Overcoming a Millennial’s Perceived Adoption Roadblocks

 

Those born from the 1980s to the mid-1990s are what society calls millennials. It is not uncommon for individuals and couples born in this generation to delay traditional life milestones like marriage, home-buying, and parenting. With that said, there are a few perceived adoption roadblocks that are unique to this generation.

 

Finances

 

One potential roadblock for this generation is the cost to adopt a child. Adopting a child can be expensive, but of course, international, embryo, foster care, and domestic adoptions all have different fees to successfully place a child with a loving family. Millennial unemployment or underemployment is currently more than double the national average. There are certainly several different causes for the rise of millennial unemployment and financial struggle. The number one cause is student debt. The average millennial who has attended college has more than $37,000 in student loan debt. This debt can take years to pay off which can potentially postpone plans for adopting.

 

Fortunately, there are several opportunities for fundraising an adoption. Families seeking adoption may sell T-shirts, put on a spaghetti dinner, have a bake sale, receive contributions from their church community’s financial support, and fund raise in many other creative ways. There are also tax credits, scholarships and other financial assistance available to help families further grow their family through adoption. Click here for more helpful resources for funding your adoption.

 

Schedules

 

Another roadblock for millennials in regards to adoption is scheduling conflicts. Millennials primary education was geared towards the end resulting in pursuing college, the military, or some sort of trade. Because of this a lot of men and women born in this generation earned a degree or certificate of some kind. Therefore, it is more common in this generation than generations preceding that spouses are both working part-time or full-time jobs. These couples may work the same hours, or be on opposite schedules. There are also a lot of jobs held by millennials that require frequent travel to other states or countries. With this said, couples born in this generation consider who will care for their child while they are working, can they afford to hire someone or a daycare to care for their child, how much paid time off or Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) will they have to spend with their adopted child after they are matched? All of these questions and more could be potential roadblocks for these couples considering adoption.

 

The great news is that a lot of corporate agencies and organizations offer great Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) benefits that are accommodating to adoptions, regardless of the age of the child. Families have been able to travel internationally with airfare and hotel costs covered by the company they work for, some families can take months off of work to help their 12-year-old adopted child from a different country accommodate to their adopted family and a new culture. Of course, this is not the case for everyone but it is something to consider and talk to your supervisor or human resources department about at your job. Another thing to consider is that schedules typically have flexibility. Couples considering adoption will have time to modify work schedules, modify routine and to plan for time spent as a family.

 

Age

 

The final roadblock millennials perceive regarding adoption is their age. Depending on who you ask millennials age range from about 23 to 38 years old. Families who adopt might be adding another child to their family or they could be adopting their first child. That said, young couples may fear they will not be approved to move forward in the adoption process because they are too young and/or do not have any experience raising a child.

 

The good news is that there are educational requirements to fulfill before being matched with a child. All adoptive families are required to to complete education including articles and videos on parenting, adoption and if adoptive families are pursuing international adoption, learning about your child’s country of origin. There are several parenting classes offered virtually and face to face across the nation that are typically free or low in cost.

 

There are perceived roadblocks to everything we do in life whether that be applying for a new job, moving to a new state, or adopting a child. It is important to access any available resources or information to assist families in navigating roadblocks.

 

written by Margaret Baldwin | MSW intern

How to Connect with Your Child’s Birth Parent in Foster Care

 

When choosing to grow your family through adoption, studies have shown that open conversations with children and connection with their birth family is best in most circumstances. While this is commonly embraced in domestic infant adoption, other methods of adoption like through the foster system have made slower progress. There are reasons for this, including the reality that birth parents are separated from their children against their will usually relating to the safety of the child. Still, many foster parents are looking at the statistics and wondering if there is a way to connect with their child’s birth parent.

These were things that my husband and I chose to research when we decided to pursue foster care, and eventually adopted twins from the foster system. While the system is designed to give foster parents the freedom to stay uninvolved with birth parents, we chose to ask if more might be an option.

