- Genetic testing service 23andMe has been popular with some adult adoptees and adoptive parents as a way to fill in unknown medical history information with closed adoptions. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered 23andMe to immediately discontinue the marketing of a genetic screening because of concerns over public health consequences of inaccurate results and offered little to no benefit to consumers. A Dutch study claimed the tests were inaccurate and offered little to no benefit to consumers.
In honor of National Adoption Month, the TODAY show is running a weeklong series titled 'Choosing Adoption' featuring stories on open adoption, navigating adoption challenges and foster care adoptions. One of the stories looks at the Keane family of New Jersey. When Liane and Kerry adopted their son Phelan, they knew they wanted his birthmother to be involved in his life. Phelan’s birthmother, Moriah Dailer, also knew she wanted to stay connected to her son’s life. “‘Liane asked the question: ‘Why do you want an open adoption?’ And she [Dailer] looked at me [Kerry], straight in the face, and said, ‘I want to be able to tell him later that I loved him.’” Thirteen years later, Dailer is still a part of their lives. “She’s really fun to hang out with,” Phelan said. “I really love her.” What a heartwarming story.
A Washington couple has been convicted of manslaughter and homicide by abuse after the death of their daughter who was adopted from Ethiopia in 2008. They were accused of starving, beating and forcing their daughter outside in extreme conditions as punishment, as well as abusing their adopted son. Carri Williams, the mother was sentenced to 37 years, the top of the standard sentencing range. The judge said she probably deserved more time in prison. What a horrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with that little boy and the couple’s six biological children.
- Really good article by white dad of two black transracial adopted kids on how children internalize race and start to own their blackness. I love that he is proud of this and encouraging. Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon has been on my reading list for a while, but has now moved closer to the top.
- Maureen Centa, a former foster mom and Creating a Family community member, is working on a research project about foster parents and retention for university. She would love it if any current or former foster parents would help her out by taking a quick, 15 minutes anonymous survey. Let's help her out and spread the word!
Duck Dynasty stars Willie and Korie Robertson, who adopted one of their sons when he was five weeks old, were honored at Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's Angels in Adoption Gala on Friday. When asked about the decision to adopt, Willie said, "I've done a lot of cool things in the past couple of years, I've been to Super Bowls, I've met Presidents – but the best decision we ever made – that made the biggest impact on our life was the adoption of our son Will." What a great quote!
- Check out this adorable video of one mom's version of Nothing At All and tell me that little boys aren't the greatest!! If this doesn't put a smile on your face today nothing will.
- John Hopkins Magazine has a poignant look at the difficulty gay couples face when trying to adopt. While a Washington Post poll from this year found that 70% of adults under 40 support gay marriage and there have been significant legal strides made in the past year, gay couples trying to adopt face both legal and cultural impediments. In addition to religious and cultural biases, same-sex couples in most states have no legal protection and some states still have laws that effectively prohibit adoption by same-sex couples. It’s a shame that there’s still so much prejudice against homosexual couples creating a family.
- A recurring mantra at Creating a Family is "children need families". Legislation is makings its way through our Congress to increase the odds of children throughout the world finding forever parents. Senator Mary Landrieu's bill CHIFF, Children in Families First, would help improve the lives of the 200 million orphans worldwide. The bill focuses on reducing the number of children living without families and helping other governments improve their ability to protect their own children. It needs our support. Check out what you can do by visiting the CHIFF website. This campaign has one of the best promotional lines that I've seen in awhile: To get kids in families you need a House...and a Senate. Amen!
- On Monday, Katie Couric talked about embryo donations and “snowflake babies” on her talk show. She interviewed two couple that conceived using embryo donations and one of the donor couples. She also talked to Dr. Robin Poe-Zeigler, the medical director of the New Hope Center for Reproductive Medicine, about the risks associated with embryo donation, and Kimberly Tyson from the Nightlife Christian Adoption Agency about the legal aspect of embryo donation. This is a good introduction to embryo donation, and it’s nice to see different ways to create your family getting mainstream coverage. Watch the clip here.
Here is a "clearer" article on the court proceeding by the South Carolina court against Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation for expenses that Baby Veronica's adoptive parents accumulated in Oklahoma, and I would assume expenses incurred by the SC court and other governmental entities, including almost $5000 for three sheriff deputies to fly to Oklahoma to escort the Capobiancos and Veronica home. Brown also faces an extradition hearing next week, when he could be sent to South Carolina on a felony complaint of custodial interference, carrying up to five years in prison. The article makes it sound like this is actually not likely to happen. While this article adds some clarity, this whole case is far from clear. I tend to agree with Brown's South Carolina attorney: ""Put down your swords," Shannon Jones said. "It's time to move on. Any hope that Brown has to stay in contact with Veronica will depend on building a relationship with the Capobiancos. That can't happen while there is still litigation pending. The man has already lost his daughter. Isn't that enough? Now you're going to kick him when he's down?"
- The Capobianco's, Baby Veronica's adoptive parents, are on their way home to South Carolina with Veronica, but before they left Oklahoma they filed court documents to sue Dusten Brown, the child's biological father, for legal fees and other expenses they incurred in their legal battle in Oklahoma to gain custody of the child. Oh Lord, I'm ready for this case to go away!
- A two-year legal battle between Veronica’s adoptive parents and her biological father ended when Veronica was returned to her adoptive parents on Monday night. Veronica’s birth mother put her up for adoption while still pregnant and she was placed with the Capobiancos shortly after birth, but her biological father was awarded custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act when she was 27 months. In July, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Capobiancos and the adoption was finalized, but Veronica’s biological father Dusten Brown appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, who decided on Monday that they didn’t have jurisdiction over the child. Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree says the fight to regain custody of Veronica wasn’t over and that, “We hope the Capobiancos honor their word that Dusten will be allowed to remain an important part of Veronica's life.” What a heartbreaking saga for everyone involved and I hope that the Capobiancos and Brown reach an agreement with Veronica’s best interest in mind.
- Check out this video. A couple is chosen by a birth mother to adopt her child, and then several months later they find out she's expecting triplets. One week after the babies are born, the adoptive mom finds out she's expecting twins in January. Oh wow, five babies under the age of one! Hope they have plenty of help lined up. (The article doesn't mention whether the adoptive mom was in infertility treatment, although they implied that she was not or at least not IVF.)
- The Truth About Adoption: Two Years Later. I've linked to Jen Hatmaker's blog before because this lady is one heck of a writer. She and her husband and 3 bio kids adopted 2 school aged kids from Ethiopia 2 years ago. Throughout her blog, she has been honest of the struggles with older child adoption. Her honesty continues in this blog of 2 years in, but they've begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I simply love her writing.
- A well researched New York Times article covering the death of the 3-year-old Max Shatto three months after he was adopted from Russia. His death ignited a storm of adoption criticism in Russia, already a tense topic. I appreciate how this article shows the gray areas of adoption and the potential difficulties of adopting a child with unknown pre-birth exposures.
- Tara Arnold, a transracial adoptee and doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Alliant International University, is looking for transracial adoptees to take part in a quick online survey for her doctoral studies on furthering the understanding of transracial adoption. She is working with Dr. Braje, a professor of Cultural Diversity. Interested participants can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Unicef has released a new survey about the prevalence of female genital cutting (female genital mutilation or female circumcision) in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East. While the overall rate of cutting is declining, progress is halting an uneven and is still as high at 98% in some countries. The steepest declines have been in Kenya and the Central African Repbulic. Although female genital cutting is usually performed on young teenage girls, it can also be done at younger ages and is an issue some adoptive families face when adopting a child from Africa.
- I think that one of our goals as adoptive parents is to understand more fully what it means to be adopted, and to do that we must have conversations with adults who were adopted. Have you ever thought about adult adoptees worrying about explaining adoption to their children--your grandchildren? It's worth the thought. This Motherlode essay in the New Your Times will help - Explaining My Adoption to My Biological Daughter by Nicole Soojung Callahan.
- Baby Veronica's birth mother explains why she is glad that her daughter is being returned to her adoptive parents. It is well worth the read. One interesting point is that she had an open relationship with Veronica when she lived with her adoptive parents, but no contact at all when she lived with her biological father.
- Interesting article about Jane Jeong Trenka, an adult Korean adoptee who never felt that she belonged to her adopted family or adopted country. She has since moved back to Korea where she still feel an outsider in many ways. Trenka has been instrumental in changing the Korean adoption laws. She is the author of Fugitive Visions: An Adoptee’s Return to Korea and Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption. Check out my blog "South Korean Adoptions: Canary In The International Adoption Mine?" for an in depth analysis of Korean adoption, the new law, and its impact on Korean "orphans".
