World Autism Month: 3 Ways to Help Foster Children with Autism

April is halfway over and with it, World Autism Month. Soon, it’ll be May – which also happens to be National Foster Care Month.

There is an unfortunate connection between autism and foster care: Children with autism are 2.4 times more likely to enter foster care than neurotypical children. There, they often wait longer for adoption than neurotypical foster children.

There are many reasons why these children may enter foster care, but some common reasons include:

  • A child’s parents may not know much about autism, or how to raise a child with autism. They may struggle to recognize the signs, manage their child’s behaviors, or help their child cope with his or her unique obstacles.
  • A child’s parents may not have the resources to give their child the support they need — they may not have the financial resources for professional help, they may not live in an area that has the services their child requires, or they may not have access to basic care.
  • The stress of raising a child with autism may be too much for some parents, particularly if they’re already under physical, mental, emotional, or financial strain.  

Without consistent caretakers who can recognize the signs of autism and provide appropriate care, children may not receive the early and ongoing support they need to thrive. So, here are 3 things you can do to help children with autism:

1. Take Steps to Prevent Children with Autism from Entering Foster Care

The most important way to support foster children with autism is also possibly the hardest: Prevent them from entering state custody in the first place.

How can we do this? There are a lot of possible steps that can be taken to reduce the number of children entering foster care, but funding and advocating for better access to professional services is a good place to start. Children and adults with autism often require special doctors, therapies, educators, coaches, and more. Their parents will require services, too – they may need access to respite care, for one.

Unfortunately, these services aren’t always accessible for parents raising children with autism. They can be expensive, and they may not exist in the immediate area at all.

Here’s what you can do to help:

Donate to autism organizations, or organize a fundraiser to benefit these organizations. Many of these organizations are working to provide affordable and accessible autism care to families who need it most.

But, even with better access to specialized care a child’s entry into the foster care system can’t always be prevented if his or her parents are simply facing too many challenges. So, what can you do to support children with autism who are already in state custody?

2. Consider Fostering or Adopting a Child with Autism

Before you take this step, please be sure that you:

The Special Needs Alliance has information for parents considering adopting a child with special needs, which we encourage you to read here.

Because these foster children have specific needs, it’s important to understand the scope of those needs before you commit to fostering or adopting a child with autism. Many loving families have hearts big enough to welcome a new child, but they must also have the education and resources that a child with autism may need. You will likely need autism-specific training before you move forward.

Remember: No two children with autism will show the same behaviors or have the same needs. Autism is a broad and varied spectrum! You’ll need to be ready to support a child in all their uniqueness.

However, if you think you are able and ready to welcome a child with autism, fostering or adopting these children can be the best way to ensure their future is a bright one. Consistent, competent, loving, and patient parents can make a world of difference for anyone, but especially for a person with autism. You could be that love and support for someone!

Here’s what you can do to help:

Reach out to your state’s foster care department now to learn more about fostering or adopting a child with autism.

3. Raise Awareness

As we conclude World Autism Month this April and look to National Foster Care Month in May, we’re reminded that it’s important to educate others about:

  • Some of the early developmental signs that may point to autism, in addition to when parents should consult a doctor or seek out appropriate support resources.
  • Efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding autism, and to uplift people with autism in our communities.
  • The need for accessible and equitable autism resources throughout the U.S., and better support for parents whose children are at-risk of entering foster care.
  • The prevalence of children with autism already in foster care, and the pressing need for foster and adoptive families who are ready and able to care for a child with autism.

Here’s what you can do to help:

Spread this awareness and education by sharing this article right now, or by sharing information and graphics from Autism Speaks!

How Intrusive is the Adoption Process?

If you’re a hopeful parent considering adoption, you’ve likely familiarized yourself with the adoption process to some degree. The steps involved and the information that is asked of you can seem daunting at first, but we promise that it is all to ensure the long-term safety of the adopted child.

Any information and documentation you share with your adoption professional will be remain secure and will never be shared without your permission.

“How intense is the adoption home study?”

Many prospective adoptive parents are worried that the home study is going to put themselves and their home life under a microscope during the home visit. Your home study professional isn’t expecting a spotless home; they just want to make sure that your home is safe for a child to live in.

“Why am I being asked about my financial habits?”

