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.
This post was written by Adoption STAR CEO and Founder, Michele Fried, and was posted to a previous Adoption STAR blog in 2007.
In June of 1990 my husband and I learned that our oldest son had a half biological sibling that was being placed for adoption. We experienced a great deal of emotions learning of the news and making the life altering decision to grow our family when we were not planning for another child at that time. For us, it became the greatest blessing to add this magnificent child to our family. However, having experienced it personally I am familiar with some of the reactions our clients have had over the years when they learn that their child’s birth mother is pregnant again. I have seen reactions spanning from elation to grief. The news sparks something different for every family, but what remains constant is the surprise.
Even when a second pregnancy and adoption occurs and everyone is happy with the plan, I am saddened by the fact that the birth mother has found herself in the same situation again. For those women who choose to parent the second time around, I can’t help but think that the pregnancy was hoped for. In some way, the birth parent may be trying to replace the child she lost through adoption. I have seen women with open and closed adoptions make such decisions. Sometimes a new (and hopefully healthy) relationship (possibly marriage) has occurred in the life of the birth mother and she is more then ready for this planned pregnancy. Other times we must question, “What has changed in your life to make a parenting plan that wasn’t in place when you gave birth and placed for adoption?” These are the more challenging situations. These are the sadder cases when we learn of a new pregnancy within a year or less of the adoptive placement.
A small number of Adoption STAR couples have experienced learning that their child’s birth mother is pregnant again. Each family experienced a broad range of emotions, many had to make difficult decisions or come to terms with choices made by the birth family. In an effort to help others who may one day learn that their child’s birth mother is pregnant again, I asked several of our clients to share their experiences, emotions and advice with us.
Harvey shared: “At the outset, we were thrilled to be able to adopt siblings from the same birth parents. This will certainly give them something in common that many adopted children do not have. I expect this will be especially true as they get older and start being more curious about adoption and about their birth parents and birth siblings. It gives us an experience more like that of parents raising their birth children, such as observing the similarities and differences between siblings of the same birth parents. For us, however, the decision to adopt our son’s sibling was easy because we already decided we wanted a larger family, had already submitted the paperwork, and were so happy with the first child’s 18 months, that it was a “no-brainer” to adopt a second child from the same birth mother. This is not to say we could not respect the decision of adoptive parents declining such an opportunity. Obviously, you have to do what is best for everyone. If the adoptive family is truly not in a position to add a new child, for whatever reason, and doing so would make things worse for the children already adopted, it would be better to decline than to make things worse. Each person must make the right decision for themselves and their families. They should not feel pressured to take in a child they could not care for and love in the way each child deserves.”
Teri responded: “When I first learned that Nicole had given birth to twins- almost 18 months to the day after Gabi was born- I was surprised. I couldn’t imagine that she had gotten pregnant so soon. The only thoughts I had ever indulged in regarding a possible future pregnancy included a fantasy where I pictured Gabi at about 4 years- and Nicole asking us to parent her biological sibling. I had never even imagined (let alone prepared for) the idea that she would choose to parent. I wanted so badly for the things she had told the agency at her initial contact to be true- that she was returning to college, and getting her life back on track. When it started to sink in that she had not only gotten pregnant again, but she was also choosing to parent- so many questions began to form. The most pressing by far; how can I explain to Gabi that out of Nicole’s 6 children, she was the only one that had been placed for adoption? I cried for a few days. I called family and friends for comfort and advice. I posted my feelings on the STAR adoption family message board at Yahoo groups. I also called STAR and talked to our caseworker. I talked. It was the best thing for me. Speaking to others about it allowed me to better understand my feelings. Eventually, I wrote a letter to Nicole. I shared my fears for Gabi with her. This was a HUGE relief. After about two months, I sent gifts for the twins along with our congratulations. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I still have the occasional fantasy of getting that phone call from STAR- where they relay the message to us that Nicole wants to know if we are interested in parenting the twins. My husband and I have even had fantasy conversations of bedroom arrangements and twin parenting. The best advice that I have for those who experience this is to remember that sometimes we create worries and fears for our children. I don’t know what Gabi’s reaction will be as she is able to comprehend her situation. I don’t want to create problems for her by assuming that she should or will feel a certain way. As with all situations, I need to follow her lead- let her grow and develop into the person that she is destined to become. I’ll let her decide what things bother her, and what to roll off of her shoulders. It is my duty to be there for her and love and protect her through whatever comes her way.”
