Full of Gratitude: National Adoption Month 2018

Every Thursday in November, in honor of Thanksgiving and National Adoption Month, we featured quotes and stories from families, friends and colleagues who have been touched by adoption to ask them the question: “What are you thankful for?”

Check out some of the answers we received this year:

Thank you to our Spence-Chapin family for celebrating with us all month long. We are so thankful for each of you.

Adoption FAQ Fridays

Each Friday during National Adoption Month we are promoting a Frequently Asked Question about options counseling and adoption The Spence-Chapin Way to help everyone better understand how options counseling, including interim care, and the adoption process works at Spence-Chapin.  Read all of the questions and answers below!

Question: What is Open Adoption?

Answer: Answer: Open Adoption is having some form of communication and contact between the adoptive family and the birth family over time. Today, the majority of adoptions are done with some degree of openness, with the extent and frequency of contact varying from family to family. Open adoptions have been shown through various studies to benefit all members of the adoption triad—adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. At Spence-Chapin, the open adoption process is led by birth parents, who can decide what kind of communication–if any–that they want to have in the future, which can include visits, letters, emails, photos, and phone calls. Spence-Chapin helps adoptive families and birth families craft an open adoption agreement, and our social workers provide counseling and guidance during the planning process, and at any time in their lifelong journeys.

Question: What is the Adoption Triad?

Answer: Adoption triad is a term used to the three groups that make up adoption: the adoptee, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents. The adoptee is the child who is being adopted. The birth parents are the biological parents of the child. The adoptive parents are the individual or couple who adopts the child. Spence-Chapin supports all members of the adoption triad through our community programming, counseling, and support groups. We believe it is important to provide a space where all members in the adoption triad can come at any point in their lives to receive guidance, advice, counseling, and community.

Question: What is Options Counseling?

Answer: Options counseling is a free service that Spence-Chapin provides to pregnant women and women who have recently given birth who are unsure about parenting. Our social workers review all options available in a safe space where women can talk about their questions and concerns and not face judgement or bias. Spence-Chapin works with local organizations to help women access resources and assistance based on their choice. Spence-Chapin will travel to meet with women seeking counseling anywhere in New Jersey and the New York City metro area (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and Westchester).

Question: What is Interim Care?

Answer: We understand that women and their partners need appropriate time and space to make a decision about the future of their family, especially after a recent birth. Placing their newborn in Interim Care allows biological parents to continue counseling to fully explore their options while knowing their baby is being cared for by a nurturing caregiver in a loving home. Birth parents retain their legal rights while the baby is in care and are encouraged to visit their baby. Our services are free for biological parents while they take the days or even a few weeks to make a decision.

Question: Why consider Adoption?

Answer:This is a very personal choice and there are many reasons people have made an adoption plan for their child. Many say it’s because they aren’t ready or able to fully parent a child at this time but want to stay connected to their child. Others say they cannot provide the special care their child will need and want to find a family who can. Others choose to make a private open adoption plan instead of involvement with the public child welfare system.

Question: Who are the Adoptive Families? How are adoptive families selected?

Answer: Spence-Chapin works hard to recruit diverse families that are hoping to adopt a child. Our waiting families vary in age, background, family structure, religion, etc. After submitting an application, each family must attend several webinars and trainings to ensure that they are ready to begin the adoption process. Spence-Chapin then conducts a home study to get to know the family and their home environment more. When a birth parent is making an adoption plan, she is presented with information and descriptions of all of our waiting families and can select a family of her choice to set up a meeting with. If all goes well at the meeting, our social workers help the birth parents and adoptive family to create an open or closed adoption plan, depending on the birth parents’ preference. Spence-Chapin works closely with the birth parents and adoptive family every step of the way to placement and continues to provide lifelong guidance and support through counseling, community programming, and support groups.

Spence-Chapin has all types of waiting families! They vary in age, background, family, structure, religion, etc. They are all eager to adopt and provide a loving family to a child. You will be able to meet and connect with the people you select. Adoptive parents registered with Spence-Chapin have been screened by our social workers and prepared for open adoption. You can also brown through profiles on our website: www.spence-chapin.org/waiting-families

7 Myths About Open Adoption

For prospective adoptive parents, the term “open adoption” may sound intimidating or confusing. What does an open adoption look like? How does it work? Is it really in the best interest of the child? To make open adoption more understood, we’ve compiled this list of Myths and Facts to help guide you through your adoption journey!

1.Myth: Not many people have an open adoption

Fact: Today, the vast majority of adoptions are open. In a study conducted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, only 5 percent of respondents in a survey said that they had a closed adoption. Of course, the type of openness in adoption varies among families, can be infrequent or ongoing, and can take the form of letters, phone calls, in-person meetings—and a lot in between.

2. Myth: The relationships between adoptive parents and birth parents deteriorate in time.

Fact: The relationships between adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees changes over time, and tend to ebb and flow. As long as all parties remain committed to communication and are flexible, the relationships formed are life-long and rewarding.

3. Myth: Open adoption is a form of co-parenting.

Fact: In open adoption, the adoptive parents are the sole custodians and are the ones in control of their child’s welfare. The birth parents may play an active role in the child’s life, but the legal rights remain in the hands of the adoptive parents.

4. Myth: Open adoption is confusing to children.

Fact: Children are not confused by having contact with their birth family. Even at an early age, children can understand different roles and responsibilities. Further, while all members in an open adoption are shown to benefit from the relationship, it is adoptees that benefit the most over time. Some of the benefits to adoptees include coming to terms early on with the reasons for their adoption, access to information that aids in identity formation, knowledge about their own medical histories, and a better understanding of the meaning of adoption.

5. Myth: Having contact with the birth family will be an intrusion on my family.

Fact: Surveys show that families who choose to remain in contact with the birth family report higher levels of satisfaction with their adoptions. According to the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project, adoptive parents in open adoptions report a stronger sense of permanence in the relationship with their child as projected into the future, and more empathy toward the birthparents and child than those in closed adoptions.

