History of Adoption Laws and Practices

 

Adoption has a history dating all the way back to Biblical times. When we look at the Bible, we can clearly see God’s heart for adoption and orphans. For us, as Christians, we are adopted into God’s family as chosen children. While it has developed and changed over time, we can see the importance of adoption and how it can impact and change lives. However, for this blog, we will talk about adoption through American history.

The orphan train was started in 1854 by Charles Loring Brace. Trains brought orphaned, abandoned, and poor children from urban areas in the Northeast to rural areas in the Midwest with the hope for a better life. The orphan train idea started the modern idea of foster care even though some of the orphan train concepts were questionable. In fact, the phrase “put up for adoption” can stir up a negative response as it relates back to the orphan train era where children were lined up like livestock up on the train platforms. Prospective adoptive families, mostly Midwestern farm families, came to view the children to determine which children looked the strongest and healthiest.

Beginning in the mid-19th century, Massachusetts passed the first adoption law in the United States. This was the first law to protect the interest of the child above the interest of the adoptive family and required a judge to determine if the birth parents gave consent for the adoption to take place. The adoptive family also had to prove that they were able to provide a suitable education for the child or children that they were adopting. In 1891, Michigan passed the first law that required adoptive parents to prove their moral character and ability to support and educate a child. This was a step up from the Massachusetts law as the parents did not have to prove they had good moral character. Interestingly, animal protection laws existed before adoption laws!

The aftermath of World War I left more children orphaned than ever before. The Social Security Act of 1935 led to the expansion of foster care and after World War II, adoption started to rapidly increase to include infants as well as school-age children. Generally, children were matched with same race parents. However, as the demand grew for babies, transracial adoption began. The first record of a transracial adoption occurred in 1948. In 1994, the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) prohibited agencies from denying placement opportunities or delaying a child’s placement based solely on race, color, or national origin.

From 1958 to 1967, the Indian Adoption Project was a federal program that forced Native American children to be systematically removed from their families. White families adopted these children even with no reason for the removal. These families tried to assimilate the Native children to white culture. The government thought that adoption was the best option for dealing with the Native American “problem.” This practice was later outlawed through the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 by setting federal requirements regarding the removal of indigenous children and allows the child’s tribe to intervene in adoption cases.

The history of international adoption began shortly after WWII. “War orphans” from Germany, Vietnam, and Korea were put on waiting lists for Americans to adopt. Harry and Bertha Holt led the way for creating the first international adoption agency which still exists today. They started with adopting eight children from Korea and then urged other couples in America to adopt children from Korea.

While adoption has not always been a positive event in history, things have changed. In 1993, the Hague Convention established rules and regulations regarding how intercountry adoptions occurred. They ensure that adoptions are completed legally and ethically. The Hague Convention still exists today to ensure that adoption service providers are accredited, all fees and expenses are disclosed beforehand, and all legal processes are followed.

Since adoption first began, a lot has changed. The wellbeing of the child is first and foremost when it comes to making decisions. Transracial, transcultural, and transnational adoptions have continued to grow rapidly, and the history of adoption will continue to change. As history continues to change, the adoption option, hopefully, will become more prevalent, because every child deserves a loving family.

By: Regina Smith

 

Resources:

Adoption History::Timeline of Adoption History (uoregon.edu)

Roe v. Wade: Decision, Summary & Background – HISTORY

 

Role of the Foster Parent in Educational Advocacy

 

Enrolling a child in Pre-K and preparing them to start their educational journey is a very exciting experience. School is one of the main areas that lays the foundations for learning and growth in a child’s life. However, what do we do when a child has not had this experience? How do we respond and advocate for a child who struggles with or has never attended school on a consistent basis?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “A positive PK-12 education experience has the potential to be a powerful counterweight to the abuse, neglect, separation, impermanence and other barriers these vulnerable students experience”.

This was the case with one of the children in foster care whom I have the privilege of knowing and working with. Before entering foster care, this particular child had 20 absences and 11 tardy slips in their Kindergarten academic school year. Given this information, we were aware that this child did not have an understanding of consistency in school attendance. The foster parents were aware that educational support and advocacy would be a crucial part of their role for this child.