Jennifer wrote: “When we found out our son’s birth mother was pregnant we were surprised to say the least! We were very angry at first. Our first reaction was, “How could she do this to us?” After the reality set in, we started to feel empathy for her parents who were so supportive of her first adoption plan. It was weird because immediately we wanted the entire family to know that we were here if she decided not to parent. Really though, deep down in our hearts no matter how much she tried to convince us, we knew that there was no way she could or would follow through with it. How could she go through such a painful ordeal again? Up until weeks before the delivery we never really felt that butterfly feeling you get when you are going to be a parent again. We had that exciting, nervous feeling when we first learned about Matthew and Bella.”
Yael shared: “When the birthmother of our twins emailed me that she was pregnant and planning to abort the baby, I was so sad. After getting amnio results that her baby boy had Down Syndrome, she was planning an abortion. I wonder to this day why she chose to tell me at all–but especially before she had the abortion. After consulting with our rabbi, I emailed her back and urged her to reconsider, that we would love to adopt her baby. The next email from her said, “The deed is done.” Then, several months later she emailed me that she was pregnant again–this time with the biological father of our twins. I remember feeling very conflicted. On one hand, I assumed that they were back together as a couple and I wondered if they might want more contact with the girls or feel they had made a mistake in placing them. On the other hand, knowing her, I was concerned that she would not be able to bond with her child. Of course, I also wondered if she would want to place him with us–especially if he was not healthy or “perfect”.
As it turned out, he was healthy and perfect. The baby’s father has never visited him and they are not a couple. She brought pictures of her son when she came to visit the girls in the spring. She has sent other photos of him a couple of times. He looks so much like the twins. It is hard to imagine that these kids will not want to connect some day. I wish our birth mother the very best and hope she is enjoying parenting.”
Lynn remembered: “When we got the call about Morgan’s biological sibling being born our feelings spanned from overwhelmed, excited, and not being able to process. We learned about the baby when he was already one month old, so we didn’t have much time to digest the information. I remember saying, “I can’t believe Morgan has a brother.” Rob and I had just assumed that Morgan was going to be an only child. Although we did want other children, we were both okay with raising one. We were lucky to adopt Morgan. We never, in a million years, would have thought that this would have happened. I wasn’t working, so we didn’t know how we could afford the adoption fees, let alone all the extra expenses that went along with raising another child. We had no money saved. We were still paying off the loan for Morgan’s adoption, and didn’t think it was feasible. We couldn’t escape the feeling that we couldn’t let them live separately. Yet how on earth would we come up with that kind of money literally overnight? After speaking with the agency, a lot of our anxieties were soothed. Placing siblings together is regarded highly and a payment plan was discussed. The experience taught us what the true meaning of family is as our family members offered to lend us as much as we needed to adopt again. Ultimately, it wasn’t hard to decide to adopt Aiden. That part was easy. If there was a way, we were going to try to find it.”
Karen responded: “At the initial phone call from Adoption STAR, we were surprised and shocked. It was not something we had ever thought would happen. Our first reaction was “how can we do this again so soon and where do we get the finances, if we decide to adopt this baby?” Then we both thought “how do you say no?” After much talking and praying, the decision was made to move forward with this placement. It took a while to sink in that we were going to bring home another baby. It just didn’t seem possible. We had mixed emotions. We were excited, happy, nervous, (even though this would be baby number 3), and a little scared. We wondered how our other two children would adjust and how we would adjust. We had to do our home study update paperwork over again in a short period of time. It didn’t feel real this time until Justin was placed into our arms. I must admit that it took a while for all of us to adjust to our newest addition. We talked about the baby with our 10 year old so he would be prepared as best as possible. Our 18 month old didn’t understand what was going on. He was not real happy about this tiny intrusion on his life. We allowed him to touch the baby and sit next to us whenever he wanted to. When he was ready to hold the baby, we allowed him to do just that (with our assistance, of course). Our 10 year old was allowed private time in his room when he needed to get away from the ‘babies.” Although, he has been asked to help out a lot and usually does so happily (keeping him involved is so important, he did feel a little displaced this time, just like the last time; although he got over it much quicker. We continued to inform him how much he is loved by both of us. The best advice we could give anyone is to communicate with each other, family, friends, and Adoption STAR about your feelings and emotions.”
L told me via telephone: “Finding out our daughter’s birth mother was pregnant again was a shock to say the least. Our daughter was turning two in a closed adoption. We felt so blessed to have a son by birth and a daughter by adoption that we were afraid to tempt fate. We also had so much else going on that we felt we had to say no. At first we brainstormed who in our family may want to adopt our daughter’s half sibling, but that became too painful for me as I did not want to see that child as a family member only to question whether or not I should have made a different decision. We want to know the new family and keep in touch for the children’s benefit. I feel blessed everyday for our children and know that the decision we made was in the best interest of our family.”
