I was recently asked to write a guest blog for America Adopts. Here is the link! http://www.americaadopts.com/letter-wrote-future-son-meeting-birthmother/
Until Next Time!
I was recently asked to write a guest blog for America Adopts. Here is the link! http://www.americaadopts.com/letter-wrote-future-son-meeting-birthmother/
Until Next Time!
For me, two of the most difficult aspects of the adoption process was creating a profile book and writing the letter to the birth family. In my opinion, these are the items that gives birth families their first impression of you. This week I am going to discuss these important items by offering what little advice I have but also by sharing our profile book and letter to our birth mother.
The Profile Book
The profile book is one of the items birth families view to help make their decision of what family is the best fit for their child. The profile book is where you make your first impression and you want it to be a good one. Their is no “correct” way to construct a profile book. The important this is that it reflects you and your family. Profile books can be tangible or virtual. We constructed a tangible book and then our agency wanted us to create an additional, online profile.
So what should you include in your profile book? Pictures. Pictures of you, your family, close family members, pets. Anyone you want to “introduce” to the birth family. The pictures could also include events and activities that you and your partner participate in. Now, what you include is completely up to you. However, remember that the birth family is looking a home for their child and it is an emotional process for them. So, while you may love your wedding photos and pets, including 15 of them may be a bit overboard.
Their are many families out there who are really crafty. Their profile books are gorgeously constructed scrapbooks or other unique ideas. I-AM-NOT-CRAFTY. So, I opted for creating and publishing a book using blurb.com. There are many other companies and programs available, but Blurb came highly recommended and it was affordable. Here are a few pictures of our book.
This is it the cover of our book. It was the best picture we had of ourselves at the time.
And of course we included our other family members!
One of the best pieces of advice that I discovered in my search of how to construct a profile book was to include as many “real” or candid shots as possible. This is the best way to really portray yourself.
When you have a large family, you many to include everyone- well at least I did, but it’s pretty impractical. Luckily, we had a family reunion the previous year and was able to get a great shot that included many (still not all) of our family members.
Another tip that I received was to include holidays and celebrations.
This, of course is not the entire profile book, but it gives you an idea of things that you can include. As you can see, I constructed the profile book in the way that I think- blocked and structured. I had so much I wanted to tell birth families, but didn’t want to overwhelm them with a bunch of words. Again, you need to create a book in the style that is right for you. You may want to search the internet for examples of other books. Here are a few good resources.
The Birth Parent Letter
This is a tough one. The Birth Parent letter is a personal letter that introduces you to the birth family and gives you the opportunity to explain why you want to adopt and the type of adoption you prefer.
When I wrote our birth family letter, I wrote a general that was kept with our profile book at our adoption agency. It contained the important information that we wanted to convey to the birth families who would view our book. But, once we were notified that we were going to be presented to a birth mom, I tailored the letter to her.
Below is the letter that I wrote to our birth mom. Again, there is no correct way, not correct words. This is your chance to make that good first impression.
My name is Daysha (32) and my husband is Jamel (33). We would like to thank you for taking the time to learn a little about us. We are excited and honored that you are considering us for the privilege of being parents to your son. We realize this must be the most difficult decision that you will ever make and we thank you for making the decision to give life to your child. Jamel and I are praying for you and your baby as you embark on this courageous journey. Choosing an adoption plan is a brave, loving, and selfless act. You are a very special person for deciding to help a couple’s dream come true. We would be honored if you decided to bless our family by choosing us for this incredible gift.
If you decide that our family is the best environment for your son, we will be happy to share pictures, letters, and DVDs with you through the agency. We are also open to visits and more frequent communication should you decide in the future that you would like more openness. We want you to be comfortable with the level of openness between us. We are excited to be parents and we want to do what is best for you and your baby. We are just thrilled to one day bring home a new member of the family.
