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, August 30, 2013

Embracing Openness: The Moon's Story.

Many times we hear wonderful stories of open adoptions.   Openness that seems to flow without hiccups.  Not every story is picture perfect...  Today, UFA Board member, Jessica Moon shares her story of open adoptions.   I asked her to be honest and tell it like it is and not sugar coat.  I love her story because she didn't give up.   Jessica and her daughter's Birth Mother faced the hard parts.   

When I first heard the words “open adoption” I thought whoa I don’t want to share my baby. I have dreamed of being a mother for so long why do I have to share now? That perspective soon changed. I started learning more about birth mothers and their journey. I remember sobbing as I was listening to the song by Michael McLean “From God’s Arms to my Arms to Yours”. My heart ached for these courageous and faithful women. I made a promise to myself that I would ALWAYS make sure my children knew how much their birth mother loves them.

When we were chosen by our daughter’s birth mother my heart was so full of gratitude. I couldn’t believe that someone was willing to entrust their child to us. It literally felt like a dream come true. After meeting we quickly became friends and got along great! At placement I felt like we were watching a young girl sacrifice something so huge and so heart breaking. She held her daughter so close to her and was sobbing uncontrollably. The spirit was so strong in the room. I felt at peace that this sweet little girl was meant to be in our family. She was going to be raised by us but loved by ALL of us. Just before she placed her in my arms I said “This isn’t good bye, this is a see you later.” She looked at me with such trust in her eyes. She gave her baby one last kiss then placed her in my arms. Everyone left the room and it was just our little family of three. Then I couldn't hold it together anymore. My heart hurt and I cried harder than I ever had in my life.

Every day for the first few months we talked online to our daughter’s birth mother. We sent pictures, e-mails and chatted for hours. Two weeks after placement we had our first visit in our home with her and her family. I would be lying if I told you it wasn’t difficult. Her birth mother was very emotional. Which made it difficult for us to see her that way, again. It felt like placement all over again. We know that she needed to see her daughter in our home to help her with her healing so we continued to have her over for a total of 20 visits that first year. There was one visit that was extremely emotional for all of us that still brings tears to my eyes. We had them over on Mother’s Day! What an honor it was and a gift for me to be able to tell her Thank you for making it possible for me to be a mother on that special day. We held each other and cried. That was a beautiful moment and visit that I will not forget.

As the months went on we started to have our challenges. There were a lot of things that played into the difficulties we had in our relationship. Some of the things were boundaries, lack of respect, and my struggle with my own infertility. We were trying to do everything we could to help her in her grieving process and the demands got out of control. We were not comfortable with some of the requests and we finally had to do something.  Our daughter’s birth mother at the time was very insecure and said some very hurtful things to me in regards to my infertility. It was very difficult to hear especially from my daughter’s birth mother. At this time she was having a hard time finding her place and figuring out what her role was in our family. She felt it was more of a co-parenting/foster care situation and not an adoption. I was very surprised that I had an extremely difficult time on our daughter’s second birthday. It hit me really hard that I will never have those nine months with her. I will never know what it’s like to carry her inside me. This little girl who I love with all my heart and my whole life revolved around first belonged to someone else. It was as if I hadn’t ever grieved this loss in my life. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that this same little girl was with her birth mother for nine months and she grew to love her little girl and then placed her with a family and entrusted her to us. She is sacrificing a lot more than I ever will with loss. Our relationship went on a rocky road for a few years. We all had to figure out our place and the healthiest way to continue to have an open adoption. We prayed about it and all of us felt that the visits needed to be cut back drastically. Also during this time our daughter’s birth mother started getting some counseling. It helped her to know what her role was in our life. She gained a new perspective and that helped our relationship immensely! We still have contact with her and send updates and pictures. We have a annual visit and that has been working for us for the past couple of years. Our daughter is now seven! She knows she was adopted. She knows her birth family. She knows that she is loved by us AND her birth family. She knows that she can ask us anything about her adoption or her birth family. No one is perfect. We are all in this together. I have never stopped loving our daughter’s birth mother and nor will I ever. She gave me our beautiful daughter and for that I am eternally grateful. 

