March 2015 Support Group – Red Flags/ Risks

Last week Andy and I attended the monthly support group for our adoption agency like we usually do. It was a fairly large group with a lot of new faces (at least to us). When we started going around the room introducing ourselves and where we were at in the adoption process we quickly realized that we were the longest waiting family in the room. There are plenty of people that have been waiting longer than us (some are good friends) and while we know there are many just starting out on their journey it was a little depressing to be the longest wait in the room. Only one other couple in the room was already live and the rest were working on paperwork or profiles.

We had also already attended a group session on this or a similar topic so we weren’t sure what new information we would be getting. We do love to go to support group though just to be around other people that know the pain and frustration that the process can bring. At this point of 2 years into the wait we have attended almost every topic session that the agency offers but we still go and meet new people and hopefully get some new perspective or information.

This month we had a checklist of different characteristics or background information that we might potentially be faced with in an expectant mom looking at placing her child for adoption. A majority of the risk factors seemed fairly straight forward to both of us though with a couple things that we hadn’t really thought too much about. For instance if she is due around the holidays, if she comes to the adoption center later in her pregnancy, or her age. While an expectant mom might have certain risk factors it doesn’t mean she still won’t place (if it is the right decision for her) but it does give us an idea of some things to think about if we see or hear any of the risks in a potential expectant mom we are talking to.

It was a pretty good night though and we got to meet a bunch of new people that are going through the adoption process so that is always fun. Maybe our next social gathering outside of group session will have a couple new faces!

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Support Group January

This month’s support group meeting was on talking to your child about adoption, basically what information to share and what age to share the information by. It was a great meeting and had a lot of good discussion and comments by everyone that came. It was awesome to not only hear the ages we should be telling specific information but to also hear from other people the ways or things that they have thought about bringing up or talking about specific topics.

Since we started this process we knew that adoption should always be a part of our child’s language. Incorporating information about their adoption story even before they can understand what it means so that they have a positive view of adoption is important. Just because a 2 year old doesn’t understand what adoption or a birth mother means they should associate that we as parents are ok talking about it and what them to talk about when they have questions.

Having an open adoption will hopefully mean that we have more information about their adoption story (why they were placed for adoption, who their birth mom and dad are, history about their birth family, etc.). This information will be helpful as our child grows and has questions about their adoption. We also hope to have contact with the birth mom/dad so that they can see us interact with them and vice versa in order to know they are a part of our family or to be able to answer questions about who they were/are and why they decided to place for adoption.

Throughout all ages we want to make sure to use positive adoption language (I have talked about this before a little bit) and make sure that our child knows they can talk to us about any questions they have. Even if we don’t have the answers to their questions we want to be able to have them know they have as much information as we have and that we are not hiding things from them. The earlier they associate adoption as not being a negative and know that we are comfortable talking about it, the easier it will be as they get older to come to us when they are struggling with who they are as a person.

We also want to make sure that our child feels empowered to share their story as they want to share it. If there is a part of their history that they don’t want to share with friends/family then they should have the right to keep it within our family. Giving them the power over their story helps to give them confidence in who they are.

There are a couple more articles of information that we didn’t get to go over in the meeting and I am looking forward to being able to sit down and read them this weekend. In addition there were some great ideas that we want to consider looking into doing for the future. Things such as a family tree that includes a birth and adoptive family section, an adoption story book that is specific to their story, put up pictures of the birth parents in their room (we already have a frame just need a picture), and regular children’s books that focus on adoption stories are all going to be helpful to us in explaining adoption.

October Adoption Support Group

This past week we had our Adoption group meeting. The topic was trans-racial adoption and whether it is right for us. We had already decided that we are open to trans-racial adoption and have taken the course work required by the IAC but thought it would still be an informative meeting to go to. It was a good group session to discuss potential issues we might be faced with if we adopt trans-racially. We even got the chance to talk to someone who had adopted trans-racially through the IAC and get some information from their perspective. All-in-all it was great information and a great place to get some of our thoughts and feelings out among people that understand because they have had the same feelings.

It also was a good time to get into the office and talk in general about what is going on with us in our wait. We talked with some friends at the meeting and decided to go out to dinner/drinks this week for some adoption bonding time. There are a lot of great families that we have met through the process so far and we always wish we had more time to see them and hang out. So far it seems like it is going to be a great group there this week to share what has been happening for each of us and catch up on what we have been up to!

The other great part was we got to go in and meet with our counselor and talk about how we have been doing lately and get a little perspective on the coming months. Since we have already passed the 18 month mark of waiting with the IAC we now will get google ads done for us, get to start reviewing and potentially redo our letter, and get a little bit of money back to do our own advertising in any ways we wish. It is frustrating to still be waiting but we are excited for some new things to keep us busy the next couple months again.

