Thankfulness Practices for the Family

 

November is a natural time of the year where our minds gravitate toward thankfulness. Cultivating that practice in your children can be fun and built organically into your family structure, not just in this season but throughout the year. Below are some ideas on how to incorporate expressing gratitude in your family with your children:

  • Add it into your routine – Your family naturally has routines and structures where you can easily add in a time of thankfulness. At bedtime, as children are brushing their teeth ask them to think about 2 things they are thankful for and tell you after they are done. You can ask them while you are reading books or tucking them into bed. Consider adding the question in while eating breakfast or in the car on the way home from school. Sharing “highs and lows” of their day can be easily altered to include what they are grateful for.
  • Gratitude activities – There are many crafts or activities that incorporate thankfulness that you can make at home or find available on a website. You can create a “Thankfulness Jar” or a “Blessing Tree” where children write out something they are thankful for and put it in the jar or add it to the limbs of the tree. Consider making a chain link with colorful paper that is added to each day and strung along the wall or mantel. Another idea is use a corkboard or magnet board where you can pin up gratitude cards to display.
  • Family gratitude journal – This can be used as a family or you can have each child write in their own journal. You can teach your child this practice that is ongoing through the year.
  • Thankfulness in prayer – Many models for prayer begin with praise and thankfulness. As you lead your child in prayer, be sure to incorporate thankfulness for what God has done and will do in their lives. Your prayers should include tangible blessings in your life but also acknowledge the goodness of God in their lives and how He provides for them throughout all areas of their lives.
  • Giving to others – Volunteering or giving items to others can show children the blessing and gifts they have in life and how they can bless others. This cultivates thankfulness by recognizing all they have been given and acknowledging the gift that is to them.
  • Thankfulness in hardship – We all go through challenging circumstances that can make it hard to remember the good things we have in our lives. If your child is going through something difficult, allow them to acknowledge those feelings and difficulties and also acknowledge what remains positive in their situation. Don’t brush off the challenges by only focusing on the positive because their feelings are valid and should be recognized. However, you can show them how to remember to balance the positives and negatives they will experience throughout life.

As a parent, you may not be good at keeping a practice of thankfulness. These suggestions above can benefit you as well as your children. Thankfulness is something that needs to be approached with intention if it is not our natural response to any situation.

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and are able to pause to recognize all the blessings in your life and family!

International Spotlight: Dominican Republic

 

Dominican Republic’s population has been steadily increasing each year. In 2020, the country’s population was roughly 11 million people with a poverty rate of 15.2%, meaning that 1.7 million of Dominican Republic’s people were living in poverty. The majority of Dominicans living in poverty also live in rural areas with little access to care and resources (macrotrends.net). Socioeconomic inequality among women, corruption, natural disasters, and an increasing population seems to be the main causes of poverty in the country (borgenproject.org). Among this poverty-stricken population are thousands of children that become neglected, abused, or abandoned every year due to the family’s inability to provide proper care for their children. These children are in need of safe, loving and nurturing homes; however, most of them find themselves institutionalized until they age out or are adopted. Typically, the Dominican Republic will prioritize domestic adoption before a child becomes eligible for international adoption. Dominican children that are not adopted domestically are then placed for international adoption by Consejo Nacional Para La Ninez Y La Adolescencia, (CONANI). CONANI is Dominican Republic’s central adoption authority, or the entity that oversees the adoption of children in need of families.

All children who become eligible for international adoption in the Dominican Republic have some type of medical or psychological need. Mild to severe special needs range in each age group. However there are older children and sibling groups that are considered special needs, but may not have a medical or psychological need.  These children are considered harder to place. Typical needs of children who are eligible for international adoption include blood related disorders, meningitis, diseases of the eyes, asthma, autism, and children with neurodevelopmental and/or psychomotor delays. Medical care for certain conditions may not be available in Dominican Republic’s health care system, as a result it is not always easy for the country to provide the sufficient care for children with significant needs. While the country’s healthcare system is the most advanced in the Caribbean, it is still not suitable for children in need of ongoing treatment and routine check-ups (borgenproject.org).

