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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Info for Expectant Parents

Whether or not to make an adoption plan for your baby is something only you can decide. But there are answers to your questions and many helpful resources to support you.
image by mahalie
How do I tell my parents, boyfriend...anyone?
It's important not to wait. Try to be simple and straightforward whether it is face to face, over the phone, or in a letter. You could tell them that you are trying to decide the right thing to do for the baby and for you. Maybe you could invite them to talk with a counselor with you to help figure things out.

Where can I go or call for free help and answers - without feeling any pressure?
Most adoption agencies will offer decision-making counseling, not just adoption planning. There is no cost to you for counseling services and services are confidential, even for minors.

Is adoption a permanent option?
Yes, the child becomes permanently and legally part of the adoptive family.

Is adoption a way out for me and just a selfish decision?
No. Putting the child's welfare first is a true act of love and one of the most selfless things that anyone can do. This is hard love – hard to decide – hard to do – truly caring.

Are birth parents likely to feel sadness after adoption?
Of course they are. You will need to accept feelings of sadness and loss. But the hope for that child's happiness and the sure start in life you helped to give the child can be a source of strength to you. Agencies can also offer grief counseling for birth parents struggling after placing their child. It's important to know that people are there to help you through the difficult times.

Do children belong with their birth parents?
Children need to be cared for, day in and day out, year after year, in a stable, supportive, and loving environment. If you are questioning whether you can provide this for your child in the short-term and the long-term, then adoption may be a good option. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t feel bad for asking these questions. Adoption is an option that loving parents have chosen throughout history.

Will people think badly of me for choosing adoption?
Some may, while others will be incredibly supportive. There are different attitudes about adoption in our society. Perhaps no one in your family has ever made this choice before. But it’s your life and you get to decide what’s best. It takes strength and courage to do what you believe is right. Selecting adoption may be the most loving option you can choose. It is your decision.

Can I get financial help with the cost of childbirth?
In cases of need, financial assistance is available for health care costs. Help for costs related to adoption should be discussed with your adoption agency.

Will my baby be well taken care of?
Today there are thousands of couples who are unable to have children. They dearly desire to become adoptive parents and are ready to love and raise a child. Many are already waiting. They have been carefully evaluated and approved by adoption agencies. In most cases you have the option to be involved in interviewing and selecting the parents for your child.

Will I know how my baby is doing after placing him or her for adoption?
Most adoptions today are “open” adoptions. This means that there is some level of contact between the birth parents and the child and adoptive parents. The contact may include visits or simply a letter and pictures every year. Part of the adoption process involves determining the type of openness you want and incorporating those needs into the adoption plans.

How do I get started?
Begin by asking yourself these hard questions:
• Am I able to meet a child's needs?
• Would I have to count on my parents to take over for me?
• Can I raise a child and meet my own needs? to finish school? start a career?
• Am I really ready to become a good parent on my own?
Hard love means thinking of the baby first.
Shared with permission from the Adoption Option Council of MN.

We want to hear from you. What other questions do you think expectant parents need answers to when considering adoption? Comment below, or send us your experience for posting.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


We have been in the process for a year and a half, and are very close to being able to travel to bring home our first adopted daughter, who is 7 years old.  During this past year and a half, our whole family has prayed and waited for these girls.  We are also adopting a 12 year old girl, who we haven't met yet.  I did this painting while waiting for them.  It is called "Home".  It depicts our youngest daughter (youngest of 5 girls, waiting to be the youngest of 7!) holding up a small dwelling, symbolizing the home that we have ready in our hearts for our new girls.  They are in the background, waiting to come.  

"Home" by Jennifer Babcock

Adoption is one of the most beautiful miracles.  I never knew it would be something we would engage in, but when we were inspired to do it, we moved forward.  We've been able to witness miracle after miracle in this process.  Our hearts and minds have expanded in ways we never imagined.
- Jennifer Babcock
To see more of Jennifer's work, you can visit her blog.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Adoption Means Joy

This photo of her son with Dad melts Mom's heart. Adoption means the joy of having a permanent family who loves being with you.

- Jennifer Watkins

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sometimes He Lets It Rain

image by -Snugg-

She sees the storm clouds gather
The sky is turning cold and gray
She knows that something's coming
When she starts to feel this way
She pleads for intervention
But heaven offers no relief
And she would understand if she could only see that

Sometimes He lets it rain
He lets the fierce winds blow
Sometimes it takes a storm
To lead a heart where it can grow
He can move mountains of grief
And oceans of pain
But sometimes he lets it rain

When her heart surrenders
To the Master in control
Her spirit learns the lessons of the tempest in her soul
When it's no longer raging
She can see how far she's come
Through the wisdom and the mercy of the Son

Sometimes He lets it rain
He lets the fierce winds blow
Sometimes it takes a storm
To lead a heart where it can grow
He can move mountains of grief
And oceans of pain
But sometimes he lets it rain

(Lyrics by Tyler Castleton/ Staci Peters)

Would you like to share something (a quote, scripture, poem, etc.) that inspires you? Send it to us.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Judge Rules adopted daughter must be returned to her Birth Father

Leah Frei was placed for adoption by her biological mother with a family 22 months ago. Now she is living with her biological father as of today, Saturday January 26, 2012. Please read Leah's story and watch clips below.

Here is the latest story posted on KSL  January 25, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A birth father has been given custody of his nearly 2-year-old daughter in what could be the end of a legal tug-of-war between him and the girl's adoptive parents.
Terry Achane was given his daughter on Friday in court from her adoptive parents, Jared and Kristi Frei, said Achane's attorney, Mark Wiser. Achane will take Teleah back to South Carolina where he is an Army drill sergeant."I'm very happy, very happy," Achane said. "It's been 22 months too long, but the wait was worth it."

The child was placed for adoption at birth in 2011 by Achane's now ex-wife, Tira Bland, who traveled to Utah and signed off on the adoption without his consent or knowledge. The Freis, who live in a Provo suburb, legally adopted the girl through Utah-based Adoption Center of Choice and have raised her since she was born. "How do you have a legal father, a couple that is married, and one spouse can give the child up for adoption without the permission or notice to the other parent?" said Archane's attourney, Mark Wiser.

