Monthly Archives: November 2019

Positive Adoption Language

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Words are important.  They are so important that infants as young as 6 months old can understand some words, despite being unable to speak.  Words also convey both facts and feelings. That is why words have a denotation, or literal meaning, and a connotation, or implication. For example, the phrase “bad apple” literally means a rotten apple, but the implication is that the target of that phrase is a bad person. In the context of adoption, different words can lead to a different perception of the adoption process. They can even influence the decision to place a child for adoption. That is why it is so important to use positive adoption language when describing the adoption process.  Here are three quick examples.

1 – The adoption process starts with the decision to place a child for adoption. Placing a child for adoption is a huge decision, but it isn’t a bad one. That is why it is important to use the term “place for adoption” instead of terms like “giving up for adoption.”  Giving up for adoption conveys the notion that adoption is bad, or at the very least worse than raising a biological child, or that the birth mother is giving up on a child by placing it for adoption. The truth is that placing a child for adoption is no worse than raising a biological child. Sometimes placing a child for adoption is the best choice for a child, especially in situations where the birth mother is unable to provide a safe or healthy environment for her child.

The phrase “giving up for adoption” is also harmful to the child, because it implies that the child was unwanted. This isn’t true. Birth parents place their children for adoption for a variety of reasons, and the decision to place a child for adoption requires a lot of courage and responsibility.

2 – After an adoption is finalized, a child has both birth parents and adoptive parents. Neither are a more or less important part of a child’s life. That is why it is important to use the term “birth parent” instead of terms like “real parent”. Birth parent has a neutral connotation that doesn’t denigrate the fact that an adoptive parent has an equally important role in an adoptee’s life. The term “real parent” implies that an adoptive parent is somehow a less important or unreal part of a child’s life. This simply isn’t true. Parents are the people who raise you and make you the person who you are, not simply those with whom you share a genetic link. Both birth parents and adoptive parents play a crucial role in a child’s upbringing, particularly in open adoptions.  They are both a “real” part of that child’s life.

3 – Finally, an adoptive child was adopted, but that doesn’t mean he or she is simply an adopted child. Adopted children are children. The fact that a child was adopted is simply another part of his or her life story, it isn’t the beginning and ending of the story. That is why it is important to acknowledge that a child was adopted when appropriate without referring to him or her as the adopted child. Labeling a child as the adopted child belittles their status as a human being by defining them only by their status as adopted, not by their character traits, hobbies, or interests. This can be detrimental to a child’s self-esteem and can cause them long-term psychological harm. Instead, acknowledge that a child was adopted when appropriate, but simply refer to them as a child in any other circumstance.

It is important to always keep positive adoption language in mind. Simply put, there is a huge difference between positive adoption language and negative adoption language. One conveys the truth about adoption, namely that it is a process where adoptive parents and adoptees form a loving family relationship. The other gives the false impression that an adoptive parent or adoptee is somehow worse than a birth parent or biological child. That being said, the above examples are neither the beginning nor the end of positive adoption language. For more examples of positive adoption language and to find out more about the adoption process, contact Adoption Choices of Missouri or visit us at www.adoptionchoicesofkansasmissouri.com

Is Adoption Right for You? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

You’ve pictured it a thousand times: You sit holding your child, and, as he or she stares up at you with innocent eyes, you vow to love and nurture him or her until your last breath. There’s no doubt that your desire to adopt burns strongly! But it’s important to ask yourself, “Is adoption right for me?”

This self-exploration is good! Adoption is forever, an irreversible process that requires a lifelong commitment from everyone involved. You should be questioning yourself. In doing so, if you choose to adopt a baby, you’ll know that you do so for the right reasons.

So, how doyou know if adoption is right for you? Adoption Choices of Missouri compiles a list of important questions to ask yourself. We hope they help guide you in determining if adoption is right for you.

  1. Why do I want to adopt?

At first glance, the answer to this question seems easy: You want to adopt because you want a child. But it goes a lot deeper than that! Some people choose to adopt because they can’t conceive a biological child and still feel a strong desire to experience parenthood. In many cases, they’ve tried for years to conceive and explored various fertility treatments but were ultimately unsuccessful. Others want to adopt regardless of whether they can conceive a child. Many adoptive families include both biological and adopted children. Your motivations behind adoption also go beyond whether you can have a biological child — adoption isn’t for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you want to adopt because you truly enjoy children and want to be a parent, adoption may be right for you.

  1. Can I handle not being biologically related to my child?

To some people, the idea of adopting a “stranger” and raising him or her as their own child just isn’t something that they’re interested in. They can’t imagine that they would feel a family bond with someone who isn’t related by blood. Others are less extreme on the subject, but find that the pull to go through the experience of carrying and birthing their own child, or just to have a child that carries their genes, is undeniable. It’s important before you start the process of adoption to think about whether you’ll feel sad that your child won’t be a biological part of you and your family. You won’t go through the journey of pregnancy, labor and delivery. Not being biologically related to you doesn’t make an adopted child any less your own; it’s just different. Look at it this way — if you’re married or have a partner, you’re not biologically related to him or her, but you still formed a bond. If you decide that you can’t deal with the idea of having a child who doesn’t share your genes, however, that doesn’t say anything bad about you. It’s far more responsible to explore these feelings now than wait until you’re in the adoption process!

