Adoptive Parent Mentor & Coach
Adoption STAR is thrilled to announce the new position of Adoptive Parent Mentor and Coach and even happier to share that the individual hired for this position is Susan Reardon. Sue has been a friend to the agency and advocate for adoption since she and her husband began their own adoption journey over 10 years ago. With the experience of being a three-time Adoption STAR adoptive mom and a background in Human Services, Sue has been a natural mentor to countless families.
Since a “mentor” is a trusted guide and a “coach” is someone who not only instructs but also demonstrates, then the title of Adoptive Parent Mentor and Coach truly describes Sue and her work for Adoption STAR.
Sue will assist families who choose to pursue the Agency Assisted Private Track in addition to the preparation of digital profiles. Sue will facilitate the Agency Assisted Private Track training and will guide clients through the process. She also will be providing consultations and assisting with preparation of the digital and hard copy profiles that adoptive parents need when adopting domestically.
Sue will also serves as the staff liaison for SOFIA, the Adoptive Family Support & Social Group and looks forward to connecting with clients throughout the agency’s various geographical areas.
Sue lives with her family in Rochester and enjoys photography in her spare time. She also has a passion for helping families navigate through the adoption process. She states, “I believe so strongly in adoption, because I have the honor of living it every day!”
Sue will begin this new role on January 22. To reach Sue, feel free to call the agency directly at 716-639-3900 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adoption STAR and CEO Michele Fried, are listed in Dr. Jeanne A. Howard’s report entitled, “Untangling the Web: The Internet’s Transformative Impact on Adoption.” See PDF Full Report on the attached link or click here to download a copy.
Adoption STAR is mentioned on pages 14, 46, and 66.
Michele Fried is the author of an article entitled: Adoption and Social Media: Recommendations For Healthy Ongoing Communication. Additionally, Adoption STAR published an E-Book entitled, Adoption and Social Media: The Effects of Social Media and the Internet on Child Adoption.
In addition to it’s research, article and E-Book, Adoption STAR has written Social Media Policies and Procedures for Employees, a Secure Systems Usage Policy, and updated Confidentiality Agreements including social media and technology usage. Adoption STAR employees frequently speak on the topic and have held workshops and webinars addressing how to safely utilize the Internet and social media platforms to find members of the adoption triad as well as to maintain connections with one another.
An adoptive mother shares how she was able to explain adoption in a language and style first graders were able to understand. PLUS: a list of useful adoption resources and tips from professionals for talking about adoption in schools.
Georgette Mulheir is a pioneer for the movement to end child abuse in the form of orphanages. Her speech talks about the disadvantages of orphanage care and touches on why children lives in institutions and what is is like for them there…if you have 10 minutes take a look.
Need a last minute holiday gift? Why not show that someone special that you are thinking of them by making a donation in their name to the Adoption STAR Family Tree. It’s a great way to honor friends, family or professional contacts, and we will gladly notify them of your generosity. At the same time, if you would just as soon pass on another fruitcake or holiday necktie, we can help you let friends and family know that you would appreciate a donation be made to the Adoption STAR Family Tree on your behalf.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Today we offer the second guest post from Lori Holden, an emerging expert on open adoption. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole will be published in the spring, and early reviews indicate it will become the latest go-to manual for parents navigating the journey to parent in open adoption.
Lori responds to the question we posed: You ask a great question, Adoption STAR, a question that needs to be asked and pondered by each person exploring open adoption.
I bet if you asked a bunch of people who know about adoption what open adoption is, you would get variations on the theme of contact, that there is a continuum of contact, and that each adoption will find its way on to a point on the continuum. On one end might be a fully closed adoption, meaning no contact and no identifying information. At the other end people might place full openness — adoptive and birth parents treating each other as extended families.
But as we move into the third decade of the movement toward open adoptions, I submit that we should stop using contact as our measure. Why?
Because contact≠ openness. Contact is not the same as openness.
Further, because of the need to consider contact and openness separately, we need a better tool than a spectrum. How about a grid?