In December, a judge issued a ruling that said the Freis and the Adoption Center of Choice ignored Achane once he stepped forward to claim his parental rights. The judge said they should have arranged to return the daughter. "She's going to meet her grandmother," said Achane. "She got to talk to her a little on the phone last night, brought her to tears. She wants to see her in person."

There is one last legal hurdle for Achane to clear before the 21-month saga concludes.
The Freis have an appeal pending before the Utah Supreme Court, which has already upheld a decision by a lower court judge to void the adoption. The court is expected to hold a hearing on that appeal in late March, Wiser said.

Achane says he's grateful for the way the Freis treated his daughter, but he's glad to have her back.
"They raised my daughter right I believe. I hold nothing negative against them. They love my daughter as much as I do," said Achane. "I actually know what they're going through right now because I was there. They now actually know what I've been through, they're feeling that now."
The Fries attorney, Lance Rich, said afterward that it is a painful time for the couple and that they are asking for privacy. "The Freis' focus and concern at this time are to enable her to make a successful transition to her father," said Rich.

The Freis have said previously that Achane abandoned his wife before the girl's birth and has done nothing to build a relationship with the toddler.

Taleah will go with Achane to South Carolina on Saturday. As part of the transition plan, the adoptive parents will be able to visit her in a few weeks.

By Brady McCombs and Sam Penrod

Please read the following articles and clips from news sources. Click on the links below.

The Frei blog with the story of Leah Frei and her adoption

Story posted in December 2012

Last story released

We want to know..... What are YOUR thoughts on the Utah adoption laws in regards to birth fathers? Please leave a comment we would love to hear from you! 

Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to the winner of our latest giveaway, Jan Kaye. The Kaye's are brand new parents through adoption, and just starting to create traditions for celebrating their adoption. Right now, every day is a celebration. We will be emailing you to get your address so we know where to send your book.

Thanks to all who entered.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mommy Far, Mommy Near: An Adoption Story

by Carol Antoinette Peacock

This is the story of Elizabeth, adopted from China as an infant. One thing that sets it apart from other works of children's adoption literature is that the story is told in the voice of the little girl. Children will appreciate hearing the thoughts and experience from a peer rather than about a peer. Though written about an adoptee from China, any adoptive family can appreciate the issue faced in the story. 

Elizabeth is probably around five, an age when children become more cognitively aware of their adoption. The story follows how she came to more fully understand adoption, and much of it involves processing the idea of having a birth mother – what that means, whether her birth mother loved her, and grief at her absence.

Although it is a children’s book, parents can benefit as well. The mother in the story is a good example of how to tell a child’s adoption story lovingly and from an early start, how to take advantage of teaching moments, and how to answer difficult questions with understanding and love.

After seeing a Chinese mother and daughter in the park, the following exchange takes place:
"You saw the Chinese mommy and she reminded you of your other mommy and now you are sad, I think," said Mommy. 
I closed my eyes. "My mommy is lost," I said. 
"That mommy loved you very much," my mother said. 
"She didn’t keep me." 
"No, but she wanted to. Very badly." Mommy wiped my tears with her hand. 
My mother said, "That mommy loved you, Elizabeth. And I love you. And Daddy loves you. And Katherine loves you. And Penny loves you." She said it slowly, like she was singing a song.
The author shares the genesis of the book: 
...Over the next few years I began to select adoption books for my daughters to read. (I particularly fell in love with A Mother for Choco, which we read again and again!) I began to notice that many of the books talked about the adoptive parents feelings (joy), or the birthparents' feelings (sadness at relinquishing their child.) I wished more of the books described the adopted child's feelings. Around this time, Elizabeth and I began to play some adoption games at bedtime. The night that Elizabeth adopted her favorite stuffed animal-- Happy Duck-- I knew I must write a book about adoption, from a child's perspective!

I began a three year process of taking notes on the girls' reactions to their adoption. I wrote on post-ups, deposit slips, old grocery receipts. [Later,] Shawn Costello Brownell, an art teacher from Maryland, where I grew up, flew to Boston and lived in our attic for a weekend. She took photographs which would later serve as models for her beautiful illustrations.

Every family has their own adoption story; my book is meant to help parents share these stories with their children. In this way, children can begin to talk, at their own pace, about being adopted-- and what that means to them. I believe that parents are the very best people to explore the issue of adoption with their children. Discussions begun when children are young set the stage for ongoing openness, as the child grows.

Send a book review to us and we'll share them here. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bright Ideas in Advocacy

My Adoption Advocacy ‘Ah-Ha’ Moment… 
I first knew I was going to become an adoption advocate when I realized that when I said the word "Adoption," many people weren’t seeing or thinking of it the same way I did. Changing the culture’s view of adoption was where I would focus my efforts.

There is a new world of adoption out there. It is no longer something to be hushed up and pushed into the closet. It is to be celebrated and embraced. Birthfamilies should be proud of their choice to place and make such a selfless, brave, and loving decision. Birthmom’s shouldn’t have to go far away and carry this secret in shame. We are all in this together. Couples hoping to adopt and birthfamilies need to come together. As an adoptive mom, I am nothing without my son’s birthparents. Let’s celebrate together!

A walk is born… 
In trying to think of how I was going to bring adoption advocacy to my life and community, I thought of other worthy causes and what they had done to bring light to their arena. Many had a large celebration of some sort to raise awareness in the community and were in an open setting. I learned about National Adoption Awareness Month and wondered what Utah did to celebrate. It seemed some agencies did their own little thing, but there wasn’t really anything that all could attend to celebrate adoption as a whole and out in the open for all to see (media too!).  Remember, my goal was to raise awareness of the option of adoption and help people understand that adoption isn’t what it used to be. 

After much thinking and studying, I jumped on the "Walk" bandwagon and figured it was something I could do with a couple other brainstormers on board. And thus, an adoption walk was born. I decided to start one in November (not the best time for an outdoor event in Utah) as part of National Adoption Month. We have had great success with it and just had our 7th Annual Adoption Walk with Me, even in heavy snow. 

