Our 2nd Chance to Love a Second

Follow us on our adoption journey for a sibling for Jayden!

Wendy’s Adoption Cups

National Adoption Awareness Month originally was started to draw attention to the more than 108,000 kids waiting in the foster system to be adopted.  You can read more about the history of the month-long celebration here.  The Dave Thomas Foundation (yeah, I’m talking about the Wendy’s Dave Thomas) is a non-profit that provides grants to raise awareness and bring attention to those children in foster care.

Wendy’s has released some unique cups in the past to raise awareness about adoption.  Currently, they’ve got some with kids’ drawings on them, which make them instantly cuter, in my humble opinion!  But, what’s even cooler, is that on their site, they have animated the drawings.  These drawings are from kids who were in foster care, but now have been adopted.  The drawings depict an experience with their new family.  Here’s Olivia’s:

Doug and I recently explored the possibility of a foster-to-adopt program.  I’ll give you all an update later this month on where we are in our process.

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A teacher’s Guide to Introducing Adoption in to the Classroom in 4 Easy Steps!

As a teacher who also happens to be a mom-by-adoption, I thought I might share a few posts this month relating to how to approach adoption within a classroom setting.  First up is this post from Adoptions From The Heart that deals with adoption in the classroom in general.  I also have some resources on great books to share and alternatives to assignments that might be challenging to some adoptees.

Love Builds Families

2 different kinds of strengthThe start of a new school year means many different things for families, like new classmates, new teachers, lunches, hectic schedules, homework assignments and school projects. With all of these changes, some adoptive parents can also experience a little concern when sending their child off to school. Sometimes children are given assignments that require personal information, such as family tree projects, tracing your family heritage, bringing in baby pictures, or timeline projects. For an adopted child, many of these common school assignments may cause them to feel left out and uncomfortable. Many adoptive parents have given their children the tools at home to answer difficult questions about adoption, but as teachers it is equally as important to educate the entire class on adoption.

Before you start: 

Before you start introducing adoption into the classroom, it is important that you, as a teacher, understand positive adoption language. As many of us know…

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Update…

(Or “Why there was nothing but radio silence a week after I started a series of posts on National Adoption Awareness Month”)

beach sunset

So you may remember at the beginning of November I started a series of posts on National Adoption Awareness Month.  I had them all planned out for each day, even scheduling some in advance of their post date and had resources all mapped out to use.  And truly, I was pretty excited about them and where the posts might take us.  But I stopped them.  Here’s what has been happening over the last month:

We had a match (that’s right, it’s in the past tense, as in we no longer have the match) that we learned about at the very end of October.  We were cautiously excited.  It was a little girl and she was due to be born on February 15.  I don’t plan to divulge all of the details of the match here.  In fact, if you are hoping for details, you won’t read them here.  So much of this story still belongs to the birthmother with whom we were matched and I will leave much of it with her.

When we were matched, our Giving Tree fundraiser had just kicked off, too.  And the end of the marking period was quickly approaching for me, along with the end of a grad class I was taking.  And then there was the knowing that Christmas was quickly approaching, too.  So, putting all of those things on top of the endless number of things that we needed to do in response to our match (signing paperwork, reading through documents, setting up a phone line for her to use to contact us, texting her back and forth, learning how to crochet so I could teach her, putting financial things in order to send out retainer fees and birthmother living expenses, making travel arrangements to fly to Arkansas to meet her, updating our home study to renew it…), I needed to find something that I could scoop off my full plate.  Writing those National Adoption Awareness Month posts was the thing I scooped off.

It was in no way indicative of the importance that adoption plays in our life and how much we believe in the process.

So, just as the beginning of November began with the excitement of our match, the end of November ended with another kind of “excitement” as our match fell through.  Like I said, you won’t find many details here about it.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, scams are very common with domestic adoptions right now.  While she wasn’t scamming us, there wasn’t complete honesty in some areas where she needed to be honest.  And so, with very sad and heavy hearts, the match fell through.

In spite of the sadness, I haven’t felt very angry, which has surprised me.  I have forgiven her, knowing that some very serious mental health issues played a big part in how this worked itself out.  However, the forgiveness doesn’t mean that we are able to continue on with a free pass for her.

So, this weekend, we should have been in Arkansas meeting her.  Having a child already certainly is distracting, though, especially a rambunctious 3 year old who is overly excited that Christmas is almost here!

We are moving on and still hoping and praying for that “just right” match for us.  Please join us in that prayer.  Knowing others are hoping and praying with us certainly also helps with the wait, too.

 

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Today’s Thoughts

I’m really tired today, and this is striking particularly close this evening.  That’s all.

