Adoption and the Holidays

This week, as we begin to celebrate being family and being thankful for life’s blessings, some of you may have questions about how to handle the holidays during or after an adoption. One expert shares her wisdom and offers answers for those difficult questions when it comes to what to do:

From Thanksgiving to the end of the year, everyone’s focus is on family. Even TV commercials show happy families celebrating the holidays together. As a result, this season can be painful for birthparents, especially if their contact with their children is minimal. And parents in open adoptions deliberate over what and how much to share with them. Will detailed information be painful—or reassuring—to the birthmother?

What you should keep in mind is that your son’s birthmother is a relative. You don’t have to love her, and she doesn’t have to be your best friend (as with some of your other relatives!)—but you should think of her as an extended family member. This is what open adoption is about. Knowing that he’s happy will help your son’s birthmother continue to feel good about the difficult decision she made eight years ago. And the holiday season is an especially important time to let her know you are thinking about her.

What to share

How can you let your son’s birthmother know she’s in your thoughts? The type of contact will depend on the relationship you have maintained over the years. If you have been in regular contact, whether by mail, phone, or visits with the family, your son’s birthmother will expect a detailed update or a get-together. If your contact has been more limited, I’m sure she’ll appreciate a letter and a photo.

Your son’s birthmother will enjoy hearing the details about his life—who he is at eight years old—his personality, his interests, his accomplishments. Parents might worry that details would be painful or would make the birthmother regret that she placed her child for adoption.

The reality is that the adoption plan was made out of love. She chose not to parent him, but she will always love him. So go ahead and tell her about the wonderful things your child does—that your son won the spelling bee at his school last year, for example, or that he’s learning to play the guitar.

You might ask your son what he’d like to share in a holiday letter to his birthmother. At his age, many children write their own letters to be enclosed in the holiday cards sent to the birth family. Or your son may want to draw a picture to send with your letter. By including him in this project, you gain an opportunity to talk with him again about his adoption story. You can remind him of the permanence of your family, as well as the love of his birthmother.

A 10-year-old I know, David, doesn’t visit with his birthmother, but he enjoys writing his own letter to her at holiday time. This year he talked about his accomplishments on the soccer field, and he asked her what her favorite sport is.

Many families also exchange gifts with their children’s birthparents at holiday time—as they do with other family members. If you have a close relationship with the birth family, consider a gift exchange. To children your son’s age, a gift from a birthparent is concrete evidence of her love; it attests to the fact that she thinks of him often.

Katie, an eight-year-old child I know, loves the teddy bear her birthmother gave her last Christmas. The bear sits on Katie’s bookshelf, and she tells visitors that it is from her birthmother, Susie. If you wanted to send a gift to your son’s birthmother, she’d surely cherish a framed photograph of him.

Whatever level of communication you have with your son’s birthmother, the holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to talk with your child about family and about all the people in his life who love him.

Kathleen Silber is the associate executive director of the Independent Adoption Center in Pleasant Hill, California, and coauthor of Dear Birthmother and Children of Open Adoption (Corona).

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I Had Lunch Sunday With Old Birthmother

I had lunch Sunday with an old birthmother. Not old in years but 26 years ago she placed a baby boy with my help with a loving family here in Los Angeles. She came back to Los Angeles because the adopting mother had passed away and she attended the memorial. We talked about how the adopting parents had helped to redirect her life. She talked about how she never look back with regret but only thought about how this little boy would grow up and have the possibility of a better and greater life then she could've provided him at the time.  She had an open adoption, and kept in touch with the adopting parents and this little boy throughout his 26 years.

I felt honored that she called me to see if I would be willing to meet with her. I jumped at the chance. I'm so glad that I did and had a chance to hug this beautiful selfless woman again after all  these years.

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Why Adoption?

Why do people choose to adopt? There are various reasons and the majority of them are listed here.
They are the 1 in 8 couples who cannot get pregnant due to infertility They have medical reasons why it would not be safe to carry a child through pregnancy They are single and would love to be a parent They are a gay or lesbian couple who need adoption to become parents They have always loved adoption and prefer it as the way to start or expand their family
Whatever the reason for choosing to adopt, an unplanned pregnancy can be the answer for any one of these and doesn’t have to be viewed as a mistake or something to be terminated. Instead of looking at an unplanned pregnancy as the end of something (your freedom, your education, your goals, a life), look at it as the beginning of something. You can choose to be responsible for giving another person, or couple, the family they have always longed for. The heartache and hopelessness that is felt by these individuals for not being able to create a life is no different than what you may be feeling because you did. You created the life, now it’s time to choose the right family to provide for it. Having an unfulfilled education or not being financially stable doesn’t make you a bad mom. On the contrary, realizing the needs of your child and choosing to provide those to him or her through adoption makes you an amazing mom.