6. Myth: Being able to communicate with and see the child will be too painful for the birth parents.

Fact: Birth parents in open adoptions with ongoing contact report less grief, regret, and worry, as well as more peace of mind, than those who do not have contact, according to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

7. Myth: There will be no boundaries. The birth parents will drop in whenever they want to see the child.

Fact: Through open communication, both parties should have a mutual understanding as to where those boundaries are. The way the open adoption looks is determined before placement, between the adoptive parents and birth parents (and the adoptee depending on his/her age), and is based on what is comfortable and practical for all involved. Birth parents and adoptive parents should both receive proper training and counseling on open adoption before making an open adoption agreement, to ensure that all parties have thought clearly and reflexively about what they want the relationship to look like. It is also important to work with a counselor or social worker to help craft the open adoption contract or agreement, and to have access to post-adoption services to work through any challenges or issues that may arise over time in that relationship.

Spence-Chapin encourages open adoption, which is why we are happy to answer any further questions you may have. Spence-Chapin offers individual and family counseling, open adoption support and guidance, and facilitates reunion meetings. Call us and let us know how we can support you and your family – 646-539-2167. We encourage to read this beautiful personal open adoption story.

Domestic Adoption Story: Mary and Sal

Mary McCabe is a social worker at Spence-Chapin and a new mom through domestic adoption. With Thanksgiving and National Adoption Month on the brain, we asked her the question: What are you thankful for?
“Having a child was always a dream of ours. After unsuccessful fertility treatments, we decided to adopt. My sister was adopted, and I was an adoption counselor, so it was a natural progression. I thought I knew all about adoption, but it was more than just paperwork, home studies, and clearances, it was an emotional experience. [We were] waiting for the phone call, the email, or any sign that our prayers were answered.

In September of 2017, a girl named Delia selected my husband and I to parent her unborn child. Delia asked to meet us and shared that she was due in November of 2017. The call was exciting, overwhelming and included a lot of butterflies!

We met with Delia and her mother on a beautiful sunny day at a small café. We were immediately taken back by Delia’s kindness, maturity and her way of making US feel at ease. Delia and I had an immediate connection, as if we had already known each other. My husband sat quietly, afraid to say anything ’wrong’. Delia asked him if he was ‘nervous about being a father’ and he answered, ’yes.’ Delia assured him that he would be a great father. She then turned to both of us and said: “I truly feel this child was never meant for me, and after I saw your profile I knew that the baby I am carrying was always meant for you”. We all cried and hugged each other.

Two weeks later, we found out Delia was having a boy. Her due date was November 22, 2017. Then, we waited. November 22nd passed and there was no word from anyone, the 23rd and 24th passed and still nothing. We were prepared for Delia to parent, and if she did, it would have been ok with us as she was a wonderful person.

On November 25, at 10:15pm, I received a text from Delia saying, ‘I’m in labor, headed to the hospital.’ I sat staring at the text in disbelief. Was it real? Is this really happening? Am I going to be a mom? Within minutes her next text read ‘Your son was just born!’ I ran upstairs to my sleeping husband saying, “our son is born!” In shock, he jumped out of bed and began packing. Delia then texted again to say that she would see us in the morning because it was late, and our drive would be long.

The next morning, with no sleep, we drove to meet our son. It felt like forever, but when we arrived, this perfect little boy was in a crib in Delia’s room. I asked Delia if I could hold him, she said, ‘of course… he is your son. I gently picked him up, telling him how perfect he was, as my husband sat quietly in a chair. I faced our son toward him and said, “this is your son” and he began to cry. I handed our son to him and we all began to cry.

We spent two days with Delia and her family. Delia asked what we would be naming him, and we told her Michael. She said she loved the name. We headed home with Michael on November 27, 2017. We keep in touch withDelia and we look forward to seeing her in a few months.

Michael is now almost 11 months old and he is the love of our lives. We love being parents and cherish everyday with him. The list is endless of the things we love about Michael; his eyes, his smile when he laughs…He loves to snuggle and hearing him say “mama” and “dada” melts our hearts. Our lives have changed forever. He makes us better people; kinder, patient and loving people.

So, what are we thankful for?
Delia, for making our dream come true.”

To read more from Spence-Chapin families, friends and colleagues touched by adoption, search #ThankfulThursday on our Facebook and Instagram accounts every Thursday throughout National Adoption Month.

An Open Adoption Story

By Lucy Shaw, LMSW and Birth Parent Outreach worker for Spence-Chapin

Dax (third from left) with three of his biological siblings and adoptive Dad, Jochen

For National Adoption Month, I’m excited to share my personal story of open adoption with you all. As an adoptive mom in an open adoption and as a social worker focused on Birth Parent outreach at Spence-Chapin, I have a unique perspective on adoption that I think is important to share. Adoption is such an integral part of my life and something for which I am so grateful and proud.

My husband and I adopted our son Daxton (Dax) in 2014. He’s now four years old! When we decided to adopt, we began working with an adoption attorney, and within six months of completing our home study, we had connected with Erin, Dax’s birth mom when she was about two months pregnant.

From that moment on, we truly never looked back. It seemed like things were destined to be as soon as we started talking to Erin. We drove Pennsylvania from NYC to meet Erin for the first time in January 2014. She even invited us to meet her and go with her to get her first ultrasound to find out the gender of the baby! What do you know, the day we started driving was the day Snowstorm Hercules pummeled the east coast! We had to pull over on the side of the road several times due to heavy snowfall, but we kept trudging along because we were so insistent that we were going to make it to this appointment, no matter what. And I’m so glad we did! I still have the ultrasound photo today saved!

I’m so thankful for having this chance to visit Erin while she was pregnant because it set the stage for a genuine and trusting relationship going forward. Throughout this journey of getting to know each other, Erin has been an open book. We could see right away that she had the best intentions and was an incredibly brave, honest, strong and trusting woman. She shared her story of why she was considering adoption with us and we could see firsthand what a kind and loving mother she was to her four other children. We could also see how hard it was to be a single mom raising children, while trying to work full-time and complete her education so she could make a better life for her family.