Transitioning to a new school is very difficult for children of all ages. Being in a new environment and struggling with personal trauma from moving into a foster home can cause certain behaviors to arise. Due to his lack of consistent school attendance and participation, the transition into school was very challenging. As a result of his behavior, this particular child was immediately isolated from his peers. The foster parents stayed in constant communication with this child’s teacher and became aware of a separation he was experiencing in the classroom. The teacher moved him from a table with his peers to a singular desk in the corner with tape on the floor. Seeing the effects of the isolation, they immediately took action by meeting with the teacher as well as other members of the educational staff. Although they initially did not receive the support and resources necessary for this child, they remained persistent with the school. They valued the child’s educational foundation and purposely faced all road blocks that could possibly hinder his development. A meeting was established with all parties involved with this child, including attorneys and social workers. Through the foster parent’s persistence, a 504 plan was created that tailored to the child’s strengths and needs.

Watching this child grow academically has been an amazing example of how educational advocacy is an important component of being a foster parent. This child is now thriving in school and receiving valuable services throughout the school day. He even received student of the month! The foster parents continue to monitor his progress and have since formed great relationships with the school administrators and staff. Through small steps, the foster parents have helped create an environment where this child has grown and continues to learn in spite of his previous academic shortcomings.

There are many ways to advocate for your foster child academically:

  • Attend/request IEP and 504 Plan meetings
  • Request weekly updates from the student’s teacher on their progress
  • Attend parent/teacher conferences
  • Update the teacher on changed behaviors the child is experiencing
  • Be persistent!
  • Involve the child’s attorney or other legal parties if necessary
  • Encourage and support the child in their educational journey
  • Disclose information about the child’s history only when allowed and deemed beneficial to help the school meet their educational needs
  • Reach out to school counselors and other resources for support
  • Communicate needs, questions, and concerns with the social workers involved
  • Listen and act as their voice! Your voice matters!

 

View other resources for additional guidance for you and your foster child:

https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/foster-care/index.html

https://blog.edmentum.com/parent%E2%80%99s-guide-special-education-and-iep-process

https://www.understood.org/articles/en/playing-a-role-in-the-iep-process

 

By: Abbie Cox, Nightlight Foster Care Advocate

“Fun in the Sun” Adoption Fundraising Ideas

 

It’s summer, and there is no better time to plan and execute an adoption fundraiser. The options are limitless. Here are five ideas which merge summer fun and adoption funding:

Car Wash – Gather a group of family and friends to have an old-fashioned car wash. Advertise the event on social media including date, location, and time. You choose whether to have a set amount for services or accept any donation. Play some oldies music, laugh much, and lather your sponges!

Corn Hole Tournament – Who doesn’t love a rousing game of corn hole – young, old, or in between! It’s a low budget and easy to plan tournament. Participants pay a donation entry fee. Design t-shirts or hats to sell. Have food and snacks available. The game is played elimination style, and spectators can cheer the others to victory. Have creative, low-cost prizes for the winners of each round. Download a Corn Hole Tournament bracket here – https://www.cornholeworldwide.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Cornhole-Tournament-Brackets.pdf

Garage Sale – This event is a win/win for all involved. Your family and friends get to de-clutter their closets, and you will make money from the clutter! Plan in advance and ask your friends for donations. Have a donation drop-off site or offer to provide pick-up services. Price the items reasonably. Your goal is to move inventory. Strategically choose a high traffic location. Advertise in advance and have large, brightly colored signs posted. Let shoppers know their purchases will help bring your child home and post a “Donations Accepted” sign. Have bottled water in coolers to sell or let your “littles” set up a lemonade stand. If you have inventory left over, choose a location on the other side of town, and after a week or two to recover, go for round #2. Don’t forget to gather sacks/bags and have extra change available to get started.

Movie Night – Host a movie night in a location large enough to have an old-fashioned “drive-in” feel (public park, church, a farmer’s barnyard …). Choose a summer blockbuster suitable for all ages and family fun. Ask for an entrance donation. Sell popcorn, soda, and candy. Write your Adoption Bridge profile link on the popcorn bags so attendees can make additional donations later.

Summer Field Day – Most kids wait all year long anticipating the beloved Field Day during the final week of school. Why not host your own? Kids will have a blast playing games while their parents will love having a fun and safe activity for them. Plan an afternoon of competitive games like tug-of-war, wheel barrow race, sack race, water balloon toss … For additional creative games see – https://www.weareteachers.com/field-day-games/ Set a donation amount for registration. Have sack lunches for sale. Get businesses to donate fun prizes. Invite energetic volunteers to help run the competitions. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Finally, keep in mind your family’s unique strengths and talents. What do you enjoy doing? What are you exceptionally good at? Turn those abilities into fun and profitable fundraisers. Enjoy the summer and go make some money!