Currently, Nightlight’s Dominican Republic program has thirty-three children waiting for a forever family that are eligible for international adoption. The files of these children are available for potential adoptive parents to view on Nightlight’s Adoption Bridge website. Children eligible for international adoption from Dominican Republic have “DR” listed within their name on the website. Although Nightlight cannot post children’s photos on this website, the country does allow for limited access to children’s information online that includes general descriptions accompanied by their age and any identified needs. Eligible families can view their full file with photos upon request by e-mailing samantha@nightlight.org. Children listed on the website are immediately eligible for adoption once a family’s dossier is submitted to the country and they are matched by CONANI.

Additionally, there is a $500 grant available to the next family that adopts a waiting child from the Dominican Republic. If you are interested in adopting a child who is not on Adoption Bridge, we ask prospective adoptive parents to be open to children that are at least 6 or 7 years of age and/or have moderate special needs. Generally, sibling groups and older children eligible for adoption are generally healthy. To learn more about this program, you can submit an inquiry form here, and our Inquiry Team will reach out to share more.

Anchored in Hope: Adoption from Foster Care

 

Families are able to adopt children directly from foster care. There will be time of bonding before placement officially happens that allows you to get to know one another and how you all fit together. After placement there is also a period of time (varies by state) before the family can finalize the adoption. This allows for a family to bond, connect, and adjust their daily living to having a child(ren) in their home. Going from no children in the home, to having children, is a very big change that can take time and effort for a family to adjust to their new daily routines and schedules. Even just adding one more child to a family that already has children, will take time to adjust.

Children adopted from foster care tend to be coming from hard places, which can lead to difficult behaviors and emotions. A child may take any amount of time to feel trusting and fully comfortable with their new family and it is necessary that their adoptive parent(s) and sibling(s) in the home be aware of this when a child is placed. Barth et al. (1988) state that disruption is more likely to occur when children of older ages are adopted into a new family; an older child is described to be a child above the age of three years old. Barth et al. (1988) also describe how the number of disruptions have taken a drastic decline since the establishment of agencies and more advocates to be a supportive hand to those children within the system. Examples of these agencies are Nightlight Christian Adoptions, state workers, counselors, and CASA workers. The list goes on. The decision to adopt a child is an important decision that causes change to a family’s overall dynamic. Learn more about Nightlight’s Anchored in Hope Program, that assists families adopting from foster care.

With the establishment of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, the number of families who are now willing to become licensed foster and adoptive parents has drastically risen. This created a monthly per diem that given to foster parents’ to ensure that they are financially capable of providing for the basic needs and wants of another child placed in their home. This assistance can also be very helpful as many of these children need services that are more specialized and therapeutic to address issues from trauma, grief, and loss. It is important to remember that children who were placed in the foster care system were placed there for a reason and they may have triggers that affect them for a lifetime.

To be able to help a child feel safe and have a place to call home is a privilege that more and more people around the US are taking advantage of. Children who are adopted from foster care may have difficult behaviors that take time and a great deal of patience to work through. It is important for adoptive parents to know that working through trauma and traumatic experiences is not an overnight fix for a child. Adoptive parents should not have this expectation as working through trauma can take a lifetime. Providing love and stability to an adoptive child is necessary. However, when this love and care is provided, it does not mean that all previous issues will be fixed immediately. Taking time to listen and support an adopted child is necessary to help them know that they can trust their adoptive parents and work to overcome their traumatic experiences / habits. Being an adoptive parent is one of the most rewarding experiences one has described, but with it, comes a great deal of patience and trauma-informed practices. Nightlight offers a Post Adoption Connection Center that specifically aims at providing additional support and services to families and children after adoption.

