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Friday, January 17, 2020

Tips for an Open Adoption


Rose and Jacob became a CAC family right around Thanksgiving last year. However, this isn't their first time pursuing adoption. Their son, Tommy, joined their family through adoption back in 2017. If you’d like to learn more about their first adoption journey, you can visit the Our Adoption Story section of her blog. As their consultant, I quickly learned that they not only had a heart for open adoption but were actively in an open adoption relationship with Tommy's birth family. I think it's important for hopeful adoptive parents to hear different experiences other adoptive parents have with open adoption, which is why I asked Rose to write a guest blog. Here's their experience:

For the first year, we saw members of Tommy’s birth family at least once a month. For a number of reasons, we had all of these visits at our house. This is not the norm for open adoption, and again, is not something you should do unless you’re 100% comfortable with it. I’m very grateful that they were willing to travel to see us so often when Tommy was really little. Having visits in our home allowed us to plan them around Tommy’s schedule and made it so much easier for feedings, changing diapers, and naps.

Since then, we’ve continued to have visits every one to two months. We’ve been able to go to a couple of birth family member’s homes and started having more visits elsewhere, too. As Tommy gets older, it’s easier to meet at a park or restaurant. As he continues to get involved in more activities, I know that future visits will revolve around events like baseball games and piano recitals as well. We also make it a point to get together around Christmas, and Tommy’s birth family was able to attend Tommy’s first and second birthday parties at our house.

I’m sure that it sounds cheesy and even unreal but having an open relationship with Tommy’s birth family is like having a second family. Tommy is so fortunate to have more extended family who love him and want to spend time with and celebrate his milestones. His birth family have been some of the most thoughtful people in my life these last couple of years, going out of their way to send texts, pictures, cards, and gifts, even to me and my husband. I’ve spent as much time as, if not more time with, a lot of Tommy’s birth relatives as I have with my own family.

With that being said, adoption is still complicated and comes with layers that don’t exist with biological children. We’re also still very early in our experience with open adoption. We have always talked with Tommy about adoption. Especially given the fact that he sees his birth family so often, I truly believe that he already knows he’s adopted. But he isn’t old enough yet to start talking about or asking questions about adoption.

We’re doing our best to lay a solid groundwork and cultivate a relationship in which he can come to us to talk about adoption. Inevitably, there will still be hurdles along the way. But I couldn’t be more grateful that this is our adoption story and that it includes such a high level of openness. We are so thankful for Tommy’s birth family and their love and support. 
Always be yourself. A birth family doesn’t choose an adoptive family because they think they’re perfect. There’s no need to clean your house from top to bottom or obsess over your outfit choices every time you get together with birth family. Don’t feel like you can only show “perfect” moments in updates as well. People love to see blurry cell phone shots and candid video of those little moments.

Honor your commitments. When you say you’re going to send monthly updates on a certain day of the month, stick to the schedule. When you schedule Skype calls or in-person visits, follow through with the plans. It’s completely understandable to re-schedule or cancel once in a while. But don’t make it a regular habit.

Be respectful of their emotions. It blows my mind that people ask me all the time if it’s hard for me seeing Tommy spend time with his birth family. It will always be so many times harder for them than it is for me. Birth families may not always feel up for calling or visiting or even reading updates. That’s totally fine. Give them the space they need. It’s also important to remember that some of your happiest days, such as Christmas and your child’s birthday, may be some of their toughest days.

Be respectful of each other’s privacy. Establish expectations for sharing photos, videos, and other content about one another, particularly on social media. This respect goes both ways. I don’t share names and photos of Tommy’s birth family publicly. I also expect them to share photos of Tommy publicly with care.

Remember the birth family on birthdays, holidays, and other major occasions. Taking the time to send a text or email or put a card or small gift in the mail goes a long way toward showing birth family you’re thinking about them.

