How to Take Care of Yourself During the Adoption Process

The adoption is a difficult emotional experience for everyone involved, especially for both birth mothers who are navigating the complexities of their choice to place their child for adoption, and for adoptive parents who are anxiously preparing for a new child. The adoption process can also be very demanding as all parties involved must follow rigorous guidelines. With all this additional stress, it can begin to take a toll on you. Below are some tips for keeping yourself healthy both physically, mentally, and emotionally throughout the adoption process. While everyone has a different experience, here are some self-care tips to consider as you navigate this emotional time.

  1. Use your Resources

When the stress of the process seems overwhelming, it can help ease any anxiety or discomfort by reaching out to your adoption counselor, social worker, lawyer, agency, or other staff that is helping you through this journey. They can provide you with information, walk you through your adoption plan, answer any questions, and ease your worries. Their job is to help you, so always remember that you can reach out at any point. Additionally, they can provide you with materials whether it be books, websites, online community forums, etc… to help you share your experience and talk to other people going through the same experiences.

  1. Talk to Someone

Taking care of yourself is important, and during this process, it is important to reach out to others to find additional support. If possible, maybe try to talk to a therapist or another licensed medical professional who can provide you with different tools and resources to help you throughout this time. However, this might not always be possible and that is okay. If you cannot talk to or do not feel comfortable talking to a therapist, you can talk to a family member, a friend, or another trusted person in your life. They can provide you with the support and help you may need.

  1. Schedule Time for Yourself

While this may seem obvious, giving yourself the time you need to focus on yourself is not always a top priority. People often get caught up in everyday life and the added stress of the adoption process only makes the rushing around more hectic. However, this is an incredibly emotional time for everyone involved. Because of this, self-care is even more important. Know yourself and your body and set some time aside each week to unwind. There are many ways for people to do this whether it be through exercise, meditation, a religious practice, or a favorite hobby. Whatever your preference might be, it is important to find time to relax. This will help you both physically and mentally as you go through this process.

  1. Focus on Small Goals

It is easy to get caught up in the stress of finding the perfect adoptive family for your child or preparing yourself and your home to welcome a new member into your family. Often, these big goals can seem overwhelming and can be a source of anxiety and fear. Rather than focus on the long-term goal, take a step back and focus on the present. Set daily goals for yourself. Even if it may feel unimportant, focus on the day in front of you. Do not be afraid to be kind to yourself. If you got up, showered, went to work, or just faced the day, that is a victory. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge the different obstacles you overcome daily.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Express Emotion

This process is hard! It is okay to have bad days. It is okay to cry, to break down, to feel stressed, to worry about the future, to have doubts. Everyone has days where it feels like it’s all too much. Acknowledging your feelings and expressing your emotions throughout the experience is an important part of the growth and acceptance of the process. These feelings of pain, grief, anxiety, and excitement are all part of the process. However, while it is important to acknowledge these things, do not let them consume you. Be confident in yourself, your decision, and the process. While it may be difficult at times, at the end of it all, adoption is an incredibly selfless decision on the birth mother’s part and an exciting moment for new parents who are hoping to create a family.

Employee Adoption Assistance

Thinking about adoption? There are a lot of things to think about, including finances. Can you afford adoption? Where can you get help with your finances? These are just some of the questions that come to mind. A good answer to these questions is yes and through your employer, respectively. That’s right. Your employer. Many employers are offering adoption assistance benefits to their employees. In fact, some sources estimate that over 50 percent of employers offer some type of adoption assistance benefits. Here is a quick rundown on what employee adoption assistance benefits are, what they cover, and why employers provide adoption benefits.

There are three main types of employee adoption assistance benefits. They are financial support, information resources, and parental leave policies.

Let’s start with financial support. Financial support is an amount of money that an employer provides an employee to cover specific adoption expenses. This can include things like the legal expenses or agency fees that accompany an adoption. It can also include things like travel expenses, medical costs or pregnancy costs for a birth mother.

Some employers pay these expenses up front as they accrue or provide lump sum payments. Others provide reimbursement for these expenses after the adoption is finalized. For example, if Gabby sought to adopt a child, her employer could provide a $10,000 lump sum to cover her legal fees associated with the adoption. Alternatively, it could reimburse her for a certain percentage of her adoption related expenses after the adoption is finalized.

Financial assistance for employees seeking adoption is important because an adoption can cost up to $40,000. This is why some employers provide anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 to employees seeking to adopt a child. It is also why many employers reimburse employees for a certain percentage, usually 80 percent, of certain adoption expenses. If you are interested in adoption, make sure to check with your employer to see what financial assistance you may be eligible for and how it is paid out.