As Erin’s due date began to approach, she kept us involved every step of the way. She included us in her birth plan and introduced us to her other children and her best friend. She also allowed us to be by her side in the hospital when she gave birth! She was amazing at the hospital – she let me cut the umbilical cord and let us hold Daxton for skin to skin contact while she also bonded with him and breastfed him throughout the time we were in the hospital. We just followed her lead.

Daxton was born on May 6, 2014 and that weekend we celebrated my first Mother’s Day with Erin, Dax’s birth siblings and Erin’s best friend in Pennsylvania – as we were hanging out, barbecuing and watching Daxton sleeping happily in his car seat, I continued to be in awe of Erin’s grace and generosity in sharing this event with us.

Since Dax’s birth, Erin continues to show her kindness, resilience and strength in so many ways. And I often see these qualities in Daxton too, like the way he interacts with everyone he meets in such a friendly and confident way. From the moment he could smile and wave, he’s been making friends with almost everyone he meets.

Lucy with Dax’s birth mom, Erin

We stay in touch with Erin in many ways – we keep each other updated on Facebook and Erin’s always one of the first to like any of the posts I have about Daxton or parenting. I know she’s always thinking of us and we’re always thinking of her as well. We also visit each other about once or twice a year. For Dax’s 4th birthday, she came to NYC with all the kids and baked three gorgeous cakes for our party. She always goes above and beyond our expectations during these visits.

Overall, I feel so lucky to have this relationship with Erin and am happy that Dax will grow up knowing his birth mother and his birth siblings and be able to answer all the questions he may have about his identity as he gets older.

Parenting may be one of the hardest jobs on earth, but for me being in an open adoption is one of the easiest things about being a parent. I know there are going to continue to be challenges, tough conversations, and ups and downs in the years to come, but I’m not worried about answering questions about adoption with Dax or anyone else. In that area, I know without a doubt, with Erin’s help, we have honesty, love and resiliency to guide us.

Domestic Special Needs Adoption at Spence-Chapin: Who Chooses the Adoptive Family?

Families often have questions about what the matching process is like in our Domestic Special Needs Adoption Program. Similar to Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Infant Adoption Program, the matching process in our Domestic Special Needs Program is driven by birth family whenever possible.

Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Special Needs Adoption Program (formerly called ASAP – A Special Adoption Program) was created when parents struggling with an unexpected diagnosis for their child came to us needing support. Since creating this unique program in 1995, we have found over 500 loving adoptive families for children with special medical needs, and we continue to work hard at expanding the benefits of adoption to more medically-fragile children and the prospective adoptive parents who want to love them.

The Spence-Chapin Way

For both our Special Needs and Domestic Adoption Programs, our counselors provide free, confidential, unbiased and culturally-sensitive options counseling for parents in crisis. Our goal is to support these families in understanding all their options and rights as well as the resources available, so they can be empowered to make informed decisions and plans for their child. This includes connecting families to early intervention services, Social Security Income (SSI), and finding additional resources to parent a child who is medically fragile.

For birth parents choosing adoption, we are uniquely qualified to support and guide them through the adoption planning process. Our Special Needs Adoption Program is one of the only places in NY and NJ that has expertise to support birth families and find loving adoptive families for medically-fragile infants. Sometimes we know prenatally that a baby will have a special need, other times we are contacted after the birth of the baby. We know that all birth parents have a great deal of love for their baby and want to make a plan that they feel is best for their child. When a child is born with a special needs, we look for adoptive families registered in our Special Needs Adoption Program.

Birth Parent Perspective: Watch Melissa tell her story about how Spence-Chapin helped her through a difficult time.

Ideally, birth parents can review profiles from multiple adoptive families. Some children have very severe medical conditions and it may be challenging to find multiple families for every child. When looking for prospective adoptive families, we network with other special needs organizations and advocates around the country to find supportive and loving families for children with diverse medical needs.

Additionally, some families have requests about the adoptive family, such as one or two-parent household, religious, racial, or ethnic preferences. In some cases, a birth parent may be looking for families that reflect their own heritage or cultural background. This means that not all families who are open to adopting a child may be profiled with birth parents. If a preference is known, we will often write it in the child’s online profile. Since the children are ready to be adopted immediately, birth parents are only presented with profiles of families that meet their preferences and have a current home study written by a social worker at an accredited agency in the family’s state.

Sometimes we already have adoptive families who have pre-registered with SC who can be considered. Other times we need more options for the birth family and are looking for more prospective adoptive families. Not all waiting children are photo listed on our website. It is the birth parent’s choice if their child’s photo and/or background information is shared online and each parent makes a choice that feels comfortable for them.

Because the children have special medical needs, it is important to know how and why a prospective adoptive family feels prepared to parent a child with significant medical needs. Eligibility is very flexible; we see all types of families: people who are not yet parents as well as parents of 8 or 10 children, families who live in urban, suburban, and rural areas throughout the U.S., families of different races and ethnicities, and parents of different ages. Families living in any state are eligible to apply to adopt. Overall, we are looking for loving families who are prepared and excited to adopt a child with special medical needs! Spence-Chapin supports open adoption and is seeking adoptive parents who are open to ongoing contact with their child’s birth parents, often in the form of phone calls, video chat, letters, emails, visits, and texts.

Ultimately, birth parents select an adoptive family by reviewing adoptive family profiles with their social workers. Once they have narrowed their choice to one family they would like to meet, a match meeting is held between the birth and adoptive parents with their social workers.

Birth Parent Perspective: Hear Zeke’s birth parents speak about their experience working with Spence-Chapin to make an adoption plan for their son. Zeke’s story was featured at the Spence-Chapin Gala in 2017. Learn more about his story here.

Birth Parent Perspective: Watch Scott talk about the unknowns he faced when his third child was diagnosed with Down syndrome prenatally and how he and his partner explored adoption and ultimately chose to parent their daughter.

To learn more about becoming a prospective adoptive parent through our Special Needs Adoption Program, read our Special Needs FAQ on our blog! You can also contact us at 212-400-8150 or asap@spence-chapin.org.