We were blessed to be able to adopt our son who is five years old! We’ve had a open and very healthy relationship with his birth mother. It’s always been casual and felt comfortable. We love and adore her, her family, and his birth father. We are grateful for the challenges we went through with adoption, birth families, and openness. It has made us stronger, smarter, and more patient. We have enjoyed helping many families with their open adoptions.  We encourage openness for all involved in adoption. It has been a huge blessing in our lives!

You can learn a little more about Steve and Jessica Moon here. 

*Post by: Brenda Horrocks ~UFA Co-Chair

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Adoption Shop Talk: Featuring AdoptionBug.com

We have been doing a little facebook survey to find out the best places to shop for adoption related buys.   Each month we will be featuring a different business.   If you know of a great place that sells adoption related merchandise feel free to send us a facebook message about it!

Today we are talking
"Adoption Bug".
AdoptionBug.com was created and is owned by John and Tammi Ambrose.   John had a background in printing and Tammi in graphic design.  The Ambrose family adopted their daughter from China and had a desire to create products for people to celebrate adoption.   They state on their website  "Our products give you the opportunity to show others how much you've been blessed by adoption and open the door for positive conversations with others. We also hope that all our designs reinforce to your kids how exceedingly special they are. Simply put, we think adoption rocks, and we hope our products reflect that attitude!" 

I had the chance to browse their online shop today and I found a few items that quickly became a favorite!
I LOVE their "Blessed by Adoption" shirt
and their "Worth the Wait" onsie.
It comes in more sizes than a onsie but who doesn't love a little onsie??

There are items for the whole family with many designs and sayings to choose from.
Take a moment and visit their site and show them some online love by letting others know about their products!
For couples who are trying to raise funds to adopt check out their fundraising opportunities!

United For Adoption appreciates businesses that help promote a positive view of adoption.
If you feel the same you can show your appreciation by purchasing items on their site and/or sharing their site link with your friends.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Matching Mondays ~ Utah's Waiting Children.

As I look through the profiles of children in Utah waiting for a forever family I notice the number of boys who are waiting.   There are so many young men and boys hoping to be adopted.   Please take a moment and look through the profiles.   Maybe you will feel something about one of them.   Each child is waiting to be noticed, found and loved.
Go here to view Utah's Waiting Children.

YOU can help increase their chances of being adopted by sharing their profiles with those on your social networking sites, email and those you meet in real life.
It just takes ONE to make a difference!
Post by: Brenda Horrocks ~UFA Co-Chair

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Getting to Know the UFA Board.

Today we introduce you to
Steve and Jessica Moon
They serve on our UFA Board.
They are an incredible couple and a whole lot of fun!!!

We have been so lucky to be involved with the wonderful world of adoption for over eight years!! When we were struggling with infertility we felt so alone! We didn’t know anyone who was going through this difficult trial. We said a lot of prayers and struggled for many years. In one defining moment we found out that adoption was the way we were going to become parents. Ever since that day we have never looked back. 

We were extremely fortunate to have an incredible case worker who encouraged us to be involved with FSA (Families Supporting Adoption). Little did we know that this would change our lives forever. We finally found people who were going through the same difficult trial of infertility.  We didn’t feel alone anymore. It is through this same case worker that we got involved with the FSA National Board. We were able to do more with adoption and be more involved with other amazing couples who had a passion for promoting and supporting adoption. We were able to serve on the National Board for three years. We met many lifetime friends and were able to be involved with the National Adoption Conference and many other projects. We were also serving on our local board during that time and continued to serve with them for a total of seven years. We have been very involved with education in the local schools. We feel it’s very important to educate everyone everyone about their options when faced with a unplanned pregnancy. 

We are now serving with UFA (United for Adoption). We are so honored to be able to serve on this board  full of individuals who have such a passion for adoption. They volunteer many hours to change the world of adoption in a positive way.  We have felt so blessed to be a part of any organization that is supportive of adoption and trying to promote and educate others on adoption. We love serving and look forward to serving for many years to come. 

Adoption has changed our lives in so many ways. We have been fortunate to be able to adopt two incredible children! We have a daughter who is seven and a son who is six. Nothing brings us more joy than being parents. It is way more than we could have ever dreamed of! We are so grateful to have a open adoption with both of our children’s birth families. It’s been incredible to have such unique but amazing relationships with each of them. We are currently in the process of becoming foster certified and are looking forward to experiencing this new part of adoption. We are hopeful we can help other families come together and to add to our family. 