Our Decision to Adopt
When we were married, Jamel and I knew that we wanted to become parents. After two years of marriage, we decided it was time to expand our family. However, that was not God’s plan for us. Jamel and I have struggled with infertility and miscarriages for over seven years. Over this period, we had discussed the possibility of adoption, but did not really know where to begin with the process or if the decision was right for us. Last year, after several discussions and much prayer, we realized that adoption is the path we were meant to take to expand our family. We were meant to conceive a child, but the conception will be in our heart. Everything we have done during our lives have prepared and groomed us to be adoptive parents. We want to parent and to give a child the unconditional love that we long share.
As a couple, we love to have epic Scrabble battles. We also enjoy watching movies and spending time with our friends and family. We do not smoke and are in good health. In the future, we plan to adopt at least one more child since we both come from large families. We are Christians and were raised in Christian homes. We attend church on a regular basis and we love to learn about different cultures and religsions. We will raise our children in the church, but also educate and expose them to multiple cultures and traditions so that when they are of age, they can make an informed choice about their beliefs. We also believe it is important to expose our children to multiple cultures so they will have an open mind and be accepting of people from all backgrounds.
Jamel is the primary provider for our family. He enjoys his job as a Chemist at an area company. As a husband, Jamel is gentle, loving, goofy, and protecting. He can always find a way to make me and everyone around us laugh. One of the things that I love most about Jamel is his ability to bring that fun-loving spirit to all of his relationships. When he was in college, he mentored a group of high school students who were thinking about majoring in engineering. I see Jamel bringing the same qualities of fun, mentoring, and protection to our children.
“Daysha is a “people person” and a natural teacher. She has lived in Akron most of her life. She loves to socialize and help others. She has been a Girl Scout leader for 12 years, and is a professor at an area college. My wife is very loving and kind hearted. She is my “help-meet”, my partner, and my friend. She prides herself in her ability to shape the lives of young people, to mentor, empower, and help them to develop a positive self-image. I have no doubt that she will be just as nurturing with our children.”
Family is important to us and we both come from large families. I am the oldest of six, Jamel is the second oldest of six. I am very close with my mother. She was a teen mom, so we practically grew up together and she was always involved in my activities. My mom and I are Girl Scout leaders for my sister’s troop and we also do other volunteer activities together. I respect my mother and I want to model my parenting style after hers. I am also close with my father, we have father-daughter coffee dates on a regular basis. Jamel is close with both of his parents and communicates with them often. Recently, his mom moved out of the state, but that has not hindered our ability to visit with her on a regular basis. His father only lives a couple of hours away, so we are able to visit him often and his wife often. We both have a number of aunts and uncles, cousins, parents, and grandparents. We have a lot of family support in Akron. My grandmother lives around the corner and my mom is only 5 minutes away. We also have a lot of my extended family that live in the area. We also have a large extended family in other Ohio cities, Georgia, Alabama, and many other states that we see regularly. We are all excited that we will have a new member entering our family!
Part of our family is our three wonderful pets. Pebbles and BamBam are our 2-year-old cats. They are very sweet and loving and will nuzzle anyone’s feet within minutes. Scamper is our 2 year old dog and he will play with ANYONE! Give him a treat, and you will be his friend for life. They are all looking forward to having a new family member to play with!
Our Parenting Style
I plan to stay home with the baby for the first few months; and then I will work out of the home 2 days a week. Childcare will be provided by my mother when I am at work. We will be hands-on parents. We will attend and help with school & after school activities. Education is very important to us; we will expect our children to do the best that they can. We will supply them with all of the tools they need to excel academically, including sending them to private school. We will instill discipline, but we will not use physical punishment. We will reward positive behavior. Redirection will be used when our children are young and time-outs, loss of privileges, lecturing, and discussion will be used when they are older. We want to raise our child to be strong, independent, and self-confident. We will strive to do this by instilling morals and critical thinking. We will talk to our child about the fun stuff and about the topics that are difficult. We will teach him or her to weigh the consequences of their actions before they do anything. We want our child to know that he or she can come to us about anything and we will listen. We will celebrate the good decisions and accomplishments.