We reached out to their team to ask them to speak with their birth family and see if they might be open to talking regardless of the outcome of the case. We chose a few options that would be safe such as using a P.O. Box for letters, an encrypted messaging app for text and pictures, and pursued more direct contact with our children’s birth grandparents who were deemed safe by their team, but simply too old to case for the twins long term.

We started slow through emails and eventually meeting their birth grandparents at a park. We reassured them that we wanted to make sure out children didn’t have their whole history erased and could still keep in touch with their family. Although it hurts me to say it, they were grateful we would even consider it. That their story wouldn’t have to involve permanently losing these little children that they loved desperately.

We started meeting in person with their grandparents more often after that. I had been nervous from the very start, worrying that I might be making a mistake and make this harder for my kids. But, every time they saw them I noticed the hug my daughter would give her grandparents. I noticed the big breath she would take in that hug and how her body would relax, as if she had been trying to hold it together and pretend like she didn’t miss her family so badly. She always did better the days after, was more relaxed and happier. For us, for her, I knew this was the right choice.

My son responded a little differently, he appreciated more space, and so we worked to find a balance that would give one the contact she craved, and provide freedom for him to distance himself from too much interaction if he felt like it. We also pursued contact with their birth mom through a messaging app to share pictures and updates, providing encouragement when I could. I was even blessed with the opportunity to meet their mom in person for coffee and spend hours getting to know her and my kids before they came to my home. She was not emotionally ready for anything more than meeting me, and that was ok. The stories I learned, I was able to gift to my kids in their Lifebook and when we talked through questions. I now had stories of who their father was, character traits I would never have known without their birth mothers help.

For our story, connection with my kids birth family was one of the best ways I could show them love, and that I accepted all of them, the good and bad stories included.

Some tips on connecting with birth family through foster care:

  1. Use the foster care team to learn more about the safety of the people involved and if advisable, ask for them to set up a meeting time. This can be especially helpful if you are fostering with an intent to encourage reunification, as foster parents are often great advocates for birth family and can help mentor them towards success and reunification. If adoption is the current goal of the case, see if it would be possible to send a letter along explaining your goals in contact and ask if they would be interested. Have the foster care team review the letter with you, since they will know more about the parent and can advocate for your family.

 

  1. Find a few communication methods that are safe and managed by you. This can be a P.O. Box, a messaging app, or an email address created for the purpose of contact that does not include significant identifying information. Begin communication through those methods, and if you get more comfortable with it, consider sending more consistent updates. It is recommended to avoid any identifiable information that the parent could use to contact the child directly, without your approval.

 

  1. Listen to your child’s needs. Contact with birth family can be complicated in domestic infant adoption, and more so in foster care. Observe your child when they get news, it may be emotional for them. While many parents may pull back on conversations because of the emotional nature of it, often kids just need support in feeling those big emotions in their heart. You may want to work with a child therapist that has experience with open adoption and find ways to help your child process. Many situations would not be safe for in person contact, but even some news about birth family can provide reassurance.

written by Deb Uber

Hope For A Birth Parent

With the Easter holiday passing by this month, we are reminded of a greater love. The love that would sacrifice everything to assure us eternity with our Lord. With this love, hope is given and restored that we will receive something beyond what we can hope for in this lifetime.

 

As I searched the definition of hope, I came across two meanings. The first definition was a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, and the second one was a feeling of trust. I glanced at the first one for a minute and thought, of course birth parents have a certain desire for their children when they choose to make an adoption plan. They desire for their child to have more, do more, and be more than what they can provide at this moment in time. They have the hope that their child will understand the sacrifice they made by alternatively parenting with an adoptive couple. They are desiring for greater outcome for what they can even imagine at this moment in time.

 

But…

 

What really hit me after this thought process of desire, was that feeling of trust. From every aspect of a birth parents life they are having to trust their pregnancy counselor, their adoption agency, their hospitals, their family, their friends, and most of all themselves. They are hoping they are making the right decision. They are trusting that they are making the right decision. Trusting in a decision to place a delicate beautiful creation they carried for nine months into the care of two people they have known possibly their whole third trimester, or even just from looking at a family’s profile book 24 hours after giving birth. A sacrifice of hope, for more.

