Little child sleeping

How The Adoption Process Can Work, A Personal Account.

Having adopted our first child five years earlier, my husband and I definitely felt like we were going into adoption #2 as seasoned pros, veterans of sorts. And so our second adoption journey started much like our first and it became abundantly clear that our priority was going to be connecting with the right people – only this time around, it seemed as if there might literally be hundreds of offices out there who would be more than happy to work with us with the promise of a baby down the road.

We had just moved to a new city and that Monday morning, my husband went to work, our son went off to preschool and I set off to complete what seemed like endless piles of paperwork sent to us from the various adoption offices we had contacted. Once the forms were turned in and our fingerprints done, the obvious (and difficult) waiting game began.

Time definitely felt like it was standing still. Besides a monthly email with little to no helpful information from our adoption office, we weren’t getting the feeling that our dream of our child becoming a big brother was going to become a reality any time soon.

And then one day, I was chatting with someone who didn’t know that we were in the process of adopting (this conversation would later turn out to be one of the many seemingly random acts of fate that has sometimes steered our journeys). She asked me if I was working with someone named Elisabeth. When I told her that we weren’t, she insisted that I connect with her right away. She described Elisabeth as the most caring and honest person and told me that she works in the “adoption world”. Little did I know that at that moment, my adoption journey would be forever changed, and thankfully for the best.

Of course, I called Elisabeth right away and we had a great call. She was honest and insightful and made me feel very at ease about all the steps we had taken so far. Soon after, we scheduled a time for her to meet us, we spoke to David, checked out a reference or two and before long, we became clients of Adoptions First.

Working with Adoptions First was truly amazing and unlike any of our other experiences. From Elisabeth, David and Linda, to Stella and the office staff and everyone in between, we always felt like we were in great hands. And what we quickly learned is that we didn’t just want to be the ones being taken care of, but we also wanted the birth mothers that they were working with to be treated with the same respect. Elisabeth and the entire team at Adoptions First was really there for us every step of the way and it became really clear to us that they truly gave the same support to the birth mothers.

At Adoptions First, you are not only building your family, but you are building long standing relationships with people who know firsthand about adoption and care from the bottom of their hearts. I am pleased to share that because of the support we received from Elisabeth and Adoptions First, we didn’t stop at adoption journey #2 – we are now the proudest parents of three wonderful children, all of whom entered our lives through the amazing world of adoption.

Five Things Adoptees Wish Their Parents Knew

1. Speak about “The Way You Became A Family” with pride. Start conversations about it and embrace your story. Your child will pick up subtle messages such as your tone of voice, confidence, and your non-verbal clues about how you feel about their adoption. You want them to receive the message that you are proud about how you became a family, so they know there is nothing to be ashamed of.

2. Even if they aren’t talking about it, we need to be aware that young children think about their story. The search begins in their imagination. Our children wonder “Where is my birthmom now? Does she want to meet me or know who I am?” Our children want us to take the initiative in opening the conversation about their birthparents. Remember that children want us to demonstrate empathy and acceptance. Empower your child to feel all kinds of feelings about their adoption story. Your home should be a place where they feel safe expressing a range of emotions about their adoption without fear of upsetting you.

3. At some point children think about meeting their birthmother. You are their real parent, and their interest in wanting to meet their birthmother is not a threat to you or your role. It is natural to want to know where you came from. If you do not have an open adoption but feel your child would benefit from a more open relationship with their birthmother, seek out a licensed adoption professional to help guide your family through the process.

4. Keep in mind that there is a difference between secrecy and privacy. Respect your child’s privacy. It is not necessary to tell others the details of your child’s adoption story. Remember, it’s their story, not yours.

5. Current adoption psychology suggests that parents should help their child see the fact they are an adoptee as a place setting at the table of their identity, and be sure it isn’t focused on as if it should be the centerpiece. While it is an important part of who they are, it is only one of many important things… “I’m a soccer player, an awesome speller, an adoptee, the biggest cousin, and a dancer.”