- The US Supreme Court rules last month that the South Carolina courts should ultimately decide who gets custody of the 3 year old, Veronica, who is the center of a custody dispute involving her adoptive parents who raised her for the first 27 months of her life and her biological father, who has raised her since 2011. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled yesterday in that the child should be returned to her adoptive parents. What a mess for all concerned, especially the child. I hope the father and the parents will be able to work out some agreement for the future that keeps Veronica's best interest in mind. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.
- The Supreme Court has ruled that an American Indian child being raised by her biological father should not have been taken from her adoptive parents. This ruling creates an president for exceptions to the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act when the Native American parent renounces parental rights before the child is born.
- Great portrayal of open adoption on Rock Center news show. There is no such thing as a typical open adoption since they all look different, but this is how one family if forging their relationship--at least at the beginning stages. Undoubtedly this relationship will grow and change as Leo ages and their lives change. I appreciated the compassion of all the adults. I cringed a little when Callie, the first mom, said we are co-parenting because I wondered if that feeling would last for all parties and was thinking the exact question that Nancy Snyderman (wasn't she the interviewer?) asked-"but what happens when you disagree, as you inevitably will over a decision." Callie and the mom were in that wonderful honeymoon phase where they can never imagine not agreeing on everything, but I thought the dad's answer was perfect.
- I know we've seen a million of these adorable toddler videos, but this one was just too darn cute to pass up. I just love how it captures the essence of toddlerhood-I can do it myself, dadgummit! Oh boy, these parents are going to have their hands full when she's a teen.
- Mom from the Academy Award-winning movie “The Blind Side” will soon be starring in new reality show ("Family Addition") focusing on helping families adopt from foster care. Leigh Anne Tuohy, along with her daughter Collin and 'Miss Sue' Mitchell (the tutor) will team up to help families navigate the foster care adoption process and to draw attention to the need for families for waiting children in the US. In case you've been living under a rock and don't know the story, Leigh Anne, and her husband Sean, brought then 16-year old Michael Oher into their family circle in 2004. Oher went on to become a NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. Family Addition will premiere on June 7 on GMC channel (although they'll be changing the name of the channel to Uplifting Entertainment in June).
- Great article in the NYTs on older adults adopting rather than retiring. Some are filling an empty nest, while others are parenting for the first time. I appreciated that this article did not candy coat the experience of adopting an older child who likely has experienced abuse and neglect. Although giving a full portrayal, the article highlights the joy.
- A beautiful article in Slate that should be required reading for all adoptive parents-"What to Expect When You’re … Adopted: My search for my birth parents began when I got pregnant" by Nicole Soojung Callahan. She writes beautifully of the unexpected emotions about her first family she felt when she was pregnant. She was born to recent Korean immigrants to the US.
- We aren't finished working on the Adoption Tax Credit quite yet. Yes, it has finally become a permanent part of our Tax Code (yay!), but it is still not refundable. With Tax Day 2013 just around the corner, now is a perfect time of the year to remind your congressman/woman or senator that they are not finished yet. We need you to contact your Senators and Representative between Monday, April 15th and April 30. The goal is to convey two simple messages: 1.Thank you for making the Adoption Tax Credit permanent and 2.Please re-instate the refundable provision of the Adoption Tax Credit so that it helps more children and adoptive families. You can find a sample letter to send to your Members of Congress, as well as an easy way to get their address, at the “Save the Adoption Tax Credit” Facebook page. Thank you for taking action – let’s flood Congress with letters from the adoption community!
- Katie Couric was spot on this week on her show (aptly named Katie) about forming your family through adoption. Her guests included Nia Vardalos (she was just copying Creating a Family's lead, of course), Jillian Michaels and Comedian Kym Whitley. You can see the videos of these interviews at this link.
- Another Russian adoption story. A 17-year-old adopted by an American couple at age 12 has returned to Russia claiming that his mother treated him badly, according to an article in the NYT. Not surprisingly, the Russian media is all over this story. This is a sad story across the board. First, of course, is that this is a young man who is hurting and an adoption that is failing. (Although he reportedly has a good relationship with his adoptive father.) Second, this is the last thing international adoptions from Russia needs right now!
- Are you tired of the typical adoption story of man and woman desperately wanting a baby, pursuing years of infertility treatment, and then waiting years to adopt a baby? Well, then you're going to really like this story because it is anything but typical. Man finds day old baby in the New York subway, appears before the judge months later as part of the abandonment case, and is asked if he wants to adopt the baby. Days later baby is placed with him and his partner. 10 years later same judge presides over their marriage. Yep, not your typical adoption story at all. New York Times-We Found Our Son in the Subway
- Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels and his wife Heidi adopted a baby girl (6 months) from Ethiopia. Talk about a great year for the Hamels--Cole had a record season and signed a 6 year $144 million contract, and after 4 years, baby Reeve, arrived home on Christmas Eve. She joins big brothers aged 3 and 1. Check out this video of the Hamel family.
- The government has requested that President Putin repeal the Russian Ban on Intercountry Adoptions to the United States for those several hundred adoptions already in process when the ban was enacted. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute provides overviews of these letters and updated information on the Russian Ban on Intercountry Adoptions to the United States.
- I know that celebrity adoptions do not actually qualify as "news" but I still look at each and every picture I can find. So, just in case there are a few other closet gossip mongersout here, I thought I'd share my latest guilty pleasure-pictures of Jillian Michaels with her new son and daughter. I'm a sucker for cute kids. Fun website to play around on.
- Apparently ban on adoptions between the US and Russia won't take effect until next year. All I can say is what a mess this all is. I just love how a Parliment Member is ready to adopt a 14 year old boy who is scheduled to be adopted by a US couple after taking him shopping. Sure thing--shopping for an hour is all the preparation that is needed to adopt a 14 year old boy. Sheez! I hope saner minds in the government will ultimately prevail.
- Great article in the Washington Times on why renewing the adoption tax credit is so important. This is preaching to the choir over here.
- Supermodel, Selita Ebanks, recalls her childhood in foster care. A nice twist to the stereotype of the typical foster child as one doomed to failure. It isn't clear from the article but it looks like she was only in foster care for a couple of years. Nice that she now wants to give back and maybe someday adopt from foster care.
- Jennifer Gilmore, author of novels “Golden Country” and “Something Red”, wrote a first person piece in Vogue Magazine about their failed attempts to adopt an infant, which included turning down a baby that they were going to adopt once it was determined that the child had Down's Syndrome. She has written before (in the New York Times) of an adoption scam where she was duped by a woman pretending to be pregnant. She and her husband have been trying to adopt for several years without success. She has written a new novel, The Mothers, with an open adoption theme to be published in April 2013.
- Get the tissues ready when you read this article about one of the final "in limbo" adoptions from Guatemala that was caught when adoptions shut down due to allegations of corruption in 2008. Daniel was 18 months when his family started the adoption process. Daniel, who is deaf, arrived home last week at age six. I’m a sucker for happy endings.
- Beautiful, beautiful article in the New York Times about the nuances and uncharted territory that is international adoption- Untying a Birth Mother’s Hands. While most international adoptions start off closed, a growing number of adoptive parents are “opening” these adoptions by searching for their child’s birth parents. Complexities abound, but many parents believe it is worth it in the end.
- Remember the Tenn. adoptive mom who sent her 7 yo son back to Russia? She has now given birth to a daughter. She also must pay $150K in child support for her Russian ex-son. The child support ruling had been made, but she lost her appeal. She blames her decision to send her son alone on a plane to Moscow on “combination of bad advice and fear.”
- The Russian Parliament ratified a new adoption agreement with the US. The agreement specifies that children from either country can be adopted abroad only when it is impossible to find a family in the native country. The agreement also provides for stricter oversight and reporting requirements for adoptive parents. The injury or death of adopted Russian children in the United States had become an emotionally charged issue in Russia. The most prominent case involved a 7-year-old boy whose adoptive mother in Tennessee sent him back to Russia on his own, saying he had emotional problems. The most recent case involved a 9-year-old boy living with adoptive parents in Nebraska who died in a house fire in May. Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights demanded an investigation.
- Article quotes Zhang Shifeng, head of the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption, as saying that regulations were being developed to expand the category for children eligible for adoption to include "children in plight." Current Chinese rules only allow adoption if a child has lost their parents, was abandoned, or if parents couldn't raise them properly and they were in the custody of the state. In 2009 more than 600,000 children lost one or both parents but lived with friends or relatives. Under these new regulations, these children might become elegible for adoption if they were not being cared for properly.
- A great blog by the most unheard of member of the adoption triad--a Birthfather. He talks abou his 1st Father's Day as a birthfather. "This was my first Fathers' Day as a birthfather. I went on a tear of reading about adoption and infertility. A part of me I couldn't admit to believed that if I became well informed and well adjusted enough in my understanding of adoption I could avoid any pain Fathers' Day would bring. So I kept reading. I was digging through everything I could find on the experience of adult adoptees and the reckoning that comes with infertility. But there was something that drove me more than wanting to avoid pain this weekend. As I read page after page of anger, hurt, and confusion something kept tugging at me. There was one thought that kept popping up; "don't let him [my son] feel this way."
