Let’s Talk About Transracial Adoption

For some, adopting a child of another race can be intimidating. Fears like lack of identity between your child and their racial heritage, getting intrusive questions when you are out as a family, or not bonding well because you look different than your child may come up. While these are valid fears, they should not inhibit you from considering transracial adoption.

Let’s talk about 4 word that can help ease your worries about transracial adoption:

Let’s talk about LOVE

Think about the people in your life you love and who love you. Are they all genetically connected to you? Probably not. Easy examples of this include spousal relationships, deep friendships, and of course—adoption! Love knows no bounds. Adopting parents who have both adopted and biological children repeatedly say that their love for their adopted children is no different than the love they have for their biologically-related children. In the same way, adults who were adopted as children (or embryos!) love their parents deeply! Race does not impact the powerful bond of love.

Let’s talk about CONNECTION

Both connection between an adopted child and her parents and connection between an adopted child and her racial heritage are both important. Connection can be built by having shared experiences, asking questions, being open-minded, and having a listening ear. If you are adopting a child of a race different than yours, we encourage you to be intentional about having shared experiences with your child related to her racial heritage. Ask questions and be open to learning about a culture that may be different than yours. Be willing to listen to your child’s thoughts and feelings as you both learn and grow together.

Let’s talk about REPRESENTATION

Representation matters. If you are pursuing a transracial adoption, be intentional about having community around you of the race of your future child. Find mentors who can encourage and support your child as he explores his racial identity. By creating a safe space for exploration, you are communicating to your child that you value and appreciate his differences.

Let’s talk about PURPOSE 

When you began your journey of adoption, what was your purpose? Was it to give a child a loving home? Was it to fulfill your dreams of having a family of your own? Whatever it may be, hold on to the purpose behind your adoption. Remembering your “why” will help overcome fears as you step into the unknown of adopting, especially adopting a child of another race.

 

Fear can be deceiving. When it creeps in, remember these four words: love, connection, representation, and purpose.  And always remember: transracial adoption is a beautiful gift to both you and your child.

By: Sage Vincent

The Best Therapies for Your Adopted Child (And You)

Adoptive families know that therapy will benefit their child, but it can be difficult to know where to turn. Maybe you thought it was called “counseling” but then you started to see words like “trauma-focused” or “eye movement desensitization” or question the effectiveness of art/animal/music/sand in therapy. We’ve created this guide below to find the right fit for your child or yourself.

 

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

PCIT is a combination of play therapy and behavioral therapy for young children that will involve you as the parents. Parents learn techniques for relating to their child struggling with emotional and behavioral problems, language issues, developmental disabilities, or mental health disorders.

Who this best serves: Children ages 2-7 and their parents with experiences of trauma or have diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

 

Play Therapy

Children are able to examine and express their thoughts and emotions in an age and developmentally appropriate way through play. The goal is to help children learn to express themselves in a healthy way, learn respect and empathy, and discover positive problem solving techniques. This will work for children still learning English as well. General play therapists will be appropriate or you can consider Theraplay®, which is a specific type of play therapy, and you can look for a practitioner in your area.

Who this best serves: Children ages 3-12 who may have social or emotional deficits, trauma, anxiety, depression, grief, anger, ADD, autism, learning disabilities, and/or language delays.

 

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Often used to enhance other therapy the participant is engaged in, this therapy gives a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and diverts attention from stressful situations. They may keep an animal at home or by their side during the day or engage equine therapy at a ranch or equestrian school. Bonding with an animal can increase self-worth and trust, stabilize emotions, and improve communication, self-regulation, and socialization skills. Equine therapies have been very successful with adopted children.

Who this best serves: Children with behavioral issues, trauma histories, depression, autism, medical conditions, schizophrenia, or addiction.

 

Art/Music Therapy

Artistic therapies are typically nonverbal and allow the participant to process difficult feelings and express them when they cannot with words. This may be due to difficulties with expressing themselves or still learning English when other talk focused therapies may not be helpful. Music focuses on listening to, reflecting, or creating music to improve health and well-being. Art uses drawing, painting, collage, coloring, or sculpting to help express themselves and “decode” the nonverbal messages behind the art. Sandplay uses sand/toys/water to create scenes of miniature worlds that reflect their inner thoughts, struggles, and concerns.

