Under the Umbrella: Making an Adoption Plan

iStock_000008027981_Medium.jpgFinding yourself pregnant and at a crossroads of decision-making is often very stressful and confusing, and you may even feel alone and scared. All of your options can seem like they lead to so many unknowns and you may not have anyone in your life who has been in your shoes to offer guidance and support. As you consider adoption, we want to ensure that you have access to accurate information, free of bias and pressure, as well as emotional support along the way.
  • To learn more about adoption, you can start by downloading our information packet for birth parents. This packet contains information on the steps involved in creating an adoption plan for your baby. It highlights important things to consider, such as what to look for in an adoption agency, whether you would like to establish open contact with the adoptive parents or not, parental rights of the birth father, and how to care for yourself during this emotional process. In the packet, a birth mother shares her story of creating an adoption plan for her child.
  • Reach out to an online or in-person support group of other birth parents who understand what you’re going through as you navigate your options. We have support groups listed on our website.
  • Call a Resource Specialist. We’re available Monday through Thursday, from 8am-5pm, and Fridays from 9am-3pm and are just a phone call away. We are here to listen, offer information and support you at any point along the way. 1-800-762-8063
Please remember that you’ve always got someone in your corner here at the Coalition. We’re happy to offer caring and informative support.

World Wide Wednesday – December 16, 2015

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • “The Love That Stayed” 
    The author fostered—and fell in love with—a little boy who was reunited with his birth family. Thirteen years later, she received an email that would turn her world upside down.
  • Part of bringing home a child from an institution or out-of-family care involves careful preparation.  When your new arrival has medical needs, the time to plan is before you travel!

    This week’s feature article, Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Bringing Home an Adoptive Child with Needs provides a checklist for families to consider and follow.

  • Illustration: We Never Outgrow the Need for Family – Children need love and encouragement throughout their lives.
  • “Of all the kids, they picked me!”
    At 15 years old, Crystalanne had given up on family. Until a couple in Texas spotted her profile on adoptuskids.org, and everything changed. Read her story.

Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

Inclusion in this post does not imply an endorsement by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. The Coalition is not responsible for the content of these resources.

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Is Building My Family through Adoption Right for Me?

Picture1.pngMost parents would agree that parenting is the most challenging and most rewarding job that you will ever have. This is multiplied when your child comes to your family through adoption. What makes parenting a child through adoption more challenging are the issues of grief and loss. There are no adoptions that happen without a loss that occurs first.

Grief and Loss
Research tells us that even adoptive parents who take infants home from the hospital may still experience issues of grief and loss. Children being adopted from the child welfare system or an orphanage will likely also struggle with grief and loss, in addition to various stages of past trauma, some of which may be significant.

You can overcome this, however, by learning as much as possible and knowing when and how to get help. We have a tip sheet about grief and loss for children in adoption and foster care on our website. Visit wiadopt.org, click on the Resources tab and select Tip Sheets.

Questionable Questions
Adoption is a widely accepted means to build your family, but there are still many people who don’t fully understand it. When these people find out that adoption is a part of your story, they may ask thoughtful questions to broaden their awareness of the issues.

Others may ask questions that cause you to feel offended and may be inappropriate, especially if asked in front of your child.

Some of these questions include:

  • Why did you adopt a boy (girl)?
  • Can’t you have children of your own?
  • Why did you adopt a child of another race? Don’t you want your kids to look like you?
  • How much did your adoption cost?
  • Aren’t you worried about attachment problems?
  • Why did you adopt an older child?
  • Why did you adopt from another country? or Why did you adopt from the U.S.?
  • Continue reading