Part of the home study is the review of financial documents. Your adoption specialist will want to review tax returns, pay stubs and letters from your employer verifying your current income.  This is solely to ensure that you will not only be financially able to support your child, but to do so without living paycheck to paycheck. You certainly don’t have to be wealthy to qualify for adoption. Here is a helpful checklist of documents you’ll be required to submit during your home study.

“If I have a criminal record, how will it affect my home study?”

One of the most important parts of the adoption home study is the background check.  If you’re worried that your past will affect your home study process, the best thing you can do is be as open as possible with your adoption professional. Whether it’s a traffic ticket or a DUI, it’s important that you are completely honest with your adoption professional so that they don’t have to learn these facts from the background check first.

Minor offenses won’t immediately prevent you from adopting, but trying to hide them might. Your adoption professional will likely ask you follow-up questions about any misdemeanors, such as why the offense occurred, to gain a better understanding of the situation. However, criminal backgrounds of violent offenses or abuse will result in immediate disqualification.

“What kind of questions will I be asked during the interview?”

The interview portion of the home study is an opportunity for your home study professional to get a feel for your parenting style and the kind of life you plan to give your future child. Typically, the interview starts off with your professional asking about what you do for a job, what your hobbies are, what your relationship with your partner is like, etc. This is your chance to talk about who you are as a person so that your professional can get to know you better.  

Your home study professional will ask you questions about why you want to adopt and what your hopes are for your child once the adoption has been completed. They will also make sure that you have an understanding of how the adoption process works and answer any questions that you might have. This is of course not the only time you will have to ask questions. You can reach out to your primary adoption professional at any time during the adoption process.

Will I Know What the Baby Looks Like If I Adopt?

One of the most common questions we get from hopeful adoptive parents is, “Will I know what the baby looks like if I adopt?”  

Not exactly. When it comes to private domestic infant adoption, the prospective birth mother chooses the adoptive parents, you don’t choose the baby. When you fill out your early adoption paperwork you will be able to list what races you’re open to adopting if you’re interested in transracial adoption, but you won’t be able to choose the gender or physical characteristics, just as you wouldn’t if you were giving birth to your baby yourself.

If you have questions or concerns about how much of a say you will have in regards to your future child, you can talk to an adoption professional now.

“Do you get to choose the baby you adopt?”

When you talk with your adoption professional, you will be asked to fill out an adoptive family profile. With this paperwork, you will answer questions that can help your adoption professional connect you with an adoption opportunity that’s right for you. The questions could range from addressing what budget you are comfortable with, how much post placement contact you want between your family and the birth mother, race, etc.

With private domestic infant adoption, you do not get to choose the baby you adopt. The prospective birth mother chooses you. This allows her to have a say in who she feels comfortable with raising her child. This is a great source of comfort for everyone involved — the expectant mother won’t have to wonder who her child was placed with and you can take solace in knowing that you were chosen by the birth parent(s) to be their baby’s adoptive parents. Once you have completed your questionnaire paperwork, it will be shown to expectant birth mothers who would be a good match.

“What physical attributes can you choose in your future child?”

 When you fill out your questionnaire paperwork you will be able to list what races you are comfortable with your child being so that your adoption professional can be sure that you are prepared to healthily acknowledge your child’s racial identity. As the adoptive family, you will be asked to cover costs of the birth parent’s living expenses and prenatal care.  In your early paperwork, you can lay out your preferred budget that includes your case management costs and legal fees as well as the living and medical expenses of the birth parent. Your budget will go towards meeting the varying financial needs of the expectant mother.  Some need more financial support than others, which is why it’s helpful to have a set budget in place.

You will not be able to choose the gender of your baby for a couple of reasons. It’s not uncommon for the expectant mother to not want to know the gender of the baby. Even if the gender is known, birth mothers might be put off if they feel like you are only trying to adopt a specific gender.

With foster care adoption and some instances of international adoption, they may send you a photo of the child you are intending to adopt. However, it cannot be stressed enough that you should never adopt a child based solely on their physical attributes.

Choosing adoption as a way to grow your family is beautiful choice. Even though you won’t for sure know how your future baby will look, it’s important that you are prepared to love and accept them for who they are, regardless of gender, race or physical attributes.

What Does My House Need to Look Like to Adopt?

A big source of anxiety for many prospective adoptive parents is the home visit portion of the home study. You might be wondering: What does my house need to look like to adopt?  There is no black and white answer to this question.