There are a variety of behaviors and emotions that a child must work through during the adoption process especially if they are older youth. Children coming from a trauma background may display behaviors such as hoarding food, sleep difficulties, difficulty with self-soothing, attention seeking behaviors, having difficulty concentrating, night terrors, being on alert at all times, and having ADHD like tendencies usually from trauma experiences. These are just to name a few, and no trauma behaviors are the same for all. Just as adults, children deal with their life experiences in ways that best fit them or that make them feel most comfortable. When children are exhibiting difficult behaviors, it is important for a caregiver to:

  • have patience and to form a trusting bond with that child. Utilizing TBRI practices are some of the best ways and procedures for children to feel safe and form a bond with a parent. It may take time to form that bond as children may have difficulty understanding the reason why the adoption was necessary and may want to remain close to their biological family. This is okay and this is normal. Nightlight offers TBRI training to all adoptive families as a part of their training process.
  • never speak ill of a biological parent as this may cause a child to feel as though they cannot confide in their adoptive parent if they have questions about their biological family as they grow older. If you speak negatively about their biological parent, who is a part of that child, then they may question if you are speaking negatively about them.
  • identify a support system during the adoption process and post adoption as well. Ensuring that one has stable friends or family that can be a part of their adopted child’s life, can help the child and their adoptive family feel more comfortable with one another.
  • identify counseling services once the child is placed in your home. This has been known to help greatly with the transition process and also the overall understanding of a child’s new life. Having a counselor allows for the child to have someone that they can speak to of their feelings who is not a new family member. Beginning family therapy to help form attachment between a family and their adoptive child will also be extremely beneficial for the family to learn proper ways of speaking to one another, work on any difficulties that may persist, and also to overall form a stronger family dynamic.
  • find a support group that adoptive parents can become a part of to give you new people with similar experiences you can rely on and trust as you weather the joys and challenges of parenting.

By: Kayla Snow

 

References: Barth, R.P., Berry, M., Yoshikami, R., Goodfield, R.K, & Carson, M. L. (1988) Predicting Adoption Disruption. Social Work, 33(3), 227-233. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/33.3.227

Prayers for Those Touched By Adoption

 

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Mark 11:24

 

Prayer is an essential part of an adoption journey, as the adoption process requires courage and trust in the Lord every step of the way. The adoption process can be long, scary, and full of ups and downs for all those involved— adoptees, potential adoptive parents, and expectant and birth parents.

Not everyone feels led to adopt or has a personal connection to adoption, but everyone can pray for those involved in adoption. If you are pursuing adoption or have been touched by adoption, share these words with your friends and family and have them join you in prayer. There is so much power in prayer.

 

Heavenly Father,

Bless all expectant mothers who are placing their children for adoption and who may also be young and afraid. They love their children so much that they are willing to place them with a loving family. Bless, too, all the women who already have shown the sacrificial nature of a mother’s love in making adoption plans for their children. Give them all your courage and your peace, through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Dear Jesus,

In word and sacrament, you make known the depth of your love for each person.  Never let us forget the tender compassion and mercy which you have shown and continue to show to us.  Instill in our hearts deep love for those who suffer, and help us reflect the face of the Father’s mercy. May the family members of each child to be placed for adoption lovingly support his or her mother as she chooses love and life. And may these family members themselves find continued support in the kindness and encouragement of others. Give to all wisdom and understanding, and may we be instruments of your grace.

Amen.

 

Lord Jesus,

You saw in the innocence of children. the attributes which make us worthy of heaven— trust, joy, humility, obedience and faithfulness. Bless all children who are awaiting adoption. They seek love—may they find it in loving parents. They seek stability—may they find a home rooted in faith. They seek acceptance—may their gifts be recognized and nurtured. And may they always know your steadfast love for them and the true joy of loving you.

Amen.

 

Heavenly Father,

We are all your adopted children, not by flesh or by desire, but through the power of the incarnation of your most beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Bless those children who have been adopted into new families, that they may experience the love that you have shown us which surpasses even the love of a mother for her child. In the difficult transitions and hardships that might beset them in their struggle for belonging, give every adopted child the grace to embrace their new family and trust in your paternal care for them, which lasts forever. Grant this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

You are one God, living in a relationship of love. When Christ became Man, you shared that divine love with the human race, forever wedding earth to heaven. Send your blessings upon all who nurture children who have been adopted. Give them generous and understanding hearts. Give us all a spirit of understanding and welcome so that all peoples of every nation, race, and tongue may live together peacefully as members of your family. Grant this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Source: https://www.usccb.org/

Signs of Post Adoption Depression

 

New adoptive parents never expect to feel anything but happiness, however, depression symptoms may occur in as many as 65% of adoptive parents after adopting their children.

