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Archive for the 'Adoption' Category

WAITING FOR BABY: What attracts birthparents

swingset(“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.)

“I just know someone will pick you because…” Family and friends all have voiced reasons why they think my husband, step-daughter and I will be chosen by a birthmom (and maybe the birthdad, too) to raise her child. The reasons? Because we have an instant big sister in Dana. Because we put a high value on our children having a college education. Because we have a nice suburban house with a backyard and a swingset. Because we have two dogs. And my personal favorite, because we have a sense of humor.

Now, an ongoing national study of birthparents and adoptive families is shedding some light on the subject. The Early Growth and Development Study is tracking 360 adoptive families, 359 birthmothers and 114 birthfathers and monitoring the development of the adopted children through age 7. The study hopes to answer key questions about nature vs. nuture. And so far, it’s answering some big questions about why these birthparents selected a particular adoptive families. Interestingly, the adoptive families’ physical appearance, religious affiliation and type of home ranked well below the families’ ability to provide educational opportunities for the child and the close marital relationship of the couple. A full breakdown of the results is available in the July/August edition of Adoptive Families magazine. As for the swingset, it ranked in the basement in terms of importance. Guess we’ll have to rely on our sense of humor.

Posted on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: The dreaded home visit

20070326 Babyproof homeOur life under the microscope. That’s how I viewed the home visit, one of many pre-adoption requirements. My husband and I already had each written our life stories in a five-page autobiography, answered every question about our views on parenting, filed for our DMV records, completed a health physical, had two sets of fingerprints taken for the criminal background check, had our employment verified and taken care of all the other mandatory paperwork. It was an exhausting process, but not the part I fretted over the most. For some reason, the idea of our case worker “inspecting” our home had me tossing and turning at night.

During our pre-adoption education workshop, I pounced on the home visit. Don’t worry about it, the social workers assured us. If something wasn’t acceptable by state standards, they would let us know and give us an opportunity to correct it. No need to make the house shine top to bottom. I nodded my head and asked, “Yes, but do you have a list of must-haves.” I liked checking things off. I wanted something in writing, and an exhaustive search of the Internet had provided me no insight at all. With a smile, the social worker presented the same checklist they used while conducting the home visit — “Some of this, you won’t understand,” she explained. No problem, I thought. At least now I had something tangible to prepare for the visit.
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Posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: Telling big sister

danaandemily(“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.)

She’s ready. Watching my step-daughter, Dana, with her baby cousin, I was immediately certain Dana would make a fabulous big sister. About a decade in age separates Dana and my niece Emily, but together they have this unspoken language that we adults simply don’t get. They look at each other as if the world around them ceases to exist. Their smiles reach right up to there eyes. Seeing that almost broke my heart.

That’s because we had come up short in three years of trying to have a baby. Adoption was the next step, but hardly one completed overnight. For that matter, it often takes a lot longer than nine months, too. And so the real question for us: when do we tell Dana?

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Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: Omission in article about NFL player adopting?

wares(“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.)

NFL linebacker DeMarcus Ware and wife Taniqua opened up to the New York Times this past weekend about the adoption of their 3-month-old daugther, Marley. If you read just the article, you’d come away thinking it was no more than an incredibly moving story. The Wares had endured two miscarriages and the stillbirth of a son, Omar, before deciding to adopt. The father of Ware’s business manager helped introduce the couple to the child’s birthmother. The love the Wares have for their baby shined in every word of the article. And in the pictures.

It’s the pictures that drew the notice of MediaTakeOut.com. As the site points out, “What was odd about the article is – the writer never even mentioned the fact that their adoption was a cross-racial adoption.” The Wares are black. Their daughter is white. MediaTakeOut.com went on to write, “Guess in today’s world of political correctness, you’re better off pretending that there’s no elephant in the room….” It is more common for white parents to adopt children of mixed races. But even with that uniqueness aside, should the NY Times writer have noted that the couple adopted across racial lines?

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Posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: Berkeley group, adopted children help Chinese earthquake victims

bake(“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.)

A little something different this week. An Associated Press story details how many children adopted from China are raising thousands of dollars to help their homeland’s earthquake relief effort. A 7-year-old and her mother in Calgary, Canada, raised $2,400 by selling gourmet fortune cookies. A Massachusettes girl has collected more than $1,000 through her bat mitzvah project. They are only two stories of how families connected to China through adoption are giving back to a country that desperately needs help. (In a sad numeric irony, about 68,000 Chinese children have been adopted by Americans since 1991, and about 69,000 people have died because of the devastating earthquake that hit China recently.)

Giving back is hardly a new concept. In 1997, Jenny and Richard Bowen adopted their oldest daughter from a welfare institution in southern China. It took time, patience and a lot of love to help their new child recover from physical and cognitive developmental delays. A year later, Jenny Bowen founded Half the Sky Foundation in Berkeley. The organization’s mission was to provide nuturing-care to orphaned children. Today, it operates six welfare institutions in Hunan Province and two orphanages in Yiyong, giving hope and much needed care to children who likely will never be adopted.