Many waiting couples are worried the size of their house could hinder their chances of adoption or that if they rent instead of own their residence they will be ruled out. You can rest assured that many adoptive parents rent instead of own their homes and adoption professionals won’t rule you out based on the size of your house or apartment, as long as you have a room for your child.

If you’re hopeful adoptive parents wanting to add to or begin a family of your own, you’ve likely already done some research.  If you have questions and concerns about the home study and how it might affect your ability to adopt, let us put your mind at ease. While the home study is important, an adoption professional’s goal with the home study is to rule you in rather than out. They just want to be sure that you have all the resources you need to comfortably raise a child.

The primary focus of the home visit is to make sure that your child will be safe in their new home. If you have any questions that aren’t answered in this article, reach out to an adoption professional today to get the answers you need.

“What do they look for in a home study for adoption?”

The purpose of the home inspection, also known as the home visit, is to serve as an opportunity for your adoption professional to educate you on any potential changes that should be made to ensure your child’s safety.  This means that even if there is an area of your home that could be an issue, it doesn’t mean you will be instantly ruled out. Your home study professional will give you pointers and suggestions of how to improve problematic areas of your home to be child-friendly. They want to lead you in the right direction, not find ways to rule you out.

Your home study professional will make sure that there are fire escape routes, that any guns are properly locked in a safe and out of reach of a child, screens on all your windows and fences around any open water on the property.

“How do I prepare for an adoption home visit?”

While the home study isn’t as black and white as many hopeful adoptive parents fear it is, it is something you should definitely prepare for. Of course, you don’t have to completely overhaul your home, but implementing basic things such as making sure your home is clean and clear of any potential safety hazards. Your adoption professional can give you a rundown of what they will be

  • Many hopeful adoptive parents worry that if their home isn’t spotless, they’ll lose their credibility. This is certainly not the case. As long as your home is sanitary and safe for your child’s health, your social worker will be happy.
  • Don’t feel like you have to remodel your home. Home study professionals are not here to judge your interior decorating skills. If your future child’s room isn’t decorated, that’s okay. They just want to make sure that the room and any furniture in it is safe and child-friendly.
  • Make sure you have proper fire safety mechanisms in place such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and proper fire exits. It’s also important to have a fire escape plan in place in the event of a fire.
  • If you have any pets in your home, this will be something your adoption professional will want to know. They’ll want to meet them to see how they interact with strangers.

How to Child Proof Your Home in 7 Steps

Here are 7 easy steps you can take to ensure your home is safe for a child:

1.      Check the Water Temperature

Make sure that the hot water in your home is safe for the sensitive skin of your little one.  Setting the temperature gauge on the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower is usually the standard.

2.  Put Away Dangerous Kitchen Utensils

It can be helpful to make sure that your kitchen is child-friendly by putting potentially dangerous items up and out of a child’s reach such as cutlery, glass, heavy cookware and cleaning chemicals.

3. Keep Choking Hazards Out of Reach

Babies and young children are prone to putting things they find on the floor in their mouth. Make sure that any small objects a child could put in their mouth are picked up and out of reach such as chemical cleaning supplies, paper clips, pen caps, etc. Not only is this unsanitary, but small objects like these are definite choking hazards.

4. Cover Unused Outlets

Check your outlets! Make sure to cover any unused outlets with outlet plugs to make sure that your child isn’t sticking their fingers or toys in the outlet.

5. Secure your Windows

A big safety point your adoption social worker will check for is making sure that all of your windows have screens. Also make sure that any blind cords or curtains with tassels are managed to prevent your child from getting tangled.  Consider investing in cord stops or safety tassels.

6. Child Proof Sharp Edges

Make sure that any low furniture with sharp edges such as coffee tables and dressers are covered with a rubber bumper or guard. Also make sure any tall furniture that could be climbed is secure in the floor or the wall.

7. Yard Safety

The safety of the outside of your home matters too. Make sure any sharp or heavy yard tools are put away and that your yard is free of any poisonous plants. As previously stated, if you have any ponds, pools or fountains, make sure there is a fence or barrier around the perimeter.

If your home study professional does come across any discrepancies during the home visit, this doesn’t mean that you will be ruled out from adoption. The home visit is an inspection but it’s also a learning opportunity. Your home study professional will address any concerns they have and tell how you can improve and why it’s important. They just need to know that you are willing to make the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of your child.

If you have more questions about how to baby proof your home or prepare for you adoption home visit, contact an adoption professional today to get more free information.