 

Esther 4:14 says, “Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” A time of hope, a time of sacrifice, a time of healing.

 

written by Kandace Reed

Infertility Awareness Week

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system. It’s often diagnosed after a couple has tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for one year. The cause of a couple’s infertility has a wide range: 30% of the time it is a female factor, 30% male factor, and 30% of the time the issue is unknown. And many times, there are no signs or symptoms.

Anyone can suffer from infertility. It does not discriminate against race, religion, or economic status. National Infertility Awareness Week® unites millions of Americans who want to remove the stigmas and barriers which stand in the way of building and completing families.

There online resources and support groups out there to connect with individuals who are facing the same obstacles that you are.

If you are looking into adoption as a means to build your family, Nightlight Christian Adoptions offers domestic, international, foster-adoption, and the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. You might also find these additional resources helpful, as well.

Infertility can feel absolutely isolating. But you are not alone.

The Quality of Embryos Does Not Equal Pregnancy Success

 

It was a dark snowy Friday night when I was driving to meet my husband at a local fundraiser.  I typically drive in silence but I had stumbled across a radio program that caught my attention.  My husband and I been unsuccessfully trying to build our family for over three years.  The initial testing had left us without answers.  We were preparing to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) and were nervous about the ‘next steps’.  At the time we did not know embryo adoption existed. Should our next step be IVF? Could we do IVF and still honor our faith and honor life?  These discussions were weighing heavily on my heart. As I listened, the message focused on the sanctity of human life, even in its earliest stages, and my tears welled up.  A part of me was scared this was my answer: IVF was not part the right choice for us.  As I arrived at our destination, I saw my hubby, rolled down my window and said I would meet him inside. As he walked away, the message concluded and right there in front of me, fireworks started going off.  I couldn’t have planned the timing better, but there they were…. Fireworks.

A few weeks later our RE advised us that they would do a workup on me and then likely would recommend IVF if all came back ok.  We shared our beliefs with them about not creating more embryos than we would use. They hesitantly agreed to honor our wishes, warning us our chances of conceiving would be significantly reduced with these restrictions.  We left feeling a little defeated and more confused than ever.

We returned to our RE’s office ready to discuss the recent test results and next steps.  We were floored when our doctor said ‘premature ovarian failure’ and said our chances of conceiving even with IVF and without any of our ‘restrictions’ were less than 5%.  I was shocked!  I was angry.  I was confused.  I was every emotion under the sun.  I was devastated.  But now we knew for sure: the door to IVF was shut.

Somewhere in the fog of the next few months, I learned of embryo adoption and that night of fireworks started to have new meaning and new hope.  I had been heartbroken over the possibility of not being able to feel life grow inside me.  I wanted to experience the joy of childbirth.  Embryo adoption truly was and is the answer to our prayers.  We began our embryo adoption.

A year later, we had been through one failed FET and had been matched with a second family.  We were head over heels in love with this family. They had chosen life for their three embryos and had agreed to place them with us.  We felt such a strong connection to the family and were overjoyed with the match.

When our embryologist received the embryology report, she called to tell us we should consider sending the embryos back. We quickly said no, we were committed to our babies.  She went on to tell us the embryos were graded a B, BC, and C and there had been a power outage when they were being frozen.  The power blipped for just a second and then the generator kicked in, but with the fragility of embryos, she feared we wouldn’t even have viable embryos once they were thawed.  We were crushed but held onto hope that this was the plan for our family and we needed to stay the course.

Two months later we were pleasantly surprised to show up for our transfer with two viable embryos ready to transfer and one left safely in cryopreservation for a future attempt.  On September 15th we heard the words we had waited so long to hear: “You’re pregnant!” On June 2 we gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Makenna Lee.

And let’s not forget about that little ‘C’ embryo that was waiting in the freezer for us.  Against all odds, he survived the thaw beautifully and we completed our family with the birth of the sweetest boy ever, Alexander Brooks.  While embryo adoption may not be the right choice for everyone, it blessed us beyond expectation and measure.

