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, May 31, 2013

Another Forgotten Child

Review by: Brenda Horrocks, Adoptive Mother, Birth Aunt, Foster Mom, UFA Co-Chair.

Today I am excited to share a special book with you.

“Another Forgotten Child”
is written by a Foster Parent who lives in the UK.  Her pen name is Cathy Glass.
   Cathy has cared for over  100 foster children and is a New York Best Sellling Author.
In this book Cathy shares the story of Aimee.  Aimee is an 8 year old girl, who like many, have fallen through the cracks of an overworked foster care system. 

As Cathy welcomes Aimee into her home she is met with a spunky and “tell it like she sees it” girl who has had to become tough to stay alive in the circumstances she was living in.  As Aimee becomes more comfortable in Cathy’s home she starts to open up and share pieces of her life before she was brought into care.   The truth of Aimee’s many bruises comes to light as well as a deeper understanding of the types of abuse and neglect which Aimee suffered.
As someone who has been a foster parent I have found this book to be very touching and brings to life the child abuse which exists in our society.   While it is hard to read about what Aimee had to go through her resiliency is inspiring.   Cathy does a fantastic job relating the story without giving details so horrific it makes it impossible to read on.   There is one passage I loved and took me back to my fostering days and made me want to do it all over again.
Cathy writes in Chapter 15 “Serious Allegations”:
“I arrived at school preoccupied and with a very heavy heart.  I stood in the playground in my usual place so that Aimee would know where to find me among the other parents when she came out.   Yet despite my worries and anxieties, my spirits lifted a little as Aimee came out and I caught a glimpse of her face.   She was grinning from ear to ear and I knew she had some very good news to tell me.
‘Guess What!’ she cried, bounding to my side, ‘I’ve  made some friends!  You said I would and you were right.  Now I’m not smelly and I don’t have nits the kids want to play with me!  I told them I went to the cinema, I’m so happy!’
I smiled.  Despite my anger at her mother’s lies, I was happy for Aimee.   This was what fostering was all about – seeing a child’s delight at some achievement you have helped them with.
‘Fantastic,’ I said.  “That’s wonderful.  Well done.  I want you to tell me all about your new friends in the car on the way to contact.’
‘I will,’ Aimee said.  And as we crossed the playground she slipped her hand into mine.  It was the first display of affection she’d ever shown towards me, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. “

The story of little Aimee kept me reading  and when I wasn’t reading I was thinking about what I had read.  
“Another Forgotten Child” is an inspiring story of one little girl and how love and a fresh start changes everything!

*Disclosure:  The book Another Forgotten Child was sent to me by the publisher.  My thoughts and opinions are all my own.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Prospective Adoptive Parents Day in Orlando!

The National Council For Adoption (NCFA)
is excited to announce its
2013 Prospective Adoptive Parents Day
to be held at the
Buena Vista Palace in Orlando,
Florida, June 15, 2013.

NCFA's Prospective Adoptive Parents Day is for those interested in learning more about the positive option of adoption, considering pursuing adoption, or in the beginning stages of the adoption process.

Registration Fee
The registration fee is $40/individual or $70/couple. The fee includes entry into all sessions, supplies, & lunch.
To register, please visit www.adoptioncouncil.org/events or call 703-299-6633.

Featuring Special Guest Speaker

Tanya Wilkins,
Governor’s Child Advocate for Foster Care and Adoption,
State of Florida
along with a panel of Adopted Individuals,
Birthparents, Adoptive Parents,
and Adoption Experts.