What Will Disqualify You from Adopting a Child?

If you’re someone who is considering adoption as a way to create the family of your dreams, this is a very exciting time in your life.  But, with a process as life-changing as adoption, there are requirements to be able to adopt. You might be wondering: What will disqualify me from adopting a child?

Every adoption professional you work with will have standards in place to make sure that they are working with adoptive families who are committed and prepared to raise a child. The requirements of many agencies are based around the state adoption laws. These laws very state to state, so it’s important that you do thorough research on your own state’s adoption requirements.

That being said, the 5 most common concerns that would-be parents have about factors that may “disqualify” them from adopting a child include:

1.     Being too Young or too Old

Age may seem like an unfair adoption requirement since it is something that is out of your control, but like all adoption requirements, it’s designed with the adoptee’s best interests in mind. Most states require you to be a minimum of 18 years old to adopt.  In some states like Colorado or Oklahoma you must be 21, and in others 25. Many don’t have a specific age minimum at all.

On the other end of the spectrum, some agencies have a maximum age cutoff so that they can be sure that you will able to properly care for the child long-term.  While there are no laws stating a maximum age for adoption, many agencies will have cutoffs around the age of 50. You can find your state’s age requirements here.

2.     Health Issues that Impede Your Parental Abilities

While most common chronic health conditions like anxiety or diabetes won’t disqualify you from adopting a child, adoption agencies want to be sure that you will be physically and mentally capable of caring for your child long-term. As long as you are actively managing your illness and it doesn’t inhibit your ability to care for your child, your health will not disqualify you from being able to adopt.  With some life threatening illnesses such as cancer, some adoption agencies might have a requirement that you must be in remission for 3 months before adopting. This isn’t meant to be discriminatory, but more an insurance that you will be able to be around long term for your child and give them the proper care.

3.     Criminal History

A big factor in whether or not you qualify to adopt a child is if you have a criminal background. No matter which adoption agency you work with, all adoptive parents must complete a home study, which includes background checks. 

However, it isn’t always as cut and dry as being disqualified from adoption just because you have a criminal history.  In the case of a non-violent offense, your adoption professional might sit down with you to discuss the charge and why the offense happened.  Misdemeanor violent offenses may be evaluated on a case by case basis by a judge. If you have a history of violence against children, you will be immediately disqualified from adoption.

4.     Finances

Another deciding factor of whether you will be able to adopt or not will depend on your financial situation.  You don’t need to be incredibly wealthy to adopt a child or even debt-free, just financially stable.  As long as you have enough money to properly support a child as well as yourself, your financial situation will not disqualify you from adopting.  If you do currently find yourself in a situation where your financial situation may prevent you from adopting, this is something that could change down the line.

5.     Lifestyle

What constitutes a lifestyle that could disqualify you from adopting will vary agency to agency.  In previous years, one of the most common might have been if you were an LGBTQ parent/couple.  Fortunately, today you can adopt in all 50 states regardless of your sexual orientation.

However, some states there have legislation in place that makes it possible for private adoption agencies to deny same-sex couples who are trying to adopt, especially if they are faith-based. Some adoption agencies may disqualify you if you are single because most pregnant women considering adoption are looking for two-parent homes for their child.

Fortunately, most adoption agencies operate under open-minded ideals and will accept adoptive parents from all different backgrounds and lifestyles. What might be a disqualifying factor with one agency, may not apply to another. It’s important that you thoroughly research an adoption professional before working with them to ensure that they can meet your needs.

Creating a family of your own through adoption is a beautiful opportunity. It’s important that you do your own research of your state’s adoption laws and that you are familiar with the requirements of the adoption professional you choose.  If you’re worried about certain aspects of your life affecting your ability to adopt, reach out to an adoption professional to get more information about the adoption opportunities available to you.

Hidden Risks of Using Social Media to Find an Adoption Opportunity

Considering adoption as a means to grow your family is a wonderful choice. You are able to create the family of your dreams while giving a child the gift of a loving and supportive family. However, if you don’t know much about the options available to you when it comes to adoption or where to turn, it can be easy to look in the wrong places.

Though it is a usually a straightforward process, sometimes just one negative experience or long wait times when trying to adopt can be too much for some waiting couples.  In a digital age heavily dominated by the internet, many waiting couples turn to social media to search for adoption opportunities. While there have been some successful adoptions that have resulted from social media, there are heavy risks involved.

