Go check out the NACSW blog for a guest post by AGOHA Director of Placement Services Elizabeth Ehlen! Elizabeth writes about caring for orphans from the perspective of a Christian social worker, and what we can do to support adoption of those who need it most.
Caring for Orphans: Exploring the Issues Behind the Russian Adoption Ban
For years there has been a growing movement in Christianity promoting adoption, particularly international adoption, as a ministry outreach. It makes sense when you think about it; as Christians we are “adopted as sons” (Gal 4:4-6) into God’s greater family and God has an incredibly large and beautifully diverse family. We are mandated to care for the widow and the orphan (Isa 1:17), and when it comes to orphans the best way to care for them is to give them a loving, Christ-centered family. It gives you warm fuzzies, doesn’t it? Continue reading here:
Guest post by Tina Tyra
I am often asked by adoptive parents, "How do I tell my child he/she is adopted?". My answer is, you don't make an event of it. From an early age, you talk to your child about how your family was born. If your child is from China, you talk about your excitement of going there and finding her. If your child was placed into your arms by a birth mother, you talk about how she came to the decision and how she picked you and that it was a loving, thoughtful choice. Each child will have a different adoption story. How do you start? I think the earlier the better, so you start by reading a bedtime story. For that reason, I wrote a book specifically for this purpose. How Will You Find Me? is a book designed for young children. Through the magic of animal families (lovingly illustrated by an adoptive parent), a child can learn that there's more than one way to build a family. At the end, it asks the question, "How DID you find me?" Each family can then share their adoption story with their child in a natural progression of the book. In this way, a child can learn early on how they came into their family and what a joy their parents felt when they came home. Years later, when someone asks them, "How did you find out you were adopted?", they can answer, "I always knew". – Tina Tyra, author
www.howwillyoufindme.com (publisher) or Amazon.com. It currently comes up under my name or you can click on books and enter the title.
The concept of open adoption is simultaneously understood and vastly misconstrued. Openness in adoption refers to the level of contact between the birth family and the adoptive family. In the US historically adoptions were closed; there was no contact between either party. The birth mother gave birth and the child was whisked away never to be seen or heard from again, and from the adoptive parents point of view a baby magically appeared in a bassinette and a smiling nurse or social worker handed him/her over at the appointed time. This has (thankfully) fallen out of favor in the adoption community, although the stereotype still persists. Now birth parents usually participate in the selection of the adoptive family and maintain some sort of contact during the child’s life, whether via updates such as photos and letters, through social media, phone contact, or in person visits.
The level of openness depends on the type and frequency of contact between the birth and adoptive families. The confusion comes when someone tries to call one type of adoption an “open adoption.” Openness is really more of a range or a scale than a defined type of adoption. The more contact you have the more open it is, rather than x y and z = an open adoption. So if you hear someone say “I want an open adoption” that usually means “I want some form of contact in my adoption relationship.” So the real question is, “What type of contact and frequency of contact do you want?” At A Gift of Hope Adoptions rather than asking whether a particular client wants an open, semi-open or closed adoption we ask what type of contact do you want before, during and after the placement. The reality is most adoptions are classified as semi-open (or semi-closed, depending on your personal philosophy). It is also important to note that the level of openness changes during the lives of those involved; contact is more fluid than set in stone. Being flexible and attentive to where the other party is in their own personal process is essential to an effective relationship.
Another misconception comes with advocates of either side. As I said, most adoptions fall in the semi-open range, and this is usually the best case scenario for everyone, particularly the child. Many parents forget that the point of adoption is for the best interest of the child. If the point of adoption is to find a family for a child who needs one, then it is vitally important that we provide that child as complete a history as we can. Everyone is curious to know where they come from, and as parents we are obliged to aid our children in identity formation, whether that is comfortable for us or not. Completely closed adoption cut off a child from his or her history, and while completely open adoptions may or not be in the child's best interest depending on the circumstances (ie if the birth parents are out of the picture for abuse/neglect reasons) that child still deserves to know why adoption was the best option, as is maturity appropriate of course.
We had a GREAT time at our picnic on Saturday! We had some food, the kids played at the park, and everyone walked away with some lovely parting gifts courtesy of some great local and adoption-friendly businesses! Many thanks to those generous companies who donated, and there is a list with links to those businesses below, as well as on our News page. Please support them as they have supported us!
Join us for an adoption reunion picnic! We'll see many of our happily placed families, have some food, and give out great gifts and prizes to attendees! Come one come all, whether you're a current waiting family, a happily placed family, or considering using our services! For those of you in contact with your birth family this would make an excellent location for a reunion with them also! Birth parents, you of course are welcome as well, whether you are meeting up with your adoptive family, wanting more information about our services, or just want to see if all the hype is true. The location is at a local park so there will be plenty of space and playground equipment for the kids to play. Feel free to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Facebook event page!
When: September 29, 2012
Time: 11am – 4pm
Where: Burford Shelter, Cosmo Park
1615 Business Loop 70 West
Columbia, MO 65202
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This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and as an adoption agency the majority of our adoptive parents seek us out because they have not been able to resolve their infertility biologically. This is challenging, and grieving a lost biological child is intense whether born, unborn or never conceived. The mental jump needed to adjust expectations is intense and necessary, and reality is not everyone can do it. The goal has to change to having children, rather than having biological children.
Another “Don’t Ignore” is the reality of this process. It’s not easy; it’s not designed to be. Much like infertility treatments you get poked and probed, only this time it’s about your lifestyle, your background and social history, all of which is done to prove you would be a good parent. Then, much like pregnancy, you wait…and wait…and wait. Once you are chosen or get your referral there is more anxiety, and a legal process to make that child yours forever. However, once you get past that part, it has the same outcome – you are parents. The child is legally yours and you start the next phase of life.
Believe it or not I have actually had parents tell me that looking back they are so grateful for their infertility, because if they were able to conceive biologically they would never have their beautiful child. While you may not be able to fathom being in that place now as you explore your options, it does exist. Don’t ignore any of the options you have because the one you initially think is not possible may just be your path towards your new family.
Looking for support and more information about infertility?
Looking for more information about adopting through A Gift of Hope Adoptions? Fill out our Adoptive Parents Contact Form.