Into the Open

Diving in to the Dangers of Secrecy

Being an adoptee is different from not being adopted. Not better or worse, but different. As an adoptee grows up, there are unique issues to consider at home and at school. This “extra layer” can be prepared for ahead of time, and adoptive parents can arm themselves with the tools to help their child navigate these delicate moments.

Depending on their age and individual personality, they may wonder, “Do I have any birth-brothers or birth-sisters? Do my birthparents think about me on my birthday? Are my parents happy they adopted me? Why didn’t my birthparents keep me?” There are a broad range of feelings and attitudes among adoptees depending upon the situation of each child and family. Everyone has their own way of reacting to the realities of adoption, and there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to feel.

Luckily, adoption is more openly acknowledged and discussed today than in previous generations. Children now grow up knowing their adoption story from the beginning, without the memory of “The Day They Were Told They Were Adopted.” Adoption has become a mainstream way to build a family, and your child will grow up knowing other adoptees. Whether they inquire about their birthparents as a young child, or express interest as an adolescent, the majority of adoptees do in fact want to meet their birthparents.

This information is presented to provide a forum to start a conversation with your child. The voices of adoptees should be heard. Ideally, you want your home to be a safe place for your child to feel a range of feelings about their adoption as they grow up.

Unanswered Questions
Children who are raised in an environment of secrecy, where their adoption story is vague or avoided, receive the unspoken message that the subject is taboo. They often develop fantasies to explain things they don’t understand or have answers for. If they do not have information about their birthmother, they may have exaggerated fantasies that she is a princess in a far off land, or in the other direction, fear that she is someone awful.

Dangers of Secrecy
If your child expresses curiosity in meeting their birthmother, it might feel like an unnecessary complication, and the “easier” answer might seem to discourage their interest. The danger in dismissing this is that they may think that as their parents, you are protecting them from something. Children may eventually leap to the natural conclusion, “I know I came from her, does that mean I inherited something bad too?” Ultimately, not allowing them to meet their birthmother can send a message that something must be bad about her, or shameful about being adopted, or why else would they have to be kept from her?

Open Communication
Bringing the subject out into the open can normalize the concept of adoption. If children grow up in an environment where their birthparents and adoption story is easily part of the conversation, it can be something they ask about without fear of upsetting their parents. Additionally, if they meet her, they can also hear from her directly about the reasons she sought out an adoption plan and about the story of how she “just knew” that these were the people meant to be the parents of the baby she was growing inside her. This is the most effective way for your child to feel confident that they are meant to be your child.

Ultimately, open adoption brings peace of mind to birthparents, adoptive parents and, most importantly, to children. It provides individuals with an opportunity to solidify a strong self-esteem and a sense of pride in their adoption story. They can feel confident that everyone came together on their behalf, and made this plan out of love.

Diving In To The Dangers of Secrecy

Being an adoptee is different from not being adopted. Not better or worse, but different. As an adoptee grows up, there are unique issues to consider at home and at school. This “extra layer” can be prepared for ahead of time, and adoptive parents can arm themselves with the tools to help their child navigate these delicate moments.

Depending on their age and individual personality, they may wonder, “Do I have any birth-brothers or birth-sisters? Do my birthparents think about me on my birthday? Are my parents happy they adopted me? Why didn’t my birthparents keep me?” There are a broad range of feelings and attitudes among adoptees depending upon the situation of each child and family. Everyone has their own way of reacting to the realities of adoption, and there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to feel.

Luckily, adoption is more openly acknowledged and discussed today than in previous generations. Children now grow up knowing their adoption story from the beginning, without the memory of “The Day They Were Told They Were Adopted.” Adoption has become a mainstream way to build a family, and your child will grow up knowing other adoptees. Whether they inquire about their birthparents as a young child, or express interest as an adolescent, the majority of adoptees do in fact want to meet their birthparents.