What you are experiencing is natural. Though the rewards and joys of parenting are huge, the challenges can be draining, confusing, and…depressing.

Loss is a catalyst for depression. Post Adoption Depression (PAD) is a response to new experiences and to losses — from feelings of let-down, to the hard work of meeting an adopted baby’s special needs, to the physical and emotional strain of not being prepared for any of the above.

Unlike full-blown post adoption depression syndrome (PADS), in which overwhelming despair, panic, a sense of disconnection from your child, and sometimes even frightening feelings and thoughts occur, the sadness of post adoption blues is more subtle, and alternates with, or exists right next to, truly positive feelings about parenting. These lighter shades of post adoption blues, which are much more common than PADS, can be just as isolating. After all, your dream has come true! Any tinge of guilt, sadness, shame, or dissatisfaction during what is supposed to be a joyous time is unexpected, and makes the blues hard to talk about.

Many of the suggestions recommended to lessen a child’s trauma as she transitions to her new family could actually contribute to your feelings of isolation and depression. Allowing yourself to seek support and communication with other adults is vital to your emotional health. Modify how you think about your new family, and enlist your friends and relatives.

Risk Factors of Post Adoption Depression in Adoptive Parents

There are many risk factors that lead to the development of depression in adoptive parents after their child comes into their home.

Adoptive parents place a lot of pressure on themselves, especially if their child may have come from a difficult background. The extra pressure leads to extra stress and unrealistic expectations. These emotions become feelings of shame and guilt if the parents cannot live up to their idealized view of parenthood.

This pressure, combined with the fact that many adoptive parents do not form an immediate bond with their child, creates a recipe for depression.

Other risk factors that may lead to post adoption depression include:

  • Feeling isolated from peers
  • Society’s attitude toward adoptive parents over biological parents
  • A lack of boundaries between the child and the birth parents
  • Exhaustion from a rigorous adoption process and preparation for the child to arrive
  • Not having support from the rest of the family or friends

The factors faced by adoptive parents make it as likely for adoptive mothers to develop post adoption depression as birth mothers are to develop PPD.

Signs of Trouble

Maybe you are just having a bad day or maybe your depression is larger.  If you answer yes to a number of the questions below, you should discuss your feelings with a professional.  If you answer “yes” to the last question, get help immediately!

In the past few weeks, have you experienced any of the following:

  • Loss of interest in being around other people?
  • Always on the verge of tears?
  • Difficulty concentrating – unable to make decisions?
  • General fatigue or loss of energy?
  • Difficulty sleeping or an increased need for sleep?
  • Significant weight gain or loss?
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt?
  • Feelings of worthlessness?
  • Feelings of powerlessness?
  • Feelings of hopelessness?
  • Loss of enjoyment in things?
  • Irritability?
  • Recurring thoughts about death or suicide?