We enjoy being together doing several activities. We love to be outdoors hiking, camping, boating, 4 wheeling, biking, swimming, just about anything. We take advantage of opportunities to travel when we can. It’s also fun to just hang out and have a movie or game night. We always have so much fun together. We can’t imagine our lives without our children in them. We are so happy that our life took us through this journey of adoption and will forever be grateful for all of the blessings it has brought into our lives.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

1st Annual UFA Conference.

Don't Forget to mark your calendars for the
1st Annual
United For Adoption Conference.
November 9th at Utah Valley University.
Our Keynote Speaker is

Amy Iverson

KSL's The Browser.

Facebook: The Browsers

This conference is going to be awesome!!!
Don't miss it!
Registration opening soon.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Matching Mondays ~ Teen who loves sports is hoping for a family!

Attention Sports loving families....here is a great teen for you!!
Dylan age 16Dylan R.
 Dylan is a motivated, yet easy-going teen. You can always find Dylan with a basketball in hand! He love sports and playing them with friends and family. Dylan has energy to spare for working hard and loves having a job and earning money. He has a great personality and sense of humor and is liked by those around him.

An eleventh grader this year, Dylan is enjoying school. He dreams of going on to college and receiving further education. He would do well in an academically supportive environment. He is benefiting from counseling, which will need to continue after placement.

Dylan is a sweet, caring young man who is in need of a loving, stable, and secure home. If your family can offer him these things, we urge you to inquire. Financial
assistance may be available for adoption-related services.

This is a LEGAL RISK ADOPTIVE PLACEMENT. In a legal risk adoptive placement, it is expected that the family will eventually adopt the child, even though the birth parents’ rights have not been fully terminated at the time of placement.

For Utah children, only home studied families from all states are encouraged to inquire
You can inquire about Dylan by clicking on his name above to go to his profile page or you can contact The Utah Adoption Exchange by calling:  801.265.0444
Be sure to share this post with your contacts on facebook/twitter or any other social media you enjoy using. 
Dylan deserves a happy family! 
Let's help him!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Getting to Know the UFA Board.

Today we introduce you to Brian and Christine Anderson.
Brian and Christine serve on the UFA Board and are part of our Conference Committee.
UFA just wouldn't be the same with out them!

Brian & Christine Anderson are adoptive parents to 3 boys. Ashton "James", Christian, and Jonathan. They previously served as Salt Lake Chapter co-chairs for Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) and the National Board. Christine is also on the Board of Directors for the Utah Infertility Awareness Group. During the ten-year quest for their first child, Christine had opportunity to continue her education. She is a Certified Child Life Specialist, Rehabilitation Counselor, and is completing her doctorate in Disability Disciplines with an Emphasis in Rehabilitation Counseling. Brian is an analyst for United Airlines and has experience in software development. He is known for his sense of humor and BBQ. As a family they enjoy music, traveling, advocating for and helping others experience the joy of adoption!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ADHD Part I - Special Series: Is it REALLY ADHD?

Today we are blessed to hear from UFA's Christine Anderson.
She has written a series of articles about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Whether we are caring for children we gave birth to, adopted or children we are fostering we may run into challenges from time to time. 
I hope you find this information valuable and helpful!
Brenda Horrocks UFA Co-Chair
Christine with her family.
I am a PhD candidate for Rehabilitation Counseling (Disability Counseling), a disability and adoption advocate, a Mamma, and .....

I have had this post and this series swirling around in my head for a few months.  I have gone through the ethical decision making process weighing my professional status with the competing concept of an ethical principle "to do no harm" and Beneficience "to benefit to do good"
I have decided that the princle benefiscience has won this ethical conundrum.  I believe it is important to diseminate information, to help others with my unique perspective as a counselor and a mother.  Thus, this series on ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

  • In this series I will discuss more about ADHD facts and how it impacts our life including the impact on our open adoption with our children.
  • I will discuss STIGMA and determining if pursuing a diagnosis and help for ADHD is appropriate for your child and your family.
  • I will discuss treatment and how treatment is related to our family.
  • I will discuss services and accommodations.
  • I will discuss transition and adulthood.
I have had many conversations with others about ADHD both in my profession counseling students with disabilities, my university community, preschool teachers, parents at the playground, and anyone who wants to talk.  It is generally the same course of conversation...."Doesn't everyone at one point have ADHD" "Boys will be boys!!"  True...boys are busy active, have lots of energy, and according to research boys have a different learning style than our current educational system.  However the key difference in "boys will be boys" and ADHD is that the distraction, high energy, can't sit still, jumping around, talking loudly, and disrupting group activities is that these impairments are PERVASIVE. This behavior occurs often in every setting.