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The Giving Tree: A New Way to Support Our Adoption

I’m exImagecited to be using this post today to kick off our final planned fundraiser that we are doing to raise money to help cover adoption costs.  Here’s how this works:

This little love tree holds 150 handmade ornaments, each numbered 1 – 150. Donations can be made for the amount that corresponds with an ornament number (#1 = $1.00, #50 = $50.00, #122 = $122.00, etc.).  As a thank you for your support, you will receive the numbered ornament that corresponds with your donation.  If all ornaments are purchased, we will raise over $10,000 for the Harris family’s adoption!  This will cover most expenses already incurred, including agency, retainer, and advertising fees.

All ornaments are a team effort created either by Lisa, Doug, or several generous volunteer helpers who donated their time towards the creation of these lovely, handmade treasures.

But that’s not all!  Each purchase will enter you into a raffle for a $100 Amazon gift card.  The higher the number that you purchase, the better your chances are of winning!  Purchasing #1 will earn you one entry, purchasing #50 will earn you 50 entries, and so on.  The raffle drawing will take place on December 15, 2014, so you must purchase an ornament by the end of the day on December 14, 2014, to be considered.  Even if you don’t make the deadline, you can still donate for ornaments.

Rather make a tax-deductible donation?  Visit their AdoptTogether site to make a tax-deductible donation.  These donations will not receive an ornament and raffle entries, so why not do both?!?

Efforts will be made to distribute ornaments in a timely fashion for Christmas.  Locally purchased ornaments will be hand-delivered.  All other ornaments will be shipped in the most cost-effective manner possible.

To go to the ornament fundraising site, click here or on the Giving Tree photo above.

One more thing…Please share this with anyone that you think might be interested.  Wouldn’t it be great to have ALL 150 ornaments covered by the end of the fundraiser?!?

Note: Ornament based on a design by Soles.

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A Peek at Our Agency

When I began this series of posts for National Adoption Awareness Month, I said that some would be general adoption topics and some would be more unique and personal to our own experience.  This is one of the latter writings.

I wrote earlier this year about the fees associated with working with an agency, as opposed to going at this on your own.  That’s not really what this is about, although you are absolutely welcome to visit that post if you are curious!  We work with ANA Adoptions, which a small agency out of the Philly area.  At any one time, they work with no more than 20 potential adoptive families, allowing them to provide more personalized attention to both adoptive families and birth families.  In addition to their website, they have recently begun to maintain a blog which has material directed at both birth parents and adoptive parents.

The back story behind the agency’s creation is compelling; what’s even more driving for us is what the agency does for birth parents.  You read that correctly.  I didn’t say anything about what the agency does for adoptive parents.  The honor, respect, and genuine care, concern, and positive regard for birth parents was the biggest reason why we chose ANA.  While the journey through infertility was not fun, it pales in comparison to the emotional journey that a birth mother travels before and long after the birth of her child.  While it is important to us that our money that we invested in ANA goes as far as it can in helping us in the adoption of a child, it is more important to us that the true emotional needs of a birth mother (and father) are met, too.  For so many birth mothers, Andrea is the only support that they have.  She is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for them.

Many agencies run like a business, but ANA does not because of their personal outreach to those birthmothers.  It seems like there is not a birthmother or adoption story that Andrea forgets.  That’s why we decided to go with them again.  I encourage you to check out their site and blog!

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Common Myths About Domestic Adoption

I posted this earlier this year, but for National Adoption Awareness Month, I though it was worthy of reposting.

Our 2nd Chance to Love a Second

Today’s a great day to post something new!  I’m at home with a sick boy who is watching lots of TV, but wants me to be by his side.  Here’s my view as I type:

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When I created this blog, it began as a way to let people know about our story and how things were going in our process.  But I’ve come to realize that it could also be a way to help others learn and dialogue about adoption and dispel some misconceptions about adoption.  Let me be clear on this:  We can only speak to our experience.  There are so many other adoption experiences out there.

I ran into an article a few months ago on myths associated with domestic adoption from Adoptive Families magazine, something to which we currently subscribe.  I thought it raised a few good points that I wanted to share.

  • Truth:  There are…

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Using Positive Language for Adoption Terms

 

adoption language

source: adoption.com/positive-vs-honest-adoption-language/

We consider ourselves rather fortunate.  We haven’t encountered too many instances where the language associated with our adoption was offensive.  However, when we were first entering this adoption journey, I became aware that there is a vocabulary that is unique to it.  And rest assured, if you find some of the language confusing, there are times when I still find myself being mindful of the words that I am choosing.

When we were waiting for the first time, I tried to raise adoption awareness in my school during November and passed along this language information.  Several teachers remarked how useful they found it, knowing that it is not unusual to have students who were adopted.