She also calmed some of our fears or stress about the wait and reassured us on some things we have been struggling with lately. We know it will happen at some point and that it is just waiting for the right birth mother to find us but that can be hard to remember at times, especially around the holidays. As Andy keeps telling people all we want for Christmas is a baby. Earlier this year we had turned down a potential placement for some extenuating circumstances that we were just not prepared to take on at that time and now that we are still waiting it has us thinking about whether that was the right decision or not. Our counselor helped us remember that there were reasons why we choose to not proceed with that placement and adoption is stressful enough without choosing a situation that we are comfortable with.

September Group Session

So last Tuesday was our monthly group session at the agency. We love going to them not only for the topics but also the bonding with others in the same place as us mentally. This month’s group was bound to be a big one (not only attendance but also material/topic). The session was led by a local doctor on women smoking, drinking alcohol, or doing drugs during pregnancy. With adoption we cannot control what our child will be exposed to before placement. Although, we will hopefully know from the birth mother information on if she used any substances we might not. The main goal of this session in my mind was to find out what medical/mental issues we could potentially be faced with if the baby has been exposed before birth.

She talked primarily about the effects of alcohol and opiates in our session. These are the most common things they are seeing at the clinic in Georgia. Although there was no talk about specific issues and how to handle them discussed, it gave us some good resources to use should we need them. It also gave us an idea of whether we think we could handle that emotionally.

Another thing that was great to hear was how there are more studies being conducted lately on the difference the environment has on the child as they grow up. For instance, was the alcohol in utero a bigger factor vs. having an unstable home environment afterwards? A majority of studies typically follow children that not only were exposed to some form of substance in utero but the parents were also addicted to one or more substance which made the home life more unstable. These forms of studies don’t necessarily give us a good picture of what to expect since not all birth mothers that have used a substance during pregnancy did so chronically or to the severity that people in the studies have.

We are open to potential birth mothers that have used substances while pregnant and hope that if we need it our research will help us through any medical issues that might come up. I have included below a couple places to find/request more information if you are curious. There are also a lot of studies out there that you could google and read.

ENEC – Emory Neurodevelopmental Exposure Clinic fasclinic@emory.edu

Center for Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development – http://www.emory.edu/msacd/

National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) http://www.nofas.org

Friends in Adoption Night Out

Since we haven’t had a chance to make any of the support groups this summer, we really missed seeing some of our friends. Support groups are a great time for us to talk about things going on in our adoption wait that will understand exactly what we are going through. Friday night Andy and I met with a couple of our friends we have met in our adoption journey. They are also waiting to adopt and hoping to create their own families with our agency as well.

It was a low key evening where we had dinner and hung out talking for a few hours but it was a great end to the week. Also, we talked about how we want to try and get together more often with other people/couples that are working with the agency. Right now we are planning a girls night to paint and have some wine and a picnic in a park for everyone to hang out and socialize.

Another thing we talked about is how we can’t wait until we all have adopted and we can include our future kids in our outings. We hope to have a big support group of people to have around us that:

  • understand some of the difficulties that we might come across as adoptive parents
  • we can explore different cultures with (since we are open to trans-racial adoption)
  • so our children know others that have been adopted too.

It was a great night and looking forward to others like it soon!

April Group Session

This month we attended the group session again and learned a lot of information on how the hospital agreement could look and the things to think about. It was great to hear about more of the process once you are ready to match and get some experience going through the type of questions so that we can prepare ourselves.

For the most part the questions are fairly straight forward and are things you would expect on the agreement but then others were things that make sense only in hindsight. Although we can have ideas and preferences for what we want to happen at the hospital for the most part this plan comes from the birth parents and their wishes. For instance, if the birth mother wants to see us or the baby at the hospital or when she wants us to arrive at the hospital once labor has started.

Also, the hospital agreement is more of a plan than a must follow document. So even though one thing is written during the match meeting it could change before delivery or even at the hospital itself. Being able to adjust and be flexible will come in handy during the hospital stay, however that is not something that I am usually great with as I like plans.

After we discussed the hospital agreement we also discussed some of the things we might face at the hospital and how we should deal with them. It will be hard in the moment to think about some of the things so going over them now when we aren’t already running around a little crazy with emotions is helpful. Andy and I hope that we don’t happen to be at a hospital that isn’t familiar with adoptions and how to proceed but we have to put faith in the counselors at the IAC helping us through any hurdles we might face.