It has been regarded that ADHD in children cannot be diagnosed in children younger than age 6 and 7 years old.  The idea is that it is developmentally appropriate for a preschool child to move around, not be able to sit still or listen to a long story.  Also other factors like speech and hearing, separation anxiety, increasing developmentally changes can affect a child's attention and behavior.  When a child reaches school age more demands are required.  Previously children could play with toys, sensory activities, circle time, etc.  At first and second grade children are required to write paragraphs, stories, more intricate math concepts, and remain in their seat.  The demands of time management, organization, and starting and stopping projects become very overwhelming. These increased demands start the behavioral issues in the classroom. So what was once deemed as developmentally appropriate is now manifesting as a problem.....or is it?

Recently (2011) the American Academy of Pediatrics released new diagnosis and management guidelines for ADHD in children as young as age 4.  Yes as young as age 4.

There is controversy that we overdiagnose, are quick to judge and children are being diagnosed with ADHD when the issues are really related to behavioral problems.  I agree but a child with ADHD has problems that are PERVASIVE.  The problems experienced show up often, last longer, and are more intense than what other children experience.

So...here begins my ethical dilemma....I am not only a disability advocate and professional I now have the unique perspective of being a Mom of children with disabilities.  My oldest BAJA has ADHD and what complicates his diagnosis he has SEVERE anxiety.  I believe in being open I believe in being honest and I believe in talking it brings awareness and perhaps may help others. We LOVE and adore BAJA.  He is the light that pieced the darkness of infertility. Nothing will change the love I have for him and his birthfamily.

Parents magazine published an article May 2012. I was THRILLED to see this article because it's what's been swirling in my head.  Here is a checklist they published which I believe is right on for helping determine whether or not it's REALLY ADHD.
Every child displays the following behaviors some of the time but with ADHD the extent of these behaviors makes it difficult to function. Ask yourself:
  • Does your child have trouble listening when you ask him/her to do something?
  • Is he/she more easily excitable or fidgety than other kids?
  • Is your home life filled with conflicts over mealtime, bedtime, and brushing teeth?
  • Has your child's teacher raised concerns about his behavior?
  • Is he/she easily distracted? Particularly forgetful?
  • Does he/she blame others for his shortcomings?
  • Does he/she have trouble getting along with friends?
Oh MY I CAN ANSWER YES to EVERY question!!!
In this series I will go into more detail about the impact on our family life.

ADHD can cause the ability to hyperfocus.  Sustain or obsess attention on an activity.  BAJA  hyperfocused on books and music.  AMAZING!

Here are some more facts about ADHD.
  • The brain looks different in people with ADHD.  The part of the brain that helps control behavior, maintain focus is smaller in people with ADHD.  A chemical is missing as well.
  • There is a genetic link for ADHD.  Also environmental conditions (prenatal drug exposure, smoking, and environmental toxins can contribute to neurological defects ADHD.  Prenatal smoking increases likelihood of ADHD by 20%)
  • ADHD makes learning difficult.  A child who has trouble staying focused can't obtain information. new ways of learning information need to be used.  Also working memory is often affected.  Working memory is the ability to hold information use it to solve a problem and then demonstrate.  For instance the game concentration is difficult for BAJA too many cards to turn over he can't remember where the match is.  2+2=4 is easy to solve but 3+2=5 is difficult there are more manipulatives involved.  If he repeats and repeats information it makes it to his long term memory. But asking him to repeat something you just said...yeah not so easy.
  • There's no cure but there are treatments.  Behavior therapy, parenting skills, and Medication. I believe in a comprehensive approach. PILLS aren't SKILLS. But medication is needed but not the sole component.
  • Teaching specific skills.  It takes kids with ADHD longer but there is HOPE that eventually they will get it.  Yes let me repeat it takes LONGER but there is HOPE.
  • Parents need to be trained too.  I have BAJA look at my eyes before I tell him anything. Sometimes I have to lightly tap him or hold his hand. We do our best to reinforce positive behavior verbally, with incentive charts, and short term rewards. 
  • ADHD doesn't go away it continues into adulthood
Even though ADHD has presented challenges for my children and our family life....at the end of the day...I love my children. It is exhausting challenging and SO REWARDING to be with my children. I LOVE their unique gifts and appreciate their challenges.