 Most foundations or organizations have assigned a color to their cause. I thought of orange. It's such a happy, warm, bright color.  And bonus: it comes from yellow and red coming together - like hearts of adoption coming together. 

Do you have what it takes?
To pull off something like this, you have to be dedicated and passionate about the event and its purpose. I didn’t want just any sort of event. Attendees and onlookers can tell if you have the fire for the event and what you are doing. You can’t lead a gang into something like this without passion or drive or you won’t get any bite. I wanted it to grow and to last - not be some fly-by-night event. 

Since I was the one spearheading the whole thing I had to organize myself and my timeline. I was aiming for cheap/free so had to rely on donations. That would take even more time, but felt I could do it. I am a pushy broad and found some others that were passionate about adoption that I was able to guilt into helping me the first year. We got together a couple times to brainstorm ideas. Talking about time involved is tricky. It can take a lot of time or little time. It just depends what you want out of your event. Planning can help a lot. Even if you are a busy person, if you take things in bite sized chunks you can still do something big. Delegating is a wonderful thing, too. Just make sure you follow up! 

I started by coming up with a theme, an event color, and a logo. Having a foundation like that helped us move from there. We had to have a goal/ dream/ reason for doing this. Then whenever we had a question we could always look back at our ultimate goal. Breaking up the event into categories helped organize it better. We assign someone to be over food, donations, ‘Game Day’ organizer, and Volunteers. 

After the first event we learned a lot and were able to tailor things to make it even better the next year. Each year it has improved and grown but it always needs someone over the whole thing to be able to delegate items to be done. There is no way to do it completely on my own. And really, it is far better as others have added their flair to it all and taken it to places I had only dreamed. So you need time, dedicated/ passionate people that can follow through, and a vision. 

It’s alive!
We started small and I didn’t know how it would go. Of course I dreamed it would grow to be like a Breast Cancer walk with a bajillion people in attendance, pink everywhere (orange in this case), energy in the air, and a feeling of togetherness. I envisioned donations galore from local merchants and radio and news stations from the area to cover the event. I dreamed of birth families, adoptees, adoption professionals, couples hoping to adopt, and adoptive families all together, holding hands, hugging, smiling, and cheering. 

The first Adoption Walk With Me had about 150 in attendance on a nice, cool fall morning. It was November 2006 at a central park in our community. We found some food vendors that would be willing to donate food, and some merchants that donated gift cards and such.  It has taken us a few years to get the reservation system down for the park and small but important details ironed out.

Each year it has grown and, of course, depending on the weather that year each event has had a theme of its own. It has been nice to have a few years under our belts as some things now are set in stone of order to be done and contact info, etc. Yet still enough room for new things to happen. We have now secured funding for the walk and hope to still keep it a free event for the public yet provide a simple but powerful celebration for all. It has become an annual tradition and part of our community’s vocabulary of November events.

Brace for impact!
Each year we have heard of wonderful stories that have come from holding the adoption walk. One year, one of our walk committee members was able to get on the morning news for the day and talk about the event. Someone who had placed a child for adoption years ago was watching, and decided to come down and participate. She has now come every year since. 

Our birthparent attendees have grown the most with birthmother support groups attending together and even birth grandparents in tow, too! I love seeing adoption ‘teams’ form where everyone comes in team shirts or matching tutu’s or mustaches, some coming in full orange (our walk color), and even coloring the fur of their dog to match! I love seeing the walk become personalized beyond what we have provided. Some birth families meet up with their adoptive families and go to lunch after or just gather at the walk. It is always a great time even without the raffle of prizes. 

All I ever want to come out of the walk is goodness. My aim is to help change the social view of adoption - that adoption isn’t what you hear or see on the news with shame and grief. It isn’t the older generation’s world of adoption. We are here to help, we are here to grow with, we are here to celebrate. There is hope! 

Having the media attend our event has been a continued effort to get the word out farther than the physical attendance of our participants. We invite all we can think of: our mayor, any local celebrities, newspapers and television news teams. We've even invited local radio come and have a satellite at our event. I enjoy including merchants and local businesses to donate to our event as it also raises their awareness of the cause and solidifies us as an important cause in the community. So far, we have never had any negative attendees or media coverage and hope we never will. Finding someone in PR to help us navigate helps a lot. 

We use social media to advertise our event before and after by creating an event page on Facebook, a blog/website, and Twitter account. We make a flier (with pertinent links included) and email it out to our adoption contacts to get the word out. We have them pass it around too. The fliers get sent to all adoption agencies in our area. After the event, pictures are posted on our blog/website and Facebook page, and we invite attendees to submit theirs as well. 

I could go on and on about the ins and outs of the whole walk world… but I won’t. Feel free to contact me via the blog or on Facebook (you can see tons more great event photos there) and I’ll send you all I have created for our event. I’d love to share! Dream a dream and make it happen! You can only go up from there! It would be amazing to see a big adoption event become a standard in every community. 

- Alison Lowe
United For Adoption Board Member

We want to hear from you. 
Have you organized or participated in adoption awareness activities?  
Do you have a bright idea for adoption advocacy?
Send us your story and we'll put it on the blog.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gorillas Adopt an Orangutan

We're excited to share another mixed media illustration by Tiffany Cunliffe, a former art teacher who has become a stay-at-home mother since adopting her children. Tiffany used acrylic and decorative paper on canvas for this creation.

Keep watching this art exhibit to see more of Tiffany's work. If you'd like a print of Gorillas Adopt an Orangutan, visit her Etsy shop.

Would you like to submit something you've created to our weekly art exhibit? Send it in.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making Your Fostering Experience Better

Final goodbyes to Ashanti* before heading on a plane with her Dad.

In 2006, Brad and I took classes to become foster parents. The classes were great and we learned a great deal - more than I counted on. But one of the most important things I learned was the importance of being a positive Foster Parent.

This can be hard sometimes, especially when your ultimate goal is to adopt a child.

You don't want to have to say goodbye to a child you love and saying goodbye is even harder when you see that the level of care they are going back to is not the same level they get when they are with you.

