What advice would you give to adoptive families who are just starting the adoption process?

AMANDA

I would say, for an adoptive family to always be hopeful. I think, for our situation, it was the first time that the adoptive family was actually pursuing adoption and I’ve heard of stories where adoptions might fall through and I think that can be devastating in some ways for adoptive families. So to always just be hopeful and even if it doesn’t work out the first time, just that it can work out and to not be discouraged if it feels like the process is taking a really long time or it doesn’t happen as quickly as you would want or even in the first go of it.

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I would also say in relation to adoptive families with birth mothers, I think what was really great about the adoptive family who adopted my daughter was how respondent she was to the moral agreement that we made and she was very consistent and she’s sent me tons of photos, she almost went over the top of it but I appreciate it because I have all those things now and I do keep them when I look to back on the photos and the letters that she sent me, especially during those first few weeks. I think also, what gets me through now, is the letters that she does send even though they’re once a year, they’re full of so much detail and so I feel like I get to really be in on her life even though I’m not even in it but as an outsider. I get to know what her personality is like and the things that she’s achieving in school and just all this things that just make me really glad that I went through the process of adoption because I do get to see how great her life is. That was the end goal for me, was for her to be raised and just have a really great childhood.

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LEAH OUTTEN

What I tell them is to, One, be real and be honest. Like we don’t, birthmoms don’t want to think that they know something or know you as a person and then find out later it was a lie or that you weren’t genuine. So the biggest thing I tell people is just be you, be who you are, be your family. Don’t try to impress the birthmom. Just be you and the right birthmom will come to you. You will be matched with your fit, hopefully. I also advised to really think about what you can handle with open adoption and not to be afraid of it either because in general birthmoms are not scary people.

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 We just want the best for our child. Just like you would with adopting a child. You want most of that. And so don’t be afraid of that. In my experience open adoption is healing for everyone, especially with my daughter is 11, she’s getting more questions and she has both of us to come to, to process thing and so it doesn’t have to be a scary thing. It can be a very beautiful thing when you all are together on the same page, in the same team. Yeah, and just if that sounds scary to you then don’t process that to a birthmom then back out of it, just tell them you need to be honest upfront of what you can handle and what you can’t. So I’ve—it’s frustrating with how much disappointment I see on the birthmom’s side. The feeling of let down from promises and changing and so I want to see that change for other situations that are coming into this for both sides.

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MAKENA LEIGH PORTER

I know a lot of adopting couples that are starting the process and a lot are struggling with getting themselves out there. I know everyone has a blog, that’s great. But I mean, add more pictures, add more videos. Be yourself. Don’t ever lie about who you are. Don’t ever do it. Be prepared for heartache. There’s still heartache in adoption for all sides even though it’s a beautiful thing. Adoptive couples need to be aware of the other sides of the adoption tree hill, the birth mother, there’s a lot of stereotypes but get to know her and be prepared and have, I guess, set different goals and boundaries and promises are a big thing. Don’t make any that you’re gonna break. Just be who you are and I think that’s it.

BAILEY CORRELL

Parents who are just starting, get on top of the paperwork. It’s going to seem like it’s never ending. My daughter’s adoptive parents sent me pictures of the boxes upon boxes of paperwork that they [no audio] and you know they had gone through the background check before they had been foster parents. This wasn’t a new game to them and it’s still as overwhelming. I remember sending my daughter’s adoptive mom a picture of me 9 months pregnant and I said I can’t see my toes. I was just like “I’m so over this!” She sent me back a picture of her holding a box and looking down and said I can’t see mine either, it was a box of paper work.