These risks often boil down to two potential unfortunate situations: It’s a scam and the alleged “birth parent” is not actually pregnant/considering adoption or you are dealing with an expectant parent who is serious about adoption, but without the proper processes and legal support, you can run into legal issues with disastrous results.

Adoption Scams

There has been an increasing trend of hopeful adoptive parents looking for adoption opportunities on social media platforms such as Craigslist, Twitter and Instagram. Many have taken to Instagram using hashtags such as “#lookingtoadopt” or “#waitingtoadopt” with the hopes of being found by an expectant mother looking for an adoptive family for her baby.

There have been reports of alleged potential birth parents reaching out to couples using these hashtags claiming they want to place their baby for adoption.  In one instance of this, the couple dialoged with the “birth mom” for months, sending messages and pictures back and forth until eventually, the owner of the “birth mom” account blocked the hopeful couple. 

While there was no money exchanged, this was a massive waste of time for the hopeful adoptive parents and emotionally devastating. Whether this was someone trying to catfish the couple or a pregnant woman who got cold feet, this is a very real risk of using social media  to find an adoption opportunity with no way to verify the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed expectant mom.

An even bigger risk is that you could be scammed out of money in the event of adoption fraud. If the person claiming to be a birth parent looking for adoptive parents charges you for money to adopt her baby and then cuts off communication with you, not only could this transaction be considered illegal (we’ll touch more on this later), but you could also be susceptible to financial damages.

An Illegal Adoption

It cannot be stressed enough that it is illegal for you to purchase another individual’s child, just as it’s illegal for them to attempt to sell their child. Depending on your state’s laws, this can be considered adoption fraud or even child trafficking. It is highly illegal for the expectant parent to accept financial compensation in exchange for her child, especially if she has no actual intent to place a child for adoption. In more sinister cases, you have no way of knowing for sure if the child you are paying to adopt actually belongs to the alleged biological parent.

Even if the expectant mother is honest and her intentions are good, the adoption will not be considered legal unless you go through the proper steps. In most states, the adoptive parents must complete a home study, go through the proper legal steps with an adoption agency and/or an adoption attorney, and then have a decree of adoption issued by a court. If the adoption is not above board, authorities could remove the child from your home.

3 Alternatives to Using Social Media for Adoption

We understand how frustrating it can be when all you want is to have a family of your own and it feels like the odds are against you. We promise there is hope.

Instead of turning to social media to find a child, you should always turn to a properly-licensed professional. Here are three alternatives to risky (and potentially illegal) social media matches:

1.      A National Adoption Agency

We know that the stories of lengthy wait times can be discouraging. National adoption agencies complete adoptions all over the country, which means they work with multiple expectant parents at once. This means there will be more adoption opportunities, and shorter wait times to find the right opportunities. When you work with a national adoption agency, you’ll not only have shorter wait times than a local agency, you’ll have access to many useful services and resources for your adoption.

An adoption agency will be able to screen the birth parent to ensure that everything is legitimate and that you will not fall victim to adoption fraud. An adoption professional will be able to walk you through the adoption process step by step to ensure that all your bases are covered and all the proper legal paperwork has been completed so that your adoption can be considered legal. They’ll connect you with an adoption attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.

2.      Foster Care Adoption

Adopting from foster care is a beautiful way to add another member to your family while also giving a waiting child a loving and supportive family. Foster care usually focuses on the placement of older children and may not always be a permanent placement, as it is usually a temporary arrangement when the biological parents cannot properly care for them at the time.

The priority is to reunite the child with their birth family in a safe and stable environment. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. This is where you come in. You can foster a child with the possibility of adoption, or you can adopt a child who is already awaiting adoption.

3.      International Adoption

International adoption is a beautiful way to expand your family, while giving a child abroad a supportive and loving family. International adoption might sound overwhelming at first when you factor in state, federal and international adoption laws, which is why you should always work with a Hague-accredited agency. Your adoption professional will coordinate everything for you so that you can be sure the laws and customs of the country you are adopting from are being abided by.

Before you send out a hashtag looking for an adoption opportunity, consider reaching out to an adoption professional to get free information about your options.

The Fascination with the ‘Open Adoption Gone Wrong’ Narrative

You see the adoption horror stories all the time on your favorite daytime talk shows: A “crazed” birth mother demands her baby back from the adoptive family. 