This is hard. There is no other way to say it... it is hard!

Here are a few things you can do to help make 
your fostering experience better.

1. Remember each child is a son or daughter of God. No matter if they stay with you or go back to family what you do with them while they are in your care makes a difference in their life! Each act of love and service you give to them is building a better future for them.

2. Remember that a child is not "yours" until a judge tells you they are. Take in each child with love and respect but also with the idea that they will leave. Don't tell your other children that you "might" get to adopt this child. Help them learn that it isn't a bad thing if they go back to their family....help them plan on it happening. Then if the child happens to stay with you they will be excited. If they go back to family your children will be prepared. We continually told our children the different alternatives...but to plan on them going back home. We learned when we went through saying goodbye to Ashanti how important it is not to set up expectations within yourself or in your children. Even if a caseworker says that it is starting to look like the case is going to plan b (adoption) just move forward like you are still on plan a (reunification).

3. Think of the biological parents in a positive light and develop a positive relationship with them. Look for their good qualities. This may seem impossible but it isn't. When you can develop a positive relationship with the bio family you are helping not only the child but the parents, too. Some people just need someone to believe in them...believe that they can change. I have a brother who changed from a drug addict of many many years to a very hard working citizen who loves life and is trusted once again by those around him and by his family. It doesn't matter what drug they have been doing or the bad decisions they have been making....anyone can change. If you are having a hard time finding something positive try to think of someone in your life who has struggled with addiction or something difficult and treat the bio parents as you would have wanted your family member or friend treated during their hard time.

(I realize there are a few situations where a good relationship will not happen and change will probably not occur...safety is always number one when deciding how to interact with the bio parents.)

image by adamr
4. Help the caseworker work the reunification plan. Don't hinder the process. Be as flexible as you can without jeopardizing your own family. You will find your caseworkers appreciating you more. We have had this experience and had caseworkers thank us for being flexible and for not causing problems with reunification. They then told us they would keep our family in their minds if they had a child who needed an adoptive family. When you are honest and are kind and follow the plans that are made it helps things move forward which is important to all involved.

5. Keep in very regular contact with the child's attorney. The court will appoint a "Guardian Ad Litem." They are so very important to the child and the case.. They ensure the best interests of the child are being met. Email them once a week to give them an update. Email (in my opinion) is better than calls or in-person meetings because you have a record of what was addressed. This would also be true for corresponding with caseworkers or anyone involved in the case.

6. Most of the time a child is placed in your care before you ever meet Mom or Dad. If this is the case write a letter to the parents telling a little bit about you, how you will care for the child etc. Then ask the caseworker to forward it on to the parents. This will put the parents mind at rest and start a positive relationship from the beginning.

Last picture of Ashanti with my kids. Isn't she beautiful?!
In the end you need to make your fostering experience a positive one for the child or children that come into your care and for your own family.

Not every situation is going to be easy or perfect. You are dealing with hard issues and matters of the heart. But I know if you focus on creating a good experience you will touch many lives....and your life will never been the same!

-Brenda Horrocks, adoptive mom, adoption and foster care advocate
*Although photos and names of foster children are not usually shared publicly, 
Brenda has permission from Ashanti's father to do so.

We'd like to hear from you. What are some of your tips for improving the 
foster care experience? Leave your comments below, or submit your own post.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Adoption Myths Busted, Part 3

image by Stuart Miles
This is the third in our series of common misconceptions about adoption. Don't miss the introduction & the first and second myths in the series.

X "People who choose adoption are very young, have drug problems, are very poor, and have unstable lifestyles."

I wish this were true but as a result of these instabilities, such women generally lack the clarity and presence of mind to choose adoption. On the contrary, I've seen who've chosen adoption are conscientious, selfless, responsible people who, for those qualities, would make the best parents. In fact, by putting their child's needs above their own, that's just what they're being.

While women of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and circumstances have chosen adoption, the average age is 22. A young girl's frontal lobe is not fully developed and she often won't have a very clear sense of the reality of tomorrow or the needs of another person outside of herself. So she's going mainly on instinct, which of course dictates that she does not separate from her offspring. Even at 18, it was nothing short of divine intervention that got me to, and through, my decision. That said, I have known girls, as young as 12, wise beyond their years and they are my heroes!

One of my many resistances to the idea of adoption was that I thought I didn't fit the bill. I thought adoption was for "those girls," the ones who would clearly be terrible parents. But I knew I was a good person. I would be a good mom. I thought, "If you can raise your child, you do." I now know it's a matter of good, better, best.

We want to hear from you. Are people surprised when they find out "someone like you" chose adoption? Do people make faulty assumptions about your child's birth parents? Leave your comments below.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In Times of Trouble

image by FrameAngel
Some things are not under our control. Some disappointments come regardless of our effort and preparation, for God wishes us to be strong as well as good. We need to drive even these experiences into the corner, painful though they may be, and learn from them. In this too we have friends through the ages in whom we can take comfort and with whom we form timeless bonds.

To those who are trying hard and living right and things still seem burdensome and difficult, I say, take heart. Others have walked that way before you.

Here are five things to remember when trouble strikes.
image by David Castillo

1. Pray earnestly and fast with purpose and devotion. Some difficulties... do not come out save by fasting and by prayer. Ask in righteousness and you shall receive. Knock with conviction and it shall be opened unto you.

2. Immerse yourself in the scriptures. You will find your own experiences described there. You will find spirit and strength there. You will find solutions and counsel. Nephi says, "The words of Christ will tell you all things what you should do." (2 Nephi 32:3)

3. Serve others. The heavenly paradox is that only in os doing can you save yourself.

4. Be patient. As Robert Frost said, with many things the only way out is through. Keep moving. Keep trying.

5. Have faith. "Has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the HOly Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men." (Moroni 7:35-37)

Jeffrey R. Holland
"In Times of Trouble"

Saturday, January 19, 2013

You Like Us *Giveaway*

Have you ever seen one of those scenarios on television in which an unsuspecting customer goes through the checkout line when suddenly balloons drop, confetti flutters, and a marching band parades by? All because that customer was the millionth shopper? Yeah. This is our version of that.
image by m_bartosch
Although United for Adoption is an organization still in its infancy, it's comprised of people who are passionate about adoption and all things related to it. We're eager to reach others who share our excitement, so we're glad you have found us. To celebrate our little milestone of reaching 200 "likes" on Facebook, we're doing a giveaway. And we'll keep doing them every time we reach another 100 people. Invite your adoption friends!