 

By: Camie Schuiteman, Nightlight Family Resource Specialist

Nightlight’s Reaction to a Reversal of Roe v. Wade

Since Nightlight Christian Adoptions pioneered the field of embryo adoptions in 1997, our agency has been thrust into the media and political spotlight for our strong pro-life position.  We advocate for the personhood of embryos, and since 1959, we have helped over 3500 women in crisis pregnancy make the sacrificial choice of an adoption plan, with our domestic adoption program in ten states.  As survivors of the abortion holocaust, a reversal of Roe is the answer to a prayer we have prayed our entire lives in which we have seen one third of our generation perish.  This court case makes abortion a state issue, rather than federal issue, and therefore we expect that God-fearing states will see a decrease in abortion while the court ruling has little effect on other states.  Pro-life advocates have always known that abortion will never be diminished by legislation or court rulings: it is a cultural issue.  We are mindful of the generation which celebrates abortion while simultaneously lamenting the paucity of babies available for adoption.

Our current generation grew up with Roe, so the culture largely did not second-guess the morality of abortion. We hope that a reversal of Roe will cause a younger generation to be more mindful of the moral issue surrounding abortion and that this ruling will spark cultural change.  Nowadays the majority of abortions are chemical (pills), rather than surgical.  Therefore, even in states with heartbeat laws, it is unlikely that abortions will cease since clandestine abortion is so readily available.  Some people assume that a reduction in abortion will lead to an increase in adoption, which is entirely possible as a cultural shift occurs where people have misgivings about abortion.  However, there is also the option of parenting, and we expect a reduction in abortion will also lead to an increase in parenting.  For many, this will be a blessing, but adoption should be on the table for people at risk of losing custody to the state, which is often the case when birth parents are considering placing for adoption, for reasons such as substance abuse issues.

Pro-life advocates are often heckled by protestors who object, “What is going to happen to all these babies who you are forcing to be born?”  Everyone who works in the field of adoption (regardless of their view on abortion) knows that the number of hopeful adoptive parents far outweighs the number of babies who would be born, even if abortion were a thing of the past.  In fact, God seems to have already done the math and devised a plan: about 1 in 6 couples face infertility issues, while 1 in 3 pregnancies result in abortion.  The bottom line is, there are sufficient ready and waiting adoptive parents for the precious babies who will be saved, and Nightlight is prepared to give unbiased counsel to parents facing crisis pregnancy.

Daniel Nehrbass, President

Joe and Teri Beattie receive Bright Lights Award

The Board of Directors of Nightlight Christian Adoptions established the “Bright Lights Award” which is given in recognition of a commitment to adoption which inspires others to adopt, advocates for adoption, or makes a great sacrifice in adoption. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The fifth recipient of the Bright Lights award is Joe and Teri Beattie

In the midst of Nightlight’s most difficult financial year ever, Joe and Teri gave sacrificially to ensure the agency finished 2021 “in the black.”  Their generosity enabled us to continue funding the Renewed Hope program, which helps adoptive families from any agency find assistance in the midst of crisis.

 

 

How to Honor Your Child’s Birth Mother on Mother’s Day

 

Mother’s Day is a very complicated and emotionally loaded time for many women. There are those that long for children but for many different reasons find themselves childless. There are those that mourn the early death of their child whether prenatally or after birth. There are also those who mourn for mothers they have lost, and then there is your child’s birth mother. Mother’s Day is often times a bittersweet reminder for birth mothers of the children they are not parenting. This season reminds them of the grief and loss they have had to endure since placing for adoption and often times birth mothers are overlooked on Mother’s Day.

As an adoptive parent, you have the responsibility to include and/or commemorate your child’s birth mother on or around Mother’s Day. Whether you want to admit it or not, your adopted child has two moms and both are worthy to be celebrated. Your child is also very likely thinking about their birth mother around this time regardless of whether you choose to celebrate her or not. How you handle moments like Mother’s Day will impact your child’s comfort level and felt safety in being able to process their complicated emotions around their adoption story. No matter what your child’s adoption story looked like, a birth mother’s decision to place for adoption is rooted in the most selfless motivation a parent can ever make. She chose life and she chose a life with you all as her child’s parents. That alone is worthy to be celebrated!