Stories like these are incredibly rare compared to the vast number of successful open adoptions. So why does it seem like ‘open adoption gone wrong’ stories are always making headlines?

The simple answer is sensationalism. The headline “Adoption Gone Wrong” is more likely to pull someone in than a headline along the lines of “Birth Mother Retains Healthy Relationship with Child’s Adoptive Family.” When tragedy occurs, its human nature to be curious about what went wrong.

Media specialists and tabloids know this and are more likely to run a story depicting a devastating event rather than a story that has a happier ending.  

Due to what’s known as negativity bias, our brains are wired to pay attention to negative news. This psychological trait that once kept us safe by making us more aware of nearby danger, now makes us more predisposed to latching onto negative headlines.

So while these open adoption horror stories rarely ever happen, they are easy for people to remember and fixate on.

5 Open Adoption Myths and Misconceptions

With so much misinformation and sensationalized media at our disposal, it’s easy to feel discouraged or nervous about pursuing an open adoption.

Below are 5 common open adoption myths and the facts debunking them:

Myth 1: The birth parents can take their baby back.

This is one of the most common myths surrounding open adoption that generates a lot of fear in prospective adoptive parents. Once the adoption is finalized and the birth parent relinquishes their parental rights to their baby and the revocation period passes, there is no going back. The myth of the birth parents coming to reclaim the baby is just that: A myth. It’s not legally possible.

The birth mother can change her mind about adoption at any point before then, but since adoption is meant to give the child a sense of permanence, there are rarely any plausible circumstances that would allow for the birth mother to regain custody.

Myth 2: The birth parents will stalk you.

Just as with many of these ‘open adoption gone wrong’ scenarios, this one rarely happens. As the adoptive parents, you will not be required to share any personal information you don’t want to with the birth parents. The sort of post-placement contact arrangements that will be in place after the adoption has been finalized will be up to you and the birth parent to discuss. You don’t have to agree to anything if you feel it is not right for you.

Open adoptions have been proven to be beneficial for the whole adoption triad. It allows the birth parent to know that their child is healthy and happy, the child never has to wonder where they came from, and the adoptive parents will have peace of mind knowing that the birth parent chose them to raise their child.

Myth 3: The birth parent will regret their decision.

This one goes hand in hand with the fear that the birth parents will try to take their baby back. By the time a birth parent has relinquished t heir parental rights, they will have given their decision a lot of thought. Adoption is never a choice that is made lightly. While birth mothers often experience normal feelings of grief and loss, she knows that she is making the right choice for her and her baby.

Myth 4: The child will grow up hating their adoptive parents.

Unlike in the past where a child might be “shielded” from the fact that they were adopted, 97% of adopted children over the age of 5 today know their adoption story. There is less likely to be resentment when their adoption is something that can be discussed openly and honestly.

Myth 5: The child will grow up hating their birth parents.

Open adoption allows for the child to stay in touch with their birth parents, so they never have questions about where they came from or why they were placed for adoption. Children who have some amount of openness with their birth parents have been shown to have more positive feelings about their adoption.

Open Adoption

Open adoptions have become more popular in recent decades with 95 percent of today’s adoptions being open to some degree. Open adoptions are generally the healthiest option for everyone involved.

 Listed below are just a few of the benefits of open adoptions.

  • The birth parents will find comfort knowing that their child is happy and thriving with their new adoptive family.
  • The adoptive family will have better access to their child’s medical history.
  • The adoptive family will feel encouraged that the birth parent picked them specifically to raise their child.
  • When birth parents are able to communicate with the adoptive family and their child, they are less likely to experience feelings of guilt and doubt.
  • The adopted child will have a better sense of identity and will never have to wonder about where they came from.

Closed Adoption

While closed adoptions do still exist, they are less popular due to them not being as beneficial to those involved as open adoptions. The disadvantages that you could face in a closed adoption include:

  • The birth parents may feel guilty if they do not have the opportunity to explain to their child their reason for making their decision to place them for adoption.
  • Not knowing how their child is doing could make the birth parent depressed or anxious.
  • The adopted child may feel unwanted if they don’t know their birth mother’s reason for placing them for adoption.
  • It may be harder for the birth parent to experience closure without information about their child.
  • The adoptive family will have limited medical history on their child if new medical concerns develop.
  • The adopted child may struggle with their own identity and wonder about who they are.