- Fascinating article exploring the Chinese reaction to a birthparent search in China vs. an American reaction to this search. "Deep differences, not always visible, separate Eastern and Western concepts of family. In their comments to Jenna's interview on Weibo, netizens called Margaret "venerable" for supporting Jenna's search, with many advising that Jenna focus on repaying her adopted mother instead of searching for her birth parents. By stressing their admiration for Margaret's actions, netizens seemed to suggest that Chinese adopted parents wouldn't do the same."
- Jillian Michaels is known as the hard hitting, tough love giving trainer on the TV show The Biggest Loser, but now she's also known as mom. After a two year process she finally brought home her 2-year-old daughter, Lukensia, from Haiti. In a strange twist of fate that gives truth to the saying "When it rains it pours" her partner gave birth to their son the same week she brought Lukensia home. “We’re swimming in babies over here,” Michaels says.
- Torry Hansen, the mother who sent her 7 year old adopted son Artem back to Russia in 2010 because she did not want to parent him, is responsible for child support payments of $1000 per month until he turns 18 and $58,240 in child support arrears to cover Artem's institutional and medical care since his return to Russia.Hansen has since moved to Redding, California and has failed to show up at any of the hearings. Funds will be held in an account payable to Artem when he turns 18 or is adopted. The amount was determined using a Tennessee formula which was based on Ms. Hansen’s income at the time she originally applied to be considered for adoption. Artem, now 10, has been in two orphanages since returning to Russia. At one point, the press reported that he was living with a family, but apparently that did not last. Ms. Hansen is also responsible for compensatory and attorney fees incurred by the World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP), the adoption agency that facilitated the international adoption.
Birth Moms, a new TLC show will air May 17 at 10 Eastern Time. The show follows three pregnant women as they struggle with the decision to place their babies for adoption or choose to parent. I would imagine we;ll get to meet the prospective adoptive parents as well. You can view the trailer now. I haven't seen the show, so can't say whether it will be cheesy or exploitive. I'm hoping for educational.
- Inspirational article about a couple who have fostered over 150 kids and supported other foster families. Wow, what a role model for the rest of us.
- Families scramble and push to try to get their adoptions finished before the Adoption Tax Credit expires on Dec. 31, 2012 (except for adoptions from US foster care). Reuter's article, Families race to adopt before U.S. tax credit ends, addresses this concern. A group of adoption advocacy and education groups, including Creating a Family, are working to keep the adoption tax credit alive. To learn more about what you can do to help, read this blog on Saving the Adoption Tax Credit, and "like" this Facebook page.
- Young Writers for Adoption is a writing contest open to children in adoptive families ages 1-21. Deadline for submissions June 1st, 2012. Choose topic: What does family mean to you. What's your role in the family? What do you enjoy doing w/ your family? You can win up to $500. (At this time, we have been unable to verify who is sponsoring this contest since there is no info on the site, no “About Us” page, and nothing turned up on a Google search.) May 2012
A Spanish court begins an inquiry into the allegations the newborn infants were taken from their mothers and placed for adoption both domestically and internationally from the 1950s and continuing until about 1990. There have been at least 1,500 allegations of infant abductions. They allege that the nuns, nurses, and orphanage workers took children from poor mothers or unmarried mothers and placed them for adoption. An 87-year-old Spanish nun became the first suspect to appear in court Thursday as part of this investigation.
- Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, talks about her domestic adoption of two newborns within 4 months in this month's Good Housekeeping Magazine. Her experience includes a birthmother changing her mind 2 days after birth, a transracial adoption of a baby girl, followed less than four months later by the special needs adoption of a newborn preemie boy. "Adoption was a bumpy ride--very bumpy," she says, "but, God, was it worth the fight."
- Article in Psychology Today,The Trouble With Bright Girls, summarizes some recent research on 5th grade girls. They found "that bright girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up - and the higher the girls' IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult material as a challenge, and found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts, rather than giving up....At the 5th grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science. So there were no differences between these boys and girls in ability, nor in past history of success. The only difference was how bright boys and girls interpreted difficulty - what it meant to them when material seemed hard to learn. Bright girls were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result." As the mother of two girls, not sure exactly what to do with this, but glad to know it. (March 2012)
- What would you do? Your 11 year old is playing on a league basketball team and is repeatedly called “nigger” by a kid on the opposing team. Your son tells his coach, who tells the ref, who talks with the other coach. The taunts continue. Your son gets fed up and fouls the other kid, and is benched for the remainder of the game. The next night, the offending child sends your son a 1 word message on X Box—“niggger”. This is the dilemma faced by this blogger, the talented writer Kevin Hoffman, author of Growing Up Black in White. Thoughtful post and comments and this has sparked quite a debate in our house. I recommend raising this scenario with your children and getting their opinions. Think about this in light of the Trayvon Martin tragedy.
- Got an email from a mom who was offended by a one-liner in the movie The Lorax. She was there w/ her 2 kids-both adopted and was uncomfortable, altho the kids didn't react. What do you think: offensive or overreacting?
"Joke" set-up: Rich, bad guy visits the young hero’s house. As the mom introduces her son to the rich, evil man, the man says something polite to the boy. Mom chuckles and replies, “You want to adopt him? Just kidding!” According to my emailer, the line got a good laugh. It seems like it was just a throw away line going for the quick easy laugh, but she thought it was totally unnecessary since it added nothing to the story. Post your thoughts over at the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/40688106167/.
- Great article in the Washington Post about internationally adopted kids finding their birth families. The article does a good job of covering the varying emotions these youth often feel when they meet and establish relationships with their first families.
- Kristen Davis, of Sex in the City fame, adopted domestically 7 months ago. She talks about her adoption on the Anderson Cooper show. "It is terrifying, partly because with adoption you always know there's the chance that it won't work. So you're on pins and needles."
- The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a guide for pediatricians and adoptive parents on what type of medical care, evaluations, and tests should internationally adopted children receive when they first arrive home. Comprehensive Health Evaluation of the Newly Adopted Child (Dec. 26, 2011).
- I've long been fascinated by the history and aftermath of the Orphan Trains of the early 1900s when 200,000 babies and children in the northeast, abandoned mostly due to poverty were put on trains heading west. At each stop, the children were displayed for local folks to pick the child they wanted. Some were adopted into loving homes, while others were virtual slaves. A recent article in USA Today talks about the increasing interest of their children and grandchildren to finding out what happened to these children and finding their extended birth family. The desire for knowledge does not necessarily lessen with subsequent generations.
- A heart-warming story for adoptive parents in the New York Times by an adult adoptee assessing what her life might have been like if she had not been adopted.
"A part of me hates the file [of information about her adoption and birth family] and wishes it never existed. But some bits I treasure, and I read them over as a mental salve when the rest of it leaves me feeling depressed. Not only does it help me understand my parents’ attitude toward my biological family, it reminds me of how truly lucky I am: how my life could have been different had my adoptive parents not endured years of uncertainty and stressful battles in trying to legally make me their child.
Sprinkled throughout the documents are reminders of my parents’ dedication and how their love for me was obvious to everyone from the start. I found myself smiling when I read a report that said: “Present placement is very stable, safe, nurturing, warm and provides Jaime with a sense of permanency ... the current caretakers are very, very much interested in adoption if the child is freed.”
I’m glad they stuck it out."
- Frontline has released a report about the sharp rise in psychiatric diagnoses and medication among children called The Medicated Child. The report and a parent's guide can be found here. (Feb. 2012)
- China will now prohibit orphanages from naming children in such a way as to identify them as orphans. "The Ministry of Civil Affairs plans to issue new regulations set of rules to prohibit orphanages from using naming conventions that make it easy for other Chinese speakers to guess that an individual is an orphan—leading to lifelong stigma." Children's last names must now be chosen from the 100 most common names in China. This is good news on many different levels--the children will benefit directly from this change, but also because it shows a real shift by the government to focus on the psychological issues of abandonment, not just in childhood but throughout life. Also, the article cited the official Chinese government statistic of 100,000 orphans living in about 900 orphanages. (Feb. 2012)
- Russian news is reporting that Russia will suspend international adoptions to the US until the new bi-lateral agreement between Russia and the US goes into effect. [I erroneously said before that this would be in July 2012, when in fact, we don't actually know, but it will be voted on by the by Russian legislatures probably this March, 2012.] The news article cites a "series of incidents involving the mistreatment of adopted Russian children in the United States" as the motivation for this decision. At this point it is hard to tell whether this suspension will actually take effect, and it is important to note that it has not been announced by the US State Department. We will follow the developments in Russian adoptions, and let you know through our weekly e-newsletter. Sign up on the left side of this page. (Feb. 2012)
- Calling all international adoptive parents. The US gov’t (specifically the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) wants your opinion on how well they are doing. Yes, you heard me right. They want your input, so by golly, give it to them-please. Adoptive parents should fill out this survey and Adoption Service Providers, should fill out this survey. Please take a moment to give them your feedback in order to help improve the system.