If you are a birth parent considering making an adoption plan, you can contact us 24/7 for free, confidential and unbiased options counseling: Call 1-800-321-LOVE or Text: 646-306-2586.

Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Adoption Program

 

HISTORY

For over 100 years, Spence-Chapin has been finding loving adoptive parents for children in need of adoption in New York & New Jersey. In our domestic adoption program, our experienced staff will guide you through every step of the adoption process with the support you need as you grow your family through adoption.  Since the 1940s, Spence-Chapin has been a leader in African-American adoption. Spence-Chapin has placed over 20,000 children into loving, permanent families since the inception of our domestic adoption program.

CHILDREN IN NEED OF FAMILIES

Children in our Domestic Adoption Program include infants from newborn to approximately eight weeks of age at the time of placement.  The babies in this program reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the birth families we serve with most children being of African-American and Latino backgrounds. Children in need of adoption often have risks and unknowns in their medical history. Some children have been exposed to cigarette smoke, recreational or prescription drugs and/or alcohol during pregnancy. Families adopting through this program need to be open to adopting a child of either gender.

ADOPTIVE PARENT GUIDELINES  

  • Single parents, married & unmarried couples, heterosexual and LGBTQ parents are eligible to adopt
  • United States legal residents who are in good physical, mental and emotional health
  • Applicants over 50 years old should consult with Spence-Chapin
  • Spence-Chapin supports all adoptive and birth families in establishing an open adoption
  • Residents living within 100 miles of New York City, including all of New York City & Long Island, northern New Jersey, and the Hudson Valley

OPEN ADOPTION

Open adoption is when adoptive and birth families meet and are able to have ongoing contact with each other at their own discretion. It is an opportunity for the birth and adoptive parents to develop a relationship that will benefit the adoptee. Spence-Chapin encourages open adoption, which can include the exchange of letters and photographs, emails, phone calls, and visits. Research shows that open adoption is beneficial for all members of the adoption constellation – birth family, adoptive family, and adoptees.

FAQS

How do I apply?
The first step is to attend an upcoming domestic adoption webinar. Our staff will share details about domestic adoption at Spence-Chapin – who the children are in need of adoption, the matching process, options counseling and support for biological parents, open adoption, steps in the adoption process, and more. All webinar attendees will receive the adoption application.

Will I need a home study?
Yes! A home study document is required for all types of adoptions. Spence-Chapin has the expertise and accreditation to provide home study services for all people pursuing a domestic adoption in NY or NJ. Learn more.

How long will I wait to be matched with a child?
Families wait an average of 24 months after completing their home study.

What is the matching process?
Birth parents select an adoptive family by reviewing adoptive family profiles with their social workers. Once they have narrowed their choice to one family, a match meeting is held between the birth and adoptive parents with their social workers.

What adoption expenses should I be prepared for?
In addition to the application cost, the professional service fee for the domestic adoption program is $41,000. Join our next domestic adoption webinar to learn more or call us today about adoption expenses.

Will I need to travel?
Travel is limited in the Domestic Adoption Program. All birth and adoptive parents are residents of the NYC metro area, including Long Island, New Jersey, and the Hudson Valley.

Who are the birth mothers?
Any woman of childbearing age could find herself in the position of an unplanned pregnancy. Spence-Chapin’s experienced social workers provide intensive unbiased counseling to expectant parents around parenting options. Birth parents have a great deal of love for their children and come to Spence-Chapin for support in making a thoughtful plan for their child.

Who is eligible to adopt through Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Adoption Program?
United States legal residents living within 100 miles of New York City who are in good physical, mental and emotional health are eligible to adopt. This includes single parents, married & unmarried couples, heterosexual and LGBTQ parents.

Is it possible to adopt a baby domestically through an attorney? Do you offer that pathway?
Families pursuing a private, infant, domestic adoption often explore their two paths: an organization or independent/attorney adoption. Spence-Chapin has provided home studies for hundreds of families adopting independently and we have the expertise to work with you and your adoption attorney. We provide domestic home studies for organization or independent (attorney) adoptions. Spence-Chapin can provide recommendations for reputable adoption attorneys in the NYC area. Spence-Chapin provides home study and support services as you work closely with the attorney to navigate the legal process of adoption. Submit the home study application today to get started on the adoption paperwork.

CONTACT US
Email
info@spence-chapin.org
Call 212-400-8150

 

Domestic Adoption Home Studies at Spence-Chapin

Spence-Chapin supports adoptive parents pursuing a domestic independent or attorney adoption. We offer Home Study, pre-adoption training, consultations, and more. We provide adoptive families with expertise, professionalism, and the support of an entire adoption team. With over 100 years of experience in adoption, we know how to support adoptive families, birth families, and adoptees! If requested, Spence-Chapin can provide recommendations for reputable adoption attorneys in the NYC area. Overall, Spence-Chapin recommends working with an experienced adoption attorney, preferably a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

Home Study Services

A home study is a document required for all adoptive parents and is the first step to any adoption process. Spence-Chapin has provided home studies for thousands of families adopting domestically. We have the expertise to work with you and your adoption attorney or out-of-state agency. Families can begin the home study process while they are identifying their agency or attorney. If you’re ready to get started on the adoption process, please visit our website to download our free home study application online: www.spence-chapin.org/homestudy.

Pre-Adoption Support

Throughout the adoption process, Spence-Chapin social workers and staff are available for support and information. Families can schedule one-on-one meetings to talk about their questions or concerns, such as how to manage the wait to be matched with a child, how to speak with a birth parent once connected, what to do if spouses aren’t on the same page about the adoption, navigating open adoption, and much more!

Post-Adopt Support

Regardless of how you choose to build your family, our ongoing family support is available! We offer robust post-adoption support through consultations, counseling, parent coaching, and events for parents and kids. Our post-adoption services are available to all families after your child joins your family! We offer a monthly playgroup for adoptive families with kids 0-5, an annual Halloween party, Global Family Day Picnic in Central Park, and ongoing workshops for kids and parents. We invite you to join us for these community events!