Part II of this series will continue next week.

You can visit Christine's Blog here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Matching Mondays ~ Siblings hoping to be adopted!

*Don't forget what is coming up this month!*
A Day for Wednesday's Child on August 14th.  Tune into KSL during each newscast.
All funds raised go directly to program services.   .96 cents of every dollar goes to help recruit families for over 150 Utah children waiting in foster care.
(I had the incorrect date on previous Matching Monday posts...it is truly the 14th.  What can I say...I have summer brain. lol)
UFA loves KSL for all they do for Utah's waiting kids!
Here is the latest Wednesday's Child segment.

If you are interested in learning more about Trent and Jade go to their profile page or call The Utah Adoption Exchange at 801.265.044.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Birth Mothers Journey ~ Michelle's Story.

*Post written by Michelle.
As I came back from vacationing in Ireland, I made sure to bring back many souvenirs for my family and friends. Little did I know I was bringing back the most unique and life-changing souvenir…a baby!
Like many birth moms stories, mine is very special and unique to me. I met the birthfather on a study abroad trip in summer 2006 and after I came back to the US, we continued to talk.  I made the decision to visit him for a few weeks that winter. When I arrived, the culture shock hit me as I soon realized that he and his family didn’t have the same views on alcohol and smoking as I did. On my flight home, I didn’t feel right about continuing on the relationship so I made plans to break-up with him. A few weeks after returning home, I found out that I was pregnant and my first thought was to choose the easy way out: abortion.  However, after thinking rationally for a few minutes, I knew that choice wouldn’t give me peace. The only decision that was best for me was adoption.

The birthfather was completely against adoption. He continually put pressure on me for not choosing abortion. Then, he suddenly changed his mind and wanted us to parent the baby. We both knew we were too young to get married and frankly, I didn’t want to expose any child to his lifestyle or to view him as a role model. At that moment, I had an eye-opening experience, if I wouldn’t want the baby to view him as a role model, why would I date him? I believe my lack of self-esteem played a major role in my poor choices. I could have raised the baby as a single parent but adoption was the only way I could ensure that the baby had a stable household with a father who held the priesthood.

At four months pregnant, I went to talk with LDS Family Services to learn more about adoption. I was so excited because I had no doubt that I was making the best choice for the baby and myself. Everyone was supportive for the adoption, except my father. Although, he had unconditional love for me, he wasn’t able to understand my reasoning for adoption and was very worried that I would regret my choice. A part of me was thankful that he wasn’t supportive because it made me question both options: parenting or adoption. At six months pregnant, my extended family found out about the pregnancy and was hurt that I hadn’t told them sooner. I was still in denial that I was pregnant so I waited as long as possible to tell more family. Some comments I received were hard to hear such as, “Well I’ll take the baby” or “you can give him to me and I’ll raise him until you’re able to take him back”. I was hurt because this was a baby we were talking about, not a litter of kittens. I knew their intentions were from a caring place but being on the receiving end of those comments was painful. My biggest support was my mother and the weekly LDS Family Services support groups that my mother and I attended. It was great to hear and share our feelings and our stories with other birth moms. It gave me comfort knowing that my roller-coaster of emotions were normal even when I didn’t feel like it.

I spent months looking through many profiles. Sadly, I didn’t get a coveted “sign” that some birth moms receive when they find their couple. I realized I had found my couple weeks later when I couldn’t stop thinking about them. My lifestyle as a vegetarian was a big influence on my selection process. I wasn’t able to find a vegetarian couple but I did find the next closest thing. My education is very important to me so I continued to attend my college classes up until four days of my delivery.