Establish and maintain a strong adoptive family community for support. The majority of my family and friends don’t understand what it’s like to have an open adoption. At all. Having a close group of adoptive mamas I can talk to about all things adoption has been priceless.


Further reading on open adoption from Rose's blog:


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Aniyah Grace

Lyndon and Janae first connected with me the week of Thanksgiving. I could tell right off the bat that this wasn't their first time through an adoption journey. After speaking with them for a couple of weeks, they decided to sign on with Christian Adoption Consultants. I was thrilled to be a small part of their family's story of adopting again! 

Even though I had only known them for a few weeks, their faith that God would lead them to the child meant for their family was inspiring. Right off the bat, Lyndon and Janae chose to present and were told "no" twice. Although this can be heart wrenching, I watched from afar as they stood firm on God's timing for their family. Little did they know, He had something in the works for them. 

On January 2, Janae was contacted by a dear friend who had been in contact with the nurse who helped deliver her daughter that she adopted. This nurse had a daughter who was due at any time and was choosing to make an adoption plan. 

Lyndon and Janae stepped out in faith and said yes to a vastly unknown situation. What followed in the hours after saying yes was a whirlwind! After hardly adjusting to the fact that they were matched, they were told they needed to start driving because the expectant mother was in active labor. During the morning on January 3, Aniyah Grace was born! 


When I asked Janae what it was like meeting Aniyah for the first time, this is what she said: 

Usually I get so nervous and worked up over new things like this. But we all were so at peace as we walked into the hospital and met the family. Aniyah's birth mother and I hugged each other and I gave her a hard copy of our profile book so she could have it since this was such a quick match. The hospital nicely gave us a private room and they wheeled Aniyah in. Our hearts could hardly contain all her sweetness! It was such a wonderful experience and I still hardly have any words for it. We feel so blessed and awed by our great God! He’s a miracle worker! 

Friday, January 3, 2020

Expectant Mother & Birth Mother


My oldest son had recently started testing the waters of calling me by my first name instead of Mom. At first it was something I giggled and shook my head at but then after a few days, it started to feel icky. I realized that I needed to sit him down and explain that although it was funny the first few times, it wasn't funny anymore. In fact, it was coming across as disrespectful. He listened and then replied, "But Mom, Daddy calls you Meg. Why can't I?"

He made a valid point. However, I'm an authority figure for him as my son. I made the analogy that he would never think to call his teacher at school by her first name. It's out of respect that we call her Mrs. Smith because the terminology we use for people matter.

In the adoption world, the terminology we use for each side of the triad carries a tremendous amount of weight. This is especially true when it comes to the woman making an adoption plan for her unborn baby.

We use the term Expectant Mother when a mother is pregnant and making an adoption plan.

We use the term Birth Mother when a mother has given birth and signed the paperwork to allow a hopeful adoptive family to raise her baby.

We use these different terms to respect that a mother who has an adoption plan for her baby is still the person who makes the decisions for her baby until paperwork is signed. She is not called a birth mother until after paperwork is signed.


+ If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at meg@christianadoptionconsultant.com. +

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Adoption at the Hospital

When an expectant mother goes into labor and is admitted into the hospital the hopeful adoptive parent(s) are, most often, notified to make their way to the hospital. Emotions are running high for everyone involved. The expectant mother is giving birth to a baby she's made an adoption plan for and the hopeful adoptive parent(s) are eagerly awaiting the birth of a baby they have prepared to bring home.

At each step of an adoption plan, it is so important for the hopeful adoptive parent(s) to honor the expectant mother. But what does that look like in the hospital setting? To be honest, it means you as the adoptive family will be on the side lines unless asked to be otherwise.


Can we be in the delivery room?

It's the expectant mother's choice if she wants an adoptive family in the delivery room at any point. She may be okay with you in the room while she is in the beginning stages of labor, but then may ask you to leave when it's time to push. It's important to remember that giving birth is an incredibly vulnerable and sacred experience. If she allows you to experience any step of this with her, cherish it as a gift and not as an expectation.