  1. Have I Grieved My Infertility?

If you’ve experienced infertility or pregnancy loss, be certain you have resolved your feelings about this before beginning the adoption process. Adoption doesn’t cure infertility, so if you’re suffering from significant grief, depression, or anxiety, you might want to hold off on your decision to adopt until you’re emotionally ready to move forward. Grieve your loss first. If you consider adoption to be “second best” to having a biological child, think about how that attitude would make an adoptive child feel. And if you think that adopting will heal your troubled relationship or marriage, think about the pressure that you’re putting on a child who deserves to have parents who are in a healthy relationship.

  1. Am I okay with birth parent contact?

When you become a parent, your whole life pretty much revolves around what is in the best interest of your child. Teaching him or her to read and write, deciding when and where he or she should take swimming lessons, choosing a preschool – the list is pretty much endless. And when it comes to the concept of open adoption, there is a growing awareness in the adoption community that the child benefits from establishing and maintaining a connection to his or her birth family. It helps the child to understand “Where did I come from?”, “What is my medical history?”, and “Why did my birth parents place me for adoption?” Having answers to these questions can have a huge impact on a developing child’s sense of identity and provide him or her with a greater sense of wholeness.

  1. What support network do I have?

“Baby blues” don’t just happen to parents who have just given birth. Adoptive parents can also experience depression after their child comes home. The adoption process can be so long and exhausting that perhaps they neglected to focus on what life would be like once a child was finally theirs. While some adoptive parents describe a “love at first sight” experience with their child, that’s not always the case. It may make you feel guilty, but it’s normal to build that relationship slowly. Sometimes, it takes years to create a deep bond. You may find yourself with mixed emotions over your decision to adopt your child and feel anger toward the birth parents. This is why it’s important to build a support network before adopting. If you anticipate a lack of support from family or friends, seek out groups for adoptive parents. Some of them are very specific — for parents who adopt from specific countries, for example. You may also need the services of therapists who are experienced in working with adopted families. If you decide that adoption is right for you, now’s the time to make those decisions and begin your journey. Parenthood, no matter how you get there, is a truly amazing experience.

 

 

2019 Adoption Tax Credit

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With the tax filing season quickly approaching, the Internal Revenue Service recommends taxpayers take time now to determine if they are eligible for important tax credits. Many of our adoptive families will be applying for the Adoption Tax Credit. With that in mind, we have compiled some basic information about the 2019 adoption tax credit

Adoption Tax Credit 101

If you have done any research into adoption financing, you’ve probably heard about the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. But what exactly is this credit, and how does it work?

The Federal Adoption Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit that helps families offset the costs of qualifying adoption expenses. Families who paid qualifying adoption expenses in 2019, and owe taxes, may be eligible to benefit from this credit.

According to the IRS, “qualified adoption expenses” can include items like:

  • Reasonable and necessary adoption fees
  • Court costs and attorney fees
  • Traveling expenses related to adoption
  • Other expenses that are directly related to and for the principal purpose of the legal adoption of an eligible child

If you’re not sure whether you are eligible to use the adoption tax credit or if you paid qualifying adoption expenses in 2019, a tax professional will be able to provide more information.

How Much is the 2019 Adoption Tax Credit?

The amount families are eligible to receive from the Federal Adoption Tax Credit depends on a number of factors and will vary based on their unique situation. However, the maximum amount available for the 2019 Federal Adoption Tax Credit is up to $14,080.

The Adoption Tax Credit limit is based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and is recalculated each year based on current cost of living. Income affects how much of the credit parents can claim. For the 2019 Adoption Tax Credit, families with a MAGI below $211,160 can claim full credit. Those with incomes from $211,160 to $251,160 can claim partial credit, and those with incomes above $251,160 cannot claim the credit.

Adoption and taxes can be complicated, and you will likely have questions about the tax benefits available in your specific situation. While we hope you find the information in this post helpful, keep in mind that Adoption Choices does not offer tax advice. Talk to a tax professional for more specific information about how the Adoption Tax Credit can benefit your family.

Claiming the Credit

To claim the credit, taxpayers will complete a 2019 version of IRS Form 8839 (available at irs.gov in early 2020) and submit it with their Form 1040 when they file their 2019 taxes. Most tax software will create this form for you. Before filing, taxpayers should review 2019 Form 8839 instructions (will also be available at www.irs.gov) very carefully to be sure that they apply for the credit correctly and to see if anything has changed. The instructions are needed to calculate how much of the credit will be used.

When claiming the adoption tax credit, you’ll want to be ready with documents such as:

  • The final adoption decree
  • A placement agreement from an authorized agency
  • Court documents
  • A state’s determination for special-needs children, if applicable

 

This is a lot of information, and you probably have more questions about the tax credit for adopting a child in your specific situation. Adoption Choices does not offer tax advice and recommends that you talk to your tax professional for specific information on how the Adoption Tax Credit can benefit your family.