- Use your Super Bowl party for good with this half time kit by coach Tony Dungy and his wife Lauren, who has been on the winning side in a past Super Bowl, on need for adoption/orphan care. Sounds boring because it's educational, but it isn't.
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services is having a teleconference on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 @ 2:00 PM EDT to get input and discuss changes to the process of “grandfathering” certain adoption cases as orphan cases when the U.S. and another country become Hague partners. The call will focus particularly on cases for Chinese and Guatemalan children as these are the countries from which there are currently “grandfathered” cases. All "stakeholders", including adoptive parents and adoption agencies are invited to participate. To get more information on how to participate, go to their website.
- I'm sure you all remember Torry Hansen, the American adoptive mother who sent her 7 year old son back to Russia alone on a plane with a note pinned to his shirt that he had problems and she no longer wanted to parent him. Her US adoption agency, WACAP, and the National Council for Adoption have both sued her to require her to pay for child support. I blogged about what happened to the child after he was sent back.
- New York Times article on adoptees using DNA testing to find birth family members. Genetic testing has surged in popularity over the last decade, as the cost of analyzing cell samples has dropped and as Americans have grown more interested in learning about their heritage. As a result, some companies have amassed enough DNA samples that they can offer to help adoptees identify their kin, bringing hope to people born in an era when adoption records were routinely sealed, leaving few paper trails to follow.
- Our Adoption Tax Expert, Nicole Albrecht provided this great summary of the past, present (2012), and future of the Adoption Tax Credit (2013). For more in depth resources on the Adoption Tax Credit, check out the Creating a Family Adoption Tax Credit page and Adoption Tax Credit FAQ page.
2013: $5,000 or $6,000 for a special needs child (projected)
2012: at least $12,170 (will be indexed for inflation), non-refundable
2011: $13,360, refundable
2010: $13,170, refundable
2009: $12,150, non-refundable
2008: $11,650, non-refundable
2007: $11,390, non-refundable
2006: $10,960, non-refundable
- I wanted to stand up and cheer when I read this article in The Korean Times-Foreign adoption quota leaves behind disabled and male children. The article highlighted an infant with Down’s Syndrome and a 18 month old boy, both of whom will not be adopted domestically or internationally because of the international adoption quoata system has been met this year and by next year the 18 month old will be too old and the infant with Down Syndrome likely won’t rise to the top of the list.
According to one adoption agency’s statistics, at the end of this July, of 244 children who were adopted, 38 disabled children and 172 boys joined international families. Just three years ago in 2008, nearly triple the number of disabled and male children were adopted into homes overseas. These numbers keep dropping due to the quota situation. Korean families prefer to adopt very young girls.
“The quota system has not boosted domestic adoption much," said Stephen Morrison of Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea (MPAK). "The fact is that over 90 percent of domestic adoption cases in Korea, children are adopted by the time they turn 3 months old. So holding them for another three months just to satisfy another 10 percent adoption in domestic Korea is a real disservice to children who should go to loving homes earlier." All I can say is “Amen”! Great, great article. I have written extensively on the negative effect of the Korean international adoption quotas, as well.
- New York Times article on what they claim is a "pattern" of 18 year olds who were adopted as children from foster care being abandoned by their families once the adoption subsidy checks stop. No doubt, there are people who adopt children from foster care just for the monthly subsidy, but I have no way of knowing what percentage they are of foster care adoptions. Oh, this article makes me sigh.
- Thoughtful article about possible corruption in adoptions from Ethiopia in the Atlantic- How Ethiopia's Adoption Industry Dupes Families and Bullies Activists by Kathryn Joyce. She specifies a number of corrupt practices, and also discusses an issue that we've raised often here at Creating a Family-the difference in understanding of what adoption means. Well worth the read!
- For the 13th year, CBS will host "A Home for the Holidays" entertainment special to bring attention to the US children in foster care who are waiting for an adoptive family. The show will air Wed., Dec. 21, with Martina McBride as host. Great guest including Mary J. Blige and Justin Beiber. They will also showcase real families formed through adoption. Please support CBS and the advertising sponsors for continuing to bring us great entertainment and attention to US waiting kids
- The birth rate for U.S. teens aged 15–19 years hit a record low in 2010, according to the CDC. The birth rate for teenagers aged 15–19 has declined for the last three years and 17 out of the past 19 years, falling to 34.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in 2010 – a 9 percent decline from 2009 and the lowest rate ever recorded in nearly seven decades of collecting data. Birth rates for younger and older teenagers and for all race/ethnic groups reached historic lows in 2010.
- I loved this video of a 14 year old adopted from China talking about what adoption means to her. It is unscripted, with only one question having been asked: What do you want to tell people." She's been home since August and her language is phenomenal. This one brought tears to my eyes.
- As a mom to an Asian daughter who will be applying for college within the next few years, I found this article fascinating. Many Asians believe that it is best to not identify yourself as Asian when applying for colleges. They fear that they will have less chance of being admitted because of the disproportionate number of Asians at many of the top colleges.
- The USCIS held a teleconference with Ethiopian adoption stakeholder in Oct. 2011. They recently releases an Exec. Summary of the information shared on that call. If you are considering adopting from Ethiopia, you really must read this.
- We’ve been approached by a casting agency that is looking for adoptive parents who have been matched with an expectant woman who is due between January and March for a docu-series on Open Adoption. The network is LOGO, which is part of Viacom. They say they want to create a feel good educational show. If you are interested you can contact them at casting at digallc dot com
- Not sure this really qualifies for "In the News", but it was too funny not to share. If you are an "older" parent or if you've ever eaten at a traditional Korean restaurant regardless of your age, read Middle Aged Mom @ New Seoul Garden, a blog by Jean MacLeod, author of "At Home in This World" and contributing co-editor of "Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections".
- Vietnam ratified the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoption and this treaty which proscribes procedures for international adoption will go into effect in Vietnam on Feb. 1, 2012. Although this is a step towards the renewal of adoptions from Vietnam, it is way too early for adoptive parents to start considering adopting from Vietnam. Although the Hague Treaty provides significant protections against fraud and protections for adoptive parents and children, it also requires a developed infrastructure for processing adoptions. Vietnam is in the process of developing this infrastructure and adoptions will not take place until it is finished. No telling how long that might take.
- Russia responds with outrage to what they consider an overly lenient sentence for the parents of a 7 year old boy adopted from Russia in 2003 and died due to a head injury. The child had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the parents claim he was uncontrollable and fell and hit his head. The prosecutors claimed he was abused. The parents were found guilty of manslaughter and will be released for time already served, since they've been in custody for the past 19 months.
- Article: The trend of single women going for adoption is catching up among the successful. Single adoptive mothers seem to be mushrooming all across India, especially among highly educated and accomplished professional women.
- Good article on the changes that are afoot in the world of adoption. My heart aches for the birthmother in this article, even though she is not portrayed as needing my pity. I wonder why the adoptive parents would not want to meet her.We'll have the author of the book, In on It, as our guest for the Nov. 2 show.
- Up to 300,000 babies were taken without permission from "undesirable" parents in Spain and given or sold to adoptive parents by doctors, nuns, and priests. This story makes my stomach hurt-literally. It took place from the 1950's up to the 1990's. The sheer magnitude and the involvement of the church and government sickens me.
- I have always been fascinated with bilingualism, perhaps because I so wish I were. This is often of interest also to adoptive parents who want to help their internationally adopted children maintain their birth language while becoming fluent in English. This article highlights some of the recent research on how bilingual and monolingual children differ in their language acquisition.
- Girl adopted from Ethiopia allegedly starved, abused, killed by her parents. I have no words, only prayers. It is interesting that this book, To Train Up a Child, has been cited as encouraging some of the abusive behavior. Here is an Amazon link to the book (make sure to read some of the reviews--more than enlightening) and here is a critique of the book from a theological and psychological standpoint.
- Domestic adoptions have increased significantly in India in 2010, and perhaps more surprising is that the request to adopt baby girls has also increased. Perhaps this is the trend for India and other countries. As they develop economically, domestic adoptions will increase. And as woman gain more rights and the ability to support aging parents, girls will become more acceptable.
- Article in Slate about an abandoned baby being found on a upscale street in Shanghai, China and what happened to her. Lost and Found: An abandoned baby on the streets of Shanghai by Patti Waldmeir. Yes, child abandonment is still happening, even in the "new" China, but at least now the orphanages are better.