Get started with a domestic adoption today by starting the home study process! Visit our website to learn more about Spence-Chapin’s home study services or contact us at (212) 400-8150 or info@spence-chapin.org.  

Raising Awareness on Orphan Sunday

On November 12, 2017 the world will join together to learn about the millions of orphans here and around the world who are waiting for a loving and permanent family. This year, Spence-Chapin once again joins the Orphan Sunday movement to bring awareness to the children here and around the world in need of adoptive families and to promote the need for post-adoption support for all members of the adoption constellation. Spence-Chapin advocates for children in New York and around the world in Bulgaria, Colombia and South Africa. In New York and around the world there are infants and children waiting for the love and stability of an adoptive family.

We are committed to the idea that all children deserve a forever family, regardless of their age or medical condition, and we focus on finding families for the most vulnerable children: the thousands of pre-school and school-age children, sibling groups, and children with medical needs living in orphanages and foster care around the world.  All the children profiled on Spence-Chapin’s website are part of our Special Needs or International Adoption programs. The children are in immediate need of an adoptive family.

Please help us bring awareness to the need for more adoptive families! So many families are eligible to adopt – married and unmarried couples, single men and single women, LGBTQ parents, and families of all ages, income levels, and religions!

Join us for an event during National Adoption Month! Our Voices of the Triad Panel Discussion is on Tuesday, November 14th in New York City. We also have a full schedule of free webinars throughout November: Adoption Options for LGBTQ Singles and Couples on Tuesday, November 14th, Adoption 101 on Wednesday, November 15th, or Introduction to South Africa Adoption on Tuesday, November 21st.

Orphan Sunday is an opportunity to raise awareness of the children here and around the world in need of adoptive families and to promote the need for post-adoption support for all members of the adoption constellation.

To learn more about adoption domestic and international adoption at Spence-Chapin, or to view profiles of Waiting Children ready to be immediately matched with an adoptive family today, contact us at 212-400-8150 or at info@spence-chapin.org.

Domestic Adoption FAQs

Families often have many questions as they are beginning an adoption process. These FAQs will help you decide if adopting through Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Adoption Program is the right path for you to grow your family.

1.  Who are the children in need of adoption?
The children in need of adoption through our Domestic Adoption Program are newborns to approximately 8 weeks old. The babies reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the NYC Metro Area; most children are of Black or Latino backgrounds. Families adopting through this program need to be open to parenting a child of either gender.

2.  Who can adopt through this program?
We are often asked who can adopt. We are happy to share that all types of parents adopt: married couples, unmarried couples, LGBTQIA+ parents, single women and single men can adopt. Families who are already parenting adopt, as do families who are transitioning out of fertility treatments.  Families of all ages, income levels, ethnicities, and religions adopt. Truly, the one thing that all adoptive families have in common is that they want to be parents – and from there they are as diverse as the kids themselves.

3.  What is open adoption?
What if I want a closed adoption? How is open adoption negotiated? Open adoption is when adoptive and birth families meet and are able to have ongoing contact with each other at their own discretion. Frequency and type of communication can range from the exchange of letters and emails, phone calls, shared pictures, and visits. Open adoption is not co-parenting. It is an opportunity for birth and adoptive families to develop a relationship that will benefit the adopted child. Research shows that open adoption is beneficial to all members of the adoption triad: the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the adopted person. Having access to their birth parent can help an adopted person develop a better sense of self with access to information about his or her background. Families who are the best candidates for Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Adoption Program are open to periodic exchange of emails, photos, and visits with the birth family. Adoptive parents and birth parents each have their own social worker at Spence-Chapin. Your social worker will help you establish an open adoption plan that is comfortable to both you and your child’s birth parent(s). Both adoptive families and birth parents will get support from their social worker throughout this process.

4.  What are the common medical risks?
Many infants in need of adoption have some risks or unknowns in their medical backgrounds.Some of the infants come from backgrounds where they may have been exposed to cigarette smoke, recreational drugs, and/or social drinking during pregnancy. Good candidates for the Domestic Adoption Program are open to some risks and unknowns in the child’s medical history. This is something you will discuss with your social worker throughout your adoption process.

5.  Who are the birth parents?
Any woman of childbearing age could find herself in the position of an unplanned pregnancy. All birth parents have a great deal of love for their baby. They want to make a plan to give the baby a stable life that they are unable to provide at time of birth. Spence-Chapin’s experienced social workers provide intensive unbiased options counseling to biological parents in the NYC metro area to help them make the decision that is right for them and for their baby.

6.  What is the matching process and how does it work?
Birth parents select an adoptive family by reviewing adoptive family profiles with their social worker. Once they have narrowed their choice down to one family, a match meeting is held between the birth family and the adoptive family. Both the adoptive family’s social worker and the birth parent’s social worker are present for this meeting to provide guidance and support. Adoptive families wait an average of 1-2 years to be matched after completing their home study.

7.  What is interim care?
We understand that women and their partners need time and space to make a decision about the future of their family, especially after a recent birth of a child. Spence-Chapin’s Interim Care Program allows babies to be cared for in a loving home by a nurturing caregiver so that biological parents have additional time to plan for their child. Biological parents retain parental rights while their baby is in Interim Care and are free to visit their child. Our interim care givers are families who are trained and screened to care for the newborns on a temporary basis. Interim care allows the birth parents to feel confident in their plan before making the decision to place the infant for adoption.

8.  What are the next steps if I want to apply?
Join the next Domestic Adoption webinar!
Register at: www.spence-chapin.org/events.

Still have questions? Schedule a pre-adoption consultation or phone call with one of our adoption experts! Call: 212-400-8150 or Email: info@spence-chapin.org

Open Adoption from an Adoptee’s Perspective

We talk a lot about open adoption from the perspective of the adoptive parents and birth parents, but the real experts are the people at heart of the experience—the adoptees. Adoptees that have grown up in a fully open adoption are just now coming of age.

The video, embedded at the bottom of this blog, is of teens and young adults raised in a fully open adoption. Here are some excerpts of what they said. Keep in mind that these young people were all adopted through the same agency, which is known for educating and supporting the open adoption process.