Will we get a room at the hospital? 

This depends on the hospital where the baby is being delivered because each hospital handles adoption differently. Some hospitals do have designated rooms for adoptive families while other hospitals do not. If they do not, then you'll be expected to wait in the waiting room unless the expectant mother invites you into her room.

If you are from out-of-state, then you will need to secure a hotel or home of family/friends to stay at overnight.

Will we be able to hold the baby soon after birth?

It's possible! However, it's up to the expectant mother at what point the hopeful adoptive parent(s) will be able to. She may invite you into her room so you all can experience this sweet baby together or she may choose to have you hold the baby in the nursery/your room (depending on hospital accommodations).

What happens if we don't want the baby to get vaccinated?

In a typical match, the hopeful adoptive parent(s) and expectant mother have had some contact either through the phone or face-to-face over the last months of pregnancy which is when you can discuss your opinion with her. However, the expectant mother makes all of the decisions with her baby until she signs the paperwork. This means that if she sees it best to have the baby vaccinated after birth then that is her choice.

Can we name the baby?

This is another conversation that should happen beforehand, if possible. If you have a name that you've always loved or is a family name, then you can absolutely let her know that in a respectful way. However, as with vaccinations after birth, naming the baby is ultimately her decision.

When will we be able to bring the baby home?

You will be able to bring the baby home (or to the hotel to wait out ICPC if doing an out-of-state adoption) IF paperwork is signed by the mother and the baby is well enough to be discharged.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Are They Both Yours?

We were checking out at our local grocery store and I had both my boys in the grocery cart. The cashier asked, "Are they both yours?"

"Yep!",  I replied as I was becoming used to. Often times this was sufficient and no more questions were asked. 

But then she asked "So one has brown skin and the other is light skinned?"

I stared at my boys in the cart and saw that my oldest who has gorgeous brown skin listening intently. In that moment, my heart broke because he was old enough to understand her question.
I quickly replied, "Yep. He has the skin we are all jealous of! I wish I could be effortlessly tan!

I felt like my response wasn't enough and that I had failed my son who was listening intently. Since then, I've come to realize that I have to be prepared for these questions. We didn't enter into a multi-racial family with education that prepared us for these everyday situations. It's been 7 years of failing, listening to others, and researching ways to honor the way God created our family. Here are three practical tips from what I've learned along the way: 

Model How to Respond

They are watching us and listening to how we respond to different questions. How I respond is how my children will respond. Although my response at the grocery store was not bad in any way, I didn't like how off guard it made me feel. I wanted to be sure we had a go-to response that we as a family could use since any of us could be asked these things. After bouncing off some ideas with other adoptive families, we have rested upon "families don't have to match" as the response we keep in our back pocket. It's to the point and gentle. It allows for J to share more if he feels comfortable as he gets older and also allows him to simply keep it at that. 

Choose a School That Has Diversity 

We started J out in a private school. It was a great education but we quickly found that he was surrounded by children who were blonde haired and blue eyed. He was already feeling insecure about his deep brown eyes, so we didn't want him to grow up in constant environments where blue eyes were staring back at him. J now goes to our local public school where he is no longer the minority. He is surrounded by children who reflect him and some who don't. We knew we made the right choice when we got this picture from his teacher last year: 


That smile says it all!
I realize that some families choose to home school. First of all, I have the utmost respect for you if that's what you're choosing to do for your family! I think what is most important here, though, is that if you're adopting a child of a different race then you need to be intentionally giving that child experiences where they aren't always the minority. That might mean going to a different church once in awhile or signing your child up for activities where there are a diverse group of children. 

Let Your Child Talk About Their Differences


Kids notice differences so early! J was 4 years old when he started asking why he had brown eyes and I had blue eyes. He would then name everyone in our family who had blue eyes because he had been keeping track even before he put words to it. My wise husband has since started a bedtime ritual where J says the same three things right before a good night kiss - I am kind. I am smart. I have cool brown eyes. This gives him a nightly affirmation that the way he was designed is wonderful and not something he needs to feel ashamed of. 