Our 4-bedroom house is in a kid friendly neighborhood. We are almost finished with remodeling a special room for our new addition. We have a lot of space in the back for playtime & cookouts. There are a lot of children in the neighborhood, some with brand new brothers and sisters that will be perfect playmates for our little one. We are fortunate to live near 2 parks; both are less than 10 minutes away. An added bonus is that my grandmother lives within walking distance and my mother is not much further away!
We thank you for taking the time to learn a little about us, our family, and our desire is to have a child who we will cherish for the rest of our lives. We wish you our love, support, and prayer as you make this difficult decision. We respect your decision to follow you heart and pray that God will continue to give you the strength and courage to do what you feel is best for your child.
Much Love & Blessings,
Jamel and Daysha
*name changed to protect privacy of birth mom
What else is there to say? The only advice that I can offer when it comes to the letter is: Be honest; Be yourself; Be Real.
Until Next Time!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for ALL of your wonderful support, feedback, and sharing my first ever blog post! A special thanks to @AmericaAdopts, @AdoptUSKids, @profmartina, and @adoptiveblackmom. I am truly humbled and encouraged.
This week I want to discuss our decision to adopt. I am speaking for me, from my perspective. This is not only my journey, however. My husband has his unique experience and perspective as does our son’s birth mother. Adoption affects all of us in different ways. This is my version of the story.
Our adoption journey begins like many others, with years (and years and years and years) of infertility and heartbreak. We had contemplated adoption for a while, but more on a superficial level. We had requested information from our county Child and Family services. At that time, that was the only route that we thought was available to us. I had seen all of the Lifetime movies where private adoptions turned out horrible (you know, the ones where the adoptive couple finds out their child was kidnapped at birth) and international adoptions brokers/agencies did a bait and switch. I heard about the high costs for private and international adoption. So, public adoption it was. We reviewed the information and I scoured the website looking at children and sibling sets. But it didn’t feel right and my husband and I were both in graduate school. We decided that we didn’t have the time nor energy that was needed to commit to the process; so, we set the information aside for later use.
Later came two years later at the most unexpected time. Let me set the stage. Like most women TTC, I wanted a baby, DESPERATELY, and I was jealous, yes jealous, of every pregnant woman and new mom that I encountered. I didn’t want to be around anyone who was pregnant and I sure as hell didn’t want to hear about every detail of their pregnancies (Facebook was torture!). I know, I sound like a horrible, selfish person, but those were my feelings. If I knew that I was going to interact with pregnant women (several of my close friends were pregnant at the time and I was genuinely happy for them, jealous, but happy), I would mentally and emotionally prepare myself.
Picture this, it’s June, 2011 and my husband and I are going to a wedding. In the car, I am prepping myself because I am aware of the late stage pregnancy of the bride. I was good, prepared, “I got this.” I may have to see the pregnant bride, but I probably wouldn’t have to interact with her much. My emotional armor was set to MEDIUM. We arrived, greeted the bride and groom, then headed to our table–it was an outdoor wedding/reception. “Whew! I did it. The rest of the day is going to be EASY! Boy, was I overreacting.” My emotional armor was reset to LOW. We took a seat and chatted with a few of our other friends. A few of the women start talking about their children. AND THEN, another announces her pregnancy, “crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!” For the remaining two hours we were in attendance, the conversation revolved around the intimate details of pregnancies and newborns, I was in HELL. When I couldn’t take it any longer, I told the hubby that it was time to go. It was on the drive home when I decided that I didn’t want to wait anymore. I had enough of the jealous feelings. I had enough of being left out of conversations. I had enough of not being a mom. “Honey, let’s adopt. I’m serious.” He said, “Okay. Let’s do it.”
I knew in my heart that public adoption (foster-to-adopt) wasn’t the path for us. In Ohio, if you wanted to go the public adoption route, the only option was foster-to-adopt. For me, it was the fostering part that I just did not want to deal with. After eight miscarriages, I didn’t want to get attached to a child we were fostering, only for that child to be reunited with their birth family (which is the goal of the foster care system). I knew that if we were going to adopt, it would have to be through private adoption. What we had to decide was whether it would be domestic or international.