Take Care of Yourself – and your Child

If you think you may be experiencing Post Adoption Blues or PADS, do not try to tough it out. Instead, take extra-good care of yourself, as you stay attuned to your new baby’s needs. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Mind your health. Go easy on yourself.  You making a huge transition – often from a prolonged state of wanting a baby to the reality of becoming a parent.  Take naps, eat thoughtfully (more fresh fruit and vegetables, less caffeine and sugar), go for walks, and cut back on outside obligations when possible. Caring for your body will decrease the negative effects of depression and stress.
  2. Ask for support. Do not expect yourself to be a perfect parent!  Accept the fact that, even though you wanted this baby, parenting is difficult and there are times when you will be exhausted.  Ask for help when you need it.  Allow friends or family members to help you with household chores, meals and some baby care.
  3. Strategize. Discuss with your spouse, who is going to perform which duties and when.  Review your agreements and allow for change.  Talk about fatigue and about taking care of each other.  Keep the lines of communication open to discuss sex, and communicate your interest and disinterest in a loving fashion.  Stress, depression and a high-needs baby can strain any relationship.  If you can afford it, consider hiring someone to clean your home or mow your lawn.  Simplify your life so you can devote your attention to your family.
  4. Take care of you. Build in some time away from your baby to relax and clear your mind. Breathing deeply and getting quiet will ease stress. When you are tired, take a nap, take the phone off the hook, and do not feel obligated to answer the door.  Do not feel guilty about lessening your responsibilities or decreasing your volunteer hours.  If you are in a position to do so, quit your job or work part-time, if that is what you want to do.
  5. Take control of visitors. Limit your visitors to one or two at a time and schedule them at your convenience.  If you need adult interaction, phone and friend and invite them to visit and ask them to pick up some take-out on the way over.  It may also be necessary to help your family and friends to understand adoption.
  6. Give yourself and your child time. Attachment and bonding occur in real time, not instantaneously, as you may have imagined.  Not all mothers — adoptive or birth — have an instant connection with their babies. Do not be hard on yourself if you do not feel that “magic bond.” But remember that withholding physical affection can delay a child’s development, so keep cuddling your child to benefit both of you.  Focus on being a parent one step at a time.  Soon enough it will feel more natural.
  7. If you have another child, make a point of spending some time alone with each child. Arrange an outing or other plans for your older child, so you can have some private time with the baby.  Have someone watch the baby while you connect with your older child.  Otherwise, you may start to feel you are not giving either child your full attention.
  8. Learn about grief. Feelings of grief ebb and flow.  It is processed in bits and pieces and tends to resurface at various points in the life cycle.  You will learn to manage the variation of these feelings.  Understand that you can love your baby and feel sad at the same time.  Experiencing more than one emotion at a time is a normal human experience.  Sadness does not mean you are unhappy about the adoption of your child.  You will find that many other adoptive parents have had these same feelings.
  9. Connect with other adoptive parents. They will get it!  Talking to friends and family may help a little but they will not understand the issues you are experiencing.  Other adoptive parents will make you feel like your experiences are normal and okay.  Consider joining an adoptive parent group for support and understanding.
  10. Seek professional help.If self-help methods do not work and post adoption blues or depression persists, ask your physician and/or your adoption social worker for a referral to a qualified mental-health professional who understands concerns surrounding adoption.  Sometimes, seeking a few sessions with an adoptive-savvy counseling are all you need to work through any uncomfortable feelings you may be experiencing.

Sometimes an attitude shift is all it takes to make a difficult situation manageable, but sometimes post adoption depression requires outside help. Finding innovative ways to meet your own needs, while giving precedence to your child’s, is a day-to-day balancing act that requires thought and action. Being aware of PAD (and seeking help quickly) will mitigate the effect that baby shock can have on you, and will give you the freedom to enjoy the child you have forever dreamed of parenting.

Treatment for Post Adoption Depression

Treatment for post adoption depression is similar to any other kind of postpartum depression treatment.  A combination of medication, such as antidepressants, and therapy will help ease the symptoms of postpartum depression in adoptive parents.

Additional treatments may include counseling, support groups or online forums.  These options help you connect with other adoptive parents going through similar experiences.  Work with your doctor and mental health care provider to develop a long-term post adoption depression treatment plan.

By: Dana Poynter

A Birth Family Member Perspective of Adoption

 

I was only a child myself when I learned my sister was pregnant and I would be an aunt again. While I went through the excitement of becoming an aunt once before when my oldest sister had her first child, this time was different. I did not understand why my sister was not going to school, instead having someone come over to teach her because of the judgement she would receive at school. I did not understand why I was sitting in an office listening to my parents talk to lawyers and another family who wanted to raise my sister’s child because she and the dad were just kids themselves. I did not yet understand why there was so much tension and stress in the house and in the family surrounding this pregnancy. A time that is supposed to bring so much joy and excitement.

What I later learned was that my sister, at sixteen years old, was making an adoption plan for her child. While my parents fought and fought to take custody and raise her, I now know letting my sister choose adoption was the right choice for my niece.