This information is presented to provide a forum to start a conversation with your child. The voices of adoptees should be heard. Ideally, you want your home to be a safe place for your child to feel a range of feelings about their adoption as they grow up.

Unanswered Questions

Children who are raised in an environment of secrecy, where their adoption story is vague or avoided, receive the unspoken message that the subject is taboo. They often develop fantasies to explain things they don’t understand or have answers for. If they do not have information about their birthmother, they may have exaggerated fantasies that she is a princess in a far off land, or in the other direction, fear that she is someone awful.

Dangers of Secrecy

If your child expresses curiosity in meeting their birthmother, it might feel like an unnecessary complication, and the “easier” answer might seem to discourage their interest. The danger in dismissing this is that they may think that as their parents, you are protecting them from something. Children may eventually leap to the natural conclusion, “I know I came from her, does that mean I inherited something bad too?” Ultimately, not allowing them to meet their birthmother can send a message that something must be bad about her, or shameful about being adopted, or why else would they have to be kept from her?

Open Communication

Bringing the subject out into the open can normalize the concept of adoption. If children grow up in an environment where their birthparents and adoption story is easily part of the conversation, it can be something they ask about without fear of upsetting their parents. Additionally, if they meet her, they can also hear from her directly about the reasons she sought out an adoption plan and about the story of how she “just knew” that these were the people meant to be the parents of the baby she was growing inside her. This is the most effective way for your child to feel confident that they are meant to be your child.

Ultimately, open adoption brings peace of mind to birthparents, adoptive parents and, most importantly, to children. It provides individuals with an opportunity to solidify a strong self-esteem and a sense of pride in their adoption story. They can feel confident that everyone came together on their behalf, and made this plan out of love.

Download Educational Material 1:

Talking To Children About Their Birthparents- How To Handle Difficult Questions And Address Sensitive Issues

Download Educational Material 2 :

Watch Your Language Article


Announcements

We are pleased to announce that Renee Franklin has joined the Law Office of David L. Ellis as Director of Adoptions First. Renee has been working directly with adoptive parents, birthparents, and adoption professionals for over 21 years. She brings to the position her immeasurable depth of knowledge, attention to detail, and love for adoption. Renee will support and guide clients throughout their adoption journey with care and compassion while ensuring that our clients receive the highest quality of adoption services.

We are also thrilled to introduce Dr. Jennifer Bliss, LCSW, PsyD, who is collaborating with Adoptions First to provide clinical support, education and consultation services for our birthparents and families. For over 15 years, Dr. Bliss has worked to promote best practices in child welfare and adoption. She has supervised adoption counselors across the nation and also has a bicoastal private practice where she works with all members of the adoption triad.

Bonnie Hiler is a California attorney with over 25 years experience in adoption. As a sole practitioner, she is available as an independent contractor to assist our families as needed in answering questions and facilitating legal aspects of the adoption after a match has been made.

And finally, Adoptions First is excited to welcome Alexandra Desmond, MSW. After making an adoption plan for her daughter over 5 years ago, Alexandra earned a Masters in Social Work to spend her career helping others through the adoption process. Throughout her academic program, Alexandra continued her engagement with the adoption community as a Birthmother Outreach Coordinator, Adoption Agency Intern, and Birthmother Buddy. Alexandra will be an invaluable resource for our birthmothers and a wonderful asset to our team.

We also want to let everyone know that Elisabeth Wallock and Amy Bresler have left Adoptions First to spend more time with their families. David, Elisabeth and Amy continue to work together during this transition for the benefit of all of our clients. Their cases have been reassigned and our new Adoption Specialists will be reaching out to all of our current families in the coming weeks. Both Amy and Elisabeth have expressed their well wishes for Adoptions First and our legacy of success in building families. We thank them for their years of dedication and hope they will join us in the future at one of our Adoption Celebrations.