Who this best serves: Children, adolescents, or adults who have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect. They are useful for anyone struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, or on the autism spectrum.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This therapy is short-term and focused on intervention in the way an individual thinks and feels and how that affects the way they behave and problem solve. It works on changing thought patterns as a way to change behavior. Trauma-focused is for focusing specifically on effects of early childhood trauma.

Who this best serves: Adolescents and adults but school age children can benefit from this therapy if they are developmentally able to do so. It takes participants who are engaged in therapy and works well with depression, anxiety, PTSD, anger, panic disorders, phobias, or eating disorders.

Trauma-focused is best with adoptees or adoptive parents with abuse histories, PTSD, depression, or anxiety as a result of incidents in childhood.

 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

This is a specialized therapy that diminishes negative feelings associated with particular memories of traumatic events. It focuses on emotions and symptoms from the event and uses a hand motion technique causing eyes to move back and forth which engages both sides of the brain. This physical and emotional connection can bring deeper healing, particularly with individuals with significant trauma.

Who this best serves: Adolescents and adults with PTSD, anxiety, phobias, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and stress. It can also be used with younger children with therapists who have this experience and training.

 

Special notes for adoptive parents: The adoption process can bring up difficult emotions, thoughts, or experiences from your own past. While this is painful, it is also good that this is surfacing so you are able to seek healing. You may find your adopted child is pushing buttons you did not know were there and counseling will benefit you and your parenting. We encourage you to also consider the therapies listed above for yourself while you seek services for your child.

 

This information is sources from Psychology Today. You can learn more about these types of therapies and search for counselors on their website.

 

By: Heather Sloan, LBSW

Adoption Changed My Life

I was adopted from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, at the age of three along with my older sister, Lila, who was four. Adoption has changed my life physically and spiritually and has shown me a great picture of how Christians have been adopted into God’s family at salvation.

Physically, being in a family meant my basic needs were fully provided such as nutritious food, regular medical care, clothing that fit properly, and having my own toothbrush. My first pair of shoes was so special that I would wear them all day every day. I wouldn’t even take them off in the shower. In the orphanage, older kids would steal from younger kids. I got into the habit of standing on my toys because I was afraid that someone would take them. That’s why I wore my shoes everywhere and refused to take them off.

Spiritually, adoption brought me into a Christian home. My adoptive parents made a commitment to love, support, and teach me even though I wasn’t their own. Raising children who have been through difficult situations takes a lot of commitment, sacrifice, and patience. I think adoption is committing to raise a child like he is your own and showing him the love of Christ through modeling His attributes. Jesus is the perfect example of what true commitment and sacrifice look like. He laid down His life for us which was the ultimate sacrifice and promises to all believers that He will never leave us nor forsake us which shows His commitment.

Earthly adoption is a picture of spiritual adoption in that when you get saved you become a part of the family of God. Our status changes to sons and daughters. With this new identity comes new purpose and meaning. As sons and daughters of God, we will partake in His future inheritance in the Kingdom of God. As the Apostle Paul teaches in Ephesians, God does for us what we could never do for ourselves.

My mom has always thanked us for choosing her to be our mom, but the reality is that God chose Lila and me to be part of the Schuiteman family. Adoption will always be special to me because it changed my life.

–Levi

How Adoption Affected Me

Hello, my name is Olive.  I’m 9.  I was born in China.  My birth mom put me on a doorstep.  Someone saw me. They called the police. I was put in an orphanage. My first foster mom went to the hospital because I had a cleft lip and palate. The second foster mom took care of me until I was adopted. My family gave me a stuffed bunny and some other gifts. I was adopted at age 4. I was scared because I spoke in Chinese and my parents spoke English. Adoption affected me by learning about God, making friends, and learning about the world.  Today I live with my 4 siblings and my mom and dad.