The conference sessions are guaranteed to boost your knowledge about the adoption process, adoption options, and resources available to you both pre- and post-adoption.
You will have the opportunity to get your individual questions answered by adoption experts. You will hear personal stories from adopted individuals, birthparents, and adoptive parents. Sessions include:
• Agency Selection and Understanding the Screening Process
• Creating a Strong Partnership: Your Agency and You
• Forever Families: Overcoming the Financial Barriers to Adoption
• Preparing for the Arrival of Your Child
• Common Worries of Adoptive Parents
• Emotional Issues Inherent to Adoption: Childhood to Adulthood

Location & Accommodations
Buena Vista Palace
1900 E Buena Vista Drive
On the edge of Downtown Disney World
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
The discounted conference room rate is $109/night + tax. To make a reservation, please visit www.adoptioncouncil.org/events.
Buena Vista

You can view the flyer here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Giveaway Time!

Hip Hip Hooray...we are FINALLY doing our Giveaway!
It is long overdue.
For every 100 Likes we get on Facebook we do a giveaway.
We are just over 400.
Thanks for taking the time to Like us!

Thanks to donation by,
Angie Rhodes: the 1st ever UFA Chairperson, awesome UFA member, and Loving Adoptive Mom,
some lucky person will win this incredible book!

I have read this book more than once...it is a great great resource and a wonderful read!
All you have to do to be our winner is mention this giveaway on Facebook or twitter and come back and leave us a comment letting us know.
Pretty simple...right?
Good Luck!
We will announce the winner on June 5th.

 Post written by: Brenda Horrocks, UFA Co-Chair

  * Although all entries are welcome, we can only ship to addresses in the U.S..

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Value of Foster Care Training.

Samantha, me, Camden and my 2nd child, Haley, at Camden's  Placement.
By:  Brenda Horrocks
UFA Co-Chair
When Brad and I took the pre-service training to be foster parents we never realized the impact the
We took 8 classes together.  We had an amazing teacher,
Kelly Peterson
who is CEO of The Utah Foster Care Foundation and also sits on the Board of Directors for UFA's parent adoption agency,
Covenant Adoption
Kelly came in with lots of information, incredible experience and amazing stories. 

Brad and I felt like we had just taken the best 8 parenting classes that ever existed. 
The classes helped us decided, YES we wanted to work as foster parents with the hope that someday we would have the opportunity to adopt.   Little did we know those classes would not only help us be foster parents but on December 17, 2006 a sweet little 8 month old boy was placed in our arms by an amazing birth mother and birth father.   We knew this birth mom from the time she was pregnant with Camden.  She had come to our home and felt if she did decide to place for adoption she would place with us.  After going back and forth a couple of times she decided to parent but then after 8 months of hard reality and 8 months of feelings about Camden's future she made the amazing decision to place him with our family.   
Brad and Camden at  Placement.

  I am continually grateful for the foster care training classes we had taken only a couple months before Camden was placed with us.   Those classes helped us understand how to help Camden in his transition to his new home and family.   While Camden wasn't placed with us through foster care he needed a smooth transition so he could feel safe.   If you are contemplating on whether or not you want to be a foster parent I would suggest you go ahead and take the classes.   You will gain some very useful and great information that may end up helping you in other areas of your life.   So much of what we have learned has helped us be better parents.  Even if you don't become a foster parent...you will benefit from the training.  So you have nothing to lose.

If fear is standing in your way of becoming a foster parent then the classes are perfect for you...they help you get correct information which will help you make a better decision.
Working in foster care is an amazing journey.  It breaks your heart sometimes and brings joy beyond measure!  Our family was touched by each child that entered our heart and home.  We had a positive experience with all of our cases and I believe much of the reason behind our success was due to the information we received in our training.
Putting the learning into action.  Here I am snuggling my new little guy in his own blanket from his first home...an important transition tool. 
Make the classes your date night.  Go to class then go to dinner and talk about all you have heard and learned.  Brad and I did this and it brought us closer as a couple and helped us with parenting our children.
Check with your local Department of Child and Family Services to find out when and where foster training happens in your state and then just do it!
You won't regret it!

Monday, May 27, 2013

On Mommy's Lap

"A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart."

- Camille Cox

Do you have a photo you'd like to share? Send it to us and we'll post it here.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Racial Politics: The "Business" of Domestic Private Adoption

This paper was first published in Pact's Point Of View in 2010. It has been reprinted here with the authors' permission.