  • If I was in a closed adoption I think there would be times I would feel like I don’t belong. …I don’t have to go on this soul-searching journey to find out who my parents are and where I’m from. For me, it’s right there.
  • I’m incredible grateful, saying that I’m grateful doesn’t really begin to cover it. My life is amazing and I really owe it to [open adoption].
  • Open adoption is like a gate you can pass through when you want to or need to.
  • I know my birth mom will be there for me if I need her, and that’s such a comforting thought to know that she cares and why she gave me up and to know the reasoning behind it and to know that it was for me to have a better life.
  • Open adoption has made me more open to other types of families and family structures and the way people live.
  • I love my birthmom, she’s like a big sister to me. She’s very open with me and it’s comforting to know that not only can I talk to my mom, my adoptive mom, but also my birth mom.
  • My birthparents are part of my family and I love them. They are great role models for me and I respect what they’ve done.
  • I see my birthmother every few years and she is there for I know my birth mom will be there for me if I need her, and that’s such a comforting thought to know that she cares and why she gave me up and to know the reasoning behind it and to know that it was for me to have a better life.
  • Open adoption has made me more open to other types of families and family structures and the way people live.
  • I love my birthmom, she’s like a big sister to me. She’s very open with me and it’s comforting to know that not only can I talk to my mom, my adoptive mom, but also my birth mom.
  • My birthparents are part of my family and I love them. They are great role models for me and I respect what they’ve done.
  • I see my birthmother every few years and she is there for me. She’s caring and very much a role model for me. The few thousand miles between us makes the moments we have together even better.
  • It’s been very important to meet my birth parents rather than being pen-pals.
  • An in-person meeting is way better—WAY BETTER—than anything you can achieve online. Skype is close, but not as good. Being there in the flesh is meaningful and fun.
  • Seeing them in person is like having an old friend come to visit who you haven’t seen in a long time.
  • We visit during the year when we can and in the summer I usually fly out and visit my birth family. Sometime my parents come for some of the time and sometimes I spend time with them on my own.
  • I Skype my birth dad every couple of weeks, but seeing him in person is so much more impactful for me.
  • My parents are completely encouraging of me having as much contact with my birth parents…. We have tons of photos of my birth family all over the house. It’s really nice.
  • My mom and dad are always talking about positive things my birth parents do. My birth mom just had a big achievement in her life and my mom wouldn’t stop raving about it. It’s cool seeing how much they support them.

This content was originally published by Creating a Family, the national adoption & infertility education nonprofit. https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/open-adoption-from-the-childs-perspective/

Father Of Ten Adopted Children With Special Needs: ‘We’ve Had An Unbelievable Amount Of Support’

We love this story from Huffington Post…..

 

 

 


In honor of Adoption Awareness Month this November, Jeremy Green joined HuffPost Live to share his story of adopting and raising six special-needs children.

Green, the father of three biological children, considered adoption after he and his wife discovered they could no longer have more kids. “We found out we could not have any more children biologically and wanted to add to our family,” he explained to host Nancy Redd. “And as we started down that road, we at first were thinking ‘healthy infant.’ But as we went through the process, we started to look at the ‘waiting children’ list. And these are kids that have special needs, that don’t match up with what anybody has checked off on their adoption paperwork saying, ‘yes, we’d accept a child with such-and-such special needs.'”

The first child they adopted, Ellie, was blind. When he first saw Ellie’s profile, Green admitted he was nervous. “I was quite overwhelmed. I said, ‘you know, blind — that’s a significant special need. We don’t know anything about that.’ But then I came to realize that nobody knows anything about raising a special-needs child, and special-needs kids are born to families all the time. And you just deal with it and you figure it out.”

“And we got Ellie, and from then on, the special need has never even really been part of the question. They’re just people.”

Green added that his children often help each other with their different needs. “Our daughter Lexi is blind, and our daughter Sophie was born without arms. Both of them were adopted at the same time, December of 2010, and they are just two peas in a pod. They go everywhere together. Lexi, again being blind, will take hold of the empty sleeve of Sophie’s shirt, and Sophie will lead her around the house, and if they need something, Lexi can reach it. So they really work together, they play together, they play make-believe together, they’re just the sweetest little couple of kids.”

As the Greens prepare to add a 10th child to their fold, the family has also received an outpouring of support from their community. “When we announced that in the spring of last year–2012, our community actually rallied around us and decided they would like to help us get into a bigger home,” he said.

“And they raised over $200,000 toward the construction of a larger home that we just moved into about two months ago. And it has made just an amazing difference for our family. So we’ve had an unbelievable amount of support.”

December 3rd is Giving Tuesday, a global initiative to inspire people to give back to the charities and causes that they celebrate.  At Spence-Chapin, we work to connect children with permanent homes, deep parental love, and a lifelong sense of security.  We can help more children find homes by alleviating all financial barriers to families looking to adopt – but we cannot do this without you!  Please participate in Giving Tuesday by making a contribution to the Spence-Chapin Annual Fund

Father Shares, and Looks Up to, Son’s Love of Hockey

By MARK ROTELLA, senior editor at Publishers Weekly. Published: June 15, 2013, NYTimes.

I had wanted to play hockey since I was 14 and saw Guy Lafleur score a hat trick at the Forum while I was visiting relatives in Montreal. But I lived in Florida. The best I could do was fool around with a hockey stick and a tennis ball as I roller-skated up and down our suburban cul-de-sac near St. Petersburg, with a taped rectangle against the garage door as my net.

More than 30 years later, my 7-year-old son, Sam, has the hockey bug. Sam, whom my wife and I adopted as an infant, has a wiry, muscular frame, and he cuts through the ice with grace and confidence. In three years, he went from a tumbling beginner to a confident boy who can execute crossovers skating backward.hockeydad1-articleLarge

When we first went to hockey practice, Sam would fall to the ice or slide into the boards. But he would get up, rub a sore arm or leg for a moment, then adjust his equipment and continue.