–Olive

A Purposeful Life

Orphans have a purpose, even though they are born into a life with few opportunities. I was an orphan in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and my adoption story is no exception. My life was forever changed when I was adopted. I was chosen to fly twenty-four hours to the United States to become a member of a family at the age of four and a half. When I arrived in the United States, as soon as I stepped off the aircraft and my new little pink sandals touched the black pavement, I became an American citizen and part of my forever family, the Schuitemans. Adjusting to this phenomenon of adoption was difficult at first. I was placed in an entirely new culture, and I had no concept of a family. In the Tam Binh I Orphanage, few people cared about me, and my number one priority was survival. It was hard for me to understand that my family loved me and wanted to care for me. Because of that, I was forced to become very independent at a young age; I did not experience people who lovingly cared for me and who found it a joy to meet my basic needs. After being with my new family for six months, I slowly began grasping what it meant to be part of a family.Being adopted has had a profound effect on me. This is best demonstrated through my salvation story. In Vietnam, Buddhism is strongly prevalent; conversely, Christianity is not. I was adopted by Christians, and I have been taught what it means to be a Christian through reading and studying the Bible. When I was seven, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Master. Since then, I strive to live for God’s glory. I have had my ups and downs, but God has always been faithful to guide me back to Him. I like to say I was adopted twice -once by my earthly family and once by my Heavenly Father. I am so thankful that I was given a better life by an earthly family’s adoption. Most importantly,however, I was given eternal life by the ultimate adoption from my Heavenly Father!I have been given opportunities that would not have been possible without adoption. I was given a second chance at life when my birth mom, under unfortunate circumstances, decided adoption was better than abortion. She made a brave choice! I am living a richer life because ofmy adoption. My life is richer because I have found purpose in Jesus Christ. I have been blessed to travel to France and Ukraine. I have graduated from high school and just completed my first semester of studies at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, where I am in pursuit of an Event and Facility Management Degree. I enjoy serving at my local church through music and children’s ministries. I work as an IHOP server and a front desk agent at the Winona Lake Marriott hotel. I work hard to develop and maintain meaningful relationships as family and friends are very important to me. I strive to live a life that reflects God’s glory. One of my older sisters says that I am the reason she pursued a career in mission work. As you can see in so many ways, my life is full and filled with purpose.Everything that has happened in my life has been impactful and purposeful. Who I am today is a result of being adopted. I have developed a deep passion for orphans and adoption because of my life’s story. Accordingto UNICEF, there are an estimated 153 million orphans worldwide. Each orphan has a unique and special story that is waiting to be unfolded. I choose to share my adoption story because I hope it encourages people to see the beauty in adoption.
–Lila

How I was Impacted by Adoption


My name is Romy, I’m 20 years old, I was born in Colombia and I was adopted on 2018. Since I got adopted my life has changed a lot. Adoption has give me the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to experience what is like to have a family.  

I had grown not only physically but emotionally. I trust people more, I feel happy, and I’m myself. Things like a buenas noches kiss or a breakfast with my family had help me feel comfortable and welcome in a environment that was new for me. I had learn appreciate things and people who made adoption possible. Because of adoption I will have a better future, a better education and a better lifestyle. Adoption has affected me and my family in a positive way, my parents learned about our culture to make us feel like in home and comfortable, and we learned about their culture to get used to this new life. The last thing I want to say is  if you have the opportunity to adopt you should do it, it’ll change your life and you will change the life of the kids you adopt. 