Despite all we have learned about prioritizing children’s best interests, the private adoption system often seems to favor white adults’ interests over those of children of color. Such practices both devalue children of color and discourage families of color from becoming adoptive resources.

The two black mothers quoted below express frustration at being discounted by the private adoption system:
 Looking on the Internet,  it is upsetting to see how few families of color are visible. I know we are out there. It is important to me as an African American woman that people see us as viable families and resources. Instead the ads are filled with offers of discounts if we are "willing to take" a fully African American child - don't they understand that as a black woman that child is my first choice? It angers me that they would devalue me and my children based on our race...I could never work with an agency that discounts in that way - even if it means paying more money to adopt.
- Annette, adoptive mom to Daniel & Eli
Image by Children's Bureau Centennial 
They told me that I needed to look at white families for my baby because it is hard to place Black children unless they are mixed. But I felt that my child needed parents who were the same race. They had flown me to Utah and told me they would help but when I found out they were charging the parents more depending on the race of the child I told them I couldn't work with them anymore. They told me I would have to pay them back for what they had spent on me and that I didn't really want to place my child for adoption. But I left and found the family o f my dreams and I know I made the right choice for me and my baby.
- Shayla, birth mother to Ezra

When it comes to adoption, "business as usual" cannot continue. The time has come to expose the unethical behavior and the inherent racism embedded in a private domestic adoption system that favors the interests of white adults over the children of color the system is supposed to serve.

Too often, adoption agencies are using racist practices under the guise of serving children, when in truth they are primarily serving the needs of their adult clients (McRoy, 1989) and their own bottom line. Even those adoption professionals who are striving to put children's needs first are not always equipped or inclined to explore the racism of their own practices - to examine, for instance, their lack of experience working with populations of color. Some agencies assume that white families are best for all children because of their own inability or unwillingness to recruit adoptive families of color or to recognize that their fees are a barrier to the placement of children in same-race families.

Race-based adoption fee structures assign children different monetary values according to their race (Boccarra et al., 2010).
When a couple seeking to adopt a white baby is charged $35,000 and a couple seeking a black baby is charged $4,000, the image that comes to mind is of a practice that was outlawed in America nearly 150 years ago - the buying and selling of human beings (Schabner, 2006). According to one study of parents (mostly white) who adopted through a private adoption facilitator and/or agency, "the increase in desirability of a non-African-American baby with respect to an African-American baby (both of unknown gender) is equivalent to a decrease of at least $38,000 in adoption finalization cost (Campbell, 2010)."

Many respected and licensed agencies publish sliding scales based on the race of the child to be placed. It is difficult to know how many others may be doing the same, because agencies are not required to publish their fee scales publicly (Rhodes, 2005). Sliding fee scales based on a child's race perpetuate a racist value system and too often allows well-intended white practitioners to see themselves as serving "hard-to-place" children through offering discount pricing. In this way they avoid the question of how well their practice is really serving those children and if their standard fees are keeping available families from adopting. Basing sliding scale fees on the adoptive family's income instead of the child's race is an approach that doesn't devalue children. Adoption professionals who see same-race families as a resource and do everything in their power to make the system accessible to families o f color know that this practice becomes a means to recruit ever more families ready and eager to adopt infants of color.

Money should not be part of the equation when children, particularly children of color, are involved.
Our own brief survey of some licensed agencies revealed that several of them charge pre-adoptive parents a fee simply to speak to an expectant parent.
Today when children are voluntarily relinquished shortly after birth, their adoption is more like a business transaction than a child welfare service. Some assert that the growth and privatization of baby adoption, especially involving African American and other biracial or mixed youngsters of African descent, sets the stage for an anachronistic recommodification of African Americans.
- Ruth Arelene Howe, Law Professor, Boston University

This system perpetuates the feeling in pre-adoptive parents that they are investing in the placement of the unborn child with them. Of course, private adoption practitioners must cover the cost of their services, but fee scales and client recruitment in which fees are unrelated to a particular placement can serve to avoid a practice that looks suspiciously like baby-selling.