Under the Umbrella: Adoption through the Years

iStock_000018653451_Small.jpgMuch like everything else around us, adoption has progressively changed and will very likely continue to evolve over time. The earliest adoptions consisted of informal kinship or other informal adoptions of children into non-relative families; there were few to no laws or guidelines in place to protect children or families. Over the years, all 50 states in the US and even many international countries have since developed their own adoption laws and guidelines to be able to ensure best practice. Adoptions have also expanded over the years to include several different types of adoption: traditional independent/infant domestic adoptions, adoption of child from foster care (or Special Needs Adoption), international adoption, and step-parent adoption.
For a long time, adoptions were almost always closed, meaning birth parents and the children they made adoption plans for would have no way to ever access information that might lead to search and reunion or reconnection. It was uncommon for adoptive families and birth families to voluntarily stay in touch. In fact, many children who were adopted didn’t find out about their adoption until well into their adulthood, as adoptions were not talked about openly and sometimes even kept secret because of strong associations with feelings of guilt and shame. Nowadays, there is so much adoption education, support, and awareness in our communities that have helped society embrace and celebrate adoptions more openly than ever before.
In addition, today we have several states in the US who have varying degrees of openness written into state law. Despite Wisconsin not being one of those states, there certainly appears to be more genuine openness with Wisconsin adoptions that usually involve some sort of “gentlemen’s agreement” between birth and adoptive families around what that might look like. Many families we have talked to over the years who made the commitment and chose to continue honoring those connections have reported it to be one of the best decisions they could have made for their child.
When it comes to search related to adoptions, modern technology has paved the way for innovative ways for individuals to identify and make connections. This can include paying private detectives, using social media, the Internet, and even DNA testing to help uncover information. We can only begin to imagine what the next 10-20 years will bring!
To learn more about adoption, please feel free to contact the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families to speak with a Resource Specialist. You can reach our team at 414-475-1246, 800-762-8063, or via email atinfo@coalitionforcyf.org

World Wide Wednesday – December 9, 2015

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • 5 things you need to survive as a foster parent
    In truth, though, taking in children from foster care into your house can certainly be a challenge. Behavioral issues, learning disabilities, emotional trials; all can be exhausting and trying for a foster parent. Yet, what many foster parents often overlook is the risk factor that goes along with taking a foster child into a home. As a foster parent, you become vulnerable to many possibilities, and it is important that you protect yourself and your family from the possible implications and investigations. Just as important is making sure you do not become overly exhausted and even burned out.
  • Focus on the Figures: Long Stays in Foster Care
    The U.S. foster care system is structured to provide temporary, safe living arrangements and therapeutic services for children who cannot remain safely at home due to child maltreatment or for children whose parents are unable to provide adequate care. The aim, at all times, is to either reunify children with their parents or secure another source of permanency with other family or through adoption.

    Too often this goal is not achieved. Instead, many children spend years in foster homes or group homes, often moving multiple times.

    Many such youths – about 10 percent nationwide — will “age out” of foster care and into adulthood. A high percentage of these youth experience inadequate housing, low educational and career attainment, early parenthood, substance abuse, physical and mental health problems, and involvement with the criminal justice system.

  • When Sad Looks Mad
    Many times, children from hard places tend to act mad, when that is not what they are feeling at all. Why is that? The answers are really quite obvious when we remember where they came from.
  • Letting Her Go: Chinese Birth Parent Search and Reunions
    The first study on this topic provides fascinating insights about adoptees’ and parents’ motivations to search, search methods used, the initial reunion, and ongoing contact.

Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

Inclusion in this post does not imply an endorsement by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. The Coalition is not responsible for the content of these resources.

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Stressed Out!

Stressed out! It’s a phrase we all know because we have all experienced the feelings associated with stress. However, for foster parents and relative caregivers, the stress in parenting someone with special needs, history of trauma, attachment issues, emotional and behavioral concerns, or a history of multiple placements adds a whole new level to stress.

154263430.jpgWe all have different thresholds for stress. Some of us thrive on the excitement of having a high level of stress on a daily basis, while some of us find stress to be exhausting and something to be avoided at all costs. For whatever reason, if you find yourself too overcome by the stress in your life, here’s some information that might help.
System Overload
Stress actually comes from having one or more problems at the same time. It’s those feelings of being worried, anxious, scared, overwhelmed, and angry all at the same time. Some people say they know that they’re stressed when they get a headache or have trouble sleeping, while others can feel trapped and angry. So what does stress do to our bodies?

  • Your pupils dilate so you can see better.
  • You breathe more rapidly from the upper part of your chest.
  • Your heart rate increases because your heart is working harder.
  • Your body releases stress hormones called adrenaline and cortisol, which give you more strength, energy, speed, and endurance.
  • Your digestive system shuts down and you lose your appetite or get a dry mouth.
  • You start to sweat and your hands and feet get cold and clammy.
  • Your face gets flushed.

Fight or Flight
When you’re stressed, your body kicks itself into high gear and goes into “fight or flight” mode. Back in the days of early history, stress actually helped people survive
because problems usually meant life or death situations.

Nowadays, stress is that flood of emotions that you get, usually in the form of a natural rush of stress hormones. Some of us find ourselves having a “fight” reaction by either getting angry or possibly becoming physical and fighting from the stress hormones. The other half of us have the opposite “flight” reaction and try to avoid the problem by

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