarantee the services of third party providers.
To receive a downloadable PDF with all four parts, please email John Yonkoski
The Adoption STAR Pen has made it to a new location…can you guess where it is?
The Adoption STAR Pen participated in a half marathon over the weekend in this warm-weather location.
Driving to the race, the Adoption STAR Pen is bumping to some pump up music to get in the right frame of mind.
After the race the Adoption STAR Pen enjoyed a rest with a great view!
Can you guess where the Adoption STAR Pen is?
The Adoption STAR Pen Around The World Project is a fun activity that we will doing throughout 2012. We are looking for Adoption STAR staff members, clients and friends of the agency to take the Adoption STAR pen with them on their travels and take fun pictures of the Adoption STAR pen. You can then email these photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post them on our blog and Facebook. The goal is that by the end of the year, we will have a fun story of where the Adoption STAR pen has been in 2012. If you would like to participate, please send us an email with your mailing address and we will send you pens to get you started.
New York State may be taking another step towards opening adoption records, including original birth certificates, with the Adoptees Equal Rights Bill.
According to an article on lohud.com, if the bill were put into effect, adoptees who are over the age of 18 would be given access to their original birth certificates and the medical history of their birth parents.
The article said that birth parents would have the option to not be contacted, and in these cases adoptees would not be able to obtain their birth certificates, but they would still be given their family’s medical history.
This bill has not been put to a vote in the state assembly as of yet, however the article said that reform groups are beginning to put pressure on the legislators to do just that.
ABC News recently wrote a feature that focused on families who have used Facebook and YouTube to adopt a child. It used to be, that families doing private adoptions would take out newspaper and magazine ads looking for expecting parents, however today there are over 150 million Facebook users in the United States, and the article said that YouTube has hundreds of millions of users around the world. This all means that when doing a private adoption, it is hard to ignore the massive amount of people that can be reached by Facebook ads and YouTube videos.
One aspect of adopting through social media that the article made clear, is that you should not be doing it without help. Unfortunately, there are many adoption scams online and you need to be careful who you trust. This is why Adoption STAR offers its Agency Assisted Private Track option. When using Private Track, Adoption STAR staff members will train you on the finer-points of social media, including creating a Facebook page, advertising and networking over social media, creating a personal blog, and much, much more. Once you have found an expecting mother, this woman becomes an Adoption STAR client, and receives all of the counseling and benefits that Adoption STAR provides. This will give you the peace of mind that a scam is not taking place.
While you are marketing yourselves, your Adoption STAR Family Advocate will still be providing you with matching opportunities from the agency. If you are successful in finding an expecting parent yourself, your placement fees at Adoption STAR will be cut in half.
To learn more about the Private Track Training, please contact Adoption STAR by email, email@example.com or phone at 1(866)691-3300.
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Educating Healthcare Workers on Adoption as an Option
On Wednesday, February 1, Adoption STAR was proud to deliver the “pilot” presentation of the updated 2012 Infant Adoption Awareness Training Project (IAATP) Presentation at the Planned Parenthood of Western New York. Read more..