Of the seven responses, we covered adopting your child’s birth sibling, learning the birth mother of your child chose to parent her next child or children, one who chose abortion and another family who chose not to adopt again. These situations clearly show that everyone is different. Each family’s response may have started with “surprise” or shock but each family’s journey took them on different paths. One important piece of the puzzle however is often overlooked. We can more easily relate to the adoptive parent perspective and whether we may want to consider adopting the sibling of the child we already adopted, but have we thought about the birth mother and her situation?
Granted, as mentioned earlier, a pregnancy that occurs within a year of the birth of the child she placed for adoption is hard to deal with – not only for the adoptive parents but for the birth mother herself and for the adoption professionals involved. There have been adoptive families who have told me that they hope to hear that the birth mother is pregnant again so they can adopt again. I respond that it sounds neat, but it actuality it would be very sad if the birth mother found herself pregnant again. One of our “repeat” birth mothers called us almost daily throughout her subsequent pregnancy and had such a hard time overcoming the fact that she got herself in the same situation again. She felt terrible about herself; embarrassed to have the adoptive family find out; and anxious about living through another loss.
If the birth mother selects a parenting plan and allows us to work with her we counsel her to identify why she thinks she has become pregnant again. Was it an unexpected pregnancy or planned? Does she believe by raising this baby that she will fill the void she feels? Does she believe that she can “replace” the baby she placed for adoption? Of course this is not possible and often leads to disappointment and challenges for the birth mother throughout her parenting plan.
On the other hand, if your child’s birth mother is pregnant again and chooses to parent this time, have there been remarkable changes in her life? Was she at first a college student and now she has graduated with a degree and feels more ready for parenthood? Is she engaged to be married or currently married? Is she more mature, responsible and stable? Has she identified additional support from family members or friends that perhaps were not there for her before? It may be hard to accept a woman’s decision to parent when you desire to adopt her child, but it is her right to make the decision to parent, just as it was her right to choose you to adopt the baby she placed for adoption.
For those of us who adopted a birth sibling we recall the moments of learning of the pregnancy and birth and the incredible stress and unbelievable joy that coincided. For those of us who learned that a birth mother parented after placing a child with us beforehand, we can not stop wondering what life would have been like if he or she joined our family and how different his or her life would be today. Both scenarios cause a great deal of emotion that can easily be recalled even if much time has passed. Unexpectedly, my husband and I encountered both these scenarios.
For those who chose to pass on adopting the sibling or half sibling, you may feel similarly, wondering how the child is doing and overwhelm yourself by asking, “Did I make the right decision?” These feelings are typical and expected. Reminding yourself of all the reasons why you made your decision will help you understand that you did make the best decision for your family.
It is important to value the fact that life takes us on many paths and we must find security by accepting the choices that we make for ourselves as well as those made by our children’s birth families. Often these times cause us to feel unsettled, however acknowledging that we do not have all the answers will help us to enjoy our journey even more!
The Washington Post recently wrote a feature on two American teenage adoptees who were adopted from Eastern Europe, one from Russia and one from Kazakhstan, and how they traveled back to their homelands with their families.
The feature focused on Deanna Torstenson, 17, who was adopted at the age of two by an American family. According to the article Deanna began asking about her birth family at a very young age, always wanting to know if she had brothers and sisters in Kazakhstan. Deanna’s parents eventually turned to International Adoption Search, a company that searches for and contacts birth families in Russia, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine. According to the article, 14 months later, when Deanna was 10-years-old, the family received a letter from International Adoption Search that said they had found and contacted Deanna’s birth mother. Deanna’s birth mother, Maryam, was told that her daughter died in the hospital and was in tears when the researcher told her that Deanna was alive and well.
Often in international adoptions, the adoptive family does not receive a lot of information on the child’s family history, which makes it more difficult to search for the birth family. Deanna’s mother, Karen, said in the article that the search was difficult at times because she never expected her daughter would be able to contact her birth family.
“I guess I’ve had some mixed feelings over the years,” Karen said in the article. “It wasn’t something you expected to have happen. In international adoption, you don’t expect you’re ever going to have the birth family be part of your life.”
Deanna was so excited to receive this information that, according to the article, she began taking Russian lessons and made plans to visit her birth family with her father. This past summer those plans came to fruition when Deanna and her father traveled to Kazakhstan to see her birth parents and siblings. While Deanna fit right in playing with all of her siblings, she and her father were affected by the living conditions. The article said that Kazakhstan can get to 40 degrees below zero in the winter, and the snow and mud can make traveling to-and-from their home town impossible 10 months out of the year.