The winner will receive a copy of Loved by Choice: True Stories that Celebrate Adoption* by Susan Horner and Kelly Fordyce Martindale. 

Whether it's the joy-filled decision to welcome a child into your home or the difficult decision to place your child in another's arms - adoption is making the choice to love unselfishly and unconditionally. 
Loved by Choice offers a clear and uplifting look at adoption through true stories told from virtually every perspective. Birth parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, adopted children, and families enhanced by special needs, transracial, and inter-country adoptions are among those who share their joys and difficulties. The collection is a tender celebration of adoption, led by those who understand it best.
Want to enter? It's easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Just send us an email answering the following questions that we'll use in an upcoming article (leaving a comment will not count as an entry):

For birth families: Do you commemorate your placement date in some way? Why or why not? If you do, are others included or is it a personal thing? Has it evolved over time? Tell us about it.

For adoptive families: Do you celebrate your child's "Gotcha Day?" Why or why not? If you do, which day do you celebrate: placement or finalization? What do you do to commemorate the occasion? Has it changed as your child has grown older? Tell us about it.

We'll keep this giveaway open through next Friday (1/25) and announce our randomly-selected winner on Saturday, January 26th.

*The book for this giveaway was provided by The Book Garden.  Although all entries are welcome, we can only ship to addresses in the U.S.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Just In Case You Ever Wonder

By Max Lucado, Illustrated by Toni Goffe

Although not written with adoption in mind, this book is works well for it. It teaches children about their divine nature, speaks with tenderness of a parent’s unconditional love for a child, and declares the security of family relationships. Some of my favorite lines in the book are these:
And since you are so special, God wanted to put you in just the right home…
where you would be warm when it’s cold,
where you’d be safe when you’re afraid,
where you’d have fun and learn about heaven.
After lots of looking, God sent you to me.
And I’m so glad He did.
As with many such books, this one can be considered a "stepping off" point for telling your own story as it is easy to personalize within the cadence of this book your own family beliefs, values, and series of events.

One important thing to remember when looking for this book, however, is that it comes in two different editions. In the most recent edition, the words are the same but the illustrations are different and include the mother with a pregnant belly. The earlier edition (pictured here) can still be found in local stores and on the Internet. It is available in both hardcover and board book formats.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Windows to Eternity

James took this picture when he was five years old. He was very interested in his adoption and and how his baby brother's adoption came about. He said, "My family is like this circle. We are always together forever. We go on and on and never end." He is excited to be big brother to two little brothers.

Your turn! Send your art to us so we can share it here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's Mine is Yours

New music video from Katharine Nelson

Monday, January 14, 2013

Adoption Myths Busted, Part 2

image by Stuart Miles
This is the second in our series of common misconceptions about adoption. To read the introduction and the first myth in the series, go here.

"If I choose adoption....I'll be broken." 

This was a misconception of mine. It's also true and false. It was fully my expectation at the time I made my choice that I would function around a broken heart for the rest of my life, like an emotional limp. My choice did break my heart, to be sure. My arms ached for him. My chest hurt. It felt as if my air went with him. I had longed, I had missed, I'd felt loss, but never like this. To write of it now I can still feel the memory of it. I had lost a child. and I felt it. Not just for a few days or weeks or months. I felt sorrow and grief for the first few years and occasionally even still.

I have to say though, there was peace and sweetness to temper the bitter aching from the very start. But as time passed it began to be intermingled with more and more gratitude, peace, joy, until I rarely hurt anymore. I feel deeply when I tell my story but when I cry, don't feel sorry for me! My tears are the gratitude my words can't express! Justin stopped by on his way home and saved me. He was my missionary! My love for him was the only motivation sufficient to make me change. Had God not blessed me with these most difficult trials, I'd still be locked up in anger and pain and darkness, my view so narrow. And I wouldn't know love. 

I'm not back to how I was before I placed my son. I'm SO much better! I'm not broken. I'm mended! Somehow, my greatest loss has been more than adequately compensated for. That's nothing but a miracle!
Tamra Hyde, birth mother, UFA board member

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Waiting Children

image by .ash

"Are there any here who have no children in their homes? If there are such, I say to you that in the orphanage near this city there are, I am told, thirty to forty little children. They are being fed and clothed and kept from the cold, and are nursed when they are sick, but they know not what it is to receive the affectionate embrace of loving parents to care for them. Oh, how they would appreciate a real home!

"There are many childless homes where the presence of these children would be a God’s blessing; and there should be no orphan child depending upon charity in this land. If you have no children of your own, if you realize the admonition of the Savior, then some of you who desire this blessing should reach out your arms and adopt some of these homeless children. And, though they may not prove in all respects all that you could wish, the intent of your heart will be rewarded by the Father who knows your desire to do good. I do not hesitate to say that the blessing that will return to the one whose home is opened to a child without parents will not only be that they will rejoice in the growth and development of that child, but that other blessings of our Father will be added to them in proportion to their good works. 

"If there strayed into your dooryard a fine colt or calf, without an owner, and no prospect of anybody claiming it, would you cast it out? Wouldn’t you consider it valuable and take possession? Perhaps it would be worth a few dollars at most, yet you would rejoice to get it. But if it were an orphan child, a homeless waif, created in the image of God, its spirit begotten by him, and its possibilities incalculable, would you consider it valuable, and be willing to give it a home? Let me ask you, what is the value of an immortal soul?"
- George Albert Smith, October 1907

Do you have a favorite inspirational or uplifting quote? Send it to us so we can share it here.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I have a question about an issue with our open adoption. We are grateful for open adoption. We love and appreciate both of the birth mothers to our children. We have private blogs for them that we update regularly with photos, videos, stories, etc. We text and email here and there, send letters/cards/packages, and have done visits before. The issue is with one of our children's birth mothers. She sends packages/gifts/letters to our son, which we share with him and we feel it is important for him to know her and know how much she loves him. For a bit she would sign cards/letters written to him with her first name. Which we thought was great. He knows her by her first name, and as his birth mom.

