A network of adoptive families, birth families, and adoption professionals which exists to improve the lives of children and others touched by adoption through support and education. UFA is actively engaged in community outreach and advocacy to raise awareness of adoption as a loving option.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Raising Adopted Children

By Lois Ruskai Melina

This book is considered a classic reference for adoptive families. In fact, a previously printed version than the one pictured above was subtitled: A Manual For Adoptive Parents.

The author covers just about every area of adoption you can think of including bonding, contact with the birth family, talking to your child about adoption at different developmental stages in his/her life, and how to answer people’s questions about adoption. 

Melina also discusses special issues in adoption such as the multiracial family, special needs, behavior problems, and raising a family with both adopted and biological children. 

Raising Adopted Children is written in a straightforward and informative manner, and is a must-read for any adoptive parent. Although I'm an enthusiastic patron of the library, I have appreciated owning this book so I can return to it every couple of years or as needed while I rear my children. Every adoption - and every child - is unique, so not every part of the book will apply to every family. But there is enough solid information and guidance in this book to make it a beneficial addition to any adoptive family's shelves.

Do you have a favorite adoption book? Submit your review and we'll share it here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Birth Mother Who Shaped My Life

By Shanna Bake Gwilliam

Before my parents married, they bought two leather journals and engraved names on each. One boy. One girl. They wanted and planned for more than two children, but they had two names picked out, so they bought the journals with each inscription. They both came from large families and planned the same for their own family. But the Lord had another plan and for half of my childhood I was an only child.

I can't remember a time where my family wasn't praying for a baby to enter our home. After two stillborn babies and a full hysterectomy, my parents decided adoption was in our future. So, for what felt like an eternity, we waited and prayed and prayed and waited for a child to be placed with us.

One night, after a four-year wait, we got a call. My mother was told that we were getting a baby boy the following day. She and I didn't sleep at all that night. Needless to say, we were incredibly excited! I remember it like it was yesterday (even though it was almost 27 years ago). I remember the building, the office, the restlessness and the volunteer noticing I was having a hard time waiting as my parents signed paperwork. She asked if I wanted to meet my baby brother. I leapt up, saying I did! She took me into a room and had me sit in a rocking chair and placed him in my arms. I was beaming. For some reason, she left me alone with him. These were very sacred minutes (about fifteen) and I rocked him and sang to him. I got to meet him first!! I knew he was meant to be in our family. I finally had my brother!! I loved him so much!

Within the next few months, I came to the decision, at nine years old, that I wanted to work with adoption someday. We thought of his birth mother often, knowing she had to be hurting and wishing we could at least let her know that we were grateful and that he was loved. Even then, I had such a great desire to meet her and thank her. Instead, our whole family prayed daily for her, hoping she would know of our gratitude and that she would be blessed for her selfless decision.

My brother and I were extremely close. Yes, I tormented him and we fought, but we adore(d) each other. I was extremely ill in my late teens and it had to have taken a toll on him, but he took good care of me. He would set up my dialysis machine while I was out with friends and never, ever embarrassed me in front of the current boy I liked, even though he was at the very age most boys would have. Leaving for college was extremely difficult for me and I missed him terribly. I'd imagine the same was true for him. 

Due to the need for health insurance, I RACED through college. By the age of twenty-two, I had my masters degree in social work. I knew this was what I wanted and didn't even take one credit more than needed. A few months later, I was surprised to be hired to work at my dream job, LDS Family Services. I had the incredible privilege of witnessing the most selfless women and men of all time. . . my heroes. . . birth parents. As those birth parents were able to prayerfully select and meet the adoptive family their child would be placed with, I thought of my brother's birth parents (especially his birth mother) EVERY SINGLE TIME! I was so grateful that policies had changed, that these birth parents could PLACE their baby in the arms of the parents they chose. Watching those children grow and relationships between birth and adoptive parents flourish was incredibly satisfying, but I admit a tinge of jealousy.... I ached to have that type of relationship with my brother's birth parents, especially his birth mother. I knew she must be the most amazing woman of all time. I held her to a ridiculous standard. But was it? 

My brother met his first love in high school. It seemed to be love at first sight for him. They married several years later and I couldn't believe he beat me at getting married! 

 But, I worked hard. I saw working in adoption as a calling rather than a job. I would look at each adoptive parents' file to see if they had a sibling around my age. I asked my bosses, coworkers, etc., if they knew any great men. I worked so much that I knew that if I were to marry, I'd have to meet my spouse through work. 

Drew & Debbie Bake, Spencer & Shanna (Bake) Gwilliam,
and Alden, Maren & Isabella Bake
 After six years at LDS Family Services, I transferred to their Headquarters' office, primarily focusing on adoption. One of my responsibilities was marketing and who better to work with than adoption.com in marketing for adoption? The first time I visited, Nathan Gwilliam, co-owner of adoption.com and brother of my future spouse, pointed at me and said, "Spencer," wanting to set me up with his brother. Spencer lived in Arizona, so I didn't think it possible for us to actually date. This made it much easier to not worry and be ourselves. A year later, he moved to Utah, and we were married six months later. . . because of our adoption connection!