I really enjoyed putting the announcement basket together because I was very excited for the baby and them. We met up twice before I had the baby and I was relieved when we addressed all questions before they became issues. For example, if I changed my mind about openness and wanted to see the baby more often and if I could choose to have the baby’s middle name to be the same as mine (which they were very accommodating with). I enjoyed my pregnancy and made it a fun experience by painting my belly like a watermelon and a globe. I’ve always viewed pregnancy as a beautiful thing and I wanted to have fun memories of it. I was asked often if I bonded with the baby and I did but it felt more like I was babysitting someone else’s gorgeous baby! I felt blessed to have gone through this memorable, life changing, and beautiful experience. I never felt like the baby was mine so I always referred to him as “Jenny’s* baby” (the adoptive mom). I choose to have the adoptive couple in the delivery room and asked the adoptive father was able to cut the umbilical cord. I wanted them to have that memory with me. The baby weighed 8lbs, 3 ounces and was 21 inches long! My nurses all knew about the adoption and were very positive and supportive of my feelings. On placement day, the combination of hormones and medication made me an emotional wreck. There were times that I would start crying for no reason as I held the baby. My father gave me a blessing on placement day that brought me immediate peace and comfort. I hadn’t had a blessing in years so I was skeptical if it would really help. But after the blessing, I felt a strong presence of my Heavenly Father that I hadn’t felt in so long. It felt as if he was carrying me along and whispering words of encouragement to me. I had heard other birth moms’ stories about placement where they collapsed on the way out the door from overwhelming emotions so I wanted everyone to know at my placement that it was going to be a happy experience. I had cried all my tears out already and was ready for laughter and smiles at placement. I loved watching the couple as they held the baby because it reassured my decision and took away any doubt I had. I chose an open adoption with weekly letters and pictures and maybe in the future, I might want to have visits but I wanted to make sure the option was there for me.  Placing Hudson* was the hardest thing that I have ever done and will probably ever do but it has been the most rewarding experience and I wouldn’t take any of it back. I will never forget what the adoptive couple said to me at placement.
I thanked the couple for giving me my life back and their response was,

“thank you for giving us ours.”

*Names have been changed.
~Do you have a placement or adoption story to share?  We are looking for submissions. 
Please email your story and photos to unitedforadoption at gmail dot com.  If yours is chosen to publish we will contact you. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Getting to Know the UFA Board.

Today we introduce you to the sweet and fun
Sherri Barker.
Sherri serves on our UFA Board.
We are so lucky to have her!
Sherri says:
"I placed a beautiful little girl in November of 2002.  This experience changed my life and gave me a love and passion for advocating adoption.  I have spoken in firesides, church meetings, many panels and have helped coordinate and speak at FSA National Conferences the last few years.  I have been a facilitator and volunteer in my local weekly FSA Birth Mom support group for about 4 years.  I enjoy a semi open adoption with Savannah and her family which is a highlight of my life.  I am blessed to be married to a wonderful husband and have 6 children; his, mine & ours.  We just recently enjoyed our 10th anniversary.  I serve on the UFA board.  I am currently working on publishing a book about Birth Moms with Savannah. "

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fun Adoption e-Books!

Do your kids love to use your tablet or smart phone or even just the computer?
Here are some fun e-books that deal with issues related to adoption.  
You can read about them on GMA News Online by following the link below!
They are free to download.  
Check them out!

E-book image courtesy of the Love Sees Beyond Differences campaign

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adoption Through Foster Care

Self-Portrait with AshaAung and ThawdaWaing
Photo Courtesy of Flickr ~ Andre Helmstetter
My family grew by two more children last month, bringing our total to six children, both biological and adoptive.  Our two newest come to us through adoption from foster care, as did another of ours several years ago.  One of the joys I have found is that with all six of my children, I see no difference in skin color and no difference between biological and adoptive.  My love for them is equally the same, and equally as strong.

Of the over 560,000 children placed in foster care in 2010, it is estimated that 107,000 of these foster children became eligible for adoption.  Sadly, only around 53,000 of these children were adopted during that year, with over half of these children being adopted by foster parents, with the rest being adopted by family members, and a small percentage being adopted by non relatives.  For those children who are not adopted, many remain in the foster care system for extended periods of time.   Some of these children are moved to group homes, while others simply age out of the foster care system, never truly finding a family of their own and a place to call home. 