The next type of employer provided adoption benefit is informational resources. Informational resources include things such as referrals to licensed adoption agencies, counselors, and support groups. It can also include things like access to an adoption specialist who can answer questions about the adoption process or who can navigate a prospective adoptive parent through the specifics of special circumstances such as adopting a special needs child. For example, if Isaac is seeking to adopt a child, his employer could refer her to Adoption Choices for more information on the adoption process.

Finally, adoption assistance benefits can take the form of parental leave policies. Parental leave includes leave policies that extend beyond federal and state guidelines. Federal law requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide 12 weeks unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. State laws also have varied leave requirements upon the birth or adoption of a child.

Some employers help employees seeking to adopt by providing them with more unpaid leave than required by law. Some employers provide paid leave to their employees. Others allow employees to combine unpaid leave with other paid leave like vacation or sick days. For example, if Jessica is seeking to adopt a child, her employer could provide her with 8 weeks of paid leave that is separate from her vacation time to help her bond with her adopted child.

Why provide adoption assistance to employees? Employers state that providing these benefits helps them retain and recruit employees. It also helps the employees they retain remain productive. They also say that providing these benefits is the right thing to do. This makes sense. Taking away some of the financial and other stresses associated with adoption allows employees to focus on what is important, namely bonding with their adoptive child. Employees that are able to develop nurturing bonds with their adopted children can return to work in their best mental state, which ensures their productivity. And providing employee adoption assistance is definitely the right thing to do.

Want to learn more. Contact Adoption Choices of Missouri for more information on employee adoption assistance and for other information on the adoption process.


Lion Movie Review

Adoption can be complicated. Books and movies rarely explain all of the issues surrounding the adoption process in a friendly and realistic manner. Sometimes, however, a movie comes along that  understands the complexity surrounding adoption. Lion is one of those movies.

Lion tells the story of Saroo. Saroo starts out as a 5 year old child growing up in India with his birth mother, brother, and younger sister. Moviegoers receive a detailed look into Saroo’s relationship with his older brother, Guddu, whom Saroo idolizes. Together, Saroo and Guddu steal coal from trains to get milk for their family. One day, Saroo convinces Guddu to take him to a train station to help him pick up money and other items from empty trains at the station. This is when the movie takes a dark turn. Saroo falls asleep on the train platform and wakes up to discover Guddu is missing. In a panic, Saroo boards an empty train, only for it to leave the station. Suddenly, Saroo is in Kolkatta, over 1,000 miles from his hometown.

Alone on the streets of Kolkatta, Saroo tries to survive and find his birth family, despite not knowing the local language. He sleeps in tunnels, evades thugs and predators, winds up in an adoption agency, and eventually gets adopted by John and Sue, a Tasmanian couple. Saroo quickly bonds with his adoptive parents. The movie also introduces Saroo’s adoptive brother Mantosh, whose character provides a nice foil to Saroo’s experiences with adoption. Mantosh, unlike, Saroo, seems deeply traumatized by the circumstances surrounding his adoption, which results in frenetic outbursts. The movie then flashes forward 25 years to reveal a fully grown Saroo.

Adult Saroo leads a seemingly normal life. He has a girlfriend, job, and circle of close friends. All of this changes when a chance encounter reveals a memory from Saroo’s distant past. This leads Saroo to decide to find his birth family using Google Earth as he struggles to grasp the meaning of adoption and family.

Lion features good character development. One can really empathize with young Saroo as he attempts to find his birth family and then as he builds a relationship with his adoptive family. You also understand the anxiety adult Saroo feels as he struggles to cope with what it means to be adopted. Lion also gives a glimpse into the mindset of Saroo’s adoptive parents towards the end of the movie. Sue discusses the reasons that her and John adopted Saroo in a very climactic moment. This highlights the different reasons adoptive parents have for adopting children.

The cast also does a great job playing their roles convincingly, especially Sunny Pawar, who plays young Saroo. I can still hear his anguished cries for his birth mother and brother two days after watching Lion. Dev Patel, who plays adult Saroo, also does a great job showing the angst that many adopted people feel as they struggle to define their identity. Nicole Kidman, who plays Sue, also does a great job explaining why she adopted Saroo and Mantosh instead of having biological children.

Lion also features gorgeous cinematography. From the slums of Kolkatta to the Tasmanian coast, the scenes have vivid detail. One can really grasp the poverty that Saroo was born into and compare it to the privileged life he ends up leading in Tasmania. Adult Saroo’s apartment is also disheveled in an appropriate way when compared to Saroo’s mental state as he struggles to find his birth family. Even the shots of Google Earth are set up in a way that make them compelling.

Most importantly, Lion portrays a glimpse into a chilling reality. Over 80,000 children go missing in India every year. Not all of them end up with loving adoptive parents. Some end up on the streets or worse. Watching Lion, especially the first half of the movie, brings this critical issue to light.