I read a few of books and searched numerous websites. I contacted several agencies for information as well as a local adoption attorney. After comparing the process between domestic and international adoption, as well as the cost, we decided that domestic adoption was the path for us. Once we made the decision, the remainder of the adoption process was as close to a fairy tale as you can get.
That August, we selected an agency, Caring for Kids (www.cfkadopt.org). The great thing about this agency is that they only place children who were going to be born or living in our state (Ohio). This dramatically decreases the cost because out-of-state adoption incurs more fees. Secondly, the agency broke down the costs upfront. They provided a schedule of how much money would be due at specific points during the process. They made us see that private adoption was “affordable” and achievable. We started the process in late August: training, home studies, etc. (not as bad as some may think). By October our profile was completed and it became active (birth families could view our information during their selection process). The week of Thanksgiving, we were notified that a Birth Mom wanted to meet us. We met with her the following week, and on December 5, we were officially matched (she picked us). Our son was born on January 1, we met him on January 2, and we brought him home on January 4. Talk about a whirlwind!
Well, that’s my story in short. In future posts, I’ll discuss the home study process, the initial meeting with the birth mom, and bringing home the baby. My question to you, what topic are you the most interested in? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @blkadoptivemom. The topic that receives the most requests will be published next!
Until Next Time!
I am asking myself, “Why am I starting a blog?” And honestly, I still don’t know if this is a great ideal or if I’ll be any good at it. “Will anyone want to read anything I have to share? Do people really care?” I guess I am just going to have to go for it and see what happens. That seems to be my mantra lately. “Is my three year-old ready to participate in basketball? (He wasn’t) Well, let’s just sign him up and see what happens.” And so, that is how I am going to approach this new project. So here it goes.
“I am a mom. I am an adoptive mom. I am an African-American, adoptive mom of a loving, hilarious, creative, high-energy, African-American son. I am working mom. I am a mom on a journey. I am a mom who is still learning how to be a mom. I am a mom.”
That’s me. A mom. That’s right, I’m an adoptive mom. This is an important part of my identity, but not my entire identity. I’m a wife, a daughter, a teacher, a sister, a friend, and much more. But, for our purposes here, I am an adoptive mom. I will write about mom stuff, I will write about adoption, and I will write about anything related to being a mom.
I bet you have a question at this point “If being an adoptive mom is an important part of your identity, why does it seem (by your handle) that you are focused on race?”
Great question! When my husband and I considered adoption, we realized the only experience we had with adoption was from media, friends, and family. From the media and other interactions, we learned that white families invested a lot of money into adopting newborns and infants both domestic and abroad, while black families adopted older kids through fostering or by taking in relatives. Whether this was broadly true or not, this was our sphere of reference and influence. After much contemplation and research, we decided to go the route of private, infant adoption–which garnered an interesting(and misguided) array of questions and comments from our friends and family.
What we learned from the experience is (at least in our state) black families rarely engage in private, infant adoption. Of course there are many reasons for this, the most salient being socioeconomic status and the cost of private adoption. But there are also a lot of misconceptions about the adoption process that ALL groups have. My hope is that our story and the information that I share here will inspire people to overcome some of these misconceptions. So, although race is not going to be a major focal point of this blog, I do want to begin the conversation.
In future posts, I will explore all of the adoption options available to prospective parents. I will discuss why private adoption was the best choice for us (Note that I said for us. I do realize that it not the right option for everyone. Potential adoptive parents must choose the route that is best for them). I will discuss, in more detail than you probably want, our adoption journey. I will also discuss everyday mom issues–and there are plenty- the good mom stuff and some the stuff that makes us want to curl into a ball and cry. I will discuss the challenges and joys of being a working mother (again, best choice for us, but not everyone).
I hope and pray that you are willing to go on this journey with me. I hope that we can engage in a dialogue about many mom-related topics. I hope that you will offer suggestions and ideas about what you want to read, learn, and discuss. We are in this together. Let’s jump in and see what happens!
Until next time!
Follow me on Twitter: @blkadoptivemom