- Great article, My Painful Path to Fatherhood, where actor Hugh Jackman talks about fatherhood in general and adoptive fatherhood in specific. "From the moment we started the adoption process, all the anxiety went away. I don’t think of them [son Oscar, 11, and daughter Ava, 6] as adopted – they’re our children. Deb and I are believers in … I suppose you could call it destiny. We feel things happened the way they are meant to. Obviously, biologically wasn’t the way we were meant to have children. Now, as we go through life together, sure there are challenges, but everyone’s in the right place with the right people. It sounds airy-fairy, but it’s something we feel very deeply.” This is a fairly in depth article and makes me think highly of Jackman. (Sept. 2011)
- Although I don't think this article in the El Paso Times is accurate in many respects, I do think the experience of the couple is representative of the current difficulties of adopting from Mexico. I take groups to work at orphanages in Mexico and in my experience it is darn near impossible to adopt from that country. Their system is broken and does not work in the best interest of children.
- Why do our adopted kids need to really understand what happened in their life before they came to our family? Key Reasons for Children to Know Their Life Story
- We are beginning to get more information on the case of the child adopted from Guatemala to the US and now being ordered by a Guatemalan judge to be returned to Guatemala. There is still much about this case that doesn't make sense.
- The IRS is struggling with the Adoption Tax Credit as many of the Creating a Family community has found first hand. Fascinating information on what is happening with the Adoption Tax Credit and why it is happening can be found in the HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES “Improper Payments in the Administration of Refundable Tax Credits” (pages 8 and 9). As of the end of April 2011, the IRS has received 72,656 individual claims for more than $897 million in Adoption Credits. Of these, 58 percent either had no required documentation or the documentation was invalid or insufficient. The IRS estimates that an individual would receive notification that documentation is needed to support eligibility for claiming the Adoption Credit within 3-4 weeks after tax return is received in the Examination function. The individual then has 30 days to respond to the IRS's request for required documentation. Once the IRS receives the information, the IRS does not have a specific time goal for closing the case subsequent to receipt of the information. For more info go to the report itself or this article summarizing this report.
- I just found a great blog from a member of the adoption triad we seldom hear from--the birth father. Baby Darling is a blog from a young man who made the decision, along with his ex-girlfriend, to place his newborn daughter for adoption. Such a good read. His daughter was adopted in the summer of 2011 and I don't know whether he plans on keeping the blog up to date, but the posts prior to and post adoption are thought provoking and heart warming.
- Guatemala has issued a decree that could speed up dozens of adoptions by U.S. couples that have been stuck in limbo since the Central American country suspended adoptions in 2007 amid allegations of fraud and even baby theft. The decree says that parents whose adoptions were halted midway by the ban can complete the process if they prove a "prolonged" relationship with the child and that they were not responsible for any fraud, among other requirements. The possibility of a domestic adoption must also be ruled out.
- I have been making inquiries about whether the IRS has been assessing penalties to people who incorrectly filed for the Adoption Tax Credit and were denied. We (Creating a Family) has heard from a few people, but the professionals I've contacted have heard of very few. Usually the adoption tax credit claims that are being rejected are because the tax payers made a mistake and were ineligible for the credit and they were not paid the money. In this case, there should be no penalty. If it is considered tax fraud, then you can be charged a penalty. If you have been charged a penalty even after you have explained the mistake, you will likely need to hire a tax attorney to fight it.
Baby boy with sever special needs in desperate need of a family. Darius was born on January 16th. He loves to be snuggled and does better with his therapies when he is being held. For more information, contact Tammy Christ with Adoptions from the Heart (tammyd at afth dot org)
- · Prematurity 24/25 weeks
- · Dysmorphic features
- · Chronic lung disease
- · Ventilator dependent (They are presently working on weaning the vent.)
- · Tracheostomy
- · Gastrostomy
- · Ventricular septal defect
- · History of congestive heart failure
- · Nephrocalcinosis
- · Hypertension uncontrolled
- · History of cholestasis- resolved
- · Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- · Grade 1 right subependymal hemorrhage grade 2 left intraventricular hemorrhage
- · Left parietal open mouth schizecephaly
- · Absent septum pellucidim with retinopathy of prematurity
- · Right undescended testis
- · Left retractile testis
- · History of fractures from osteopenia
- · Neonatal acne
- · Nevus flammeus
- Thoughtful blog/article in Slate by KJ Dell Antonia on the ethical complexities of international adoption. There are children who should have and could have remained with their birth families and there are children who've been abandoned, relinquished or orphaned by birth families and who really need new homes. "The difficulty is, and always will be, knowing which is which." The article says it all in the concluding paragraph: "things aren't black and white."
- Article in the New York Times recites harsh (to put it mildly) practices by family planning officials in China who enforce the one child policy. Most of the cases reported happened between 1999 and 2003, although they reported that "just last week, the police announced that they had rescued 89 babies from child traffickers, and the deputy director of the Public Security Ministry assailed what he called the practice of “buying and selling children in this country.”
- A Guatemalan judge has ordered a U.S. couple to return their adopted daughter to her birth mother in Guatemala. Evidence was presented at court that the child, born Oct. 1, 2004, was kidnapped outside her house on Nov. 3, 2006, and adopted in Dec. 2008. There are no winners in a case like this, especially not the child. (Aug. 2011)
- Interesting article and interesting title--The United States and UNICEF wage war against international adoptions. She raises some good points, although I'm not sure I agree with all of them. A major flaw in the article for me was not exploring the Hague Treaty more.
- USA Today article Drop in International Adoptions Sparks Debate provides a good summary of what is currently happening with international adoptions and summarizes the arguments for and against international adoption. I think the comments provide an interesting (and at times depressing) window into the misunderstandings that exist about adoption.(July 2011)
- Dave Ramsey, financial guru, talks about how to adopt without incurring debt. He interviews Julie Gumm, author of Adopt Without Debt. She will be on our panel for a show on How to Afford Adoption on September 7.
- It's a done deal at long last--The US and Russia have signed a bilateral adoption agreement. Most of the details can be found on the State Dept. FAQ page for this agreement and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Factsheet and FAQ page for this agreement.(July 2011)
- Kristin Chenoweth, Broadway (Wicked) and TV star (Glee and West Wing), is considering adoption. The actress/singer, 42, was adopted at one week and would love to adopt. She hopes to get married first, but if not will adopt domestically as a single woman. (July 2011)
- I heard on the news that Casey Anthony had wanted to place Caylee for adoption at birth, but was talked out of it by her mother. This is yet one more piece of sad reality in a very sad tale. (July 1, 2011)
- Russia and the United States will likely sign a bilateral adoption treaty on July 12-14. Although never shut down, adoptions from Russia have been in a state of uncertainty since spring 2010 when the media attention was focused on the Russian child that was sent back on a plane by himself because his American adoptive mother could no longer handle raising him. Russia has since reported that 17 Russian children have died in the United States as a result of child abuse since adoptions started more than 15 years ago. That figure must however be viewed in the context of over 60,000 Russian born children adopted by families in the United States. (July 1, 2011)
- Denise Richards, ex-wife of Charlie Sheen, adopted a baby girl domestically. She named the baby Eloise Joni. (added June 30, 2011)
- Effective as of June 2011, Ukraine has passed an amendment to its Family Code requiring orphans to be registered on the central adoption registry for at least a year and to be at least 5 years old before they are eligible for intercountry adoption. Exceptions will be made for special needs children, relative adoptions and sibling adoptions. More information can be found here.
- As of May, 2011 all prospective parents looking to adopt from Mexico must work with an adoption service provider (ASP) that has been authorized by a competent Mexican authority on either the national or state level. State adoption authorities do not have to recognize national authorizations and have the discretion to provide state-level authorizations to ASPs. Only one ASP, Carolina Adoptions, has been authorized at the national level. Twenty nine Mexican states, plus the Federal District, have confirmed that they will accept Carolina Adoptions’ national authorization. The state of Jalisco does not accept Carolina Adoptions’ national authorization, but has authorized Across the World Adoptions to operate there. The state of Nuevo Leon is not currently accepting intercountry adoptions. More information can be found here.
- Angelina Jolie talks about the adoption theme to her new animated movie, Kung Fu Panda 2. She says she made this movie for her kids because of the positive adoption message it sends. She also made it for all her daughters since she portrays a strong female character.
- On Your Feet Foundation is dedicated to assisting birth mothers in achieving the personal and financial independence they need to take care of themselves and their families after placing a baby for adoption. They provide peer support and networking, vocational counseling and mentoring and educational grants. There are two locations: one located in Northern California open to birth mothers living in Northern California or who placed a child with a Northern California family, and one located outside of Chicago open to birthmothers living in Illinois and Indiana.
- A simply beautiful photoessay of Korean Adoption.The picture of the birth mother looking at a picture of her baby on her cell phone brought tears to my eyes. The photographer did a superb job of conveying a complex situation through pictures. Even handed and touching!