If you’re new to the world of adoption, you may be overwhelmed and not sure what to expect. An open adoption allows for both the birth parents and adoptive family to have some clarity as they move through the adoption process. Reach out to an adoption professional today to get more answers to your open adoption questions.

Should You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine If You’re Pregnant?

If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, you have enough to worry about without adding contracting COVID-19 to the mix.  Fortunately, a vaccine could be an option for you.

As of December 11, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer for emergency use. A second vaccine developed by Moderna was approved on December 18th.

The authorization of these vaccines has brought about many questions and concerns, especially among pregnant women. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for me if I’m pregnant? Will the vaccine harm my unborn child?

These concerns are valid. In short, if you are a woman who is pregnant, you can receive the vaccine.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, while pregnant women were excluded from the vaccine clinical trials, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are an mRNA which does not contain a live or whole virus. This means it’s highly unlikely to harm women who are pregnant or their unborn baby, and have historically been proven to be safe.

While not much is yet known about how the vaccine interacts with pregnancy, pregnant women are at a greater risk of contracting severe cases of COVID-19, which could result in a high risk pregnancy.

If you are a woman who is pregnant and you want the vaccine, talk to your adoption professional and healthcare provider to determine if receiving the vaccine is the right choice for you.

3 Facts to Know When Considering the COVID-19 Vaccine

A few things you should know if you’re pregnant and thinking about get the COVID vaccine:

  1. There are two COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Pfizer. This vaccine requires 2 separate injections 21 days apart. Data shows that it starts working soon after the first dose and has an efficacy rate of 95% after the second dose.
  • Moderna. This vaccine requires to injections 28 days apart and has an efficacy rate of 94.1% after the second dose.

2. The vaccine is an mRNA.

Both vaccines are mRNA vaccines and do not contain a live virus. These vaccines work by using genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA) that gives your cells instructions on how to make a protein similar to that found in coronavirus.  Your immune system recognizes the foreign protein as a threat and starts building an immune response.

3. Pregnancy is a risk factor for COVID-19.

Many side effects of pregnancy such as hypertension and weight gain increase the chance of contracting COVID-19. Researchers recommend that healthcare providers do not withhold the vaccine from women who are pregnant.

3 Busted Myths about the COVID-19 Vaccine

You’ve likely heard some myths about the vaccine, including:

Myth 1: The COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility.

One of the most common unfounded rumors surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine is that it can result in infertility. There is no scientific backing to support this, whatsoever. Since the vaccine is an mRNA, it does not contain the live virus and does not interact with genetic material.  Other mRNA vaccines have not resulted in infertility in the past.

Myth 2: The COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe because it was developed so rapidly.

The urgency of the pandemic spurred many pharmaceutical companies to invest in a vast amount of resources so that a COVID-19 vaccine could be developed as quickly as possible. Though the development of the vaccine was quick, this does not mean any corners were cut.  The development of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine followed safety protocols and have been approved by the FDA.

Myth 3: There are severe side effects.

There have only been reports of mild reactions such as soreness at the site of injection, and half of recipients reporting headaches, fatigue, or fever that typically resolves in a day or two. These side effects are a result of your body’s immune system responding to the vaccine, and have been observed with other vaccines.

If you are pregnant woman and worried about COVID-19, you can get the vaccine. If you still have reservations or questions about the vaccine’s side effects or how it might affect your pregnancy, talk to your doctor and adoption professional.

A Very Strange Year in Review

There’s no denying that 2020 was a very, very strange year for us all. The world faced new challenges, and the adoption world was one of the many sectors impacted.

However, adoption professionals, birth parents, adoptive families and adoptees all faced these challenges head on, and adapted. Let’s look back at the obstacles we’ve faced and will continue to surmount. 

Here’s what happened this year:

International Adoptions Were Halted

As the world struggled to slow the deadly spread of COVID-19, countries were forced to close their borders, and travel bans were enacted. For families in the midst of an international adoption process, this was devastating. Hopeful parents and children awaiting adoption became separated by national borders and oceans.

International adoptions have been on a consistent decline in recent years as countries encourage adoptive families to consider the many children waiting for a family within their own communities. COVID-19 may signal the end of international adoptions as we know it.

Fortunately, domestic adoption remains an option, even in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.