Here are some creative ways your family can include your child’s birth mother on Birth Mother’s Day:

  • Celebrate her on Birth Mother’s Day (May 7th)!
  • Ask her! Check with her and see if there are any ways she would enjoy being celebrated.
  • Schedule a visit with her around Mother’s Day.
  • You and your adopted child can go pick out a gift to send to her.
  • Have flowers delivered to her.
  • Have your adopted child write a card/color a photo for her.

If contact with your adopted child’s birth mother is not a reality, there are still so many ways that you can creatively celebrate her. This also allows your child a natural and healthy time to process and talk through their adoption story—an opportunity that is not as often granted to them as naturally as children who have open relationships with their birth parents. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • If you have created an adoption story Lifebook, pull it out and talk through it with your child.
  • If you received any personal information about your child’s birth mother, go do something on that day that she enjoyed doing!
  • Purchase a plant or flower bush to plant at your home together with your child to honor her.

Regardless of what your relationship with your adopted child’s birth mother looks like, it is important your child knows she is worthy to be celebrated and their adoption story is rooted in love and selflessness. These simple gestures and acts will mean more to your child and their birth mother than you will ever know.

By: Katy Clasquin

2022 National Infertility Awareness Week

 

One out of 8 families are or will face infertility. Infertility is a disease—it does not discriminate between gender, ethnicity, or age. Wherever you are in your journey, navigating through infertility can feel very lonely and isolating. Whether you find yourself wanting to do more research on infertility or wanting a place to connect with others going through similar situations, there are a number of resources available!

  • reproductivefacts.org: This website is run by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. There is a plethora of information including webinars, blogs, news, and research. They also have their own podcast, ASRM Today.
  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association runs the RESOLVE website. They have financial resources, educational information, and community support.
  • NIH: The National Institutes of Health has a lot of nitty gritty information on infertility. If you are interested in reading studies and research, this is the website for you!
  • Embryo Adoption Awareness Center: This website has numerous videos, webinars, and blogs on a variety of topics concerning embryo donation or adoption. Check it out!

Receiving a diagnosis of infertility can be really daunting and scary. You don’t have to journey alone. Starting with these resources can give you guidance and is a great place to start!

Many families discover embryo adoption as they are researching different methods of family building in the midst of infertility. To learn more, visit our website or call our Colorado office at 970-578-9700.

 

By: Nicole Longinow

Unique Fundraising Ideas for your Adoption

 

Don’t let money be the reason you give up on your adoption dreams! There are endless ways to approach raising the money needed to pursue your adoption of choice. This post contains just a few of the ways you can begin (or continue) your fundraising journey.

 

Adoption T-Shirt Fundraiser

Design a T-Shirt that represents a piece of your adoption journey. If you are pursuing international adoption from Colombia, maybe include a map of Colombia with an arrow pointing to your home state. If you are pursuing a Snowflakes Embryo Adoption, include cute snowflake pictures. The ideas are endless! Sell your T-Shirts to family and friends for $30. All proceeds go towards funding your adoption.

 

GotSneakers?

This is a unique organization that helps families fund their adoptions through sneaker donations. Have friends, family, or even people you don’t know, donate their used sneakers. GotSneakers will buy them from you for $7 dollars a pair! Everyone has old sneakers laying around collecting dust. Collect them, give them a quick clean, and send them in. 150 pairs would raise $1,050!

 

Host a Benefit Concert
American Adoptions says, “Do you have any friends in a local band? Are you in a local band? Could you be in a local band? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you can throw a benefit concert for your adoption. Charge admission, or pass a basket and ask for donations during the show.” This is a great way to connect with people and share your story. You can even share about your journey towards adoption at the beginning, end, or during intermission.

 

The thought of fundraising can be intimidating. You may be tempted to assume that NO ONE will want to help you with your adoption journey; that is certainly NOT true. Your friends and families may not feel called adopt, but you do! Helping you fundraise can be a great way for them to support adoption even though they may not be able to do it themselves. If fundraising still feels overwhelming, Nightlight offers our clients our Family Resource Specialist, Camie Schuiteman, who will counsel each family on fundraising, grants, and other ways to gather the adoption service fees for your adoption. Also check out our Funding Your Adoption page on our website.