Only those who have chosen adoption, or adopted, can truly understand the amount of love that is involved. That love is made even stronger by the sacrifice, the longing, the emotion, the trust, the bonds that are created, and all of the ingredients that go into this unique recipe for a family. Placing your child for adoption with loving, stable, financially sound parents is a precious gift that only you can give -  not only for the family, but for the child.

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I'm Pregnant: What Should I do Now?

Discovering you’re pregnant as a teen can be a really frightening experience. Take a deep breath and know that you’re not alone. Right this very minute, there are girls just like you in Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, and Dallas who are most likely asking themselves the same questions you’re asking yourself now. The most important question is probably, “Now that I’m pregnant, what should I do?”

You may have thoughts, as many pregnant teens do, of keeping your baby. You have this idea in your head that you, your boyfriend, and the baby will live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that isn’t a realistic scenario. The majority of teen boys who father babies, don’t maintain an active role in the child’s life and can’t provide much financial support, if any. In some cases, the stress of an unplanned pregnancy is enough to cause a breakup.

According to, teen mothers have less education, have poor health, and more likely to rely on public assistance. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22, compare with 90% of girls who do not give birth during adolescence. Births to teenagers are at much higher risk for low both and preterm labor, as well as death in infancy, compared to babies born to women in their 20’s and older.

These are some pretty bleak statistics and ones that should make you think about what the best option might be for you and your baby. Teen motherhood is not something to be taken lightly. There is a lot to consider and one of those options is adoption. Adoption can provide you with a solution that will give your child the life you wish you could provide, but know you can’t. Adoption can even offer you the opportunity to stay in contact with your child and see him or her grow up and have the happy life you chose for your baby.

It’s a confusing time and there are probably a lot of people telling you what you should do. Your parents, the baby’s father, your friends, and everyone else all have an idea of what your next steps should be. Don’t be pressured. Let us help you explore adoption and the many wonderful ways it can be the best solution in the case of your unplanned pregnancy. Your baby deserves the best chance possible at the best life possible. You do, too. Teen pregnancy and single parenting doesn’t have to be your future.

We can help you decide if adoption is the right choice for you. We’re here to answer all of your questions and assist you in coming up with a plan to place your baby with a loving family who will honor you as the birth mother and give your child the life you wish you could.

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Why Do I Need an Adoption Attorney?

An adoption attorney is one of the most important people you will meet when going through the adoption process. The process is long and, for someone who has never been through it, can seem complicated at times. Adoption is a big decision, for birth parents and adoptive parents, and it helps to have the knowledge and compassion of a professional who specializes in it. You’re going to have questions - lots of them. Your adoption attorney is there to answer them and set your mind at ease.

The adoption attorney will begin the process by the filing the initial paperwork needed to get started and see it through until the placement is completed. He or she will have a clear understanding of your state’s laws on adoption and can explain them to you in layman’s terms so there is no confusion about what your rights are. Your attorney will be present at any and all proceedings that take place during the adoption process and guide you step by step the entire way. Adoption is an emotional experience and having someone on your side to keep you informed and offer advice is a welcome presence.

When choosing an adoption attorney, be sure that you feel comfortable with him or her. Trust your instincts and take the time to do some research on that person’s qualifications. It is extremely important that you feel confident your attorney understands what you want. Whether you are choosing an open or closed adoption, private or through an agency, your attorney should always respect your choices and listen with the intent to be helpful. If, at any point, you feel you are being pressured to do things differently than you planned, speak up and make your intentions clear. Your adoption attorney is there for you. The right attorney understands the difficult choice you have made and maintains a professional disposition.

Adoption is a beautiful choice, but not always an easy one. The benefits of having an expert with your best interests in mind at your side throughout the process are immeasurable. If adoption is something you’re considering and you have questions, rest assured that an adoption attorney can answer them for you. You don’t have to feel alone in this decision; with an attorney there to guide you, you’re not.

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