Recently, however, she has now gone back to calling herself "Mom" (my son is 3). Her Facebook profile has numerous images of him which she pulled from the blog or pic messages, with comments that would lead most people to believe that she is parenting. There is no mention of our family or adoption...ever. There hasn't been much openness about her choice to place him for adoption outside of us and her immediate family. She has told us that there are still many people that think she is parenting. 

I know I can just not look at her Facebook page to avoid being upset over things there. We feel like we have embraced the open adoption and want to acknowledge her, but we feel like she is still in denial that she chose adoption. She also still calls him by the name she wanted for him, which is now his middle name. So basically my question is...do we let this go and let go of pride? I know she made the most difficult decision, I don't want to minimize that. We want to make sure there is a healthy open relationship here. We don't want our son to be confused about who he is...who Mom is. Any advice would be much appreciated!

We polled our experts and let them weigh in on this issue. Here's what they said:
You should discuss with birth mom what name you feel is appropriate to call her. His birth mother should address herself as whatever name you have decided. It appears that the birth mother is not at peace with her adoption plan, nor is she clear on what openness means to you. You are correct that she is probably struggling with her adoption decision but you are likely not going to be able to help her with that. Post-placement counseling is in her best interest.

Distinguish between your own needs ("Am I threatened by this?") and your child's needs. A frank conversation about your child’s best interest is in order, but it may not go the way you want it to. His life is your priority. Do not make it an issue of your own discomfort. If you are resolved and secure in your place as a parent, then you can focus your energies on him. Hopefully his birth mother will make choices that will bring happiness to herself.
- Steve Sunday, president and CEO of Covenant Adoption
adoption professional since 1981

Sounds like she definitely has some issues that need to be dealt with and some healing to do. It's unfortunate that she is choosing to mislead people in her life about such a brave and noble thing that she did. In general, I think there will always be bumpy spots in the road with open adoption. That's great because we are pioneers in this endeavor and can share our experiences to help others along the way. 
In this instance, you don't have too much you can do about what she does and says to other people so I would focus on what you can do. As a three year old, your son is well aware of who is parents are. I believe if you teach him that [BirthMom's name] is his Birth Parent and that he came from her tummy because that's how Heavenly Father brought him to your family, he will accept that. He doesn't know how cell phones operate, he just knows that they do. He doesn't need to fully understand adoption to know that you are his Mom. When going through mail and presents, maybe just reiterate it's from BirthMom (insert name here) instead of whatever she's written. Then in the future, when he hears Mom coming from her, he'll attach "birth" to that in his mind. As long as you're doing what's right he'll get the correct message. 
It may take some time for her to get through this very difficult thing. There is pain in her heart that can be compared to nothing but the loss of a child. Pray for her to find help in healing and comfort with her decision. Without giving any details, have your son join in the prayers for her, this will show him that you love her and he will love her as well. Maybe have your son draw pictures of her from time to time and send them to her. When she feels that love in return, she will feel less desperate about the situation and may be able to see the miracle and blessings that are adoption.
- Sherri Barker, BirthMom of 10 years in open adoption
United For Adoption board member

We have been fortunate to adopt two beautiful children and have open adoptions with both their birth families. Something that has helped me with our open adoptions is to have an eternal perspective. Is this really going to matter later in life? Is it something to do with either your insecurities, uncertainty, or conflicts as a adoptive mother? Sometimes the problem can be with ourselves and we don’t even know it. I also believe open communication and honesty is key in open adoption. Always think of the child first. Is your son affected by his birth mother posting pictures on facebook? Is it affecting you as parents? That is a personal decision that you and your husband need to discuss. In regards to your son being confused who Mom is he will never be confused since YOU are the ones that are his parents and do everything for him. You will be with him every day of his first 18 years of his life. I do think you should address her calling him by a different name. I believe that is disrespectful to the child and unfair to call him a different name in person and letters. 
It sounds like she needs some post placement counseling but that is not your responsibility. You can suggest she contacts her caseworker if you feel comfortable in your relationship with her. The birth parents are on a different journey than adoptive parents and she may need some guidance in the healing process. We do not know what they are going through and a professional would be the best to help her in this situation. It is very clear how much you love and appreciate your children’s birth mothers. I know that you will do the right thing and I hope that you can continue to have a wonderful open adoption!
- Jessica Moon, adoptive mom 
United For Adoption board member

We want to hear from you. What's your take on this issue? Do you think there is something this mom can and should do? What would you do in her situation? Leave your comments below.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Out of the Shadows: Birthfathers' Stories

By Mary Martin Mason
Too often, any discussion about a birthfather has less to do with him as a person and more to do with him as a legal obstacle to an adoption. He is often stereotyped negatively as irresponsible and uncaring, among other things. Hopefully, this book will change that. Even if a birthfather was absent during the pregnancy and decision-making process, this book may help the reader better understand the situation from his prospective.

Although some of the seventeen men interviewed for the book are considered birthfathers by the author because of their lack of contact with their children through divorce or abandonment, most are birthfathers through placement for adoption. Their stories resonate with universal feelings of love for their children, whether the adoption happened only weeks before or decades ago. Other emotions they share are shame over not being able to assume the role of "Dad," fear and sadness over the unplanned pregnancy as well as terminating parental rights, and loss and grief over the separation from their children.

Whether you are a prospective adoptive parent waiting for your first child or you already have one or more children, whether your adoption includes an involved birthfather or you know nothing about him, this book offers a wealth of information and increased understanding and even compassion.

Perhaps if we can begin to change the culture of adoption to be more inclusive of expectant/birth fathers from the beginning, there will be fewer of them in the shadows.