–Romy

What Adoption Has Taught Me

I Love Who I Was, Who I Am, and Who I Am Becoming

As I enter the waiting room of my therapist’s office, I realize how much lighter my chest feels, how much more confident I have become, and how thankful I am for all the events and opportunities this life has brought me thus far. My therapist opens the door with a big smile on her face. “Anna, come on in” she says as she waves her arm, signaling for me to enter her office. She looks at me and asks, “So, how have the last few months been now that we have started the process of healing your inner child?” I look at her and can feel the instant release of tears welling up in my eyes. She knows of all the challenges and trauma I faced as a child and still sits in the hurt and pain with me. I tell her how much happier I am and how much more willing I am to open up to my friends and family about the internal struggles I used to feel ashamed of. I tell her of the demons I have been dealing with and how I have taken the time to get to know my inner child. My therapist and I decided to call my inner child “Little Anna.” Little Anna was angry, hurt, and pushed people away because all she knew as a kid was that eventually everyone would leave her behind. Her parents left her behind, so why would anyone else want her in their life? That little girl was eventually nurtured and loved by her older self. It took patience, self-love, positive affirmations, an amazing therapist, and a healthy support system to get that little girl out of her shell and to allow people in emotionally. Little Anna used to drive the car on the freeway that is my life, but now she sits in the passenger seat and trusts me to navigate where the road may lead us. That little girl just needed some love and a place where she could let her guard down and open up without the fear of imminent rejection or abandonment. As Little Anna began to heal, I decided I wanted to set her free. I wanted her to be able to still play and feel free, so I mentally placed her atop the cliffs of Moher, in Ireland. As a little girl, I loved to run and frolic through fields of tall grass as my ashy brown hair danced with the wind. So, she resides there and every once in a while I go check up on her. She is happy and thankful to be in a place where she can trust me to love her, nurture her, and reassure her that everything will be alright. If I am being honest, it hurts when people tell me how amazing it must be to have been adopted and how cool it is that I was placed with parents that love and care about me. They assume that I am unappreciative. Yes, I am thankful I was placed with such nurturing parents, but people do not realize how hard the adjustment is for a young child to move to a new country, having to learn a new language and adjust to a new culture, while also wondering where her birth parents are. It was not until I turned twenty-four that I was able to heal and move forward from the pain that my adoption left me with. Because my parents were not around when I was an infant, I developed an unhealthy attachment style and an aversion to physical touch. But, with the help of therapy, I was able to overcome these challenges. Though all these things may seem negative, I will tell you how they made me who I am today. Today, I repay my gratitude for my situation by helping children feel secure, loved, appreciated, and wanted. Today, I evolved my struggles as a young child into energy as a loving and caring young woman, who wants to work with children with special needs. Every child deserves a chance in this world that can often be so cruel. I have been accepted into a program to teach English abroad next year and I know that this opportunity was meant for me. My adoption did not harden my heart. Instead, my adoption allowed me to become an empathetic woman who sees each child as a beautiful and unique individual with great potential to grow into a kind and loving human being. Adoption is a scary process for both the parent and the child, but something beautiful can bloom from it if you allow yourself to sit and acknowledge the hurt and the pain without shame and learn to use your experiences to help others around you. I was created to help children who are much like me: scared and living in fight or flight mode for far too long. With that being said, I have so much gratitude, appreciation, and love for my parents and all the struggles and hurt they had to deal with while raising a child that just did not know how to properly love quite yet. I appreciate the fact that they never gave up on me, and because of their never ending love and support for me, I cannot wait for the day I get to adopt a child, love them for exactly who they are, and remind them that they are not alone. One day I will pay it forward.
–Anna B.

Introducing: International Adoption from the Dominican Republic

Nightlight Christian Adoptions is happy to announce we were licensed to work in the Dominican Republic on May 6th, 2021 and are currently accepting applications for families looking to adopt internationally. Children available for adoption range from young toddlers to children in their teens and are of mostly Hispanic or bi-racial decent, some children may be of Haitian decent. About every 2 months, Nightlight receives a list of about 80-90 special needs children in need of a forever home and family. We have identified the most adoptable children and limited information on these children are available at: https://adoptionbridge.org/waiting-children/.

Typical special needs of children in the Dominican Republic include children with medical needs which range from mild or correctable to severe.  The special needs list also includes older children ages 6 or older, some with and some without mild or severe special needs. HIV, eye diseases, and asthma are some of the common medical needs of children our agency is referred from the Dominican Republic. Sibling groups are also available for adoption.

As we continue to receive new files of children, Adoption Bridge will continue to be updated. Those who have a completed dossier are eligible to receive the full list of the children. Additionally, the program accepts applicants for those seeking relative adoptions as well as families who want to pursue a traditional match of a child from CONANI, Dominican Republic’s central authority. For more information, about this program and eligibility, please visit our web page for the Dominican Republic. Since the opening of the program, Nightlight has focused on the needs of children placed in orphanages. The institutionalization of Dominican children is due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to; poverty, abandonment, the inability for a parent or guardian to provide proper care, and/or the death of a parent or guardian. These reasons and others are the primary reasons why a child is left without a family.