I certainly did not set out and plan on adopting these three children from foster care.  Indeed, over the 12 years I have been afoster parent, I have had over four dozen children come through my home, and only three were adopted.  In truth, my wife and I tried to adopt another foster child, but sadly, it did not come to pass, leaving all grief stricken and upset.

Like I did four years ago when we adopted our first from foster care, I once again broke down in tears in the court house when the adoption pages were signed, due to the overwhelming joy I felt.  For these two girls, our home has been the only stable home they knew, as one child came to us at only a little over a year old, and the other when she was just 27 hours old.  For both, my family has been the only true family in their young lives, making the adoption process an easier one for all involved.
There are those time, though when adoption can be an emotionally difficult time for a foster child.  No longer will the child be able to hope for possible reunification with his biological parents, or even with other members of his birth family.  Instead, the termination of rights by his birth parents might produce feelings of grief and loss within him, fears he had kept bottled within himself during the length of his stay in foster care.  He may even feel that he has betrayed his biological family as he legally takes the adoptive parents’ last name, as well as becoming a permanent member of the family.  You may find that the child revisits the stages of grief again, both during and after the adoption process.  Indeed, it can be an emotionally traumatic time for adults and children.

What I did not know four years ago when I adopted my first child was that there was an agency specializing in assisting qualified adoptive parents of foster children in collecting the federal adoption tax refund to which they are entitled. Indeed, this agency, AdoptFund, helps foster parents like myself, collect thousands of several thousands of dollars for those foster children adopted between the years of 2005 and 2011. Even though two years have passed, I have found that it is not too late to apply for this refund, a refund that will help with sending our adopted child from 2007 to college.  Indeed, if you have adopted a child between 2005-2011, it is not too late for you to receive the refund, a refund that can assist you in helping to financially provide for your child.  To contact AdoptFund, simply visit http://www.adoptfund.com/.

The adoption of three girls into my home has taught me much, and has filled my home with more laughter, more tears,and more learning experiences than I would ever have imagined.    To be sure, there are challenges involved, particularly the fact that all three children come from our small town of just over 2,000 residents, and we do not know who any of the birth fathers truly are. Yet, these challenges are far outweighed by the gifts of love each brings to our home and to our lives.   We continue to foster children in need, and continue to love each biological,adoptive, and foster child with as much unconditional love as possible.  Each child is unique, each child is special,and each child is deserving of such love.

Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 11 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 40 children come through their home.   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 Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Story, and the new book The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home.  He also writes for a number of publications and newsletters, both here in the United States, and overseas.  Dr. DeGarmo can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at his website, www.drejohndegarmo.com.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Matching Mondays ~ 12 year old with a giant smile and even bigger heart is hoping for a family!

I took one look at this smiling face and just KNEW we needed to feature him this week!
Seriously....who wouldn't want to adopt this darling boy!!!
Gerrardo who likes to go by "Jerry" is 12.
Jerry is known for his big heart! Jerry loves to be active and is a big fan of sports. You can often find him playing basketball, building something out of LEGOs, or riding his bike. Soccer is one of his many talents and he hopes to play on a team!

This young man is a hard worker and does well in school. He attends the sixth grade and benefits from an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Jerry participates in counseling, which will need to continue after placement.

Looking forward to the future, Jerry longs for a supportive and loving family to call his own someday. If you can offer him the stability and love he needs, we urge you to inquire. Financial assistance may be available for adoption-related services.

For Utah children, only home studied families from all states are encouraged to inquire.

You can inquire about Jerry by clicking on his name above to go to his profile page or you can contact The Utah Adoption Exchange by calling:  801.265.0444
Be sure to share this post with your contacts on facebook/twitter or any other social media you enjoy using. 
Jerry deserves a happy family! 
Let's help him!

*Don't forget what is coming up this month!*

A Day for Wednesday's Child on August 22nd.  Tune into KSL during each newscast.
All funds raised go directly to program services.   .96 cents of every dollar goes to help recruit families for over 150 Utah children waiting in foster care.
Go to KSL's  website for more information!
Thanks KSL for supporting Utah's children! 

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