Domestic Adoptions Continued, Sometimes at a Distance

Unlike international adoptions, domestic adoption was largely unaffected by COVID-19. The primary differences were new social distancing precautions. For birth and adoptive families, this meant fewer in-person meetings and more virtual talks. Many adoptions were even finalized virtually!

Although adoptive families still need to exercise reasonable caution when traveling within the U.S., domestic adoptions have been able to continue safely — a blessing in the chaos for the many families who grew through adoption in 2020.

Faith-Based Adoption Agencies’ Ability to Turn Away Same-Sex Couples Was Upheld

In a blow for waiting foster youth, more states have granted foster adoption agencies the ability to turn away prospective adoptive parents based on sexual orientation. Data consistenty supports the benefits that LGBTQ adoptive parents provide to the foster care system. Removing these families’ ability to foster or adopt through foster care only serves to harm the waiting children in foster care.

Same-sex couples and LGBTQ individuals are now turning to private infant adoption agencies in the hopes of growing a family, especially the national non-denominational professionals. So, although LGBTQ families will still be able to pursue adoption through agencies, there are now more children in foster care who have been denied a family due to these laws.

Families Continued to Grow through Adoption

Despite the many challenges that 2020 brought, adoption professionals, birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees persevered. 

Pregnant women still sought out loving adoptive families for their children, adoptive parents continued to welcome children through adoption and children continued to find loving, permanent homes. Adoption professionals continued to work from home to help support pregnant women and adoptive families. Even at a distance, birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees all continue to grow and strengthen their triads.

Many pregnant women considering adoption as well as would-be-parents who are considering adopting are worried that the uncertainties of 2020 mean adoption is no longer an option for them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Adoptions continued in 2020, and will continue in 2021. Not even a global pandemic can stop the love that goes into each adoption placement, or the desire to give beloved children the best life possible.

If you’re considering adoption, 2021 may be your year. Reach out to a licensed adoption agency to learn more, and to take your first steps.

Should You Adopt in 2021?

2020 was a year of uncertainty, fear and wait-and-see. But through it all, families continued to grow through adoption. After all — babies won’t stop being born just because there’s a lot going on in the world!

As 2021 approaches, you may be wondering if this is the year you welcome a child into your family through adoption. To help yourself decide if you should adopt in 2021, ask yourself these 5 questions:

1. Will the continuing struggle with COVID-19 affect your adoption process?

This is a concern for many would-be parents. But, you’ll be glad to know that unless you are hoping to adopt internationally, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t likely to affect your adoption process much. Here’s why…

2. Are you planning on pursuing a domestic adoption?

Domestic adoptions, whether through foster care or through adoption agencies, have largely been unaffected by COVID-19. International adoptions, however, were massively affected and have virtually ceased.

We were all hoping that there would be a widely-available vaccine at this point, and that the world would be able to return to “normal.” However, it’s not likely to happen for quite some time. So, for now, international adoptions are not recommended in 2021.

However, this might be the year for you if you’re adopting domestically. One important thing hasn’t changed: There are still women who are currently (or will be) facing unplanned pregnancy and want to find a loving adoptive family for their child.

3. Are you financially stable enough to pursue adoption right now?

Adoption is always a costly endeavor (unless you’re pursuing a foster care adoption), but right now, you might be a bit more worried about finances. Many families suffered financial losses as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If you were similarly affected, you may want to put a temporary hold on your adoption plans while you build your savings back up, so that you can be financially prepared for the needs of a new family member.

4. Are you physically ready for adoption?

This is always a consideration for adoptive families. Are you physically ready to care for a newborn and growing child? Do you have a safe and ready home? If so, 2021 might be the year for you to adopt.

5. Are you emotionally ready for adoption?

Again, this is something that any hopeful parent must ask themselves and carefully consider. The adoption process is always an emotional experience, but 2020 was an exceptionally tough and emotional year. 

Do you feel emotionally ready to start the adoption process? Do you understand the emotional process for the birth parents and adoptees, as well? If so, then you’re probably ready to take the next steps!

If You’re Ready, You Can Begin the Process Now

Truly, no matter how prepared you might be, no one is ever 100% ready to become a parent, whether biologically or through adoption. But, if you think that you’re physically, financially and emotionally ready to take on the adoption process, 2021 is the time to do it. 

There are still countless waiting children in foster care and pregnant women who are making adoption plans for their unborn babies. These children will need loving, safe and permanent families. If you think that could be you, reach out to a licensed adoption professional now to take the first steps!