Last year, at the age of twenty-five, my brother called me and said, "Guess who I found?" I STARTED BAWLING, which is not in my nature for happy events. I asked him all sorts of questions that he didn't yet have answers for. He found his birth mother on a forum on adoption.com and he had just sent a message saying that he believed he was her birth son. They emailed for a while and then decided to meet. Their first meeting went incredibly well and I was extremely jealous that I couldn't go! Luckily, a few days later, he felt ready for all of us to meet her. As was fitting, she and her husband came to my home the day before Thanksgiving, 2011, and that high standard I had held her to was not only met, but exceeded! What a gift to finally meet her and thank her! My parents and I had a long-awaited meeting that night and we all adored her! 

Her children did not know about my brother. When she told them, her ten-year-old said, "Well, you know what this means, mom?" She said, "What?" And he responded, "You're a grandma now!" She is an incredible woman and I am so glad she entered my brother's life when she did. It was perfect timing. She was even able to attend my brother's graduation for his bachelor's degree. She has been an important force for good for him.

Watching my brother go through this practically perfect reunion has been captivating. Most reunions will not be so incredible, and yet, he has had some pretty intense positive AND difficult emotions. Those who were adopted need to carefully consider how and when to look for their birth parents and how to proceed with a relationship. Even though it was perfect timing for my brother, it was still an incredibly confusing experience. As an adoption expert and psychotherapist (and a sister that dearly loves her brother who was adopted), I suggest that those who were adopted in a time where adoptions were closed seek professional help as they deal with unexpected emotions, possibly unmet expectations, and the confusion that will likely accompany the process. 
Alden Bake at the 2012 Adoption Walk With Me with his wife & daughters,
his birth mother, and his birth half-sister.

I love adoption. I love birth parents. I LOVE my brother and his sweet, sweet wife and daughters. And, I have LOVED the opportunity to slowly add his birth mother's family to ours. I am grateful for the years that I got to be a fly on the wall and witness heroism. I am grateful for one very selfless birth mother, in particular, who shaped my life and led me down the adoption path where my most sacred experiences were had. Without her, I doubt I would have pursued a career in adoption or found my sweet, wonderful, eternal spouse! We plan to fost-adopt or adopt in the future and because of her, I have a firm hope and peace that all will be well. She is one of my greatest heroes and I believe her decision will continue to shape my life!! The couples, the birth parents, the children - an incredible triad that will have an eternal connection, one way or another. Let fears go, and know that you can handle what comes your way, no matter what part you play in adoption. For me, there is no denying God's role in the process and I am so grateful to have this incredible perspective. If you don't have it yet, trust those of us who do. It will come and you will count adoption among your greatest blessings! I certainly do!

Do you have an adoption story to tell? Send it to us and we'll share it here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winners Announced

Congratulations to our winners! Please email us your names and mailing addresses by Sunday, December 2nd. Movies will be shipped on Tuesday, December 4th.

We share our stories of adoption openly with friends and our children. We also wear "adoption, it's about love!" apparel as a conversation starter about adoption.

I am a foster mom as well as an adoptive mom. I share my children's story with them all the time.

Following the blog!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Free Printable Activities

Just a reminder that today is the final day to enter the giveaway for one of 5 DVDs of Disney's The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Winners will be announced tomorrow. Until then, here's a little gift from Disney to all of you!

Features & Activities!

My 7 Wish Leaves | Blessing Box Craft | Leaf Behinds

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Grafting

Submitted by Camille Cox, Texas

Do you have a photo that captures adoption in some way? Send it to us and we'll share it here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Promise

"To the women within the sound of my voice who dearly want to be mothers and are not, I say through your tears and ours on that subject, God will yet, in days that lie somewhere ahead, bring 'hope to [the] desolate heart.' ...Ultimately 'no blessing shall be withheld' from the faithful, even if those blessings do not come immediately. In the meantime we rejoice that the call to nurture is not limited to our own flesh and blood."

- Jeffrey R. Holland

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Welcome! We're so glad you found us. We're new, as you can see, but kicking things off with a bang here at United For Adoption. In the near future, we'll be building this blog and helping you understand who we are, what we're doing, and why we love adoption.

In the meantime, how would you like to curl up on the sofa with a good movie this holiday season? Even better, how would you like to get the movie for free?

We're giving away five copies of Disney's "The Odd Life of Timothy Green." Movies like this are a great tool for opening a discussion about adoption. The giveaway starts today and ends at midnight on 11/27/12. Winners will be announced 11/28/12, and must respond by 12/2/12 with their addresses. DVD prizes will be shipped 12/4/12, straight from Disney.

Want a sample?

Disney’s “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” one of the year’s most uplifting and enchanting family films, springs up on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD, High Definition Digital and On-Demand platforms on December 4, 2012. It’s the perfect, must-own family-film for audiences of all ages to enjoy and snuggle up to this coming holiday season.

From Academy Award-nominated writer/director Peter Hedges, and starring Golden Globe® winner Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Oscar® winner Dianne Wiest and CJ Adams as Timothy Green, comes this highly imaginative story (written by Ahmet Zappa) about a happily married couple who can’t wait to start a family but can only dream about what their child would be like. Then one stormy night young Timothy shows up on their doorstep. Soon they and the small town in which they live learn that sometimes the unexpected can bring some of life’s greatest gifts.

You can earn multiple entries by doing the following:

1. (required) Leave a comment below letting us know what you do to share the message of adoption with your children, family, friends, or community.

2. (optional) Become a follower of the blog. Just use one of the tools to the right to join this site or follow by email. Leave a comment letting us know how you are following.

3. (optional) Like United For Adoption on Facebook. Leave a comment letting us know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Under Construction

Still working on things here. Please check back soon!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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