Placement is emphasized over education and support.
Across the nation, we are hearing more and more stories of independent agencies, adoption attorneys, and facilitators who using Yellow Pages and other forms of advertising to expand their practices by recruiting expectant/birth parents (Judd). They sometimes recruit African American expectant/birth parents without having identified any families who are prepared to adopt African American children. In a more recent and disturbing trend, some of these same professionals are creating "African American" placement programs and offering these services to expectant mothers, but placing no emphasis at all on recruiting African American families, or expending any effort on preparing the white families they serve to parent children of color. At the same time, the number of transracial adoptions of African American children from the foster care system is growing. In 1997, 11.6 percent of adoptions with state agency involvement were transracial - by 2003, that number had risen to 16.9 percent (Hansen and Pollack, 2010). As these numbers increase, many authorities seem to be re-embracing the outdated approach to transracial adoption that claims "love is enough," when we now know that children of color do best with parents who understand that love is only the beginning. The current foster-adopt system and the private adoption business put all of their emphasis on placement, leaving families on their own to face the challenges of adoption's lifelong issues. Simply placing a child and leaving his or her family to figure it all out is not enough. In particular, to place a child with someone who is not prepared to address the child's racial identity, or worse, believes that there is no reason to do so, is doing a lifelong disservice to that child and family. When one listens to transracially adopted adults, it becomes clear that children must either be placed with parents who share their race, OR be placed with parents who understand that their children must have access to a community that can foster and mentor their full racial/ethnic identity.

The politics of race often reduces the likelihood of social workers discussing race in real terms.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that often those running placement programs themselves have little education about racial identity and have not critically examined their own experience of whiteness - in other words, have not encountered anything that might challenge their belief that placement trumps race. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, which makes it illegal to delay or deny adoptive placements based on race or culture has had the unfortunate result of keeping social workers from offering real training about race to transracial adopters, even when they have the knowledge and experience to do so. The Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services has mandated a colorblind approach to parent preparation, which has resulted in transracial adopters not receiving the specialized unique education and support they need and crave (McRoy, Mica, Freundlich & Kroll, 2007).

As a system, child welfare has long struggled with racial inequity in its effectiveness in serving children and parents - both birth and adoptive (Roberts, Solinger & May). Current adoption laws impose penalties on federally-financed agencies that "discriminate" by giving preference to the placement of children in same-race families, which effectively promotes transracial placement, yet there are no penalties for failure to identify adoptive families of color. Their recruitment  while suggested is not mandated in the same way (Clemeston). While these laws only apply to public agencies, they underscore our societal discomfort with rules which work against white people as if giving preference to people of color is somehow an affront not to be tolerated rather than a legitimate service to the children currently waiting for adoption.

We need to revise our goals as a community.
In a perfect world, no fees would be charged for the placement of children, removing the financial incentive to please the "consumer." In the meantime, we suggest the immediate imposition of sliding scale fee structures that are based on income and assets rather than the race of the child. In order to apply the scale according to the needs of the children, families who are in short supply can be incentivized according to their qualifications and their ability to pay. This requires agencies to focus first on the needs of children rather than their own bottom line - child welfare as it should be.

Agencies and adoption providers who are serving children first should commit to full transparency about their fee structures and models. Currently there is no mandate requiring that fee scales for adoption be published but this must change if we want an ethical "marketplace" in the context of infant placement.

Ultimately, not only are race-based fee structures unethical, they do not serve the children of color they claim to help, and may in fact stop parent, both birth and adoptive, from accessing the very system that claims to want to serve them - not to mention the incredible dilemma of explaining such systems to birth parents and ultimately the adoptees themselves.
The uncomfortable truth was that the fee break [for adopting our African American child] made a difference to our budget... But I can't lie to my daughter - even by omission - and the racist fee structure is now part of her adoption story.
- Dawn Friedman, adoptive parent

At the same time, it is crucial to recognize that placement is just the beginning, and make sure that adoptive parents are receiving the education they need - about race and other issues - to successfully meet their children's needs and help them grow in to healthy, happy adults.