Sam was determined to skate better — a drive I never had in team sports. He was also a risk taker, unafraid to jump in and chase the puck with the older, bigger players.

Good-looking and physically at ease, Sam is the cool kid in school. I was a geek at his age; tall and lanky, I removed myself from the possibility of being hurt.

Before my wife, Martha, and I adopted Sam, we had come to accept that we were not going to be genetically connected to him. We would not pass along Martha’s musical ear, for example. But we also would not be passing along her “bad” genes; she had been treated for breast cancer several years earlier.

And, like all parents, we wondered how his personality would develop. Would he be studious, as Martha and I were? Would he be self-reflective and academically curious? Would he share our love of reading?

“Your kid is going to be a hockey player,” one of his coaches once told me. “He’s fearless, he’s quick — and he can take pain.”As it turns out, Sam approaches reading and spelling as a form of competition — just as he likes to be the first one on and off the ice with every shift change during his hockey games.

Although concerned about Sam’s safety, I hoped to spare him the quiet existence I had at his age. But he had inherited neither my reticence nor my childhood.

Watching Sam revived my teenage yearning to play hockey. And so, at 44, with his hearty endorsement, I enrolled in my first clinic. At 10 p.m. one Thursday in February 2011, I walked into the locker room, dank with sweat, at Floyd Hall Arena in Little Falls, N.J. Twenty other men were there. I found an empty spot on the bench, pulled my new equipment out of my bag and ripped off the sales tags as I strapped each piece of armor to my body. “You may want to put your shin guards and socks on before your pants,” said the muscular, unshaven player sitting next to me.

Out on the ice, shaky on my feet, I sent wild passes. The other players exchanged annoyed glances. Forty-five minutes later I was winded, my legs numb. Then the coach put us on teams for a scrimmage. All the memories of my dreadful middle school years rushed back. “I’ll take Rotella if you take Cindy” was a phrase I recalled when other youngsters were picking teams.

A few minutes into my first scrimmage, I received a pass directly in front of the net. My stick, along with the puck, caught in my skates, and I took a spill in front of the goalie. Mortified, I skated to the bench for a line change.

Two minutes later, I had caught my breath and was eager to get back out there. This time I skated down to our net just in time to stop a player from scoring.

Back in the locker room, I thought I would pass out from exhaustion and exhilaration. I felt totally connected to my French Canadian heritage — and to my son.

Now that Sam plays travel hockey, he is on the ice four or five days a week. He is part of a fraternity of youngsters who get up at 5 a.m. on weekends to play a game for an hour. He is firmly, and comfortably, in his milieu.

And once or twice a week, I find common ground with many of the hockey dads and fellow players in clinics and on my team, the Rebels. When we were young, they would have scoffed at having me on the ice. Some of them probably still do.

But no matter. There is nothing like passing the puck to a teammate who one-times it into the goal — especially during a late-night game at an outdoor rink in the dead of winter. I would never have been able to do that in Florida.

Recently a hockey friend encouraged me to play at an advanced level with men our age as well as some college students.

The game was faster and more physical than I had ever played. We rotated our lines, and during my second time on the ice, the puck ricocheted off our goalie toward me on the right wing. I raced to the puck and turned for a breakaway to the opponent’s net.

I was tripped by a defender and fell hard, landing on my chest. I rubbed my aching ribs and thought of Sam. But I could move and breathe, so my ribs were most likely not broken.

I got back on my skates and continued to play the rest of the hour and a half. The fear of continued injury had abated with the excitement of the game.

Then, when I skated back to the bench for the next line change, something occurred to me. Sam will never be a little version of me. While learning to play a sport that he loves, I can only hope to become a bigger version of him.

The LGBT Community and Adoption

When it comes to the civil rights of the LGBT community, there has been progress in some places and none in others.  For same-sex couples and gay singles who are hoping to become parents through adoption, one of the most frustrating areas of “no progress” has been in the realm of international adoption.

Many of the countries that have a need for international adoption don’t recognize the rights of gay individuals in their own society, and this is clearly reflected in their adoption policies.  Despite overwhelming numbers of children living in orphanages, birth countries have not opened their eligibility to gay couples and singles.  Some countries even go to extreme lengths to prevent gay individuals from adopting; one popular program requires every unmarried applicant to sign a notarized affidavit stating that they are not gay. TV shows like Modern Family that features Cam & Mitchell’s adoption from Vietnam is a lovely idea, but actually has no basis in reality and distorts the possibilities that gay families have in current international adoption practice.LGBT Domestic Adoption

As an agency that supports the rights of gay families to adopt, we struggle with the requirements imposed upon us, and are often challenged by prospective families to explain how we can support programs that discriminate against applicants in this way.  While we continuously explore potential programs that would be open to a more diverse pool of families, our mission is to find adoptive homes for children who need families, and we must respect each country’s right to set their own criteria, while clearly communicating those criteria to our community so they can make the best decisions for their family. We credit our long lasting relationships with many placing countries on our dedicated adherence to their eligibility requirements, even those we don’t agree with and in this way we have successfully found loving homes for more than 20,000 children.

We hope and work towards the goal that international adoption may one day be an option for same-sex couples and gay singles.  We have spent years and will continue to research program development opportunities where gay families may be able to adopt the children who need families.  In the meantime, we have always placed and continue to place children through domestic adoption with a broad range of families, including same-sex couples and gay singles.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss our domestic programs with gay families, which range from a traditional full-service agency program, to independent private adoptions, to foster care/adoption counseling and LGBT support groups.  We are here to support families in their quest to become parents as we seek loving, stable homes for all children who need families.

Bubba Watson’s Masters Miracle

Bubba & Caleb

Bubba tweeted this picture of his baby boy Caleb.

 

This year, a miracle happened at the Masters, both on and off the green. While self-taught superstar Bubba Watson made his game-clinching shot down in Augusta, his wife Angie and his newly adopted son Caleb watched from their house in Orlando. Just one week earlier, before Bubba donned his iconic green Masters jacket, they got the call that they had been waiting on for four years, they were finally going to be new parents. “It’ll probably be more emotional than this win, just to be there with my son and my wife.  I’ll get to raise an amazing kid.” Bubba remarks on going home to see his wife and 8-week old son.

