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Archive for the 'Adoption' Category

WAITING FOR BABY: McCain supports adoption, but not for gays

McCain 2008(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

Politics can get kind of sticky, especially when trying to sort through a candidate’s platform. Early on, I decided to take a closer look at how Republican nominee John McCain and Democrat nominee Barack Obama stand on adoption. Without question, both have supported policies that encourage and strongly back parents trying to adopt, especially regarding children in the foster care system. But for McCain, it’s a personal issue, too. He adopted his first wife’s three children and then in 1993 with wife Cindy, adopted their youngest daughter from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh. Promoting adoption and supporting tax deductions for qualified adoption expenses rank high among his policy positions.

Yet, another thing stands out as well. While Obama supports equal rights for gays and heterosexual couples to adopt, McCain stops just short of endorsing gay adoption. His policy position clearly states that he believes marriage is a “union between one man and one woman. It is only this definition that sufficiently recognizes the vital and unique role played by mothers and fathers in the raising of children, and the role of the family in shaping, stabilizing, and strengthening communities and our nation.” Am I reading between the lines here? Read on and you decide.

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Posted on Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
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MAJOR, QUIET victory for foster children

20080104 Orphan(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

So much coming out of Washington right now focuses on the election and bailout of the financial industry. Perhaps that’s how a significant piece of legislation went unnoticed this week. For the first time in this century, Congress agreed on a major reform of child welfare laws. One major change includes extending federal foster care assistance until age 21 for those who are enrolled in school, working or otherwise engaged in “constructive” activities. The reform also provides a more concrete transitional plan for those who age out of the foster care system. Finally, lawmakers recognize that not all 18-year-olds are ready to be declared adults and left to fend for themselves.

Other key changes: Federal adoption assistance is now available to all special needs children. Before assistance was based on whether the birth parents were eligible for welfare. Also, the Adoption Incentives Program was extended and expanded, increasing the financial bonuses awarded to states for children adopted out of foster care. Both measures should help encourage more adoptions. For a full list of changes to the child welfare laws, read here.

Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: From adopted to adopting

03-20 Miscarriage illus.jpg

(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

Once you decide to adopt, you suddenly discover just how many other lives are touched by adoption, too. I’ve met a lot of people in the past year with some remarkable stories. Most recently, Gina of San Francisco shared hers with me. Now, I’d like to share it with you.

From Gina: My parents adopted me when I was 2 days old. I grew up knowing my birthmother — we met twice and have exchanged letters every year on my birthday. When I was 12 years old, she explained why she put me up for adoption. I never had the insecurities you often read about with some adopted children. My parents gave me all the love I’d ever need. My birthmother gave me the explanation that I needed to hear. My life was really pretty normal.

Then six years ago, I found myself walking in my mom’s shoes. Medical reasons made it dangerous for me to get pregnant. I knew right away that my husband and I would adopt.

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Posted on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: Why a baby?

hands(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

“You don’t have to adopt a baby to become a parent.” That’s how the e-mail started, and honestly, I expected it. This past weekend, I took my adoption story into the print world with a column about how Sarah Palin’s pregnant teenage daughter should be a starting point for talk about teenage pregnancy. (If you missed it, you can read the column here.) Anytime you venture into personal territory, you have to prepare yourself for honesty from a wide range of readers. What I didn’t expect was how one e-mail would finally help me come to terms with my own decision.

This particular reader had a biological son and later adopted a 5-year-old daughter. Her heartwarming story was as moving as any adoption story I’ve ever heard. She encouraged me to consider adopting and older child because “you don’t have to adopt a baby to become a parent.” That’s true — but I want to adopt a baby. It’s not just about adopting a child or being the parent of a child. My decision is about adopting and raising a baby. Up until this past weekend, my back went up every time someone pointed out that there are a lot of older children in the system waiting to be adopted; if I wanted to be a parent, why didn’t I choose this avenue? Every person who adopts has an individual reason for doing so. Why should I have to defend my reason? I asked myself. The answer: because selfish or not, the reason matters to me and one day may matter to my child.

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Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: Palin’s pregnant daughter part of ‘majority’

bristolpalin(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and plans to keep the baby. Political talk aside, it’s not really that surprising. It doesn’t matter that her mom supports promoting abstinence in teaching sex education. All the family values in the world won’t change the fact that 17-year-old Bristol is like a lot of other teenage girls. Forty-two in every 1,000 girls in America has a child before turning 20 years old. And the kicker, according to Child Trends, is that less than 1 percent chose to place the child for adoption.

It’s not easy for me to voice an opinion on news such as this because I can’t be objective. I fall in the group of thousands of women in America who are trying to adopt a child. While I truly want each pregnant woman to make the right choice for herself and her baby, the hopeful side of me is still grateful to know some women do choose to carry their children to term and place them for adoption. The fact remains, women are the ones doing this, not teens. Surprised? So was I, at first.