“You read about poverty, but when you see it, especially when it’s your own family… There’s so much they’ve never seen and will never see,” Deanna said in the article. “It’s kind of amazing to think, what if I had lived that life?”
According to the article Deanna still keeps in contact with her birth family through letters and occasional Skype visits and hopes to see them again soon.
If you are interested in growing your family through international adoption, it is important that you work with a Hague Accredited adoption agency, such as Adoption STAR. Each country has its own regulations and it is important to work with a reputable orphanage. For more information on Adoption STAR’s international adoption programs, please visit the Adoption STAR website.
We would love to hear from those who adopted or were adopted internationally about any experiences they’ve had finding birth family members.
The New York State Adoption Registry is a website that can be used by adoptees, birth parents, and birth siblings of adoptees, in their efforts to connect with their birth families. To use the New York State Adoption Registry, both the birth and the adoption must have taken place in New York State.
According to an article in the Dunkirk Observer, the website can offer three forms of information to adoptees: “non-identifying, identifying and medical.”
If you are at least 18-years-old you can sign-up at the Registry website and receive information as an adoptee. The article said that even if their birth parents have not registered, an adoptee can still obtain non-identifying information, which includes “general appearance, religion, ethnicity, race, education and occupation.” They can also receive the name of the adoption agency used.
Identifying information can only be obtained if everyone involved has registered and given their consents. The article said that identifying information includes current names and addresses.
According to the article, in order to register to receive information on their birth family, an adoptee must be 18. However, if an adoptee would like to try to receive their birth family’s medical history prior to their 18th birthday, they can do so with the signature of their adoptive parent.
“Birth parents can give medical and psychological information to the registry at any time after the adoption,” the article said. “If the adoptee is already registered, the information will be shared with him or her. If the adoptee is not registered, the information will be kept until the adoptee registers.”
Once an adoptee signs up with the registry, any medical information their birth parents have filled out will be received shortly after. The article said that it can take more then six months to receive non-identifying information and years to obtain identifying information. Because identifying information can only be released once the birth parents and adoptee have all registered and signed the consent, identifying information may never be available.
In 2008 the Adoption Registry expanded its services to include the Birth Parent Consent Program. According to the article this allows birth parents to register with the Adoption Registry “whether they give consent or do not give consent for the release of their contact information (name and address) to the adoptee.” Once the birth parent signs their consent their contact information will be released to the adoptee once “he or she reaches at least eighteen years of age and registers with the Adoption Information Registry.”
The New York State Adoption Registry does not directly charge users for its services.
Before proceeding with an adoption search Adoption STAR always advises that you speak with your loved ones and think about all of the possible outcomes of the search. It can also be helpful to speak with an adoption therapist.
For more information on all of the services the New York State Adoption Registry provides, please read the full article here.
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.
CNN recently posted a feature story on the plight of adoptees from the World War II-era, who were born to white German mothers and African American male soldiers who were in Germany on military duty. According to the article, “couples were often split apart by disapproving military officers…and the single mothers of the African American babies struggled to find support in a mostly white Germany and were encouraged to give their kids up.”
According to the article, many of these romances occurred because “many women German women perceived the black soldiers to be kinder than their white counterparts.” While the African American soldiers “wanted to seize the advantages of being away from Jim Crow America.”
The article said that between 1945-1955, about 5,000 “Brown Babies” were born, and as of 1968 “Americans had adopted about 7,000 of these German children.” Many were not told they were adopted until they were adults. One of the main reasons that these children were placed in America, according to the article, was Germany’s “national identity was strongly tied to white German heritage.”
One of these adoptees was Daniel Cardwell, who has been searching for most of his adult life for his biological roots. According to the article, Cardwell was adopted at the age of four by an African-American family in Washington DC. He has gone to great lengths to find out more about his birth family including traveling “the country in search of aging documents, hypnotism therapy,build(ing) relationships with distant family members and visit(ing) Germany several times.”
The article said that time may be running our for Cartwell and other “Brown Babies” to find their birth parents.
“People’s mothers are passing away, their fathers are passing away, and people are starting to wonder who they are,” Henrietta Cain, a “Brown Baby,” said in the article. “Now even we are passing away, and it’s a story that needs to be told.”
While many have been unable to track their roots, Cain said she has been able to find her biological sister and mother and now has a close relationship with both. She said that her birth father passed away before they could meet. She now devotes her life to helping other “Brown Babies” find their birth families according to the article.
The article said that there has recently been two documentaries on this topic. “Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story” was released in the summer of 2011 and “Brown Babies: Germany’s Lost Children” was shown on German Television in the fall.