Fast forward to Fall 2020 when we receive a text from my mom. “Isabell {name changed for privacy} has contacted your sister”. So many thoughts instantly started racing through our minds. After growing up knowing that in all actuality, I had five nieces instead of four was always a strange feeling. There was one out there I knew nothing about other than she was still living in the area close to her parents. Here we are 30 years later and she wants to know about her birth family. We all wondered, “Did she want to have a relationship?”, “Did she want to meet us?”, “What did she look like?”.  So often you think of this day and what it will be like, or if it will even happen. Yet, here we are and she found us through a DNA match in Ancestry DNA.

I wish I could say that these questions were answered face to face with my niece, but they were not. We were blessed to meet her mother and hear all the lovely stories of her growing up. My mom, both sisters and her mom sat around my mom’s dining room table enjoying tea and listening to stories about her childhood, school successes, struggles and goals. We had the joy of looking through photo albums from birth all the way up to her recent wedding. We were able to see how much she really does look like my sister and hear how similar her personality was to that of my sister’s. While we did not get to meet the daughter my sister chose adoption for, she did. She was able to meet her daughter for coffee and begin creating a relationship. Over one year later, the two continue to write back and forth to one another.

As I sit and write this, I remember a time when my sister knew her daughter was approaching the age of 18, the age when many adoptees start trying to find their birth parents. We were sitting at Culver’s when she looks at me and tells me that she feels abortion and adoption are just as hard a choice as the other is. I thought to myself “How could she possibly think this?”, but my sister felt these choices were of equal outcomes because she thought she would never meet her, never know how she grew up or what she looked like. She was non-existent in her perspective. I’m here to tell you now that even though I still do not know if I will ever see or talk to my niece, the gathering we shared years after this conversation gave me the opportunity to see the wonderful life my niece was given. A life that offered stability, love and direction. A life that allowed her to be successful in school eventually earning her Masters and moving to Massachusetts with her husband. Even though I have never met her, I am still so very proud of her and grateful my sister chose adoption.

What is a Home Study Really Like?

 

You have made the decision to adopt and the next step is a home study. I am sure that in your decision making process you spent some time on google researching what a home study is like. You have probably read and heard all different things about the home study. The home study can be disconcerting for many people. It can be scary, exciting, overwhelming, and a bit mysterious all wrapped into one big package. Here are what I hope is some helpful information into what a home study is really like.

    1. Every state is different
      When I meet with families and start discussing the home study process, I often see confused looks on their faces as what I am describing may be quite different from what they have read on the internet. The first thing you need to know about the home study is that every state is different. So, while it is important to do research and those google searches can provide some wonderful insight into what a home study could look like, please remember that some of the things you are reading may be applying to another state’s standards.
    2. It is a process
      Having a home study completed is a process. It is not something that happens overnight. I typically advise families that the time period from when they submit their application and their home study being approved is typically somewhere between 3 and 5 months depending on how quickly they are able to turn their home study paperwork in.
    3. There are interviews
      Yes, there are multiple interviews. There will be family, joint, and individual interviews along with a home inspection. If there are others residing in the family’s home (children, extended family, a close family friend, etc.) I will meet with them as well. I realize that many families are very nervous about the interviews; that they might say the “wrong thing”. There is no need to be nervous. This is a time to get to know families. We talk about their childhood, school history, work history, marriage, relationship with friends and family, reason for adoption, thoughts on parenting and discipline, etc. This is really a time for me as the worker to get to know the families I am working with.
    4. There is paperwork (a lot of it!)
      Yes, there is a lot of paperwork. However, we do our best to break it up at various intervals throughout the process so you do not get too overwhelmed. Home study paperwork includes things like background checks, references, questionnaires, medical reports, and lots of documents to read through and sign. My advice; take it one document at a time and you will get through it.
    5. Be ready to be educated
      Education is a large component of the home study. We want families to be as prepared as possible for their adoption journey. This will include books, articles, videos, and online webinars and can be time consuming. Take advantage of this training instead of seeing it as a hurdle or a hindrance to completing your adoption.
    6. It is a time to ask questions
      While the home study process is definitely a time where I am getting to know you as a family, it is also a time for you to ask questions. I personally love it when families come to meetings with questions. This is all part of the “getting to know each other” process. So, do not be afraid to ask your questions and trust me, there are no stupid questions in adoption. You need to be fully prepared and it is our role as an agency to help make sure that all your questions are answered!
    7. What the home visit really looks like
      I enjoy walking through your home and seeing what you are all about. I love to see pictures on the wall, how you decorate your home, and what your backyard looks like. Are there specific things I am looking for? Of course! However, that list of home requirements is provided to you early on in the process so you have plenty of time to prepare. I will not be wearing my white glove to make sure that there is not a speck of dust. I am there to see how you live and that your home is a safe environment for a child. So, if you forgot to make your bed that morning no worries, that’s life!
    8. What is the final product?
      At the end of all the paperwork, interviews and education is a report. This is a report that combines all the information you have provided and was discussed into a final report that approves you for adoption. It will take several weeks for the document to be written, reviewed by a supervisor, printed, and mailed to you.