- I just LOVE this video from Sesame Street "I Love My Hair" sung by Willow Smith about the joys of African American hair. Every little girl with beautiful black hair should watch this one.It was written by one of the Sesame Street muppeteers for his daughter adopted from Ethiopia. For older tween or teens, also check out this wonderful video from India Arie I Am Not My Hair.
- Really good NPR Talk of the Nation segment on The Parenting Dilemmas Of Transracial Adoption with Adam Pertman and Gina Samuels. They talk about the myth of raising your child color blind. Ms. Samuels in particular gave some really good examples. I especially found her insight and research to be valuable. She brings to the table a personal perspective as a biracial adult adoptee raised by white parents. This is not an anti-adoption show, rather it was a well rounded practical approach.
- Wall Street Journal article on a "Wednesday's Child" type adoption advertising program in South Korea to encourage domestic adoptions. It is interesting to watch the evolution of domestic adoption in South Korea. They face tremendous social stigmas against adoption, and yet are fighting the good fight to encourage Korean families to adopt. Unlike other countries, they appear to be committed to continue international adoptions from Korea until they are able to find homes for all their relinquished children within Korea. I thought the most interesting part of the article was the numbers of domestic adoptions within Korea. 1,314 in 2009 and 1,462 in 2010. They placed 2,475 children abroad in 2010.
- Adam Pertman's Op Ed in the Christian Science Monitor on the need for post adoption support for adoptive families. All I can say is AMEN!
- I'll be interviewing Melissa Fay Green this week on the Creating a Family radio show- May 4, 2011. Her new book No Bike Riding in the House without a Helmet is a memoir of her life as a mom of 9 (5 adopted internationally-1 from Bulgaria and 4 from Ethiopia). This book has received great reviews including The Washington Post, NPR, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.Her previous book was on the Ethiopian AIDs crisis-There Is No Me Without You.
- Lori Luz, over at Write Mind Open Heart came up with the great idea of asking adoption and infertility bloggers to write about the financial implications of Infertility and Adoption. Contributors include adoption and infertility bloggers with a wide range of experiences: those who have followed strict budgets, those who have spared no expense (and gone broke in the process) and those whose lack of funds have prevented them from pursuing their goals. There are international, domestic, and foster adoptive parents. From the infertility side, there are people whose treatments have had access to insurance or governmental coverage and many who have had no coverage whatsoever. Some speak about pursuing treatments internationally, shared risk plans, donor gametes, donor embryos, and surrogacy. In short, they have tried to include the full gamut of experiences regarding “cost.” Scoot over there and start reading.
- Article in the Washington Post about a Virginia same sex couple that had to move to adopt their daughter to to restrictive Virginia laws. The couple interviewed are active in our Creating a Family Facebook community, and their baby, I might add, is absolutely adorable. I know because the proud papas post picsfor us to see. :-)
- Do you wonder what you can do to help find homes for kids in the US foster care system. Not everyone is able or willing to adopt a child, but everyone can and should help spread awareness of these 130,000 kids who are legally free to adopt and are simply waiting for the right family. One thing you can do right now is to "like" the AdoptUsKids Facebook page. It will appear on your wall as a "like" and others will see it. Perhaps one of them will be just the right parent for one of these kids.
- Mariska Hargitay,47, of SUV Law & order fame, is a new mom to a daughter adopted through transracial domestic adoption. She and her husband, actor Peter Hermann, have a 4 1/2 year old son born to their family. "We were considering both international and domestic adoption and we're thrilled that this is the way our prayers were answered," she adds. "We talked a lot about mixed-race adoptions, and we are very excited that we are now a multi-racial family. We're just so happy she's here."
- Somewhere along the way, the rumor got started that children adopted from Ethiopia were immune from attachment issues. I'm sure the intent was well meaning, but I think that this myth does a disservice to potential adoptive families and ultimately to the children they adopt. Read this great blog at the Wayfarer Ethiopian Adoption Resource Blog addressing the myth about Ethiopian adopted children and RAD.
- USA Today article on the increase in Transracial Adoptions. 40% of all domestic adoptions are transracial and 84& of international adoptions are trans-racial adoptions. Experts stress that colorblind parenting is not the best approach to parenting adopted children of a different race from their adoptive parents.
- Ukraine has had a restructuring of which governmental agency is responsible for international adoptions from Ukraine. The US State Department does not yet know how the implementation of this transfer will affect processing of adoption cases.
- Justified star, Joelle Carter, 38, and her husband recently adopted an 8 1/2 month old baby girl through domestic open adoption. They named her Luna Rose. Carter says that the reason her and her husband adopted was because of unexplained infertility. “We hadn’t been able to get pregnant and they couldn’t find a reason why. Since there was a time line when we wanted to start a family, for us, we decided to look into adoption. We found an agency that dealt with open adoption, and we liked the idea that she would have a potential relationship with her birth family and not have all of those questions that can come with adoption.”
- National Public Radio interview with adult transracial international adoptee about what it's like growing up as the only one of your race in your family and community. I can't stress enough how important I think it is to listen and learn from adult adoptees. They are the true experts in adoption. This woman was adopted over 50 years ago, so she has 50 years of experience we can learn from.
- Documentary filmmaker is looking for single midlife women seeking to become first-time mothers willing to share their stories of the heartache, trials, social stigma and joys faced in their journeys toward motherhood. She does not care whether the women are straight or lesbian, nor whether they are seeking to adopt or have a child through donor sperm, donor egg, or surrogacy. The producer is herself a single, midlife woman "with an ever-present desire to become a mother". contact her at rmcclainla at sbcglobal. net.
- Some couples have told me that they have found some resistance by some adoption agencies to place with families where one of the parents has been treated for cancer, regardless that doctors anticipate that they will have a normal life expectancy. The OncoFertility Consortium has also heard about this problem and they have compiled a list of adoption agencies that do not discriminate against families who have been successfully treated for cancer.
- Families who adopt a US child with special needs (which include many children adopted from foster care) do not need to submit documentation of qualified adoption expenses in order to obtain the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. If you receive documentation from the IRS that you need to submit this documentation, go to the Voices for Adoption website to see what to do.
- Melissa Fay Green, author of There is No Me Without You (a fantastic book about the Ethiopian AIDs crisis and Ethiopian international adoptions) is also the adopted mom of four kids from Ethiopia. She and one of her sons were interviewed about their discovery that his birth mother was alive and well in Ethiopia. International adoptions are always more complicated than we can imagine. This is a wonderful example of how things may work out even if all is not how it originally seems.
- Insightful article in Newsweek about a black family that adopted a white child and what it taught them about themselves and our society. They question whether racism is at play in the reactions they get from both blacks and whites It certainly gave me food for thought. The article was published 2 years ago, but is still relevant today. Raising Katie What adopting a white girl taught a black family about race
Interesting article in the Vancouver Sun on the ethics of embryo donation (also known as embryo adoption): Embryo ethics: Finding a home for Canada’s frozen ‘orphans’ . While acknowledging that the growing numbers of frozen embryos that will not be used by the people who produced them via in vitro fertilization (IVF), the article raises questions about the ethics.
o What rights do the children created have?
o Should children be raised by parents to whom they are not genetically related? (Duh, ever hear of adoption?!? Sorry, I couldn’t help that editorial comment.)
o Should the children have the right to know the identity of the people whose DNA created them?
o Should we even be producing more embryos than can be used at once?
o Some couples are finding one another on the web, raising concerns that despite a federal act outlawing the purchase of human sperm, eggs and embryos, money may still be changing hands.
o Should the biological parents be able to donate frozen embryos to their infertile children thus creating cross-generational donations?
o What are the psychological implications for the children born from donated embryos knowing that the people who created them did not choose to parent them?
- The teenage birth rate declined 8 percent in the United States from 2007 through 2009, reaching a historic low at 39.1 births per 1,000 teens aged 15-19 years. Rates fell significantly for teenagers in all age groups and for all racial and ethnic groups. Teenage birth rates for each age group and for nearly all race and Hispanic origin groups in 2009 were at the lowest levels ever reported in the United States.
- Really, really good article in the Columbus Dispatch on the need for support for birth parents--the forgotten ones in adoption. "There's a growing focus on adoption - through the media, the Internet and other types of discussion, and that's great, but birth parents are the least represented in all of this. They're often invisible and, therefore, not even regarded." As one birthmom said, "Even before I knew what it meant to love somebody with that depth, I'd lost him." Whether the adopted child is "better off being raised by someone else is not some empirical thing that can be proved. Instead, adoption creates shifting feelings that can weigh on birth parents forever."
- Huffington Post article by adult adoptee, Jennifer Lauck, titled "Abducted Versus Adopted: For 1.5 Million of U.S. Adoptees, What's the Difference?" is hard, but important reading. She laments the lack of choices her birth mother had in the early 1960's and equates it to the kidnapping of Carlina White. It is worth the read. The question is worth asking and pondering.