 

–Embryo Adoptive Family Testimony

Easing the Home Study Jitters: What the Home Study Really Involves

 

My husband and I were asked to share about our experience with the home study process. It’s definitely a big part of adoption and can cause anxiety looking at it from afar. We were happy to provide our first-hand experience and hope it encourages you, wherever you are in your adoption journey.

Jay and I had gone to some foster-to-adopt classes before moving forward with domestic adoption, so we had heard about the dreaded home study and how intense it is. Going into our home study with Nightlight we expected it to be similar to what we had heard from the state. We thought our house and our lives would be picked apart and dissected for flaws. Thankfully we were completely wrong.

We had Katherine as our home study coordinator, she is so kind and made the process as comfortable as it could be. I don’t want to sugar coat it, there is quite a bit involved in a home study with paperwork and taking classes but as far as the part where you are interviewed and your house is “studied” it was nothing like we expected. We actually looked forward to having Katherine over and “chatting” because that’s what it felt like, a conversation. It was fun to talk about the future, how we would parent, our goals and aspirations for ourselves and our family. We never felt judged by any of the questions asked, it was clear that they were meant to make you dig deeper and really think about what is involved in parenting a child. Our favorite question to answer was, “What do you think will make your spouse a great dad/mom?” This was asked during our one-on-one interviews and later that day Jay and I talked about what our answers were, it got us even more excited and confident in our choice to pursue adoption.

We also expected our house to need a lot of adjustments based on the requirements of the state for foster care. With Nightlight it was just about making sure there was no glaring safety hazards, we didn’t have to show a lockbox for medication or have every inch of the house baby-proofed. They make it clear that they trust you to have your house ready for a little one when the time comes.

The process definitely takes dedication but if you’re pursuing adoption you already have the dedication you need. Nightlight will be there to support you from beginning to end and afterwards you’ll even be a bit sad that it’s over, except that you’re one BIG step closer to bringing your baby home!

 

Submitted by Katherine Calvin, MA | Home Study Coordinator

Written by the ‘K’ Family | NCA Adopting Family

Commonly Asked Questions About the Snowflakes Family Evaluation Process

  • Q:  What is the cost? 

A:  The fee for a Snowflakes Family Evaluation (SFE) is $1,500 plus the social worker’s travel expenses.  These travel expenses could range anywhere from just a few dollars for families who live near one of our offices to several hundred dollars for families who live outside the U.S.  The average is $300.

  • Q:  What is the timeline for the completion of the report?

A:  The amount of time it takes to complete the SFE is mostly controlled by the adoptive family and their speed in gathering and completing the necessary paperwork.  It is possible to complete the report in 1-2 months, though for most families it’s 3-4 months.

  • Q:  How many face-to-face visits with a social worker are required?

A:  Because long-distance travel is often involved, generally only one face-to-face visit in the home is required, which can often help speed up the overall timeline of your adoption process.

  • Q:  How much paperwork is involved?

A:  Because Snowflakes uses an adoption model, the required paperwork is similar to what is used in a home study.  However, it is often a smaller amount than what’s required for a home study and the requirements are more flexible since we aren’t having to follow the regulations of any government entity.

  • Q:  Are there other “hidden” fees involved?

A:  All of the SFE parent education is in the form of webinars and pdf articles, which are provided to you free of charge. We do require current infant/pediatric CPR and first aid certification, so you may incur a fee for this.  Background checks (criminal and child abuse) are required for any home study and are required as part of the SFE process as well.  FBI background checks cost $18-$50 per person.  Child abuse and neglect background checks are provided free of charge in many states, while other states charge fees of up to $20 per person.  For married clients, we also utilize an online assessment that has a fee of $35 per couple.

  • Q:  Are post-placement visits required?

A:  Snowflakes requires one post-birth visit, via video conference, within 6 weeks of the child (or children’s) birth.  The cost of this visit and report is included in the $1,500 SFE fee.