Socio-economic inequality is high for those who live in the Dominican Republic, and the employment rate for woman of the country is only 33%. Additionally, children and women of the Dominican Republic do not have equal access to education. Improper sanitation to produce goods, natural disasters, and crime are also leading causes of poverty in the country. According to World Food Programme, quality of health services are inadequate and poverty affects 40% of the Dominican Republic, with 10.4% living in extreme poverty. There are roughly 200,000 children in the Dominican Republic are considered orphans and the number continues to grow alongside the COVID-19 global pandemic. Children living in poverty are vulnerable to child labor, trafficking, exposure to crime, malnutrition and disease. Additionally, urban orphanages traditionally don’t have access to adequate schooling and it is often not a priority of caretakers to provide schooling for these children.

It is a goal of Nightlight to change the life of these children and provide children with forever families while advocating for adequate welfare for Dominican Republic’s vulnerable children. If you are interested in adopting from the Dominican Republic or would like to inquire about the program, please contact Samantha Brown at samantha@nightlight.org or call 317-875-0058.

Dangers of Waiting to Donate your Embryos

 

Headlines state, “Baby Born from Embryo Frozen for 27 Years.” We all read in awe, marveling over the circumstances that allowed this to happen. If you have frozen embryos in storage, this might be the moment you begin considering the possibility of donating your embryos to another couple.

You might now be thinking, “well, my embryos have only been frozen for 5 years, I have plenty of time!” Coming from years of experience in the embryo adoption field, we would encourage you to challenge this assumption. Although research shows that children can still be born from older embryos, the chances a fertility clinic will allow the embryos to be transferred are unpredictable.

One major roadblock that occurs when trying to donate older embryos is the receiving clinic’s willingness and ability to thaw and transfer them. The science behind thawing and freezing embryos is constantly changing, growing, and improving. This can make it difficult when embryologists attempt to thaw older embryos. Most embryos frozen before 2012 were frozen using a method called ‘slow-freezing.’ After 2012, most were frozen using ‘vitrification,’ which is much safer and more effective. Because of this shift in freezing methods, most clinics do not train their embryologists on slow-freezing anymore. This makes it difficult to find a clinic willing to thaw and transfer the embryos, even if a willing adopting family is found.

Another issue with waiting to donate your embryos is found in the lack of medical records prior to 2012. Many clinics tend to destroy records after 5-10 years, and others place records into long-term storage, which are then difficult to find. These medical records, including important embryology information, are essential in the donation process. Not having these important documents when attempting to donate your embryos can unfortunately be detrimental to success.

If you are contemplating donating your embryos, please consider these risks as they wait for their fate in frozen storage. They are the siblings to your children, and lives worth preserving and living. Don’t wait to give your embryos a chance at life!

By: Kaelah Hamman

How to Protect Yourself from an Adoption Scam

When I first began working as a member o the adoption community, I imagined that many twists, turns, ups and downs could be part of the adoption process. However, adoption scams were not something that I anticipated coming into contact with. Adoption scams can affect adoption professionals and hopeful adopting parents alike, and can be frustrating, hurtful, time consuming, and exhausting.

The very first case I had when beginning work at Nightlight was with a fraudulent expectant mother. After many weeks of twisted truth and manipulation, she left everyone involved hurt, confused, and absolutely blindsided. After this case, I was determined to go above and beyond learning the signs of an adoption scam, and work to put an end to this issue.

I did much research about forms that adoption scams can take, and how to recognize the signs. Many of these scams come from social media. Just recently, I received a call from an expectant mother who had gotten the expectant mother cell number from an adoptive family via Instagram. Initially, things seemed fine. However, once I began to gather more information, ask more questions, and look into who she was, things did not add up and began to feel ‘off’. Over the next three days, this expectant mother displayed many of the telltale signs of a fraudulent expectant mother, and grew very aggressive over text when I did not give her what she wanted. After I utilized online groups dedicated to stopping adoption scams and saw numerous reports about her, I told her our agency would not be able to move forward. Though it was exhausting to deal with, I was so thankful to recognize the signs and stop our involvement in this scam early on. I have read story after story of lovely adopting families getting strung along by individuals like this, only to result in loss, confusion, and heartache. These stories are happening across the country, but adoption professionals across the country are coming together and joining forces to mitigate this issue, helping each other and our adopting families not stumble into the snares set by these fraudulent individuals. Social media can be an effective way to promote your adoption profile, but many adoption scams can come from these sites and it is important to be prepared to recognize these for what they are.