So, while the home study is a major part of your adoption journey please don’t let it stress you out or overwhelm you. Embrace this time as a time to learn and ask questions and help prepare you for this amazing journey you are getting ready to enter into!

International Adoption Program Spotlight: Bulgaria

 

Bulgaria is located in Eastern Europe and is one of our popular programs. We have successfully assisted with bringing home many children from Bulgaria for over 10 years. The children that are available for adoption from Bulgaria are of Roma descent meaning they have dark hair and olive skin tone. The age ranges of children available are from 1 to 16 years. There are sibling groups available in Bulgaria as well that range from 2-4 siblings. There are children within Bulgaria that have special needs that can be mild, moderate or severe. The most common special needs that we see from children in Bulgaria are prematurity, low birth weight, congenital heart conditions and strabismus (lazy eye).

Recently, Bulgaria has worked to help strengthen the intercountry adoption protocols and decreasing the delay in registering children for international adoption. There have been countless children that have missed their chance to be adopted due to the delay in registration. Fortunately, some older children were adopted at the last minute and now are living happily in the United States. However, some children were not as lucky and will live out their days in a group home until they turn 18 and are forced to face the adult world on their own.

At Nightlight, we advocate for the children of Bulgaria by posting waiting children profiles on our website, Adoption Bridge. This allows families to inquire about waiting children that are harder to place due to their age, special needs, or sibling group size. There are many children from Bulgaria that need their forever families to find them and pursue them for adoption. The Bulgaria program is very simple and does not have many requirements. You can adopt as a single or married couple, there are no restrictions with mental health, requires both parents to travel on just the second trip, and has two avenues of pursuance for adoptions (waiting children or traditional route).

Contact our Bulgaria Program Coordinator, Karson Loscar at karson@nightlight.org, to learn more about the children, the program, and how to get started.

How the Beauty of Easter Reflects Adoption

 

During this Spring season, we see flowers blooming and everything that was dead during the winter months sprouting to new life. For Christians, it is also the time of surrender and sacrifice through the reminder of Easter and the weeks and traditions leading up to it, such as Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Palm Sunday. But what does this time have to do with adoption, and how can we think of adoption in the terms of the cross?

What does scripture say?

In John 3:3, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Because of the cross, and Jesus sacrificing His life for our sins, we are able to be born again and are given a new life. In adoption, children are also able to begin a new life as a child in your family. Adoption is a picture of how brokenness on earth, and our humble beginnings, can be made beautiful and used for good.

We are reminded again in Psalm 37:18 of God’s provision and care; “Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.” Through adoption, children receive an inheritance on earth. Through a relationship with Christ, we have all received an eternal inheritance and life with Jesus.

What does this mean to me?

With this in mind, Easter can be a time of celebration; a celebration of warmer weather, of Christ’s resurrection and of your child becoming a new part of your family, whether their adoption occurred weeks, months, or many years ago. One way to honor your child during this time is through pointing out the consistencies in their own stories with the story God wrote for us as believers in Jesus and his death on the cross.

For those of you who are still waiting for your adopted child, who are currently fostering, or maybe you are just about to begin the process, Easter is a beautiful reminder to all of us of our worth and the freedom we have in Jesus because of his resurrection. Because of Him, we are all accepted into a forever family in heaven. That alone is a reason to celebrate with a heart full of gratitude.