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We had a lovely time talking about the inconveniences of me being stuck on the couch and feeling like a whale and her having thousands of pages to write. I think that open communication is awesome if you’re able to do that. You’re just starting so you’re still looking for a family or a birthparents set. While you’re looking just be honest, be transparent, because you know if I’m looking for parents to raise my child, I want to see who you really are. I don’t want to see your Christmas card pictures. I want to see your house when it’s a mess. I want to see if you have kids, I want to see them playing. I want to see their handprints all over the kitchen counter because you’re making cookies. I want to see who you are. I want to hear your life, where you from? Have you been divorced? Where did you grow up? What where your parents like? What are you biggest fears about parenting? What are your biggest fears about adoption? Be honest with me and I will know that. As a birthparent you see a lot like they send a Christmas card pictures. Those don’t feel real. Those are picture you take to send to people that show your family, they’re not showing your life. If I’m going to choose you to raise my child, I want to know they’re in a good place not just a house that takes pretty Christmas card pictures. It may seem discouraging because you haven’t gotten picked, that doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, that doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, that just means that the person who think your family is the ideal [no audio] We all have a picture of the perfect family and [no audio] that doesn’t mean you aren’t someone’s perfect family. Don’t get discouraged. It’s a waiting game. My daughter’s adoptive parents tried to adopt 4 times before they got Elizabeth and they had multiple fails. They call them adoption miscarriages where they’ve gotten their hopes up, there was a baby that was being born that they were going to get and things got in the way and it didn’t work. So even if it fails, even if something happens you get your hopes up, you start preparing, you’re preparing the nursery and something happens, don’t be discouraged. There’s more than one person who’s going to choose you. [no audio] In that as well realize that someone’s choosing you. Someone sees your family and thinks that you [no audio]. When that happens, appreciate it please. That’s the biggest decision and the hardest decision a birthmother will ever make. Choosing someone to raise my child and saying I trust you enough to do what I can’t is terrifying and it is hard. In that, please respect us. Tell our children how much we love them. Tell them how much someone loved them to give them this life. If you choose open adoption remember that it is hard for us seeing the videos of our child’s first step, well, yes we are cheering and we’re excited. There is a bittersweet moment because we’re not there. So be respectful of us and at the same time set boundaries. Be ready to protect your child from anything and our child from anything. And really, really be honest and open with the birthmother [no audio]. Setting boundaries, open communication and honesty and it will be okay, it will work out.

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HEIDI RUSSO

The advice I would give to adoptive families would be to just be honest and genuine in your profiles, your videos, or whatever you’re doing for the agency that you’re going through. Truly, just be honest about your interest, what you are looking for if it’s something specific, if a boy or a girl really fits your family, just be really honest about that. Because I think as birthmoms, in meeting you kind of know, you know if someone’s being honest or not and I think because as birthmoms we’re really hypersensitive to a lot of stuff going on around us because it’s a difficult process as well as difficult on your end.

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I think the more honest you can be the more you can tell us about your lifestyle, what you enjoy, your hobbies, your habits, and your family. All of that stuff is really important for us to know as well as your level of openness that you’re comfortable with. Even if that means it’s not open or complete open that’s okay, and that may mean that a particular birthmom is not a good fit for you but that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be another one that may fit exactly what you’re looking for.

So I think one of the really worst thing to do is saying “Yeah we really want this open adoption” and then after placement saying “We don’t want that”. That’s really tough. As a birthmom, you know in those situation there’s a feeling of betrayal. A feeling of you weren’t really upfront and honest about how this would happen and I think a lot of hard feelings and a lot of the misconceptions come from that. So, I would say just lay your stuff on the line and the right birthmom is going to be there for you and is going to choose you base on what works for both of you and the connection that is made there.

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KELSEY QUESENBERRY

As much as this kind of sucks to hear, just be patient. I know the waiting can drive anyone insane. I haven’t experienced myself but you can’t really do anything to rush it. Just be yourself. Birthparents will pick you based on who you are. Birthparents aren’t perfect and we don’t expect adoptive parents to be either and honestly the reason that I love my son’s parents so much is just because of their quirks and they’re real people. There’s no special formula to get a birthparent to pick you. It will happen and more than likely she won’t know why either. It’s just something that’s unexplainable and it just make sense. It’s just something that kind of click. It’s a gut feeling. Nothing can be done to try to replicate that besides a true and honest connection.

JANEL BROWN

Decide how much openness you want and make sure that you’re honest about how much openness you want, because if you want a close adoption and you make false promises to get what you want, it becomes a bad situation. It’s something that I think would also need some counselling prior to it, or support groups. Just to know what other adoptive parents have been through and talking to other birthparents that have already been through their situation so you could get some idea and feel about what might be right for you as far as having your child with openness or with close adoption and to know if it’s something you can communicate about and be open with.

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