Let’s look at each of the boxes:
Box 1 is what we used to consider a closed adoption. Not only is there very little contact or identifying information available to the child, but the adoptive parents are ill-equipped to deal with adoption openly. They may have unresolved grief left over from their infertility struggles. They may have been counseled to act “as if” their child were born to them. They may not be comfortable having tough conversations and confronting “icky” feelings about adoption, either theirs or their child’s as she grows and advances cognitively. This box may be the most crippling for a child to grow up in, the least conducive to integrating her identity from both her sets of parents.
Box 2 is where there is contact with birth family, maybe through exchanges of photos, emails or even meetings. But what’s lacking is what Jim Gritter calls the Spirit of Open Adoption. Adoptive parents may harbor feelings of guilt, envy, distaste or even superiority about their child’s birth family, either consciously or subconsciously (by no means am I saying that all do, but rather the possibility that some do). These adoptive parents may enjoy having all the power they hold in the relationship, rather than inviting the first parents to co-create their open adoption relationship. Because of the lack of openness here, the child is still at a disadvantage, feeling split between her clan of biology and her clan of biography.
Box 3 is at play in many foster and international adoptions, as well as some domestic infant adoptions. It involves low contact but high openness. Distance, logistics, safety issues or the unavailability of first parents may make actual contact not possible or not wise, but the adoptive parents in this box still parent with openness. They deal with their own emotions about their adoption story mindfully, and they are able to open their hearts to their child as she processes her adoption story and integrates her identity. A child growing up in Box 3 is in a good position to have the space and support to do just that.
Box 4 is where the birth family is considered extended family, both in contact and in openness. This relationship may be no different than one with a beloved uncle, sister-in-law or grandmother (or even one not so beloved!). The relationships are child-centered and inclusive. The child is claimed by and able to claim both her clans, thereby helping her integrate all her pieces as she grows through her toddler and school years, through her tweens and teens and into adulthood. She is not pulled to choose or rank one family over the other and she is therefore not split — she is free to integrate herSelves and pursue wholeness in her identity.
I encourage parents via adoption to consider both aspects of open adoption — contact and openness — as they build and sustain a child-centered family constellation.
Lori Holden writes regularly at LavenderLuz.com about parenting and living mindfully. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available for pre-order on Amazon. She has written for Adoptive Families magazine, Parenting magazine and for BlogHer and MileHighMamas.com, a Denver Post site. On Twitter she’s @LavLuz and you can also find her on Facebook. She practices her Both/And technique with dark chocolate and red wine (though not at the same time).
Lori Lavender Luz
Yin yanging my way.
Author of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, available March, 2013.
Recently said Do something
The government is monitoring hash tags on Facebook and Twitter to show the importance of the tax credit. Here is the information as to what they are looking to see happen:
Tell President Obama how the adoption tax credit has impacted you and your family.
1. Log on to Twitter or Facebook
2. In 150 characters or less answer one of these questions: How has the adoption tax credit impacted my family? How would my family be affected if the adoption tax credit was reduced and not made refundable?
3. Make sure you include the hash tags #INEEDATC and #MY2K
4. Encourage members of your social networks to do the same!
5. Retweet (on Twitter) or Repost (on Facebook) those tweets that include the #INEEDATC and #MY2K
Authors: Deborah H. Siegel, Ph.D. and Susan Livingston Smith, LCSW
Published: 2012 March, New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Document Type: Practice Perspective
PDF Full Report
A major new report depicts just how extensively adoption in the U.S. has changed over the last several decades – from a time when it was shrouded in so much secrecy that birth and adoptive families knew nothing about each other, to a new reality today in which the vast majority of infant adoptions are “open,” meaning the two families have some level of ongoing relationship.
The core of the report from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, “Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections,” is a new Institute survey of agency practices relating to infant adoption placements. Our study, along with a review of other relevant research, yielded these key findings:
* ”Closed” infant adoptions have shrunk to a tiny minority (about 5 percent), with 40 percent “mediated” and 55 percent “open.” In addition, 95 percent of agencies now offer open adoptions.
* In the overwhelming majority of infant adoptions, adoptive parents and expectant parents considering adoption meet, and the expectant parents pick the new family for their baby.