The authors presented this paper at the 2010 conference, "Open Arms, Open Minds: The Ethics of Adoption in the 21st Century," where Beth Hall received the Outstanding Practitioner in Adoption Award and Ruth McRoy received the Outstanding Researcher in Adoption Award from the Adoption Initiative at St. John's University in New York City.

  • Dr. Ruth G. McRoy, Ph.D., an internationally recognized researcher in the area of adoption and foster care, is the Donahue and Difelice Professor of Social Work at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and Board President of NACAC.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Child of My Heart: A Celebration of Adoption

By Barbara Alpert

This book is a collection of observations, poetry, experiences, and musings about adoption from every member of the triad revealing how adoption has touched and changed their lives. We liked that there wasn't just one kind of adoption experience shared. Stories from domestic adoption, inter-country adoption, foster care, older child adoption, transracial adoption, and special needs were included. Here's one snippet:
"Is it true," Carey asked sullenly, "they don’t send you back ever? You get to stay here no matter what you do?"

Marcus, all freckles and red curls, gave Carey a big smile. "Yeah, that’s right. When you’re adopted, you’re gonna stay. It’s like in the super-market. If you take a bit out of a tomato, you can’t put it back."
- Two of Ann and John Sweeney’s children, adopted from foster care, 
on the real meaning of adoption 

Each story or quote is pretty short. It's a great book for savoring a bit at a time, like an adoption "bon bon." A definite feel-good book, this makes a great gift for family members, birth parents, friends who are adopting, even yourself!

Have you read any great adoption, foster care, or parenting books lately? 
Send us your review and we'll post it here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CLOSURE: A Documentary

Since Angela was a young girl, she had unrelenting questions surrounding her birth story. Who was her birth mother? Birth father? Did they abandon her at the hospital? Angela was adopted at the age of one, under the terms of a 'closed' adoption, given that her birth parents chose not to provide any identifying information. As an African-American raised by a Caucasian couple in a diverse family, consisting of seven other adopted siblings, Angela had a confused sense of identity growing up. As she grew older it became apparent that the unanswered questions about her story would continue to haunt her if she did not at least attempt to find the answers. Along the way, Angela’s adoptive family wrestles with tough questions throughout the process. “Why does Angela need to know her birth family?” “Aren't we enough?”

This documentary follows Angela for a period of two years during the search for her birth family, leading up to some key defining moments in her life: finding her birth mother and being rejected by her; finding her birth father and learning that he never knew she existed; and reuniting with her birth mother one year later for a redemptive climax to her pursuit of closure.

Director Statement:

CLOSURE is my first film. The moment I met Angela’s family I knew that theirs was a story to be told. A couple that adopts seven children with special needs is a couple to celebrate. I did not have any knowledge about adoption prior to meeting Angela, but I quickly became convinced that this story could educate and encourage others towards adoption, yet also show the struggles within adoption at the same time. Trans-racial adoption is a hot topic in American society today. Is it best to pluck a child out of their culture and place them in a drastically different one? Maybe, maybe not - but the complexity lies within the fact that sometimes there isn’t another choice. I believe that more unique adoption stories being shown will only help to further educate and lessen the stereotypes, myths and stigma surrounding adoption.

The creators of CLOSURE are currently crowd funding to raise the capital needed to finish the film.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Q&A with Rita Soronen CEO of The Dave Thomas Foundation.

An interview with Rita Soronen
By Brenda Horrocks

It doesn't matter when we meet our child....
it just matters that we do!