The couple is elated to bring their newborn home, but it has been a long and storied road to Caleb’s arrival. After Angie and Bubba decided on a domestic adoption, they chose an agency, Chicks in Crisis, to help start the home study process while living in Florida. But, mid-way through, the couple made the decision to move to Arizona to be closer to family and their church. “When you move states it’s a totally different process, our home study got wiped away so we had to start over.” says Watson.

After their move, their plan to adopt was met with number of setbacks. As for many other families, life kept moving swiftly, bringing with it a number of unexpected ups and downs. In 2008, Watson’s father was diagnosed with throat cancer, and two years later he passed away in 2010, right after Bubba won his first Major championship. Around this time, Angie was misdiagnosed, and the family was scared that she was suffering from a cancerous tumor. The couple stuck together through their emotional turmoil, never giving up on their plan of completing their family.

Finally, in 2012 the Watson’s had a year of breakthroughs, despite a few bumps in the road. “We had two babies, two moms turned us down that went with other families, and then the Wednesday night right before Bay Hill is when we got the word that Monday we’d pick [Caleb] up.” Even through the craziness of his sudden celebrity and a Masters victory, Bubba is most excited and thankful for his new-found fatherhood, planning the very best he can for Baby Caleb. “As a father, you just want him to excel at something, and whatever that is, whatever their passion is, you just want to support them, be there for them, and hopefully they can grow up and be better than you one day at whatever it is.”

Black History Month Celebrated with Javaka Steptoe

 

On a sunny afternoon in February 2011, dozens of Spence-Chapin families gathered to celebrate Black History Month with noted author/illustrator Javaka Steptoe.

The families, all part of the African-American Parents Advisory Committee (AAPAC), were abuzz with excitement as they waited for direction. Steptoe was there to guide the group through a collage-making activity. The goal would be to create a piece of art that would convey the richness of Spence-Chapin’s work and the cultural mosaic it has formed through its African-American adoption program. African -American adoptive family art project

Working with wood blocks, the families created images of themselves using photos, colored paper, markers and paint.  Once completed, Steptoe took each block and  “wove” them together to form a “quilt” depicting the many faces of AAPAC.

Steptoe delivered the final wood-based collage this winter. The AAPAC families chose to dedicate it to Spence-Chapin where it now hangs in the main conference room in honor of past Executive Director Kathy Legg.

 

Submitted by Traci Lester

Home For The Holidays

Spence-Chapin Family Brings Home Miracle Baby

Big sister Camille, adopted from Spence-Chapin in December 2009 and home in time for the holidays, welcomes the Rowe family’s newest Christmas present – her new baby brother Oscar. Take a look at their moving story.

Adoption Reunion on Latest Episode of TV Show Glee

On Tuesday, May 25th, millions of viewers tuned in to watch the latest episode of the hit Fox show, Glee.  Perhaps of most interest to those of us in the adoption world was the reunion of Rachel with her birth mother, Shelby.  While such mainstream portrayals can successfully illustrate the expectations, emotional intensity and anxiety that accompany a search and reunion, Glee dismissed the importance of working to forge a relationship after the reunion.

Rachel and Shelby find out that they share many traits, but they also discover all of the things they do not share.  Having been absent from Rachel’s life for 16 years, Shelby realizes that she will never have the sort of anecdotes and memories that Rachel shares with her adoptive fathers.  While Rachel looks to Shelby to be the instant mom she’s always wanted, the two eventually realize that such bonds are forged over time and do not automatically exist through genetics.  The Glee writers can be applauded for bringing to light such an important aspect, but the applause quickly dies as Rachel and Shelby almost instantly decide to maintain a relationship from a distance and the characters part ways with a shared song.

In real life, search and reunions are far more complex than in the magical world of television.  Spence-Chapin’s post-adoption team advises that forming a relationship with a birth relative is never instant but is a process full of ups and downs.  “Reunion relationships are amongst the most complicated, with no road maps or etiquette to guide the process,” says Spence-Chapin post-adoption expert, Ronny Diamond.  Following initial contact, the birth family member and child can go through a “honeymoon” stage.  Afterwards, either the adoptee or the birth parent often pulls back.  In the episode of Glee, this is the stage at which Rachel and Shelby parted.  Future episodes may show whether they continue to work out their differences and issues.  If they do, the relationship can become more settled because expectations will have been discussed and agreement reached in many areas.

Of course, reunion experiences will not be the same for all adoptees and birth parents.  Many factors can have an impact, such as their ages, value differences, lifestyles, economic status, educational levels, religion, etc.  Birth parents who placed in the years before “open adoption” became a common practice do not have shared history with the adoptee.  However, they do have genetic and emotional ties and, with some work, a relationship may be formed.  Such relationships “can be incredibly rewarding or painfully disappointing, so I always recommend clarifying one’s expectations prior to reuniting,” advises Ronny Diamond.

Adoption Tax Credit Extension

Great news for prospective adoptive parents or for those considering adoption! An extension through 2011 of the Adoption Tax Credit was passed as part of the health care reform bill which was signed into law by President Obama on Monday, March 22, 2010. It has been confirmed that it is not part of the current reconciliation and that it will be law until December 31, 2011. The extension raises the maximum credit to $13,170 for tax year 2010.

The Adoption Tax Credit makes adoption a viable option for many families who may otherwise be unable to afford it and helps find permanent homes for more children in the U.S. and internationally. What it means is that adoptive parents may be able to claim a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses on their federal income tax return. A tax credit is typically more valuable than a tax deduction because qualified expenses are subtracted dollar for dollar against one’s tax liability. And, for the first time, the credit was made refundable, so that families with no liability can receive a refund for their qualified expenses from the IRS.

Spence-Chapin is encouraged by the extension but continues to advocate, along with other organizations and adoption agencies, for legislation that will make the Adoption Tax Credit permanent.