 

I want to end this with a section of a poem by Deborah Ann called Abba – My Father;

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I could be . . .

 

An heir to salvation,

a daughter of light

a child that brings

to Him great delight.

 

I’m no longer an orphan,

I’m no longer a stray

I’ve inherited a room

in His mansion I’ll stay.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I can be free . . .

 

Free from the guilt,

of my wandering ways

free from the darkness

that once filled my days.

 

The adoption became final,

that day on the Cross

when Jesus died for me

and all those who are lost.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I might see . . .

 

See His glory,

in the middle of my pain

see His grace fall

like sweet drops of rain.

 

The inheritance is mine,

I’m claiming my right

and now I have privilege

to His power and might.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family,

I willingly flee . . .

 

Reference

Ann, Deborah. “ABBA My Father.” CHRISTian Poetry, 31 May 2013, https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/abba-my-father/.

 

By: Paige Burch

The Journey of Adoption: An Adoptee’s Perspective

 

When talking about adoption I often hear it referred to as a journey. When I think about a journey I think about something that is ongoing with no definitive end. One of the definitions for the word journey is “passage or progress from one stage to another.” I think it is that definition of the word journey that best describes the journey of adoption. You see, adoption is not a one-time thing. It is not just the event that happens on the day that your child is placed with you. It is an ongoing journey that morphs and changes with time.

I was brought home from the hospital at just a few days old. Having been adopted in the 80’s there was little information provided regarding my birth family. I know their ages and that is about it. My parents have always been open and honest about the fact that I was adopted and have always been supportive of me searching for my birth family or not. To be quite honest, I was never the kid who asked a lot of questions about my adoption; it never bothered me. I have always been secure in who I am and who my parents are and never really struggled with the fact that I was adopted.

In graduate school I decided it might be interesting to search for my birth family so I made some initial inquiries and found out in Pennsylvania it was not an easy process, for my type of adoption, to initiate a search. I let it go at the time and moved on. Then in 2016, I was ready and I wanted to know where I came from. Where did I get my green eyes, my nose, what was my ethnic heritage, did I have any similar traits to my birth mother? So I began with the attorney who facilitated my adoption. He claimed to have no recollection of the adoption. Next I went to the courts (still called orphan court in Pennsylvania) and was told they had no records based on the little information I had. As a final recourse I decided to try Ancestry DNA and, besides now knowing my ethnic heritage, I struck out again.

Now let’s talk about August 2020; 11:37 p.m. on Friday, August 7, 2020 to be exact. The night that a Facebook message popped up on my phone. In that moment I read that a woman had an Ancestry DNA match that listed me as a “close relative” and she had been searching for her sister for years who had been adopted and could I possibly be that person. The answer, YES.

As I began talking with my sister, birth mother, two other sisters, and brother (yes there are 4 siblings) life got real. You learn things that are both exciting and hard. You learn that your birth father wanted you to be aborted. You learn that your birth mother stood up to her own family in order to carry you to term. You learn that your birth mother, on the day you turned 18, contacted the aforementioned attorney to give them her information in case I ever contacted him, which clearly he did not pass on to me when I did indeed contact him. It is realizing that my siblings grew up drastically different from me and experiencing feelings of guilt and relief that my life was different. Adoption is a journey. I am slowly getting to know the family that shares my blood. I love seeing what we have in common while also learning about our uniqueness.

This relationship continues to be a journey, something that is growing and changing over time. I remember when I first posted my story, when I was ready, on Facebook. A friend asked what would make me want to share this story publicly. An easy answer was that it was a quick way to let friends (beyond those I had told in person) what was going on in my life. The more in depth answer is that I feel that often the adoptee voice is forgotten and I wanted to share my journey, the good and bad; the joyous and the heartbreaking. I cannot speak for every adoptee out there. We each have our own unique story and journey. And while it is oftentimes beautiful no one can forget that each adoptee’s story began with loss and eventually that loss is going to emerge. I am not sure how the journey will continue but I can say that I am beyond blessed to be on it.

By: Rebekah Hall