* Adoptive parents, like most participants in open adoptions, report positive experiences; more openness is also associated with greater satisfaction with the adoption process.
* Women who have placed their infants for adoption – and then have ongoing contact with their children – report less grief, regret and worry, as well as more peace of mind.
* The primary beneficiaries of openness are the adopted persons – as children and later in life – because of access to birth relatives, as well as to their own family and medical histories.
“The good news is that adoption in our country is traveling a road toward greater openness and honesty,” said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. “But this new reality also brings challenges, and there are still widespread myths and misconceptions about open adoption – so we have a lot of work to do in educating the public, professionals, the media and the families themselves so that we can continue making progress for the millions of people involved.”
Among its components, the Institute’s 50-page report identifies factors that are important to achieving successful open adoption relationships and offers research-based recommendations for overcoming the fears, misconceptions and other barriers that the affected parties often face. The recommendations include counseling and training for all the parents involved (expectant and adoptive), as well as post-placement services to help them and their children work through any challenges they encounter.
According to Voice for Adoption, the Making Adoption Affordable Act (S3616 and HR4373) will not be addressed as stand-alone legislation, but in an overall tax “extender” bill that the 112th Congress will consider before it concludes in December. There is concern that an extension may not include a refundability provision and likely will not be made permanent, but there is still time to advocate for these provisions.
To show support for the credit, urge your U.S. Senators and Representatives to become co-sponsors of S3616 and HR4373. Without new legislation, the current $12,650 credit will not be refundable for 2012 and will expire at year-end; in 2013, only those adopting children with special needs would be eligible for $6,000 in qualifying expenses. To find your Senators’ names, go to: http://1.usa.gov/3UAs; for Representatives, go to: http://1.usa.gov/prsjAl and enter your zip code. Call 202-225-3121 and ask for his/her office; tell the child welfare/tax staffer that you are a constituent (provide your mailing address if leaving a message).
To see if your lawmakers are already cosponsors, go to: http://1.usa.gov/iZaESp and search by bill number.
For advocacy resources, go to: http://bit.ly/SawuDk.
To view the State Policy and Advocacy Resource Center and North American Council on Adoptable Children adoption tax credit webinar, go to: http://bit.ly/WtgtYQ.
To read a Nov. 13 column by Kathleen Strottman, executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, “Congress: Save adoption tax credit” in the Washington Times, go to: http://bit.ly/TiVDKz; an Oct. 29 New York Times column, “Make Sure the Neediest Are Covered,” by Joe Kroll, executive director of NACAC, go to: http://nyti.ms/10Oa7Z8; a Nov. 21 article on FoxNews.com, “Dive off fiscal cliff could be ‘disastrous’ for orphans, foster children, say advocates” by Joshua Rhett Miller, go to: http://fxn.ws/SnwIZo; and a Nov. 27 Orlando, Florida wftv.com article, “Tax credit for adoptive parents to end,” go to: http://bit.ly/TtWZVE.
Also read the blog posted on November 19, 2012 “Do your Part to Help Save the Adoption Tax Credit”
By Michael Hill
When we conduct adoption-related trainings for healthcare and/or helping professionals, we often utilize an activity that helps participants better recognize their thoughts and feelings regarding adoption. One great tool for this comes from the Infant Adoption Awareness Training Project’s “Understanding Infant Adoption” training. The tool itself is called the “Personalizing Adoption Work Sheet,” and participants are given 10 minutes to complete it. Participants are asked to think about their personal adoption experience by answering the following questions:
How might this experience affect the way I view adoption?
How might my experiences and views affect my ability to discuss the adoption option with my patients/clients?
It’s a simple tool, but a very effective one in that it helps people truly understand how personal life experience creates the basis for individual values around adoption. There is no doubt that we all have our own biases and values regarding adoption. However, by being more aware of these biases and values, healthcare and helping professionals are better equipped to provide accurate information about adoption that is free of any personal biases or values.
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2012 Adoption STAR Photo Contest Winners
We want to thank everyone who submitted photos to the 2012 Adoption STAR Photo Contest. There were many great pictures, and the judges had a difficult time selecting just two winners for each category. We also want to thank the four judges who vol