Tips on Caring for a Drug-Exposed Baby

Previously, you were in the midst of an inner battle: Should I adopt this child, a child who has been exposed to drugs during his or her birth mother’s pregnancy? In the end, you committed. You’re now ready to love and parent this child for the rest of your life, no matter the difficulty. But what about the next step – caring for him or her post birth?

You need answers! Questions are steadily running through your mind. How will my child behave? What can I do to make him or her more comfortable? What on Earth do I need to prepare for post birth life?

Don’t fret! Adoption Choices of Missouri knows that children suffering from withdrawal are often extremely irritable and have a difficult time being calmed. That’s why we found these 5 tips for caring for your drug-exposed baby.

  1. Research, research, research.

Talk to professionals – pediatricians, neonatologists or genetic counselors. They can and will help you feel more at ease!

  1. Swaddle your baby.

Snugly wrapping infants may also reduce their symptoms. Swaying and rocking the swaddled newborns can help calm their symptoms as well.

  1. Reduce stimuli.

Keeping a newborn with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in a dimly lit room with little activity and noise may reduce his or her withdrawal symptom discomfort.

  1. Stay inside.

Keeping infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in the room with their mothers rather than transferring them to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) may reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and hospital length of stay.

  1. Breastfeed your baby.

 Breastfed infants with NAS tend to require less medication and spend fewer days in the hospital!Although you’re an adoptive mother, you may be ableto breastfeed your child by stimulating your breasts to produce milk. You can do this by taking hormones, such as prolactin and oxytocin, or using more natural methods.

Caring for a Drug-Exposed Baby

Learn from other parents who have adopted children with gestational drug exposure, talk with one or more pediatrician, read about the risks and realities discussed in recent studies, and ask adoption professionals what they’ve learned from their experience with these types of adoptions.

Also, remember that every situation is unique, with its own merits and drawbacks! If problems arise, be aggressive in seeking professional assessments and help. Early intervention can make a difference in your drug-exposed baby’s life!

3 Things Birth Mothers Want Their Children to Know

As an adoptee, you’ve wondered about the why’s of your adoption. Why was I placed for adoption? Why couldn’t my birth mother keep me? Why were my adoptive parents chosen? Why am I struggling with my identity? All in all, you were brought into this world and then raised in it in an “unconventional” way. The curiosity you feel is only natural.

While your adoptive parents are able to satisfy most of your questions, there are some left unanswered. Specifically those regarding your birth mother. Whether your adoption is open, semi-open, or closed determines the level of contact you have with her. Regardless, you still wonder. What happened? Did she not want me? Does she even love me? Maybe you have burning questions for her that you’re too afraid to ask. Maybe you can’t ask her because you don’t see her.

Either way, Adoption Choices of Missouri has the answers you seek. While no two birth mothers are alike, they share common threads. Here are the top three things birth mothers want their children to know.

  1. They Didn’t Choose Adoption for Lack of Love

Many birth mothers carry around the fear that their children feel unloved. That they grew up believing they were unwanted instead of adored. In reality, birth moms chose adoption because they wanted the best for their child. They knew that they couldn’t offer him or her the life he or she deserved! Deciding to let their child live everyday life with another family was a sacrifice. Their hormones were all geared up to be mothers, and they quite literally denied their bodies and minds something they were physically and mentally prepared to do and be.

Never for a moment were you placed for adoption because you were unloved or unwanted. Your birth mother chose to place you for adoptionbecause she made sure to put your needs above her own. She neverstops thinking about you, nor does she stop loving you. Try not to let society and personal doubt skew this beautiful act, one that, in actuality, is full of nothing but love and meaningful consideration.

  1. They Still Grieve

Most birth moms, in time, find peace and acceptance with their decision. They’re happy that their child is being raised by loving parents. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t still grieve the loss of their child. There are so many joys in adoption, but there are also losses experienced by everyone. One of those losses is the loss of the birth mother’s opportunity to raise her child. That loss never goes away, and birth moms grieve in different ways, and in their own time.

Deciding to place you for adoption was no easy feat for your birth mother. Understand that while she may not regret her decision, she still grieve the loss of you. She knows she gave you a better life, a life you deserved. She only wishes she was the one able to offer it to you.

  1. They Will Always Honor The Adoptive Family

Birth mothers don’t love their child and then refuse to honor his or her adoptive family. If anything, they respect the family for stepping in during a time of need. When birth moms place their children for adoption, they give up a lot with that decision. For them to be angry with the adoptive family simply because they’re in pain and grieving loss would be contradictory. Do birth mothers hope that their child’s adoptive family has integrity with their promises? Yes. Do they hope the family speaks well of them? Yes. But as long as their child’s adoptive family is raising said child and taking care of him or her, birth moms will honor that love forevermore.

Your birth mother hand-picked your adoptive family. There’s a reason she chose them to raise you! She will always honor and appreciate them for that. Just as she’ll always love you.

Birth Mothers Want Their Children to Know

Your birth mother made the hardest decision of her life when she chose to place you for adoption. She loves you. She continues to grieve the loss of you. You are, and always will be, her world.

Adoption Choices of Missouri is ready to walk your adoption journey with you. Call us Toll Free at: 1-877-903-4488

 

 

 

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