There are countless stories of celebrities adopting children, but far less of celebrities who were adopted reuniting with their birth parents.
Country singer, Rodney Atkins, became the spokesman for the National Council for Adoption in 2008, and according to an article in the USA Today, Atkins soon found himself inundated with messages from across country telling him they were his birth family. This led him to decide that he was ready to find his actual birth family and was reunited with his birth mother in late 2008.
The article said that Atkins’ birth mother became pregnant at 19 and did not tell her family about the pregnancy, even after she placed Rodney for adoption.
“I just wanted to tell her thank you, because she had some other alternatives to end that situation,” Atkins said in the article. “I might not be here. So you don’t want to take it for granted…She kept saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ I kept saying, ‘Thank you.’”
Along with meeting his birth mother, Rodney was able to meet his brother and grandmother, both of whom did not know he existed. His grandmother recently passed away but Atkins was thankful his birth mother gave him the opportunity to meet her.
“She had to tell her after all these years, ‘you have another grandson that I never told you about.’ I can’t imagine what she’s been carrying,” Atkins said in the article.
Apple Co-Founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, passed away on Wednesday evening. Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and had a liver transplant in 2009. Jobs formally resigned as CEO of Apple in late August 2011.
Jobs kept his personal life very private, however it is known that Paul and Clara Jobs adopted him as a newborn. For many years it was not public information who Jobs’ biological parents were, but in recent years his parents were named as Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah John Jandali. According to several reports Simpson and Jandali were college students, Jandali was a Syrian immigrant, and despite the pregnancy, Simpson’s parents refused to allow them to marry.
Because they could not marry, Simpson and Jandali placed their child for adoption. In a 2005 Stanford Commencement speech, Jobs spoke of his adoption. In that speech Jobs said that his biological mother was adamant that he be adopted by college graduates, because education was important to her. Jobs said that a doctor and lawyer couple were prepared to adopt him, however they decided when he was born that they really wanted a daughter.
Jobs continues that the agency scrambled to find a new couple and called Paul and Clara Jobs who immediately said yes. When his biological mother discovered that neither Paul nor Clara Jobs graduated college, and Paul never graduated high school, Jobs said his biological mother refused to sign the finalization papers for months until the Jobs’ promised that Steve would go to college.
Jobs did go to college, but dropped out of Reed College after one semester. Despite his lack of formal education Jobs made Apple one of the most well-known and innovative companies in the world.
Jandali and Simpson eventually did marry and had a daughter, novelist, Mona Simpson. According to many articles and reports Jobs and Simpson had a good relationship once they met as adults. However, Jobs never met either of his biological parents. According to an ABC News article, Jandali sent several emails to Jobs in recent years in an effort to meet his son, however Jobs was not receptive and did not respond to any of the emails.
An interesting question that will never be answered is what if Simpson’s parents had allowed her to marry Jandali and Jobs had never been placed for adoption. Would we be talking about former Apple CEO Steve Jobs today? His biological mother obviously put a strong importance on education. What if Jobs had graduated college, and spent his formative years receiving a formal education instead of working at Atari then, then traveling to India on a “spiritual enlightening trip” would he have still created Apple? Obviously these are questions that will go unanswered, but are interesting to think about.
Below is the video of Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford, where he speaks about his adoption and formative years.
What is post adoption contact? It is another way of describing an open adoption, often within a written agreement between the adoptive parents and birth parents.
Whether you are an expectant parent making an adoption plan or a potential adoptive parent, one of the biggest decisions you will make is how much post adoption contact you hope to have after placement.
At Adoption STAR we believe in and encourage post adoption contact because it benefits everyone involved in the adoption journey. There are different levels of “openness” and in some cases this will mean birth parents and adoptive parents sharing non-identifying information, while in other situations adoptive parents and birth parents will feel comfortable with a full exchange of identifying information.
No matter who you are in the adoption journey, open adoption can be a scary thought if you have only recently heard about it. During the beginning stages of your relationship with Adoption STAR, you will learn more about the process and have the opportunity to discuss your fears to eliminate any lingering doubts you may have about open adoption.
Open adoption is beneficial for everyone involved, most importantly the child. It is important that expectant parents consider all of their options including processing the open adoption option.
While Adoption STAR provides a definition of the range of post adoption contact, the agency asks that adoptive be open minded and receive education on the many benefits of having an open adoption.
Adoption STAR is an agency dedicated to maintaining connections between adoptive families and birth families and offers education and support with an open adoption plan.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive regular updates
Presidential Proclamation of National Adoption Month
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama proclaimed November as National Adoption Month. The proclamation reads as follows: BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION As a Nation that believes all children deserve the