Who is waiting to meet YOU??
I recently had the opportunity to interview
 Rita Soronen.
Rita Soronen is the President and CEO of The Dave Thomas Foundation.  Rita has been a champion for children for over 30 years and has lead the Foundation since 2001.
I am thankful for the opportunity I had to ask her some questions and I am excited to share them with you!

1.     When presenting Foster Care Adoption as an option to couples, some feel they couldn't handle the challenges some children face.   If you were speaking to one of these couples what would you say to help them understand how their role in a child's life can make all the difference?

Our founder, Dave Thomas said, “These children are not someone else’s responsibility. They are our responsibility.” When children in foster care are permanently removed from their families of birth, we make what should be an unbreakable promise to them: We will find them a family. And we will do it in a way that cherishes their childhoods and their developmental needs so that they can grow and thrive within the birthright of every child – a safe and secure family of his or her own. 
But we also understand that children in care have experienced not only the trauma of family violence or neglect, and the grief and loss of separation from their birth families, but while in care, they too often must cope with frequent moves. These circumstances can interrupt normal growth stages, lead to trust or attachment issues, or underscore clinical diagnoses of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other needs. 
Parents should assess their wishes and abilities to understand, support and work with children who have been through these experiences. Critically important, as a nation, we must understand and commit to a family for every child who is waiting to be adopted and the appropriate resources to assist families for those children who need post-adoption support. And we must understand the negative consequences of children turning 18 and aging out of care without families. Without a family in a young person’s life, there is no one to provide a safety net when a youth missteps; to provide a celebration for a birthday or graduation or marriage; to simply be there at the end of the day.
2.     I always hear potential adoptive parents say they just can't handle adopting through the foster care system because they don't want to say goodbye to a child they have grown to love.  What do couples need to think about when looking to adopt through foster care?
There are few more selfless acts than fostering children who need a temporary placement while their family of origin is working to be a safe and nurturing environment for the child. To provide a child a temporary home in foster care is a public activity that becomes very personal when you see the issue through the eyes of a hurting child, and hear the mandate through Dave Thomas’ words. These children are our responsibility. The loss that a foster parent may feel in having a child placed back in the home is diminished in remembering that the help provided to that family may have saved a child’s life.
3.      How do you explain the difference between foster to adopt and adopting a waiting child?   

The differences between the two ways to help children in foster care are really very slight. Foster-to- adopt provides a dual licensing status to the parents (after completion of a home study and required parent training), both as foster parents and as adoptive ones. The notion is that both children and parents benefit from this by minimizing placements and filling a need for safe and potentially permanent placements for children. Last year, for example, 85% of the children adopted from foster care were adopted from their foster care home (54%) or a relative placement (31%). A foster-to-adopt situation allows the child the security of a stable foster home with a family that, once freed for adoption, can also become their forever family and the transition into adoption is relatively seamless with the developing family bonds already in place.

Some families, though, prefer to simply move to adoption without the step of fostering a child. Agencies also will assess, train and license a family to adopt waiting children directly.

4.     Why are there so many children waiting to be adopted and what can we as a community do to help these children?

This is such an important question that really has two layers. Children are waiting, first and foremost, because they have been abused, neglected, and/or abandoned. Last year in the U.S., there were an estimated 3.4 million referrals for child abuse, representing more than 6 million children, and ultimately involving nearly 700,000 children in substantiated cases of abuse or neglect, with 252,300 children entering foster care and 1,574 abuse fatalities. These are overwhelmingly compelling statistics of child maltreatment that invade every community. We simply need to do more to help families break cycles of family violence, substance abuse and the stress of family poverty.

Additionally, once a child moves into foster care and the family is found to be so profoundly unsafe that he or she is freed for adoption, we need to dispel the notion that some children are “unadoptable.” Today in America, more than 100,000 children are waiting to be adopted from foster care; the average age of the waiting child is 8-9 years old. We know from a national survey completed by the Foundation that, unfortunately, a majority of Americans have deep misperceptions about the children waiting to be adopted and the process to adopt.   

