Reflections on Recent Adoption STAR Orientations

Associate Director Michael Hill shares a blog post based on his experiences conducting two recent Adoption STAR orientation sessions – one in New York City, one in Amherst.

By Michael Hill

I truly enjoy having the opportunity to facilitate a few Adoption STAR orientation sessions during the course of any given calendar year. If memory serves me correctly, by the end of 2014 I’ll have facilitated or co-facilitated three of them – one in Manhattan in April, one in Manhattan in October, and one in Amherst in October.

The October orientations JUST transpired (10/2/14 and 10/5/14 to be exact). Having completed two orientation sessions in two different places within days of each other, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on a number of things – most notably how similar the questions were between the two sessions.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share some general commentary/reflections based on questions asked during the recent October orientation sessions:

MEETING AN EXPECTANT MOTHER THAT IS CONSIDERING PLACING HER CHILD WITH YOU– The idea of this type of meeting is extremely intimidating and nerve-wracking for the prospective adoptive parent(s). Leading up to (and even during) the meeting, prospective adoptive parents are worried about doing or saying the wrong thing, or feeling anxious about being able to accurately express their thoughts and feelings about parenthood. What’s important for prospective adoptive parents to remember is that the expectant parent(s) they’re slated to meet are probably feeling a high level of anxiety and nervousness, too. I’ve heard of several birth mothers who went into such meetings thinking thoughts like, “Oh my gosh, what if these people don’t like me? What if they decide they are not open to the idea of being matched with me? What if they decide they do not want to parent my child?” Prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents need to understand (and seek solace in the fact that) the level of anxiety that’s present for all folks attending such meetings is incredibly high. Frankly, it’s all normal and quite understandable. Acknowledge it, accept it, and get beyond it so that the expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents can get down to the important part of the meeting – conversing and getting to know each other without getting bogged down by nervousness!

COMMIT TO LEARNING AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ABOUT OPEN ADOPTION– Sensationalized stories in the media and “bad Lifetime movies” have done open adoption a disservice. Folks just starting to explore the idea adoption often find themselves initially uncomfortable or even unsettled by the idea of open adoption, believing as though it’s akin to co-parenting. The more research you do (and the more you converse with other individuals that have been touched by adoption), the more you come to understand the incredible benefits of openness in adoption for all parties involved…especially the person who’s best interested should always be paramount in any adoption plan – the adoptee.

DON’T STRESS ABOUT DEVELOPING AN ADOPTION PROFILE– At all of our orientations, we share sample profiles of Adoption STAR clients that have adopted a child. We do this in an effort to provide real, concrete examples of what a successful profile looks like. By doing so, we hope to inspire thought and creativity regarding what your profile could like when the time comes to develop it. However, some prospective adoptive parents review the profiles and find themselves thinking things like, “I could never put such a professional looking profile together,” or, “Look at these people! They are perfect in every way, shape and form – how do I measure up to THEM?” There is no single correct way to put a profile together, and there is no “magic formula” behind the reasons why an expectant parent chooses a particular family based on their profile. What’s most important is to put together a profile that is honestly and uniquely representative of YOU and YOUR LIFE. By truly being yourself, your portrayal (via the profile) will be an accurate and candid one. That honesty, in and of itself, will undoubtedly work to your advantage. And, if developing a profile on your own sounds about as appealing as getting a root canal, you can always utilize Adoption STAR’s Adoption Profile Solutions service to handle this process for you! You can learn more by contacting Adoptive Parent Coach and Mentor Sue Reardon at 716-639-3900 or