I truly believe, for the most part, that people do not mean to be offensive in their language choices.  The missteps originate in lack of knowledge.  So I hope you find this information helpful.  It helps me to revisit it every now and then, as well.  At the end of this post, I’ll share with you three things that I even find challenging about positive adoption language.

This chart is a great resource for comparing common adoptive language:

https://i1.wp.com/www.adoptionsofwisconsin.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/PositiveLanguage-300x257.jpg

source: Adoptive Families Magazine

If you’d like to see the full article from Adoptive Families Magazine or have a printable version of the chart above, here is a PDF version from them:

PositiveLanguage-1

So, I told you there were three things I still struggle with when considering positive adoption language.  Here they are:

  1. Was adopted vs. is adopted.  There are still times I have to self-correct when using this terminology related to our son.  The adoption was an event that happened in the past.  It is not a characteristic that defines him, like “he is energetic,” or “he is full of gratitude,” or “he is generous.”
  2. The use of the term “birthmother” when talking about our wait for a second child.  If and when we have a match, it won’t be with a birthmother.  It will be with an “expectant mother.”  The child she is expecting is still her child in every meaning of the word.  She can’t be a birthmother until the birth has occurred.  And as a side note, just to muddy the pot a bit more, there are many that even bristle at the term, “birthmother.”  Especially those that we call “birthmothers.”  I’ve seen the term “first mother.”  So I’m still struggling with this one, especially when I consider how all of the remarkable qualities of J’s birthmother have been boiled down to one word: birthmother.  It just seems inadequate.
  3. The overuse of the term, “adopt.”  I’m talking about all of the different things that you can “adopt.”  Nowadays, you can adopt a star.  You can adopt an animal at the zoo.  You can adopt a soldier.  You can adopt a highway.  All with a little donation of either time or money.  It certainly takes away from the life-changing process that happens when the adoption of a child takes place.  And if you don’t know how they are different and how the use of the word “adopt” can be problematic in those instances where the definition of the word in minimized, then I encourage you to continue to read up on adoption and continue to follow this blog.  They are nothing alike.

If you’d like to read more about adoptive language, Terra Cooper has some slick looking visuals that add to the discussion.  Also, Carolyn Berger has written an interesting article for American Fertility Association that explains why it is so important to get the adoptive language right.

 

 

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History of National Adoption Awareness Month

So how long has this recognition of adoption month been celebrated?  If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I would have snidely guessed that it’s only a few years old and came about when we started celebrating EVERYTHING.  (Did you know that today is Deviled Egg Day?  Me either!  Yesterday was Go Cook for Your Pets Day.  I hope our cat isn’t too hurt by our negligence in the celebration of this important holiday.)

But, luckily, there are many influential people who believed in the importance of commemorating something as life-changing and important to society as adoption many years ago.  President Ford actually made the first proclamation of National Adoption Week in the 1970’s, along with Governor Michael Dukakis, in an effort to raise awareness for the need for adoptive families for children in the foster system.  President Reagan proclaimed November 19-25, 1984, as National Adoption Week.  In 1995, it was President Clinton who expanded the week celebration to the entire month.

Since then, November has been recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month, helping to bring recognition to the thousands of children waiting for homes in foster care, working to address myths associated with adoption, and celebrating the countless numbers of families and professionals that have dedicated their lives to the importance of adoption.

On the slate for tomorrow’s blog post: Positive adoption language.  🙂

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month

NAAM logo

Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month?  I wasn’t aware that such a thing existed until we were trying to become adoptive parents for the first time.

To mark this month-long celebration, I plan to write 30 posts for the next 30 days on a variety of adoption-related topics.  I will share personal experiences and perspectives, along with facts and perspectives that I have found from other adoptive parents, birth mothers, and adoptees.  I welcome comments (respectful, of course!) and questions to create a dialogue!

To kick the month off, I’ll share with you a portion of this year’s presidential proclamation from President Obama, released on October 31, 2014, declaring November as National Adoption Month (The entire proclamation can be viewed here.):

“During National Adoption Month, we honor those who have opened their hearts and their homes, and we recommit to supporting all children still in need of a place to call their own.Over the past decade, more than 500,000 children have been adopted….By supporting policies that remove barriers to adoption, we give hope to children across America.  For all those who yearn for the comfort of family, we must continue our work to increase the opportunities for adoption and make sure all capable and loving caregivers have the ability to bring a child into their life, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or marital status.
 
Throughout November, we recognize the thousands of parents and kids who have expanded their families to welcome a new child or sibling, as well as the professionals who offer guidance, resources, and counseling every day.  Let us reaffirm our commitment to provide all children with every chance to reach their dreams and realize their highest aspirations.”

I invite you to follow our blog for the next 30 days as we work to raise awareness of adoption.  If you aren’t already following the blog, you can enter your email to the left to receive notifications of new posts.  I look forward to you joining us!

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