We need to do three things to help these children: 1) address and dispel the misperceptions that surround these children, 2) increase awareness about the amazing children who are waiting for families to step forward, and 3) drive home that EVERY child waiting to be adopted can and must be adopted. Not just some of the children, but all of the children, including older youth, children in sibling groups, children currently residing in group or institutional care and children with mental or physical challenges. Unadoptable is simply unacceptable.

5.    How can adoption advocates help potential adoptive families understand the blessings and benefits of adopting a waiting child?

We need to raise our voices in traditional and social media, at the workplace, in our faith communities and at public gatherings and highlight the challenges and joys of foster care adoption. And we need to be willing to spend the time to interact, answer questions and provide potential adoptive families with access to resources and networks of adoptive families to provide them information and support. The Foundation’s website is a great place to start!

6.     What is a waiting child's greatest challenge when it comes to being found by the right family?  How can we help increase their opportunities?

Many children who have experienced the trauma of abuse and the loss of their biological families will find it hard to trust a new family or may be feeling disloyal if they attach to a new family. The resulting tension can be difficult for the adoptive parents. It is so important for the adoptive parents to understand this is not an issue of rejection by the child, but issues of grief and loss that will need patience, understanding and unconditional acceptance by the adults in their life. Surrounding adoptive families with support and professional services, if necessary, not only increases the likelihood of a permanent family for the child, but helps the child manage what can be very frightening times in his or her childhood. 

7.    Who can be an adoptive parent of a waiting child?

Children who are adopted need parents who are committed to creating a bond that is permanent, safe and loving – as if the child had been born to them. Potential adoptive parents will need to participate in background screenings and checks; complete a homestudy and parent training, assuring that the home is safe and the parents are well trained in the issues of child development, cultural sensitivity, and the dynamics of abuse, neglect, separation and loss; and finalize through a legal process of adoption in court.

The environment of foster care adoption is quite diverse. Income, age, marital status and sexual orientation are not reasons to disqualify someone from adopting from foster care. For example, single parent adoptions occur in about 30% of foster care adoptions. Owning a home or having substantial wealth are not requirements – as long potential parents can provide for a child’s needs in a safe and nurturing environment, they may qualify as adoptive parents. Potential adoptive parents may be older, have already raised biological children, may currently have children in the home, or may never have parented.

Because laws differ from state to state, it is a good idea to understand your state’s rules. A detailed list of requirements for licensing adoptive parents can be found at this link: https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/index.cfm

8.    Once you understand the need for adoptive families for all of these wonderful children your heart begins to change. How do you believe we can help change hearts and help others see the need and respond with a heart ready to love?  How do we help them want to share that love?

The one aspect of life that we all share is that we were once children. And as children, we can remember a time when we were alone, or afraid, or distraught because a favorite comfort item – a stuffed animal, a blanket, a toy – was missing, or we were separated from our parents. Children in foster care waiting to be adopted feel that loss in a much more profound way each and every day. Contemplating the challenges of foster care adoption is made a bit easier when we see the act of adoption, of forming a family, through the hopeful eyes of a waiting child.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Adoption is...

Amy and her daughter Liv

...When you have the same family but not the same face."
- a six-year-old quoted in an Ann Landers column

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Moment I Became A Mom

I remember the moment I became a Mom. At placement the case worker asked me if I was ready to be a Mom. I couldn’t even get the words out of my mouth so I just nodded yes with tears streaming down my face. I stood up and walked over to a very emotional, courageous, young girl. I watched while she held her baby tightly, tears falling on her daughter’s head. I watched her kissing her baby and telling her how much she loves her. Then the moment came. She gently handed over this beautiful baby girl and placed her in my arms. It was one of the most amazing and spiritual moments in my life. In just that one moment I became a Mom.

Becoming a Mom was not a easy road for me. I endured several surgeries and medical procedures to then ultimately not be able to ever bear any children. It was always a dream of mine to be a mom. Since it was such a long journey I do not take my role as Mom lightly. It is one of the most important roles in my life.