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Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
Under: Adoption | 1 Comment »

WAITING FOR BABY: An adoption scam

baby(“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.)

The tell-tale signs were written all over the e-mail. I just didn’t want to see them. A month into “circulation” (putting our story out there for birthmom’s to read), we finally had our first e-mail. The subject line was tip-off No. 1: “Adopt a baby girl into your home.” It was especially telling considering the message that followed from someone who called herself Taylor.

“Hi, Well, honestly I dont know what to say or if this is the right place for me to pose a problem. All i know is that I have prayed over it and something good is going to happen in my life. I am having a baby girl and we are facing some problems which i dont want her to suffer. She has already endured enough as a child and I have also tried my best to keep her but adoption should be my last resort if at all i want her happiness. If you are interested in giving a child love and care, please show it to this baby. She is 7months old, playful and fast growing baby.”

On some level, a tiny warning bell went off inside my head. Initially, I ignored it.

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Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2008
Under: Adoption | 2 Comments »

WAITING FOR BABY: Corruption tainting international adoption

WORLD NEWS ADOPTIONS-4 1 DA(“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.)

The news reports last week had a familiar and sad ring to them. Guatemala has annulled 15 adoptions for U.S. couples and is looking to overhaul its adoption program. The reason: fraud and irregularities. An investigation has found that some babies may have been stolen from their birth parents, others were possibly sold by their poor birth mothers.

It follows too closely reports in April that the U.S. and Vietnam will not renew their adoption agreement when it expires on Sept. 1. Corruption and baby selling are the underlying reasons there. It is the second suspension of adoptions between U.S. couples and Vietnam. The first came in 2003, with adoptions resuming in 2006.

This is the ugly side of international adoption, the side that taints and overshadows all the good that can come from adopting babies and children from other countries. It’s also the primary reason why international adoption was never on our radar.

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Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
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WAITING for Baby: Dad’s journey, too

cover(“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.)

This is our journey. It’s something I’ve had to remind myself a few times as my husband and I considered and then started the process of adopting. Right out of the gate, I was 100 percent certain adopting was right for our family. My husband didn’t see it as quite so black-and-white; he had a lot of questions that needed answering first. It was the first time in our marriage that we entered a territory where we wanted the same thing but took different paths to deciding what would be best for us.

So later, with the questions answered and the big “let’s do it” decision agreed upon, I was still a little too wrapped up in my end of this journey. All the research, reading books, finding the right lawyer or agency, arranging to attend an Open Paths meeting to learn more about adoption — that became my life, often stretching late into the night and fueling bouts of insomnia. Only after we attended our first meeting with an adoption lawyer, when it seemed as if we simply couldn’t afford adoption, did reality give me a swift smack. This was affecting my husband as profoundly as it affected me. How had I lost sight of that fact? Maybe largely because the adopted dad’s perspective doesn’t usually get the attention given to the mom’s.

Fortunately, the new book “The Brotherhood of Joseph” has changed all of that.

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Posted on Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: Connected to Giants legend Willie Mays

shadow(“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.)

Until your life takes an unexpected turn, a lot of things go without notice. Babies and pregnant women never seemed more prevalent than when my husband and I tried unsuccessfully to have a baby of our own. Likewise, I was never more aware of how adoption has touched so many lives than when we finally decided to adopt. For the first time, the word “adoption” caught my eye on the Internet, in the newspaper and magazines, on the television and even in everyday conversation.

And what I’m discovering has surprised me (my husband, too). Case in point: My husband and I hope to soon follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest baseball players to ever step on the field. Giants legend Willie Mays is an adoptive parent. In 1958, he adopted son Michael with his former wife. My husband has written about sports for 30 years, and followed Mays’ career long before that. Even he didn’t realize Mays had adopted a child. That’s basically how this goes. Until you’re in the midst of it, adoption is just sort of there.
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Posted on Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
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WAITING FOR BABY: Understanding ‘open’ adoption

baby-771163(”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.)

The idea of adopting initially played on a major insecurity of mine: What if the birthmother changed her mind? I wrongly assumed ‘closed’ adoption would provide a safety net against such a thing. Maybe sending the birthmom letters and photos once a year would be OK, I relented. But I didn’t want her having a relationship with my baby.

A year later, it’s hard to admit my naivety , ignorance, and yes, selfishness. As fortune would have it, our decision to adopt domestically eventually led my husband and me to the Independent Adoption Center (IAC) in Pleasant Hill. Its founder was among the first to practice open adoption — more than 20 years ago, when most adoptive families harbored the same fears that I had. My husband and I entered the IAC’s information session with wariness.

Could we really embrace an open adoption — and in essence, a lifelong relationship with a birthmother? Very quickly, the question became, how could we not?

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Posted on Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
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