- Frequently on the Creating a Family show we get the question "How do I find a therapist that is knowledgeable about adoption issues". It's a good question. We recommend often that parents and kids seek help--early and often. We know that most children and families can be helped with appropriate mental health care, but we struggle with helping you find a qualified mental health professional for adoption issues. The Center for Adoption Support and Education is trying to improve this situation and they need your help in defining what is a qualified mental health professional They need adoptive parents to fill out a survey. Please take a few moments to help with this very important goal.
- Nice article in the Huffington Post about the significance to the adoption community of Oprah's announcement that she had a half sister that was placed for adoption as an infant. Lessons in Adoption From Harvard, B.J. Lifton, and Oprah by Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute February 1, 2011.
The US State Dept. announced that the Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) will temporarily stop accepting new applications from adoption agencies that submitted more than 10 adoption cases to the Philippines per year for the last three years. This affects five US adoption agencies. This moratorium is designed to allow ICAB to “catch up” and reduce the waiting times and will be lifted once it has determined that it has been able to meet the needs of at least 50 percent of those currently waiting for a child. This moratorium does not apply to special needs adoptions, intra-familial adoptions, or to applications by families who received their approval for "suitability to adopt" before Jan. 31, 2011.
- Oprah Winfrey will announce on her show today (Jan. 24,2011) that she has a half sister, Patricia, that her mother placed for adoption when Oprah was 9 and living with her father. The media is reporting that she did not know of the existence of this sister until last year. Winfrey's mother made the adoption plan because she was not able to raise the child. Unfortunately, Patricia lived in foster homes until she was 7 and finally adopted. She now has two grown children. Tune in to the Oprah Show for the public reunion.
- Just read a post on Open Adoption Support that reminds me why I love that resource so much. The questioner was asking if it was "normal" for first parents to bring their extended family to visits with their son. Such good replies. This is a resource worth checking again and again.
- A New York Times article reports that recent census analysis shows that child rearing among same-sex couples is more common in the South than in any other region of the country. In fact, Jacksonville, Florida is home to one of the biggest populations of gay parents in the country. Also, the data shows that Black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children,
- Results from a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics of 1239 girls shows that more girls are reaching puberty by age 7 or 8. The was significant variation amongst the races. By age 7, 10.4% of white girls, 23.4% of black girls, and 14.9% of Hispanic girls were in puberty. By age 8, 18.3% of the white girls, 42.9% of black girls, and 30.9% of Hispanic girls had reached puberty.
Adoption Tax Credit Extended until De c. 2012 On December 17th, 2010 President Obama signed the 2010 Tax Relief Act. Included in this massive package of income tax, estate tax and unemployment provisions was one little provision that will make adoptive families very happy – extending the adoption tax credit through Dec, 31, 2012. Prior to the signing of this bill, the Adoption Tax Credit was due to expire (or in legal terms “sunset”) on Dec. 31, 2011. The credit is up to $13,170 in 2011 and $12,170 in 2012. Although there is a bit of confusion surrounding this extension, it appears that the “refundability” aspect of the tax credit is not extended for 2012. As it stands now, it looks like the adoption tax credit is refundable for 2011, but not for 2012. For more details on what this means and on the Adoption Tax Credit in general, go to our podcast on the Adoption Tax Credit on Dec. 1, 2010.
The full text of the law can be found in Section 101 of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.
- Great advice from Dr. Joshua Sparrow in an advice column in the New York times on how to help children adopted at an older age, either from foster care or internationally from institutionalized care, cope during stressful times, such as the holidays. The same advice can apply at other times of stress such as anniversary dates.
- On November 3, 2010, the Ukrainian parliament agreed to allow a vote on legislation that will put a moratorium on all international adoptions of Ukrainian children. This is the second and final vote on this legislation before it becomes law. I have heard the second vote will take place sometime this month. For more information, check out the US State Dept. site and this notice. Another good resource is No Greater Joy Mom , a blogger who is doing a great job of tracking this and includes links for people to contact. As always the FRUA Ukrainian forum is a wonderful place to find out the latest.
- I have often said that adoption isn't the only way to help orphaned children. In fact, although it may be best for that particular child at that particular time, those of us who have benefited from adoption have an obligation to make sure that it isn't the only option for later kids. We must give back in ways that prevent more families from falling apart and more children from ending up in orphanages or foster care. That is a long introduction to this article about a family that took to heart the need to give back.
- Succinct article on how to build attachment with your newly adoptive child. I appreciate the author's ability to normalize the scary first few months when you may well feel more like a babysitter than a parent.
- A new adoption magazine, The Adoption Constellation, is hitting the virtual newsstands this month. I like the concept and execution of this magazine. First, it is run by two adult adoptees. All of us who care about adoption need to be informed by the opinions of adoptees. Second, it says that it's goal is to represent the views of all members of the adoption triad-adoptees, first parents, and adoptive parents. They've done their homework and the finished product looks great. But this magazine is far more than a pretty sleek product; it is a compilation of thoughtful well written essays. They don't offer easy answers, but present many sides with differing views. I so respect that. I wish them great success. You might consider asking for a subscription for Christmas. It's $25/year. The first issue is free online.
- Thought provoking article in the New York Times Motherlode column by an adoptive mom of three from Ethiopia on how much information should we share of our child's history. How to respond to the natural curiosity of the people we encounter and how to handle the attention multiracial families attract.
- Cholera has broken out in northern Haiti claiming 135 lives so far with 1,500 sick. So far the disease has not reached the earthquake ravaged capital city of Port-au-Prince, although health officials are very worried since huge numbers of people are still living in crowded tent cities. Doesn't it seem that Haiti just can't catch a break??? To read more, check out these sources. CNN News, RTT News,
- Wow, this is a sad sad story. Fox news reported on a Chinese woman who was forced to have a late term abortion because the pregnancy was in violation of the one child policy. The news has reported that the one child policy is being relaxed in China, but apparently that doesn't hold true throughout all of China.
- Interview in Redbook with actress Katherine Heigl where she talks about her adoption of a baby from Korea last year. She acknowledges that it hasn't been all easy, and it took awhile to feel attached. She says, "My mother is a realist, and she's had biological and adoptive children, and she said it's no different: No matter what, they're putting a stranger into your arms. You don't know them yet. And she said don't be surprised if it takes a while to connect to her in that motherly way — don't feel bad, and don't think there's something wrong with you or your relationship with this child.
My first instinct with Naleigh was a protective one. I just wanted to shelter her and keep her fed and loved and all those things...but the moment I realized I adored her and that she was more special to me than anything in the world — all clichés, but I don't know how else to say it — those feelings came a few months later. That was when I thought, Oh, my God, does everyone think she's this great? Or do only I think she's this great? And do I think that because she's my kid or because she really is that great? "
On future baby plans, she says,"We still talk about having biological children as well — I'm not ruling anything out. But my feeling about adoption is, Why not? There's nothing about it that makes it any less meaningful of a relationship in my mind. My husband and I wanted to have a baby, and to us it didn't matter how it happened. Adoption has been a part of my life and a part of my family, so it was how I wanted to start. It felt natural and right to me."
- Good post this week over at the adult adoptee blog of Kimchi and Sweet Tea. She talks about her homeland tour she made as an adult, her desires to go back, and her feelings on finding out her birth parents were married and had two other children. As always, she's worth the read. This blog is a nice counter point to my blog with my interview with my teen daughter on her feeling about her homeland visit. Homeland Tours
- Interesting Associated Press article on international adoptions from Ethiopia. A US delegation, including Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. (one of the leading adoption advocates in Congress), and Susan Jacobs, the State Department's special adviser on children's issues, were impressed with what they saw with Ethiopian adoptions last month. "What's encouraging is they want to work with us, they want to do it right," Jacobs said in a telephone interview. "Other countries should look at what Ethiopia is trying to do." Landrieu said Ethiopia deserves praise — compared with many developing countries — for recognizing that its orphans would be better off in a family environment such as foster care or an adoptive home rather than in an institution. I hope and pray that they are right.
- National Council for Adoption released a thoughtful examination of the responses to the Haitian Earthquake: Examining Intercountry Adoption After the Earthquake in Haiti They paid particular attention to the evacuation of the 53 children from the Bresma orphanage to Pittsburgh, the attempt to move 33 Haitian children over the border to the Dominican Republic by the 10 "missionaries" with New Life Children’s Refuge, and the US Government's Humanitarian Parole. I recommend this report and hope people will think through the lessons learned.
