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.
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 Scotttalk 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce Merryl Klein’s retirement after 24 years of extraordinary service to Spence-Chapin.
Merryl began working for Spence-Chapin in August, 1989 as the Director of the Child Care department. In 1994, the organization was faced with a situation in which an infant was abandoned in its care, was diagnosed with AIDS. Unwilling to place this child in a foster home, which was the common practice at that time, Merryl was able to find the infant a home in Texas with a pediatric nurse who specialized in AIDS care. It was from this experience that Merryl, and then Executive Director Kathy Legg, developed a pilot program for finding homes for hard-to-place infants.
Merryl headed this program, aptly called A Special Adoption Program (ASAP), and remained an integral part of it throughout her tenure at Spence-Chapin. What began as a pilot program envisioned by Merryl, is now the foundation of Spence-Chapin’s mission in domestic adoption today.
Since 1995, Spence-Chapin’s domestic special needs program has placed more than 300 infants with loving families. These babies come from diverse backgrounds and have a variety of issues ranging from risk of developmental delays to serious medical conditions. In 2011, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand acknowledged our ASAP program’s efforts by honoring it with a Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Angel in Adoption™ Award.
While we prize Merryl’s extraordinary achievements in the field of adoption, it is her heartfelt dedication to the children and their families that makes us admire her most. Throughout her time at Spence-Chapin, Merryl has provided thoughtful and personalized care and attention to each child and family she’s worked with. Moreover, she approaches her work with the utmost passion and commitment.
As the organization transitions to focusing on the children most in need of families – older children, their siblings and children with special needs – Merryl has been a strong supporter knowing well that, now more than ever, the ASAP program will garner an even higher awareness.
Merryl, and the work she’s done at Spence-Chapin, is an inspiration to her co-workers, many of whom consider her a mentor with an endless wealth of knowledge. We wish her the best of luck in all of her future endeavors; we have no doubt she’ll make a positive difference wherever she goes.