We'd like to hear from you. What has your experience been with birth fathers? How can they be more included in the adoption community?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hospital Outreach

Part of our adoption journey involved welcoming a premature baby home. It was our third adoption. We felt we knew what to expect from the adoption process. However, the experience of having a baby in the intensive care unit for an extended period of time was very new to us.
image by SarieHopkins
It was this hospital experience that provided an opportunity to educate the hospital staff about the adoption process. We began sharing our story and, along the way, dispelled myths. It was this adoption that enlightened us as a couple regarding the value of conducting hospital outreach. Here are some ideas for Hospital Outreach.
  • Be willing to share your story. Whether in your hospital experience or after your adoption placement. Talk with the nurses attending the baby, and other staff members.
image by Sarah Parrott
  • After placement, send a baby announcement to the unit. Send correspondence often such as Christmas cards. Thank the staff for the part they played in uniting your family.
  • Speak with the nurse manager. Provide pamphlets on adoption and offer to talk with staff during inservice trainings. 
  • Establish a relationship with the social worker for Labor/Delivery and the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Provide pamphlets and information on adoption resources in the community. 
  • Volunteer to meet with other adoptive couples who are experiencing placements in the hospital. The unit social worker recently contacted me to visit with an adoptive mom who was adopting a baby but without an agency and she wanted someone to talk to. I was glad the social worker felt she could contact me. 
  • Provide adoption stats and information to the unit as part of the unit newsletter.
  • Have a care package for birthmoms available for the social work department. Having a basket (for example, from Birthmother Baskets or Blessings in a Basket) ready for use in the social worker's office not only makes a basket available it reminds the social worker of adoption. 
  • Make a donation, or organize a donation drive. There is always a need for cards, scrapbooking supplies, baby items, gift cards for restaurants, or monetary contributions that can be used to support someone who needs it. Our local adoption organization collected baby clothes, scrapbook supplies, and blankets for the NICU. 
We recently were invited to share our NICU experience with the nursing staff as part of their training. Of course we talked about our experience and how service could be improved and what was positive about our experience. However, we also took the opportunity to discuss adoption.

Hospital Outreach is a valuable opportunity to educate the health care community about adoption. This experience might assist a prospective mother in making an adoption plan.
- Christine Anderson

We'd like to hear from you. Have you been involved in educating hospital staff about adoption? What about birth parents?  Is there a need for educating hospital staff on how to be supportive of your adoption plan? What could have been done differently in your experience? 
Comment below, or submit your story for the blog.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Just May Be

You can read about the adoption stories in Karyn's family here.

It's inspiring to see the things that people create through adoption. 
Please send your art here so we can share your work.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Welcoming Your Foster Child

The first impression you create with your foster child is often vitally important to how the next few days and weeks will transpire. This will probably not be the sweet little child who rushes into your waiting arms, laughing delightfully, as you might imagine. It is highly likely that your foster child will be scared and frightened, full of anxiety. He may have left his family moments ago, and is now told that you are his family, for the time being. Without a doubt, he is full of questions, as emotions swirl within him. Although it is impossible to predict how he will react when he first meets you, it is important that you approach this time with caution and care.
image by Jer Kunz
When the caseworker pulls into your driveway, go out to the car and welcome the caseworker and child, introducing yourself immediately, with a warm smile and soft voice. Inform your foster child who you are and the role you will now play in his life. He may very well not understand the foster care system, or what foster parents do. Do not insist that your new child call you mom or dad. Allow your foster child to call you by your first names, if you feel comfortable with this, or by whatever name he feels comfortable in calling you. As the child may be scared, do not insist that he react to you right away. This is a time of extreme difficulty, and your foster child may be in a state of shock. As you help him inside with his possessions, take him by the hand, if he is a little one, or place a soft hand upon his shoulder, if he is a teenager. Actions like these can be reassuring that all will be okay, that he is in a safe and caring home. Do not insist upon hugging, as he may be too embarrassed or hurt to do so.

Show him where he will sleep, and where his clothes will be kept. Have a nightlight already on in the room, if the room is dark. Ask if he is hungry, and offer him some food. If he doesn’t want any food, do not insist upon it. He will eat when he is ready and hungry.
image by JimmyMac210
You will have to sign some paper work with your caseworker, as well as go over any last minute news, details, and information. If possible, do this away from the child, as this can be especially embarrassing and damaging to your new child. This is a good time for your foster child to eat, or be alone in his new room. If you have children of your own, it may also be a good time for them to engage in some sort of play with their new foster sibling. Your foster child will likely be overwhelmed with the situation, so it is important that you make sure your home is as peaceful and quiet as possible. Allow your foster child to have some personal space and alone time.

 If it is late at night, do not insist that he go to bed immediately. After all, he is probably not only needing some time to reflect on the day’s events, sleep may be difficult to come by, as he is in a strange bed, in a strange home. Sadly, it is not uncommon for newly placed foster children to cry themselves to sleep during the first few nights. Do not be surprised if this happens. He may be scared and lonely. Let him know that you understand how difficult it is for him, and that his tears are normal and all right. Read to him a bedtime story each night. Place a nightlight not only in his room, but in the nearby bathroom, as well. Let him know that he can get up in the night and use the bathroom whenever he needs to.

Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 11 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 30 children come through their home.  Dr. DeGarmo wrote his dissertation on fostering, entitled Responding to the Needs of Foster Children in Rural Schools.  He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations.  Dr. DeGarmo is the author of the highly inspirational and bestselling book FosteringLove: One Foster Parent’s Story.  He also writes for a number of publications and newsletters, both here in the United States, and overseas.  Dr. DeGarmo can be contacted via email, his Facebook page, or at his website.

We want to hear from you. What kinds of things have you done as a foster parent to welcome new children into your home? Leave your comments below.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Adoption Myths Busted, Part 1

image by Stuart Miles
The most important thing for anyone to know about adoption is that, chances are, you don't know anything. I was surprised to find, when I first set foot into the world of adoption, how inaccurate most of my notions of adoption were. And in my conversations with people from many varying levels of education and experience on the matter, I have encountered some shocking ideas. I try to cut folks some slack knowing I was once so unenlightened. Also, given the rapid and dramatic evolution adoption has undergone, even in my lifetime, as well as the media's love for horror stories and worst case scenarios, it isn't any wonder that many have outdated or fearful thoughts on the matter.