 

Group Meeting March – The Match Meeting

So I have fallen behind on updating the blog on our group meeting from last month. Especially since tonight is this month’s group meeting. It was a great meeting last month and had a lot of useful information for us to know what to expect in the match meeting for an adoption through our agency. (We hope to be experiencing this soon :))

We walked through all the questions on the agency form for the type and amount of contact that will take place between the adoptive parents and the birth parents. It is a very detailed form with pretty much any question you can think of on the ways to communicate today. Since the match agreement is legally binding in the state of Georgia it is great to know that it is very specific so that everyone knows what to expect out of the relationship that will bind everyone together.

This topic also bought up questions for some of us on how to handle contact questions after the placement has taken place. For example, some birth parents might fall out of contact for periods of time while others might be looking to revise the match agreement to get more contact. Andy and I are fairly confident in open adoption and we look forward to the contact that will hopefully be a part of our child’s life. We want them to know where they come from not just the family that they grow up in.

There are a lot of open questions that we know won’t be answered until we are actually matched with birth parents and even still there might be questions after placement but we love that our agency is there to support and help everyone through those questions/concerns no matter when they happen. In addition to the discussion during the meeting it was great to catch up with some of the other people in the group that we have gotten to know through the sessions and see what they have been up to. We look forward to seeing some of them again tonight.

February Group Session

This month we had our group session on how to talk to our adopted child(ren) about their adoption and when they should know their whole story. It was really informative and helped to talk through how to handle questions and answers when the time is right.

Andy and I both fully believe in the open adoption aspect of our agency and have always felt that if we knew the answers, there was nothing that our child shouldn’t know about their past and where they come from. We want our child to be comfortable asking us any questions that they have about their adoption story.

It all starts with them knowing from the beginning that they were adopted. Since we are open to a trans-racial adoption there is a high probability that it will be outwardly noticeable that our child is not biologically related. Even in cases where it isn’t as evident, it is better for them to know sooner than later. With today’s technology it is easy for people to learn information and if they don’t hear it from their parent’s first an adopted child can feel betrayed.

A large portion of the group was spent in discussing the difficult topics about your child’s adoption. While we were talking about how to discuss some of those topics, we talked about what age a child should know their whole adoption story, the good and the bad. By the time a child is a preteen they are old enough to know all the details about their biological family, the reasons why they were adopted, biological medical history, etc.

I don’t necessarily look forward to some of the topics we might be faced with, but I know that it will be best for everyone involved if we are honest and open with any information we have. One side topic that was discussed was how to handle questions about their adoption at inconvenient times, and how that is not any different from biological kids asking questions at times when you wished they hadn’t. For instance, when children ask what sex is in the middle of the grocery store checkout (who doesn’t want to try and answer that at the time 😉 ).

Group Meeting January 2014

Last week Andy and I were able to attend the group meeting for our adoption agency for the first time in a while. It was great to meet some new people and to discuss some more topics with everyone. The meeting was originally about the birth mothers emotions and experiences leading up to and during the adoption process.
It was great to talk about it from their perspective and to help understand what situations they might be coming from. It touches on some of the myths that people have about adoption and how that might affect the support that they receive from the people around them as they consider the idea of placing for adoption.
After hearing about the different emotions that they might be going through when they are considering or making an adoption plan it makes me realize that we should be thinking about that during contact. We hope to be there to support them through their decision no matter what that is. After having three contacts we have been sad when they didn’t work out but also glad that the birth mother made the right choice for her and her child at that time. Hopefully, we will soon find that birth mother that makes the decision to choose us to place with.
Once we had finished discussing that topic we were all talking about any thoughts or things that we have questions about and we found out that in the group that was there it was about 50/50 on those who have started a baby room and those that haven’t. It was cool to get their reasons on why they have or haven’t started the process of setting up a babies room. As we have posted earlier our baby room is probably 90% complete with us now working on just some decorative touches here and there and continuing to buy more things for the baby when we have the money or see something we like.

Adoption Support Group June Meeting

After missing last months meeting due to being out of town I am happy that we could attend the June meeting since we talked about how to talk to birth parents. I was definitely sad that we missed the discussion on birth fathers last month as we found out tonight that it was a very informative meeting with a panel of lawyers who deal with finalization and the different scenarios with birth fathers. We will have to try and get the handouts from that night at least and see if we can find some of the information.

I digress though as tonight was still a good meeting about talking to birth parents. We got to meet an adoptive dad and his birth mother. They talked to us about how the initial phone calls and matches went and some of their history about how they ended up where they were when they met each other. It is so great to hear these stories that even when they are not exactly like our own we can still relate to parts of it and know that they understand our story too.

We can only hope that our relationship turns out as well as the placements that the presenters were talking about. I am anxious to see what our birth parent relationship will be when we find our match and if it will be exactly like we are hoping or not. I know that the right match will be what works best for all included, but it is still nice to think about the ideal situations that are out there sometimes!