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.
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: 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 browse through profiles on our website: www.spence-chapin.org/waiting-families
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.
Orphan Sunday is about raising awareness of the many children here and around the world who are in need of a loving and nurturing adoptive family. On November 11, 2018 Spence-Chapin will once again join the Orphan Sunday movement to help 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!
living in a children’s home or with a foster family, today we stand alongside
every child who has been disconnected from the possibility of a permanent
Spence-Chapin advocates for children in the New York Metro area and around the world through our international adoption programs in Bulgaria,Colombia and South Africa. We also offer lifelong support for children and their families through our counseling, parent coaching and post-adoption support services.
strengthening families is our top priority.
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.
Join us at an event during
National Adoption Month to learn more about how you can get involved and make a
difference in the life of a child:
To learn more about 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
A mother reflects on her family’s transition at home after adopting her daughter from South Africa.
“I keep meaning to write a post about how well we’re all doing. I wake up each day with resolve to sneak away and write about Kurhula’s progress – the letters she’s learning, the pounds she’s gaining, the friends she’s making, and all the other ways she is thriving after seven months home. But lately, by the time her breakfast eggs have left the pan, she’s usually already initiated at least one epic power struggle. Despite all the progress she’s made (or, perhaps maybe because of all the progress) we’ve entered a trying phase of Kurhula testing her boundaries. Every boundary. Over and over. This has resulted in some loooong days, folks…with lots of foot stomping, arm crossing, and eye glaring pouts. It turns out our little girl has quite a stubborn streak! And she knows how to push my buttons faster than any child I’ve ever taught. By the end of each day, I usually opt for chocolate and puppy snuggles on the couch rather than writing a blog post about how well we’re all doing.
questioning myself a lot lately, wondering if I’m getting this whole
“motherhood thing” right. As I sit in the hallway outside her open
door and watch her cry on her bed for the third time in one day, I can’t help
but wonder if I’m doing right by her. But then, inevitably, her sobs always
turn to a whimper, and soon after, I usually hear her whisper, “Mama,
I’m sorry. I feel bad…” That’s when I open my arms and welcome her into
my lap, and we both take a minute to just breathe each other in again. This is
how we’ve ended most days this month. And although it’s hard and exhausting, I
know it’s what she needs right now. She’s testing us to make sure we mean what
we say, to figure out if we really are going to keep her safe, and if we truly
are here forever no matter what. Just last night she nodded
her head emphatically and said, “Mama, you still love me even when I make
the big, BIG Consequence Choices.” Yes, baby, even then.
last seven months have presented us all with a very steep learning curve. And
although some days are harder than others, I am so proud of our little family
and the ways in which we’re growing together. Speaking of growing, it
seems our little baby really has turned into a young girl! She’s gained 4
pounds and grown 3 inches since coming home.
She still begs to be carried around in
the Ergo (or “the pouch” as she calls it), but Kurhula now has a
collection of scooters and bikes that she likes to zip around on during family
walks. She loves her pets and smothers them in kisses and hugs throughout the
day. And when we visited her doctor today for a blood draw (which has always
resulted in tears and screams in the past), Kurhula calmly put on her
headphones, turned up the volume on her favorite Shakira song, and gritted
her teeth while the nurse inserted the needle into her arm.
I must laugh when I think back to our initial impressions of Kurhula, when all we had to go by were her referral photos and a few video clips. We thought she was delicate. We really did. We had no idea what a firecracker she’d really turn out to be. Anyone who meets Kurhula quickly learns that there is nothing fragile about our girl. In fact, she defines the word “fierce.” And although that means I’m probably in for at least twenty more years of epic power struggles, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
By Lucy Shaw, LMSW and Birth Parent Outreach worker for Spence-Chapin
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.
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
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.
Meet Michael Franti & Spearhead And Introduce Them On Stage At The Concert, Plus 2 Tickets To The Show, Vip Passes, And Entry To The After-Party
2 Club Level Seats To The See NY Jets Host The Oakland Raiders Dec. 8 With Parking Pass
Meeting And Newsroom Tour With Roy Sekoff, Founding Editor Of The Huffington Post And President And Co-Creator Of Huffpost Live.
Framed Photo By Spence-Chapin Adoptee Yasmine Arman, “I Can See A Widow From A Mile Away”
The holidays are right around the corner, so make Spence-Chapin’s National Adoption Month Online Auction your one-stop shop as you search for the perfect gifts for family and friends. Your bids will get you great rewards – the perfect gift and the knowledge that you have helped a child find the stability and deep parental love that every child deserves across the nation.
National Adoption Month is celebrated every November across the United States.
We know adoption is not a moment in time, but a life long journey. While we celebrate the many ways people become a family, we know it takes work to grow a happy family. Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Resource Center (ARC) offers counseling, mentorship and workshops that provide the building blocks, education, and support that families may need.
In 100+ years we have found homes for 20,000 children and guided over 5,000 parents, young adults, teenagers, and children whenever they’ve faced challenges. Our commitment to helping the adoption constellation remains as strong as ever.
If you are inspired to create or share a message about adoption in your family, visit us on Facebook and post your video.