There are many different forms that an adoption scam can take: an expectant mother who is truly pregnant but has no intentions of placing her baby with a family, an individual who may not be pregnant but claims to be, or an individual who has essentially stolen the identity and photos of a real pregnant woman – all for the purpose of gaining money and services, or manipulating the emotions of adoption professionals and adopting families. So, how can we prepare for this and know when an expectant mother is fraudulent?

 

Learn to Recognize the Signs. There are ways to recognize an adoption scam, both subtle and obvious. If the texts seem odd, trust your instincts. Scammers are often persistent and demanding with their texts, and often times will grow very agitated or aggressive when asked to do things that verify their identity or when told information that could potentially mean they won’t get what they want. They often provide a lot of information upfront, and will often send photos or ultrasound images almost right away. It is also common for them to bombard you with many texts, and get upset if you do not respond right away. It is unusual for moms who are truly placing their baby for adoption to behave in this way.

Utilize Resources. There are many pages and groups online specifically dedicated to recognizing adoption scams and reporting fraudulent individuals. If you intend on connecting with expectant mothers online or utilizing social media as a means to show your profile, I would highly suggest that you join at least one group that is used for this purpose, such as “Ending Adoption Scams” on Facebook. On these pages, you can either search the expectant mother’s name who has reached out to you, or make a post with her first name, last initial, and state to see if any other agencies or individuals have heard from her or reported fraudulent activity or suspicious behavior.

Research and Learn from the Past. Blogs, articles, videos – look into them all. A known adoption scammer to be aware of is Gabby, who made an appearance on Dr. Phil and has continued to harass and deceive hundreds of adoption professionals and hopeful adoptive parents alike. Gabby does not stop creating numerous identities and stories, stealing the photos, names, and due dates of real expectant mothers via Instagram and Facebook. I myself have heard from Gabby and spoken to her on the phone. Learning what she does and what her communication is like will help you recognize if you are being “Gabbied” by her or a similar scammer. Many adoptive parents that have experienced an adoption scam have shared their stories online, and these create perfect opportunities for prospective adoptive parents to learn from these experiences and be prepared.

Report Fraudulent Individuals and Block Numbers/Accounts. In the adoption community, we are all working diligently to do our part in mitigating this issue. If you encounter a fraudulent expectant individual, be sure to report the individual to an adoption professional. In addition to this, do not be hesitate to block scamming expectant mothers’ numbers or social media accounts immediately. Scammers emotionally manipulate to keep the conversation going and make it more difficult for adoption professionals or hopeful families to cut off contact.

How to Ask the Right Questions Without Being Accusatory. Ask questions in an open-minded way, and cast the “blame” on the adoption agency’s policies or recommendations. As an adopting family, it is best to try to avoid getting into in depth conversations with expectant mothers, and instead redirect the interaction and get them connected to your office’s Pregnancy Counselor for a match to be officially made. Our team is here for you, and are trained to recognize scams. If you do end up in a conversation with an expectant mother, try to avoid assuming that every expectant mother may be scamming but still proceed with caution and wisdom. If I suspect that an expectant mother may be fraudulent, I ask if they’d be willing to do a Zoom call and let them know that I, their pregnancy counselor, will need proof of pregnancy (medical records, a statement from clinic, or ultrasound verified by a doctor) before we can proceed with any services. An expectant mother who is truly pregnant and interested in considering adoption will not have a problem with this.

Remember that not every expectant mother who reaches out is fraudulent. The adoption and matching processes are beautiful and delicate, and I encourage you to not be fearful or jaded, but just to be prepared. If you choose to utilize social media as a platform to show your profile or reach expectant mothers, I encourage you to become well-versed on how to protect yourself from the ways of adoption scammers. Be creative, have fun, and be wise as you create your online profiles!

 

By: Winter Baumgartner