To people in the adoption family, these things are sacred. To have something so beautiful and so much a part of who we are and what we love misunderstood can feel like the sharpest dagger to the most tender part of the heart (and some of us can get pretty feisty).

So, for the next few weeks we're going to feature some of the most common and most harmful myths and misconceptions.

X   "Birthparents don't want their babies."

I saved the worst for first. I'm not kiddin', it hurt my chest to write that.

I have not met this birthmom.

Abortion is ever more available, affordable, and acceptable. The woman who can't be bothered to raise a child, I would think would take this route.

I wanted Justin more than anything I'd ever wanted. it took me months to get over myself. The only thing I wanted more than to have his hand always in mine was for him to have all that could be his.

Adoption is rarely a birthmother's Plan A. To come to and through this choice, we must break our own hearts, defy our very instinct. Never believe that it is anything other than the love of our children that could enable us to do this impossible thing.
- Tamra Hyde
Birth Mother, UFA Board Member

We want to hear from you. Have you encountered this misconceptions about birth parents? 
Leave your comments below.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mother - a Carefully Chosen Word

In a poignant exchange with God, Adam states that he will call the woman Eve. And why does he call her Eve? “Because she [is] the mother of all living.”

As I tenderly acknowledge the very real pain that many single women, or married women who have not borne children, feel about any discussion of motherhood, could we consider this one possibility about our eternal female identity—our unity in our diversity? Eve was given the identity of “the mother of all living”—years, decades, perhaps centuries before she ever bore a child. It would appear that her motherhood preceded her maternity, just as surely as the perfection of the Garden preceded the struggles of mortality. I believe mother is one of those very carefully chosen words, one of those rich words—with meaning after meaning after meaning. We must not, at all costs, let that word divide us. I believe with all my heart that it is first and foremost a statement about our nature, not a head count of our children.
photo by Andy Magee

I have only three children and have wept that I could not have more. And I know that some of you without any have wept, too. And sometimes too many have simply been angry over the very subject itself. For the sake of our eternal motherhood, I plead that this not be so. Some women give birth and raise children but never “mother” them. Others, whom I love with all my heart, “mother” all their lives but have never given birth. And all of us are Eve’s daughters, whether we are married or single, maternal or barren.  Whatever our circumstance, we can reach out, touch, hold, lift, and nurture—but we cannot do it in isolation. We need a community of sisters stilling the soul and binding the wounds of fragmentation.

I know that God loves us individually and collectively as women, and that he has a mission for every one of us. As I learned on my Galilean hillside, I testify that if our desires are righteous, God overrules for our good and that heavenly parents will tenderly attend to our needs. In our diversity and individuality, my prayer is that we will be united.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Adoption Tax Credit Made Permanent

A message from the North American Council on Adoptable Children

The legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff (the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, signed into law on January 2) included a provision that made the adoption tax credit permanent. Unfortunately it did not make the adoption credit refundable, so it will only benefit those adoptive families who have federal income tax liability.

For 2013, we believe the maximum adoption credit and exclusion will be slightly higher than the 2012 maximum of $12,650. The credit will begin to phase out for families with modified adjusted gross incomes above a certain level (around $190,000) and the credit will go away completely for those with incomes around $230,000. (Exact numbers for the maximum credit and income guidelines have yet to be released.)
image by Arvind Balaraman
For 2013 and beyond, the credit will remain flat for special needs adoptions, meaning that those who adopt children from the U.S. who receive adoption assistance/adoption subsidy benefits can claim the maximum credit regardless of their expenses. For other adoptions (except for step-parent adoptions), parents can claim the credit based on their qualified adoption expenses.

NACAC is deeply disappointed Congress did not make the adoption tax credit refundable for 2012 or future years, and will continue to advocate for refundability in the future. We will keep you posted on these advocacy efforts.

Even though the credit isn't refundable for 2012, we encourage those who adopted in 2012 to submit a Form 8839 with their 2012 taxes even if they do not have tax liability. Although they will not receive an adoption credit refund with their 2012 taxes, the credit can be carried forward up to five additional years. Families might benefit later if either their tax situation changes or the credit is made refundable in the future, and then wouldn't have to amend their 2012 taxes.

From the National Council For Adoption:

Complete details of implementation are still to be seen, but the bill permanently extends the adoption tax credit which is set at $10,000, but may once again be scaled for inflation, potentially bringing it to near the 2012 amount of $12,650. Families with incomes under $150,000 will receive the full credit and it will gradually phase out for higher incomes.

“Congress is to be commended for remembering children and families as a priority. The adoption tax credit is an important layer of support for families who adopt. The credit helps ensure children find their way to safe, stable, loving, and permanent families” says Megan Lindsey of National Council For Adoption. “We are grateful to Congress, the Obama administration, and our many partnering advocates in the Save the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group for their tireless efforts on behalf of this important credit.”

The complete language of the American Taxpayer Relief Act is available here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Never Never Never Will She Stop Loving You

by Jolene Durrant

Written by an adoptive mother and illustrated by adopted children, this book tells the story of Annie, a birth mother. It is simply written and easy for children of all ages to comprehend. The story walks a child through pregnancy, the decision to place, and the future. Each point throughout the book serves to underscore the love that a birth mother has for her child, a reassurance every child needs, and an affirmation for birth mothers.

The author encourages birth mothers to personalize the book, covering Annie’s name with their own and adding or changing specific details and pictures to make the story more meaningful for the children they place. My first introduction to this book was when our son's birth mother gave it to us at placement to read to him. Two copies of this book make an excellent face-to-face or placement gift: one for the birth mother to keep, and one for her to personalize and return to her child at a later date such as finalization or first birthday.

The story serves as a useful tool for introducing conversations with your child about adoption. Durrant includes a "Notes to Adoptive Parents" section giving guidelines and helpful tips about talking to your child about his or her adoption and birth parents. What better way to honor a birth mother's choice to place her child than to convey the message from this book that her decision was made out of love, and that her love will never end.

We'd like to hear from you. Do you have this book? How have you used it? What does your family think of it?

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