- The US State Dept. withdrew its letter of interest in participating in the Guatemala international adoption pilot program. Due to wide spread concerns about corruption international adoptions between the US and Guatemala ceased in 2007. In November 2009, Guatemala announced that it was initiating a pilot program to resume international adoptions. The pilot program would focus primarily on placing older children, sibling groups, and children with special needs and would work with only a limited number of countries. Guatemala asked countries that might want to participate to submit letters on interest. The US submitted a letter, but has now withdrawn it based on concerns that the Guatemalan international adoption process would still not comply with the adoption standards required of the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoptions. The US hopes it withdrawal will focus more scrutiny on Guatemala's failure to bring this new pilot program into compliance. Interestingly, they also noted that "UNICEF, which had been working closely with the CNA towards development of a new international adoption process in Guatemala, recently announced that it is withdrawing its involvement in the Guatemalan adoption process, citing a number of concerns."
I am not privy to what safeguards Guatemala has instituted or is considering to ensure that adoptions are free of fraud, so I certainly can't disagree with the State Department's decision. However, I DO know of the growing need in Guatemala for families for children, especially older kids and kids with special needs. So, while I'm not critical, I am very very sad. For more information on this decision and on how it will affect old adoption cases that were initiated pre-closing, check out this factsheet.
- Calling all adoptive families. The folks at Point of View, the Public Broadcasting (PBS) show that brought us the terrific series of documentaries on adoption, are hosting a contest for adoptive families to submit a short video on their family. This is My Family is a contest to highlight how you define family and what makes your family special. Submit your video (less than 5 minutes) and you just might win an iPad or iTouch! By the way, all three adoption themed documentaries are now available to watch online. If you missed them, you really should catch up now.
- Jockey had helped the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provide post adoption services for families adopting kids from foster care. Now, we can help also, by supporting Jockey. Buy Jockey products to help kids; you get quality products and families are helped. It's another one of those twofers I'm so fond of.
- If you are in the process of adopting from Kazakhstan, expect additional delays in getting your child's passport, which in turn will likely delay when your child can come home. Kazakhstan in not currently accepting applications for international adoption, but is still processing adoptive parents that were already in process. It is unclear how this will be handled but the State Dept. is predicting about a 3 month delay.
- The last of the three documentaries being aired by the PBS show Point of View will be tonight, Sept. 14, 2010. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee by director Deann Borshay Liem "Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers."
- The government of Rwanda has stopped accepting dossiers for international adoption while they prepare to implement the Hague Treaty on Intercountry adoption. This does not affect many people since few international adoptions from Rwanda, but Rwanda had become a more popular country for international adoptions recently.
- PBS will air Off and Running on Sept. 7. Off and Running tells the story of Brooklyn teenager Avery, a track star with a bright future. She is the adopted African-American child of white Jewish lesbians. Her older brother is black and Puerto Rican and her younger brother is Korean. Though it may not look typical, Avery’s household is like most American homes — until Avery writes to her birth mother and the response throws her into crisis. She struggles over her “true” identity, the circumstances of her adoption and her estrangement from black culture. Just when it seems as if her life is unraveling, Avery decides to pick up the pieces and make sense of her identity, with inspiring results. Watch the trailer today and then watch the full film either on TV, online, or thru Netflix instant watch. We'll talk about it tomorrow, Sept. 8 on my blog.
- PBS aired the documentary on adopting from China, Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy, last night (Aug. 31). It is now available online to watch. Why don't we all watch it sometime today and then discuss it over at the Creating a Family Facebook group tomorrow (Sept. 2)? Great idea, huh??? Click on Watch Now to start the video. It's about an hour.
- Interview on the Today show with Sandra Bullock. She talks some about adopting her son and how she was able to keep it a secret amongst all the hullabaloo of the Oscars and her divorce.
- The Public Broadcasting show "Point of View" is airing three documentaries about adoption for the next three Mondays. The first one is Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy by Stephanie Wang-Breal. This documentary is about a Long Island family that travels to China to adopt an 8 year old. It follows their journey to China and the family and child's adjustment to life once they return home.You can watch the trailer here and read a synopsis here.
- The term "heart warming" is thrown around at most adoption stories, but this one really deserves that label. I dare you to read it without getting misty eyed. Older foster children are not damaged beyond repair. They can be successfully adopted. Notice, however, the pre and post adoption support this family and child are receiving. We need to make this the norm!
- National Public Radio Hearing Voices did a show on Inside the Adoption Circle: Adoptees, Birth Parents, Adoptive Families You can listen on download.
- Interesting documentary, Wrongfully Detained, on why the decline in international adoptions and how to reverse the decline is beginning to be filmed in Guatemala. It is due for release in Summer 2011. I'll keep track of this and let you know when it comes out. It should be fascinating. The documentary director said, ""Too many kids are wrongfully detained in living conditions that are deplorable. With this film, we will change that." this documentary is being produced by Both Ends Burning, an organization with the following mission. "Both Ends Burning is a campaign to reform the current system of intercountry adoption so that more orphaned children can grow up in loving, caring homes. Our goal is to make intercountry adoption more affordable and less bureaucratic. Both ends of the adoption spectrum are troubled: Orphaned children need loving homes, and willing families face undue barriers to adopting them."
- I was interviewed for the Insider Secret podcast on Adopting a Child from China. It's a good summary of the process, if I do say so myself.
- The US is no longer processing adoptions from Nepal where the child has been abandoned due to shaky paperwork supporting the abandonments. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone since the State Department has hinted for months about concerns.
- US State Dept. issues a travel warning for travel to Russia due to ongoing wildfires. This may affect some folks traveling to Russia for adoption.
- Really good interview with Sheryl Crow on adoption and life in general. She said about adoption: "It’s not like you can go to some outlet and pick up a baby because you’ve got a record to promote. An adoptive mother goes through more hoops than those people who thoughtlessly become pregnant. I had about ten adoptions fall through last year so there was a real sense of relief when he was mine. It’s a long process and it’s fraught with uncertainty. Another person is carrying a baby and when that baby finally arrives their feelings may have changed." She brought her new son, Levi, home last month. July 2010.
- Article in the Korea Herald, the largest English language paper in Korea, about triplets adopted from Korea returning to Korea to learn about the culture when they were 25. The article supports what we hear frequently from adult international adoptees--they identify more with their birth culture as they age. College is often a time of intense interest and identification as a member of their ethnic culture.
- A great blog post by Kevin Hofmann, an adult transracial adoptee. It is a letter to his mom. It is beautifully written and the message is right on. Kevin was also on our latest panel of adult transracial adoptees for the Creating a Family radio show. Kevin is able to provide advice in such a way that adoptive parents hear. Remember, adoption of Asian and Hispanic children by white parents is also a transracial adoption. His blog is worth subscribing to and his book, Growing Up Black in White, is worth buying and reading. You can buy it from Kevin's site.
- Annette Baran, a clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and long time advocate for opening adoptions died at age 83. In 1978 she co-wrote the influential book, "The Adoption Triangle," which is credited as the beginning of the open adoption movement. She did much to demystify and legitimize the practice of open adoption.
- The Myth of the Forever Family is a beautiful piece by Dawn Friedman in Brain Child. She takes an honest look at what she calls adoptions "dirty little secret"-disruptions and dissolution. As the head of a nonprofit dedicated to adoption education and to finding homes for hard to place children, I take her criticism to heart. Adoptive parent do need to be better educated pre-adoption. The problem, especially in international adoption, is that we so often don't know the extent of a child's emotional damage until they come home. Most children, even those who have been institutionalized, do relatively well post adoption. We can only prepare parents for a possibility. Even with the best of education, parents can be blindsided by the reality. The adoption community needs to actively promote family preservation services post adoption. Maybe that should be an automatic part of the services provided with all older child adoptions.
- I'll grant you that the situation in Haiti is complex and defies simple solution, but somehow the world community and specifically the charitable community, should be doing better. The frustrating part is that we predicted that this would happen. The New York Times ran a wonderful story illustrating what is happening with the earthquake orphans in Haiti-Haitian Orphans Have Little but One Another. The groups that are set up to help (for example, UNICEF and Save the Children) can't begin to deal with the extent of the problem, but they have all the money. As the head of the organization featured in the article so poignantly said, “Somehow, the whole world wants to help , but we feel like we’re on our own.” July 6, 2010.
- Time Magazine ran an article on what can go wrong with international adoptions. When the Adopted Can't Adapt By Kate Pickert. Of course, on some level I wish they had focused on the whole of international adoptions from Russia or from countries where children have lived for years in orphanages, but that was not the intent of this article. I thought the reporter did a good job of summarizing what many people experience.
- The ABC daytime talk show, The View, did a two-segment spot on international adoption. They had Adam Pertman, with the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute as well as several families. It was refreshingly even presentation. Yes, they covered some of the difficulties (cost, emotional impact of institutionalization, etc) but they also covered some of the valid and wonderful reasons people adopt. I recommend this heartily. The international adoption segments start after Kyra Sedgewick is on. If you want to read a cute summary of the experience, by the first couple interviewed, check out the great blog: Rage against the Minivan.
|The Creating a Family Show is Brought to You by: