It’s November! We’re excited to share a few ways you can celebrate National Adoption Month and some things we’ll be doing. First, here’s an article written by adoption advocate April Swiger, telling about fundraising for adoption and why it’s a great idea. If you haven’t already, take a look at the fundraising ideas for those looking to adopt.
We’d also like to highlight one of the key adoption celebration events in Indianapolis this year, hosted by the Indiana Department for Child Services and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. This gathering is for foster/adoptive families and adoption professionals. This event will be followed by free admission to the museum for the public. Click here to register for free!
If your not already familiar with BraveLove, we encourage you read more about them on their website. This not-for-profit movement shares real, relative information about adoption. Their “mission is to change the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption.
We encourage our families to check out our forms on adoption fundraising & grants and a few articles we’ve highlighted on this topic:
- Read & share adoption articles on social media
- Purchase adoption books and donate them to your local library; take it a step further by asking your library to create a special adoption month display
- Invite a family interested in adopting or fostering over for dinner
- Volunteer at a local maternity home or crisis pregnancy center
- Sponsor a child in foster care for his or her birthday or Christmas
- Send a token of support and love to someone you know who has placed a child for adoption
- Create lifebooks for your children, or read the lifebooks you’ve already created
- Hang a special adoption saying or verse in you home
- Collect needed items for a local crisis pregnancy center or foster care agency
(Some information found on adoption.net)
We’d love to see how you’re celebrating this month — let us know by tagging us in social media posts or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Doug Linville
I love the heart of an adoptive family that says, “We want to know the culture; we want to know where he (our adoptive child) comes from and be influenced by his presence.” The Miriam Project is looking for adoptive families who say their adoptive child influences and changes their lives. Here is one story:
We recently had a very cool experience at our office. It started eight years ago with a little boy named Finn who was placed by his birth mom. She couldn’t share with anybody in her world that she was pregnant – it may be difficult to comprehend such an experience. She went through her entire pregnancy, delivery, and placement of her child without anyone in her world knowing about it. Though, the adoptive family loved, embraced, and accepted her in the hospital, and she actually stayed a little longer than she had to. What was true for Finn’s birth mom is true for most of us – when you experience love and acceptance, it is very difficult to leave. When she left the hospital and said goodbye to her son and the adoptive family, it was with the understanding that they’d never meet again. The adoptive family went on their way raising this precious child.
Since, they’ve adopted a total of three children. The other two children have meet their birth families, as their parents, Jane & Michael, have gone out of their way to make sure their children have contact with them. They have gone on long weekend visits to see birth family members and have even invited birth families into their home for long stays so that their children would gain a better understanding of their heritage. Jane & Michael’s heart ached because their one son, Finn, had no contact with his birth family. His only connection with his “tummy mommy” – as his family calls her – was a video they created in the hospital. Because of the way his parents spoke of her love and preciousness, he desperately wanted to meet her. He prayed for her often and always referred to her in his prayers as his tummy mommy.
As his eighth birthday approached, they wanted to do something special for him. They took him on a tour of his birthplace, met with some of the people involved in his early days of life, and visited the hospital where he was born. They have attempted to contact Finn’s birth mom before without Finn knowing (always making sure to respect her privacy), but were unsuccessful. The little boy said to his mom and dad, “Wouldn’t it be a miracle if I could meet my tummy mommy?” And so they called the Miriam Project and asked if we could set up a meeting with his birth mom.
Brooke LeMay (Miriam Project’s Case Manager), by what some might call a coincidence – but what we know was God’s timing – saw Finn’s birth mom at a store. This was a surprise to us, since she was planning to leave Indiana the last time we spoke with her. Brooke reached out, and Finn’s birth mom was delighted to hear about the family and Finn’s longing to meet her. She agreed to a meeting, and we were able to host the encounter between this precious little boy and his tummy mommy.
God’s presence was felt through laughter, games, shared pictures, and tears. It was more than precious – it was sacred. Once again, the birth mom was able to feel and experience deep love and acceptance as this little boy’s prayer was answered. After the meeting, Finn’s birth mom told Brooke that she planned to share with her family the existence of her little boy, Finn.
Jane & Michael are affected by this child everyday; their family is better with Finn in their home. They love him through and through in the same way any mom & dad love their biological child. An adoptive child is a child placed into a family by God.
At the Miriam Project, we pray God will place specific children into specific homes. We believe God placed Finn into Jane & Michael’s home because he was their son, from heaven’s view before they even met him. We are blessed to stand with Jane, Michael, Finn, and his tummy mommy. Thank you, Madison Park, for making these moments happen – we ask that you’d join with us in November as we celebrate Adoption Awareness Month. If you know of anyone that’s in a difficult pregnancy, know that you can trust us. We treat each expectant mom with dignity and respect – a match will be made in a way that she experiences deep love and acceptance. She will never have to walk alone, as we will walk with her for as long as she wants. I’ve given you just one example of a family’s embrace of their adoptive child. We have so many more stories to tell and so many more stories yet to be told with your continued prayers and support.
Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent’s Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children – A Book Review
Following is a book review on Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent’s Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children by Rachel Garlinghouse; article written by Miriam Project Intern, Katie Marvel. We offer this and several other adoption books in our Lending Library.
Are you considering adopting transracially? In Come Rain or Come Shine, author Rachel Garlinghouse writes a fun-to-read guide that walks through the joys and challenges of adopting, with an emphasis on transracial adoption—white parents adopting black children. Each of her twelve chapters provides guidance for every step in the pre- and post- adoption process. At the end of each chapter, she provides “Questions from the Trenches” (her own personal FAQ), discussion questions, practical applications, tons of resources for parents and kids, and a short, true story relevant to each chapter.
Garlinghouse first addresses preparing to adopt a child from another race. She encourages her readers to ask themselves not only whether they are accepting of transracial adoption, but whether their families, friends, and communities are supportive. She explains the many challenges for adoptive parents and the child if this is not the case. She also discusses how waiting in adoption can be bittersweet, and then the journey of attaching with the child when he or she arrives.
The author paints a picture of what raising a black child as white parents can look like. There is no hiding a transracial adoption, and questions, whether or not they are welcome, will come from family, friends, and strangers. Garlinghouse explains the best ways to address them. She also explains black hair and skin care. To many white parents, black hair can be a mystery, but Garlinghouse explains the basics, as well as how to ask someone who knows more for help if needed.
A child adopted transracially will need particular help working through his or her adoption, and Garlinghouse says a parent’s role in this is key. She writes about topics such as racism and adoptism and how to confront them. She also outlines good responses for prying people, as well as how to walk through those responses with the adopted child. Garlinghouse includes an age-appropriate guide for how to tell a child about his or her adoption—or story—and incorporate discussions about race. Finally, she gives suggestions for how to support a child and his or her racial identity, as well as what growing a family further through adoption might look like.
Overall, this book is a must-read for parents looking to adopt transracially, and the content is beneficial to those looking to adopt within their race as well. Every bit of information is practical and helpful to a parent who wants to raise a child to be confident in his or her racial and family identity.
It is common knowledge that in the United States we celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. We may take our mom out to a nice lunch or treat her to a relaxing day at the spa. Whatever we do, we do it to show our love and appreciation for her.
You may not know, however, that in the adoption community, Birthmother’s Day is often celebrated on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Many families set this day aside to honor the love this precious woman has for her child and her role in their child’s life. Celebrating Birthmother’s Day will look different for each family. If the family and birthmom have an ongoing relationship, they may spend the day celebrating together. Perhaps the family will mail her a card or gift to acknowledge her love for the child. Maybe they will have the child create a piece of custom artwork to send to her.
Even in instances where there is no contact, celebrating Birthmother’s Day is not only possible but important. The family may create a tradition they revisit each year to celebrate their child’s birthmother. This could be having a cake made in her honor, or going to a park and releasing a balloon into the sky to acknowledge her role in bringing this child into their forever family.
The reasons to celebrate Birthmother’s Day are as numerous and unique as the many birthmothers in the world. One important reason is to give adopted children an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the women who first loved them and gave them life.
Let’s remember this Mother’s Day weekend that we are celebrating all kinds of mothers and the love they have for their children. Here are a few ideas for Birthmother’s Day gifts:
- Handmade jewelry from Lisa Leonard Designs or AmyCornwell.com
- A photo book from Snapfish, Shutterfly or Mixbook
- A craft made by children specifically for their birthmom
- A card specifically for Birthmother’s Day
We would love to hear from you. How do you celebrate Birthmother’s Day?
Following is a book review on Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge; article written by Sarah Pyle. We offer this and several other adoption books in our new Lending Library.
As my husband, Nate, and I anticipate adopting our child, we are learning as much as we can about what it means to be adoptive parents. We are acutely aware that as adopted children grow, they face unique challenges directly related to their adoption experience.
To care with excellence for their children, adoptive parents would do well to understand these challenges in order to best help them process their experience. Conversations with adoptees, talking with counselors, and reading books are all ways parents can prepare.
In Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, Sherrie Eldridge illuminates the distinct issues often hidden or buried in adoptees’ lives. This unique adoption book presents information in a guidebook style, and as the author states best in its conclusion, helps adoptive parents learn how to “access the world of your child, become sensitive to his unspoken needs, and then validate his emotional reality.”
Following an informative introduction, the book has twenty short chapters. Each chapter introduces one of the complex emotional issues parents should understand about their adopted child. Chapters 3-7 focus on loss and grief issues, chapters 8-11 on birthfamily and birth detail issues, and chapters 12-22 on specific needs and fears. The chapters I found particularly helpful were those about birthdays, the fear of abandonment, and privacy in adoption—all issues I had not considered at length.
What I appreciate about Eldridge’s approach is that she does not present these challenges as “problems,” as other similar adoption literature may, but as needs that result from unresolved loss and grief and the trauma that precedes all adoptions. This idea of unresolved grief is reiterated throughout the book, as it seems to impact the majority of the needs outlined. But, it is also clear that complete healing is very possible when parents fully understand how to accept and address the profound loss all adopted children experience. She gives suggestions for how to open the lines of communication in the home and offers ways to help the child grieve the loss so he or she is able to fully receive love in the future.
Additionally, and also so important in my opinion, is that Eldridge is sensitive to the presence of shame in the adoptive relationship. She repeatedly reminds readers that shame is neither helpful nor necessary. As an alternative, Eldridge coaches parents how to respond in a healthy way to each issue they might face.
Eldridge offers courageous approaches for this healthy and shame-free response early on in the book and returns to them often. The approaches include acknowledging the reality of adoption from an early age, using adoption language, initiating conversations with your child, validating the special challenges adoption presents in a family, and providing a nonjudgmental and safe environment to explore these issues. Furthermore, she suggests celebrating differences and being sensitive to the child’s biological past, all while paying attention to the unspoken needs of the child.
As an adoptee herself, Eldridge includes her own personal experiences and disclosures, but also the stories of many other adoptees and adoptive parents, which helps the reader to effectively enter into the inner feelings that lie beneath the needs presented.
I highly recommend this book; it is a resource I know I will return to frequently as our adopted son or daughter grows. It is immensely beneficial to parents who want to address the needs of their adopted child at the deepest level—at the heart.
The following information was derived from a recent news article about The Miriam Project.
Bonnie Newell and Cyndi Cunningham
The Placement in the adoption process can sometimes be very stressful and lengthy. We do everything possible to provide comfort to the birth-mom in this stage of her life, as we want her to be surrounded by love. Two teachers at Maytown School in Middletown, Bonnie Newell and Cyndi Cunningham, made good use of their summer by sewing quilts with the quilting machine provided by stitches Quilt Shop in Fairfield and donating them to us. We thank both of them for their generosity and recognition of the trials each birth-mom must face. We’ll be able to provide a quilt to every birth-mom we support—each quilt is prayed over, allowing the birth-moms to know that someone’s thinking about them and that they can be at peace.
Brooke Lemay (Case Manager) and Bonnie Newell
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you may remember our post titled Caring for the Birth Mother in Adoption, where we mention the care packages we give to each birth-mom, where a blanket is one of the items included. If you’re looking for a way to donate to our ministry, this is your opportunity! Items such as candles, journals, lotions, picture frames, or anything you feel a birth-mom may need is greatly appreciated.
“I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.” Matt. 25:40 (CEV)
We know that a simple basket filled with comfort items can never fill the loss of not having her child with her but we believe it is one way to encourage her to care for herself and allow herself to grieve.
Have questions about donating or volunteering for to The Miriam Project? Email email@example.com
Following is a book review on Lifegivers by James L. Gritter; article written by Shelby Kugler. We offer this and several other adoption books in our new Lending Library.
Lifegivers “examines all the ways in which birthparents are marginalized” and fights for the case that “adopted children are best served when birthparents and adoptive parents work together to ensure that the birthparents remain a part of their children’s lives.”
Through the use of real experiences and interactions, Lifegivers not only challenged my perspective on open adoption and the relationship between birth and adoptive families, but caused me to address a lot of my preconceptions.
The author discusses how our negative perspective on open adoption is often rooted in a fear of the unknown and of people who are different from us. This book challenged me to not be fearful of an expectant mother deciding not to place at the last moment, reminding me that “women who consider open adoption are exceptionally committed to their child.” This was a good reminder for me as the book addresses the birthfamily and adoptive parents as a team, with the commitment of the birthmother adding value to that team. The author talks a lot about a birthmother’s experience—how she will feel a great deal of loss and how the lack of available information and open discussions on adoption can reinforce a birthmother’s feelings of isolation and doubt. Gritter talks about how the hush-hush history of adoption makes it difficult for birthmom supporters to bring up the topic of adoption. He says this reluctance to bring up the topic causes supporters to not be of as much assistance as they could be. It was a great reminder and challenge to me to move past the barriers of fear and history to offer support.
Gritter identifies birthparents as “lifegivers,” adoptive parents as “daily caregivers,” and both adoptive and birthparents as those who joyfully affirm the life of the child. These titles help affirm the tasks of each parent involved and, as well, promote the task of the team of parents as they all move ahead with the goal of caring for the child they treasure. Gritter offers the reminder that adoption agencies should approach the expectant parents as their “first clients,” with the goal for adoptive families to be prepared to meet the needs of the expectant families. Gritter warns that the opposite approach should never be taken, as the primary goal should not be for expectant parents to strive to serve the adoptive families.
Lifegivers offers up many great reminders that stirred preconceived ideas I had always carried about adoption. I feel this book played a positive role in the way I experienced the process of adoption in the past few months. I would recommend it to anyone seeking to learn more about how they can serve and love birthparents in a way that shares Christ’s name and promotes the ultimate goal of loving the child.