 

written by Beth Button

Reasons to Partner with an Adoption Agency

Success. Some facilitators of infant adoption will continue working with a birth mother, even if they think she will ultimately change her mind about placing her child for adoption.  They operate on wishful thinking and want to collect fees throughout the process.  Non-profit adoption agencies are more interested in the well-being of the child than in collecting fees.  For that reason, we will only match a birth mother with adoptive parents if we believe the birth mother will not change her mind.  In fact, Nightlight is careful enough to prevent shattering the dreams of adoptive parents, that our domestic matches result in adoption 96% of the time.

Wise contracts. Some websites offer couples a place to connect and carry out their own embryo adoptions.  But they often do this without a contract, or with an insufficient contract.  Since Nightlight has helped with embryo adoptions for over a decade, we have crafted contracts that avoid pitfalls, disappointments, and future conflict.

Realistic promises.  Some facilitators make unrealistic promises about the costs, time involved in adoption, and likelihood of placement.  Obviously, they do this in order to win your business.  But non-profit adoption agencies like Nightlight know that this is a bait-and-switch approach.  False promises ultimately hurt the client and the reputation of the agency.  We would rather risk losing a few potential clients than make unrealistic promises.

Thriving families.  Adoption agencies are committed to life-long support and education for families.  They do not simply complete an adoption but give resources to adoptive families and birth mothers, who keep coming back for advice and help in years to come.  In addition, adoption agencies use decades of experience to assist in matching, as well in helping adoptive families make decisions about adoption that will help them thrive.

Convenience.  Adoption agencies are a “one stop” place to complete an adoption.  If you work without an agency, you will still need an agency to complete a home study, and to act as the “adoption service provider” to complete some necessary steps.  But with an adoption agency, you do not need to work with any other party to complete the adoption.

Protect children.  Adoption agencies incur stiff penalties if they do not comply with laws, such as the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).  These laws protect children from trafficking, and also prevent families from fraud.  Since in most states facilitators are unregulated, they do not have the same level of regulation.

Experience.  Many agencies have been working with adoptive parents for decades, and it is a rather recent utilization of a “loophole” that has allowed other parties to offer adoptive services.  With an agency, you benefit from years of expertise.

Daniel Nehrbass, Ph.D. | President

Meaningful Ideas for Birth Parent Gifts

 

Having a prospective birthmother choose you to raise her child is a priceless gift that you can never truly repay. Many adoptive parents choose to express their feelings for a birthparent by giving them a meaningful gift at the hospital when the baby is born or at placement- something a birthparent can treasure for the rest of their life. With the holidays approaching you can also be mindful to continue celebrating and loving your birthparents, even if the placement has already happened. For birthparents, the holidays can be a difficult time, filled with reminders of loss and grief. This is completely normal. Adoption can hold a lot of pain, loss, heartbreak, and grief, but also a lot of forgiveness, redemption, and love. The sheer definition of the word “gift” is: “a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.” It is a simple act of kindness to show someone that they are cared for, thought about, and loved.

 

Because giving birthparents gifts can be a sensitive topic, it’s important that you talk to your agency caseworker about what gift is appropriate in your situation, whether it is for placement or after. Your caseworker will be able to give you input about which kind of gift is best for the birthparent’s emotions at that time, as well as remind you of your state’s legal standards regarding living expense laws before or at placement.

 

Here are some gift ideas for birthparents, whether it is for the adoption placement or a “just because” gift throughout the years as you continue to grow with one another in the adoption process:

 

  1. Flowers: Flowers are always a cheery sight for anyone. For a first match meeting, the hospital, or an annual visit, this can be a great idea to bring with you and give directly to her – or have them delivered. This could also be a fruit or chocolate bouquet.

 

  1. A commemorative piece of jewelry: Many adoptive parents choose to give their child’s birthmother a piece of jewelry she can wear as a reminder of the child she placed for adoption. It may be engraved with her baby’s initials or feature the baby’s birthstone. Whatever personalization you choose to give it, make sure it’s subtle so that your child’s birthmother is not constantly having to explain it to people she may not want to share that part of her story with. We have also seen adoptive families gift their birthmother a beautiful necklace called the “Adoption Triad Necklace”. It is simple, delicate, and a subtle chain necklace with a gold triangle; representing the adoption triad.