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Posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: If at first you don’t succeed

Crib ILLUS.jpg(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

Networking always sounded like something working folks did to advance their careers. I never imagined it would be a method applied to growing my family. But when it comes to making contact with a birth mother, networking is crucial. So, we took our birth mother letter — essentially a two-sided color flier that tells about my husband, stepdaughter and I — to the printer to have it mass produced. We gave 100 copies to our adoption agency. The other 150 we began distributing to friends and family. “Any and everyone,” our caseworker suggested.

Then, a few weeks ago, my sister saw an elusive opening, really just a sliver of possibility. Babysitting for a former co-worker, she learned about how the woman had adopted the two girls when her niece lost custody of them. “And now she’s pregnant again,” the woman explained. My sister eventually learned that the woman’s niece is unsure what will become of her unborn baby. Before the woman left, she had a copy of our birth mother letter in hand. The situation doesn’t appear headed in our direction, but then, we understood that this was a long shot. The point is that when it comes to adoption, networking comes in many forms and every single one should be explored. Because you just never know where it might lead.

Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: Best adoption picture book

BABY_ofyouidreamed(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

Anyone who’s seen the inside of my family’s office/library knows how much I love books. And ever since we decided to adopt, I’ve paid particular attention to the picture books that help tell adopted children the story of their lives and how they came into the lives of their families. Among my personal favorites: “The Family Book” by Todd Parr (Little, Brown Young Readers, $15.99), which illustrates the different makeups of families, from stepchildren to adopted children and two moms and two dads. As a stepmom, I really love how Parr tackles this subject, especially in contrasting two families by showing how one pig family is clean and another one messy. “Horace” by Holly Keller (Greenwillow, $11.55) is also cute in depicting the adoption of a leopard by tigers. “I’m all the wrong colors,” Horace explains and later sets out — with the support of his adopted family — to find his biological parents.

There are dozens of fabulous picture books, each different enough that adoptive families easily could find one that best illustrates their own situation. But for all the books on the market, the one I loved the best you won’t find in bookstores or on Amazon.com. It’s literally one of a kind. A couple we met through our adoption agency made the book using pictures from their adopted son’s birth. It includes photos of his birthmother and birth sisters. The words are simple enough for a child to understand. All of it is bound in a hard cover book (you can find great online publishing programs such as Shutterfly and Blurb that have great easy to use templates or consult an adoption scrapbook specialist). Every child who is adopted — and even those who aren’t — should have one, because while picture books make for great bedtime stories, none of them compare to a picture book that truly reflects the life of your child.

Posted on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: Surrogate orphan stuck in India

babtgirl(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

Some stories just break your heart. Manjhee is less than two weeks old. Already she has been abandoned by her two “mothers” and labeled the world’s first “surrogate orphan.” And not because there isn’t a parent who wants her. It’s a convulted case that shows how the unexpected can turn a family’s life upside down.

A Japanese couple — Dr. Ikufumi Yamada and his wife, Yuki Yamada, contracted with a woman in India to be their surrogate. Commercial surrogacy was legalized in India in 2002. It’s also known as renting a womb, with often poor Indian women receiving about $3,000 to carry a child that is biologically another couple’s. The hitch for the Yamadas came when they divorced in June, a month before Manjhee was born. Yuki gave up her rights to the child. Upon the little girl’s birth, as stipulated in the contract, the surrogate mother also walked away from her. But all wasn’t lost because Ikufumi still wanted his daughter. Only a law in India is blocking his way.

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Posted on Wednesday, August 6th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: House cleaning, anyone?

20080624-5-Kids-routine(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

My house has never looked this good. The towels are all neatly folded in the linen closet. My clothes are color coordinated in the closet. I’ve lined every single cabinet and drawer in the kitchen, bathrooms, even the laundry room. Next up: the habitually neglected garage. This has become my life since we officially went “live” in our search for a prospective birth mother. I’ve heard of nesting while expecting — who knew that adopting also would unleash the hidden housekeeper within.

Technically, we’ve been “live” only three months. Feels more like an eternity. And considering the average wait time is 10 months, we have a long way to go before we adopt a baby. Honestly, no amount of time would be too long. But that doesn’t make the process of waiting any easier. “Keep busy” was the advice other adopting parents gave my husband and me. And as is my nature, I never like to do anything halfway. Just ask my house.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Under: Adoption | 1 Comment »

WAITING FOR BABY: Bad seed slips through crack

20070719 Shattered lives(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

Fingerprinting twice seemed a little absurd. As part of the pre-adoption home study process, my husband and I had to have our fingerprints processed for the background check. Not once, but twice. We had to make two separate appointments. We had to have our fingers pressed onto a computer screen and then come back a few minutes later and do it all over again. Asinine, I thought at the time. Why couldn’t the fingerprints we’d just given be copied and sent for each of the required state and federal background checks?

The logistics of this remain a mystery. The need for background checks does not. Last week, a New York woman was sentenced to almost 11 years in prison for fraud that led her to adopt 11 disabled children. Authorities say Judith Leekin physically and emotionally abused those children while collecting more than $1 million in subsidies. The children were beaten, locked in a room without food, denied medical and dental care and kept out of school. The damage is irreversible — and the reason why so many of us who plan to adopt wish the punishment extended well beyond what Leekin has received.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
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