I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I have to be a mother. Being a mother has been so much more than I expected! I love hearing my children call me Mom. I treasure their hugs and kisses. I enjoy hearing their excitement over the little things. I love seeing the world through their eyes. I’m grateful that I can hold them when they are hurt to make it all better. One of my favorites is talking with them in their beds at night. I love hearing them laugh and play. I enjoy seeing them accomplish something challenging.

I do not take for granted this incredible gift of being a Mom. I know it came because of the sacrifice of two incredible women. I know their hearts ache at times for these beautiful children. I want them to know that I will always be eternally grateful for the gift they gave their children of a family and me to be a Mom!
- Jess Moon, United For Adoption Board Member

Friday, May 17, 2013

Paige's Story

The word Birthmother doesn’t mean much to just the normal person on the street. To me it has a significant meaning. Sometimes I say that I was just an instrument in God’s hands to deliver a child to a family who could not have their own. I am truly blessed to be a Birthmother; it is one of the most precious things in the world. Not only did I bring a beautiful boy into this world but I also gave him a family I couldn’t give him.

My adoption is far from perfect and promises were broken but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I remember the first part of the grieving process; it was only a couple days after placement, just thinking what have I done? I was in so much emotional pain that I wanted to take my decision back. I would just lay in bed with my whole body just aching, feeling like there was nothing left for me to live for. I wanted my little boy back. We are like soldiers. We are wounded in a battle where we are trying to make a better life for someone else. We will always have the emptiness in our heart that wants to be filled. We will always wonder what that child is doing every single day. It was like getting my heart ripped out of my chest and having people tell me to just move on. How can a body live without a heart? That’s what I felt like without my baby. 

I try to look back on those few months after He was born and it is very blurry. I know my Heavenly Father carried me through those first couple months; I was not there alone nor am I now. All the promises my adoptive couple made to me were gone as soon as they got that precious child into their arms. They didn’t remember me or how they got there first son. I did not receive a single picture or letter for the first three months of his life and that killed me. During this time I remember being so hurt and betrayed. Not only did they not care about me but they took every part of me that was worth living for. Months were bumpy from then on and still are. Promises are still broken frequently and I have learned to not trust in everything they say. I struggle with it some days but being almost four years down the road I can look back and realize it was a miracle that things worked out the way they are.

Four year ago I would have never dreamed of something like this being a part of my life. Adoption was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced in my life and it is definitely something I would not wish on my worst enemy. But I am privileged to still have a relationship with my little boy. I don’t see him as much as was promised before he was born but I still see him about three times a year. Those times are the most fulfilling in my life. I get to see his little personality shine through and warm so many lives! He will look at me sometimes like “I know you somehow” but just can’t quite figure it out. He is not old enough to understand who I am yet so to him I am just Paige. But he calls my parents grandma and grandpa and my sister and brother aunt and uncle. I strive to be a better person because of that little boy that came into my life. I know he wouldn’t want me to be miserable and not doing anything with myself. I can’t wait for the day until he is old enough to realize what a Birth mother is to him and how much his Birthmother loves him.

I have met a lot of adoptive couples and I realize that not all of them tell their birth mom only what they want to hear. Most are genuinely sincere and I wonder to myself WHY did I have to feel so strongly about the couple I chose that has put me through more heartache than needs be? I have found my answer, God knows me and knows what I can and can’t handle and for some reason he knew I could handle the pain and heartache and learn from this experience. Boston is meant to be in their family, He just had a different route in getting there. Maybe just maybe there is more to the story than that, maybe there is more learning to come when I go to start my own family. Or maybe it is as simple to where I need to share my story to other adoptive parents. To show them that we as birth mothers hang on their every letter, picture, phone call or email. We really live for every ounce of communication we have with our children that are now your family

“Time does not heal all wounds; time just lessens the pain we feel from those wounds.”

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