We have to allow for a space where our kids who may not look like us to talk about it. We don't want to just push it under the rug and act like they don't see it because they do. We need to validate their feelings of being different within our families and also help them to see the beauty in the way God designed them to be. 



+ If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at meg@christianadoptionconsultant.com. +

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Your Adoption Guide


There are a lot of hoops to jump through when you decide to adopt. In light of this, lets break it down into baby steps (pun intended). An adoption consultant from Christian Adoption Consultants can be hired from the very beginning or after a home study is completed. However, using an adoption consultant from the beginning is wise because we will help you find a home study agency and can get started on creating a profile right away. Click here to learn more on what an adoption consultant does!

The next step after hiring an adoption consultant is the home study. This can be an intimidating step, but you can feel more prepared after reading Part 1 and Part 2 on what to expect during the home study process. 

While your home study provider is writing your home study and collecting the necessary documents, you or your adoption consultant can be working on the profile book that will be presented to expectant parents.

Once your home study and profile are completed, you can start applying to agencies using the multi-agency approach. When working with Christian Adoption Consultants, we will provide you with a recommended agency list with agencies who have a low up front fee and who have proven to be ethical adoption agencies.

After applying to agencies, you will start seeing situations! This is when there are fewer hoops to jump through and the wait begins. Once you are matched with an expectant parent(s), your consultant can help answer any questions you have about preparing for travel (if adopting outside of your home state), give you advice on how to approach your first visit or phone call with the expectant parent(s), what to expect with ICPC, and what finalization will look like. 

At CAC, we are here to guide you through the adoption process from beginning to end! If you are interested in receiving a free information packet, email us or call us at 888-833-1114.



+ If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at meg@christianadoptionconsultant.com. +

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Understanding Newborn Withdrawal


When a baby is exposed to substances in utero (including, but not limited to, heroin, meth, alcohol, antidepressants, inhalants, and methadone), they will often show symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms can include:

• Persistent or prolonged high-pitched crying
• Central nervous system hyper irritability
• Gastrointestinal dysfunction such as vomiting or diarrhea (which can lead to weight loss)
• Excessive sucking reflex
• Sleeping problems
• Frequent yawning
• Nasal stuffiness or sneezing
• Fever
• Sweating
• Rapid breathing
• Feeding problems
• Respiratory distress
• Dehydration
• Tremors or seizures

This withdrawal is referred to as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in a hospital setting. The symptoms and severity of NAS vary, and not all newborns exposed to drugs in utero will experience NAS. The severity of symptoms depends on a variety of factors like the infant’s gestational age at birth, whether the mother used nicotine or other psychoactive drugs, and the quality of care received in the hospital.

The hospital staff will use a scoring system where points are assigned for certain signs and symptoms. The scores assigned are based on the observations of the baby every 4 hours. These scores will then allow the hospital staff to make a treatment plan. The treatment plan often includes both non-pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical regimes. 

The non-pharmaceutical regimes include things that will help soothe the baby such as minimizing light and noise, swaddling, breastfeeding, and providing skin-to-skin contact with the mother.

For babies with severe withdrawal, they will require pharmaceutical treatment with a drug like morphine or methadone. The goal is to prescribe the baby with a drug similar to the one used by the mother during the pregnancy. Over a period of weeks or months, the baby is slowly weaned off of the drug in order to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. The average newborn will recover from NAS in 5 to 30 days with these treatment regimes.


+ If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at meg@christianadoptionconsultant.com. +


Resources:
https://studylib.net/doc/6994440/neonatal-abstinence-syndrome--nas-
https://fixforaddiction.com/n-a-s/
https://www.slideshare.net/SaraNoble/neonatal-abstinence-syndrome-60060197
http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/28/health/drug-babies/