Does Lion get everything right? No. There are a couple instances of negative adoption language, albeit when Saroo is in a heightened emotional state. Saroo’s girlfriend also doesn’t add much to the movie other than to establish that Saroo is growing distant from people he cares about as he struggles to find his birth family. Despite these shortcomings, Lion is a good movie that gets a lot of things right. I recommend watching Lion.

Adoption Types – What’s the difference?

Open Adoption, Semi-Open Adoption, Closed Adoption

Thinking about adoption? Adoption Choices of Missouri is here to help. You may think adoption is adoption, but that isn’t the case. Adoption can take many forms. The three main types of adoption are open adoptions, semi-open adoptions, and closed adoptions. All three are very different in terms of the birth parents’ relationship with the adoptive parents and adoptees so it is important to know which one is right for you. Here is a rundown on the difference between open adoptions, semi-open adoptions, and closed adoptions.

Open Adoption

Open adoptions are adoptions where birth parents and adoptive parents share all of their identifying information, meaning that the birth parents and adoptive parents share their first and last names, medical history, and personal contact information. Open adoptions also allow birth parents and adoptive parents to maintain direct contact with each other. This is great for a birth mother who cannot provide for her child but still wants a relationship with him or her. However, open adoptions aren’t the equivalent of co-parenting. The adoptive parents still have legal parenting rights.

Open adoptions can take many forms. It all depends on the boundaries that the birth parents and adoptive parents agree to at the time of the adoption. For example, Amy, the birth mother, and Brenda, the adoptive mother, could agree to the adoption with the agreement that Brenda will allow the adoptee to visit Amy twice a year. Brenda could also agree to send photos and letters about the adoptee directly to Amy on an occasional basis. Amy could also agree to send Brenda updated medical history as she ages. Amy and Brenda could also change the terms of their adoption agreement as time and circumstances change.

If you are unsure about the type of adoption to choose, Adoption Choices recommends open adoptions. Open adoptions allow the adoptee to ask both their adoptive parents and birth parents about their adoption. This allows adoptees to easily find out why they were placed for adoption and learn more about their birth parents. Open adoptions also make it easy for the adoptee to develop a loving relationship with both their adoptive and birth parents. Open adoptions make it easy for adoptive parents to obtain medical information that may be relevant to their child’s physical or mental health.

Semi-Open Adoption

Semi-open adoptions are adoptions where the birth parents and adoptive parents share non-identifying information with each other. This means they share information like first names and where they live, but don’t share last names or other identifying information. The birth parents and adoptive parents also do not maintain direct contact with each other. Instead, they maintain indirect contact using the adoption agency as an intermediary. Semi-open adoptions offer a combination of openness and privacy.

Semi-open adoptions are great for a birth mother who wants some contact with her child, but doesn’t necessarily want to maintain contact with the adoptive family. In a semi-open adoption, Charlotte, the birth parent, could agree to the adoption if Devin and Daniel, the adoptive parents, agreed to send letters and photographs of their child to their adoption agency, which would in turn send the letters and photographs to Charlotte after removing any identifying information from them. Devin and Daniel could also use the adoption agency to get in contact with Charlotte if their child wants to learn about Charlotte. Charlotte, Devin, and Daniel could also change their agreement to make it more open or more private as time and circumstances change.

Closed Adoption

Closed adoptions are adoptions where birth parents and adoptive parents do not share any information with each other. This means that there is no communication or contact between birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee as the adoptee grows up. The adoptee can only open his or her adoption records to find out about his or her birth parents after he or she turns 18. Adoptive parents also do not obtain updated medical information from birth parents. They only obtain some non-identifying medical information from the birth mother at the time of the adoption. However, birth parents are still in control of their adoption plan, including choosing the adoptive parents.

Closed adoptions are increasingly rare, but they are appropriate for birth parents who want to move on with their life after placing their child for adoption or adoptive parents who do not want to maintain contact with the biological parents. For example, if Elizabeth, the birth mother, had an unexpected pregnancy that she wanted to keep private, she could place her child for a closed adoption with Francis, the adoptive father. Alternatively, Francis could prefer a closed adoption if he lives in Australia, and does not want to deal with the logistics of having his child maintain contact with Elizabeth, who lives in Canada. Francis could also prefer a closed adoption if Elizabeth has a criminal history and Francis does not want the adoptee to be exposed to it.

Your Adoption, Your Choice

At the end of the day, it is your choice whether to choose an open adoption, a semi-open adoption, or a closed adoption. Neither choice is wrong, but it is best to make an informed choice because it has huge ramifications for all members of the adoption triad. For more information, visit Adoption Choices of Missouri or call us at 1-877-903-4488




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