 

  1. A post–partum recovery basket: Recovering from giving birth can be both a physical and emotional act. A birthmother could not only be dealing with the emotions of placing her child for adoption, but also may have had to take time off work. You can make that process easier by creating a spa, self-care basket (lotions, bath items, etc.) so she can pamper herself during this time. If approved by your lawyer or agency caseworker, you may wish to also send a gift basket of meal preparation, gift cards and other practical things to help her during this time.

 

  1. Stuffed Animals: Birthmothers will likely be looking for comfort after placing their child for adoption. I recommend getting two identical stuffed animals: gift one to the birthparent, and one to the child. I then encourage adoptive families to take monthly/yearly photos of the child next to the stuffed animal as they continue to grow and send these photos to the birthmother. This is so the birthmother can see how big the child is growing and will be able to compare it to the same stuffed animal she has. To go a step further, you could even purchase a stuffed animal with a recording in it and record the child’s voice or heartbeat to gift to the birthmother. Another option is taking an outfit your child wore during their time in the hospital and have it turned into a bear.

 

  1. An engraved watch: Like jewelry for birthmothers, an engraved watch is a great way for a birthfather to carry around the memory of his child and your relationship with him. As you would with the jewelry, make sure the engraving is subtle (perhaps on the inside of the wrist) so he doesn’t have to answer unwelcomed questions about what it means. Ideas for engravings could be the child’s time of birth, the child’s date of birth, or initials.

 

  1. A meaningful book or an adoption memory book: If you know the birthparent has a particular interest in something, consider buying them a book about that subject. This goes hand in hand with hobbies. If you know your birthparent is interested in a particular hobby as well, consider gifting them something along those lines. Sometimes adoptive parents have created a more involved memory book as well for their birthparents. In addition to photos, it can include mementos from the adoption process, like your original adoptive family profile, things from the hospital stay, baby’s footprints, etc. You can leave blank pages for the memories still to come. Some families purchase a recordable children’s book. Have the birthmother record her voice by reading the book. This will allow her voice to be heard by the baby and it is a wonderful way for her to feel connected with her child. As the child gets older and is able to read, you could also have the child record their voice and gift the book back to the birthmother.

 

  1. Beautiful Framed Art: If you and the birthparents live in different cities or states, you could gift them with a beautiful art piece of the two cities or state maps overlapping one another. This could be found online, such as Etsy. A framed copy of your child’s footprints or handprints would be meaningful too if your birthparent did not receive this from the hospital. Even as your child grows up, don’t forget to gift your birthparents some of the child’s artwork that they will create throughout the years.

 

  1. Photo frame or photo album: A birthparent may appreciate a memorable, engraved frame or photo album with several photos of their child. This way, they can store or switch out photos they receive from you or the agency over the years as their baby grows up.

 

  1. Journal: Gift your birthmom a journal. This can not only be healing and therapeutic for her, but also a way for her to write notes and letters to her child. You could also do a stationary set that includes envelopes and stamps so that she can send letter to her child.

 

  1. Keepsake box: A memory box or a keepsake box contains a selection of memorable and meaningful items or memorabilia that belonged to a loved one. Gifting your birthmom a memory box can be a significant and meaningful way for her to store precious memories and gifts that you send her.

 

Remember, each adoption relationship is different, and it may not always be the right thing to give a gift to the birthparents. However, if you do choose to give your child’s birthparents a meaningful gift, it can be an important step in solidifying a strong relationship between you all for many years to come.

 

Written by Caidon Glover, LMSW | Pregnancy Counselor

Where does all the money go?

The National Council for Adoption answers this question, in a blog post.

Written by Daniel Nehrbass, Ph.D.

I was speaking on a panel about intercountry adoption recently at a conference, and during the Q&A time an adoptive mom in the audience asked, “where does all the money go?”

She was wondering in particular about how much money adoption agencies make, and the compensation of personnel. She had heard that “there’s no money in intercountry adoption” but she was skeptical. Her skepticism is understandable, since, in her words: “I spend forty thousand dollars…where did it all go?”

Click here to read the article