How American Adoptions Puts Adoptees First
By its very nature, adoption impacts one person more than anyone else in the triad — the adoptee.
Sometimes, that’s easy to forget. Prospective birth and adoptive parents can get caught up in the ups and downs of pre-placement and childbirth. They’re getting to know each other and building relationships that will last for years to come. After placement, the overwhelming emotions on both sides can take focus away from the person at the center of the journey — the infant who had no say in this life-changing decision.
But, here at American Adoptions, we never forget this fact. Care and support for our adoptees is a part of everything we do.
From the start of every adoption journey, we help prospective birth parents and adoptive parents understand the importance of their decision — not just for themselves but for the child soon to be a part of their lives. Adoption can be a beautiful journey, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. That’s why, in all of our adoption education, we make the adoptee the focus.
Many adoption agencies consider their jobs done once the baby is born and the adoptive parents are heading home. Not American Adoptions. We know adoption is a lifelong journey. We will always be here to help, whether by counseling birth parents after delivery, answering adoptive parents’ questions or helping adoptees understand their personal stories.
Below, you’ll find just a few ways we incorporate the best interest of the adoptee into everything we do.
1. Counseling Expectant Parents Through Adoption
Loss and grief is inherent in the adoption process. Even when prospective birth parents are 100 percent confident that they made the best possible decision, it still hurts to place their child with another family. And, even when an adoptee is raised with loving birth and adoptive parents, they can feel a degree of loss, too.
That’s why, at American Adoptions, we take certain steps to minimize that loss, even when adoption is a prospective birth parent’s ultimate choice.
By providing free, no-obligation counseling, we want to make sure expectant parents are 100 percent confident in their decision. We never pressure expectant parents into adoption, and we always refer them to parenting resources, in case they are considering that path. We want to make sure the adoption decision is truly in the best interest of all involved — not a decision that a woman will regret later in life. And, when an expectant parent chooses to place their child, we make sure they feel supported every step of the way.
Individuals adopted through American Adoptions never have to worry that their birth parents were forced into this decision against their will. Even though they may have complicated emotions about their birth parent’s decision, they can know their placement came only from their birth parent — no one else. Adoptees can feel confident that their birth parents never made this decision out of coercion by our agency.
2. Thoroughly Screening Hopeful Adoptive Parents
Not just anyone can adopt. American Adoptions knows how challenging (and rewarding!) raising an adoptee can be, so we make sure every adoptive parent is ready to put in the work.
It all starts with our initial screening. Our specialists talk long and hard with prospective adoptive parents about their desires for adoption and the reality of modern adoption. More often than not, we do a lot of hard educating. Adoptive parents are usually in the middle of a long journey toward building their family, and it’s natural to want to focus on their own joy and desires. But, we make sure they understand one thing: Adoption is not about them. It’s about the child they’re adopting.
During our application process, we provide extensive education to prospective adoptive parents. Some people hear things they may not want to. We’re not afraid to turn away parents who aren’t ready to deal with the realities — including the difficult ones — of raising an adopted child.
At the end of the day, we need to protect our agency’s birth parents and adoptees. Thorough screening and educating is the first part of that mission.
3. Educating About Transracial Adoption
Many people come to our agency just ready to be parents, whatever that involves. When asked about transracial adoption, they may say, “The color of skin doesn’t matter. We just want a child to love.”
But, the thing is, it does matter — a lot. And we make sure they know it.
While we all wish love was enough to overcome racial differences, we also know that’s not the case. Raising a child of a different race is hard. It requires adoptive parents to make drastic changes in their lives — moving to a more diverse city or community, understanding the nuances of white privilege and stepping outside their comfort zone.
It’s not enough to raise a transracially adopted child like one of your own. Adoptive parents must raise a transracially adopted child like they are a different race — with the grace and understanding to accept and celebrate that.
It’s common for adoptive parents to consider transracial adoption upon first joining our agency, only to change their mind after we’ve thoroughly educated them. We applaud people who are able to recognize what they are and are not prepared for and do what is best for their future child, and we’re not afraid to refuse adoptive parents who aren’t ready to put in the work a transracial adoption requires.
4. Requiring Open Adoption Contact
Open adoption can be scary for both prospective birth parents and adoptive parents. But research has shown time and time again the benefits of open adoption contact for an adoptee. So, here at American Adoptions, we require all adoptive parents to be open to a certain degree of post-placement contact.
Open adoption contact with birth parents helps answer an adoptee’s deepest questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why was I placed for adoption? It’s a direct link to biological heritage and family that cannot be replaced by anything else.
Our specialists work hard to educate adoptive and birth parents about the benefits of open adoption. Yes, it can be an uncomfortable relationship as everyone learns their roles, but it’s all about the adoptee at the center of the triad.
As a child grows and asks more questions about their adoption, it’s helpful for there to be a positive relationship between adoptive and birth parents. This way, that child has an accurate, positive information about their biological parents and their adoption story — an essential part of their identity as an adoptee. And, as time goes on, both sets of parents often find that open adoption is in their best interest, too!
If adoptive parents are not comfortable with open adoption contact, American Adoptions is not the right agency for them. And, while we never force a prospective birth parent into contact that they aren’t comfortable with, we work hard to educate them about the benefits of post-placement contact for themselves and their child in the years to come. They (and the adoptive parents) will ultimately be responsible for maintaining their post-placement contact moving forward.
While American Adoptions, like many adoption agencies, did not always require open adoption contact, through our years of experience, education and research, we recognize the benefits of post-placement contact and have updated our requirements accordingly. Our specialists are always here to answer questions from individuals adopted through our program before our open adoption requirements were enacted.
5. Encouraging a Supportive System of Family and Friends
An adoptive family doesn’t exist in a bubble. They have a wide community of friends and family in their lives, many of whom have supported them through every step of the family-building process. Because those friends and family aren’t going anywhere, they need to be supportive of a parent’s plan to adopt.
An adoptee needs to be loved and supported like any biological child would be. But family and friends who treat adoptees differently than other children do a great deal of harm to that child’s sense of self-confidence and identity. Adoptees pick up on these things; waving them away or saying they’re not a big deal is hurtful and bad parenting.
Our specialists talk frankly with adoptive parents about their family and friends’ support. Have they talked to their loved ones about adoption? Have they explained the expectations for being a part of their child’s life? If family and friends can’t be supportive of adoption, we make sure hopeful parents recognize that effect on their future child.
American Adoptions is always happy to provide suggestions and advice for explaining adoption to loved ones, but we also encourage adoptive parents to be realistic about their families’ support along the way — especially if they are adopting a child of a different race. Sometimes, that may mean adoption isn’t the right path for them at this point in their lives.
6. Being Honest About the Realities of Adoption
For many prospective birth and adoptive parents, adoption can seem like the beautiful, easy answer to all their problems. And, while adoption can be a beautiful journey, it’s also a hard one.
We don’t sugarcoat the adoption process. Our specialists explain to both prospective birth and adoptive parents the challenges ahead of them. Other adoption agencies may just be interested in getting clients through the door, but American Adoptions wants our clients to truly understand what they are signing up for. That means tough emotions for both sets of parents, a sense of loss and grief and the unique challenges of raising an adopted child.
It can be tempting for online resources to paint adoption with a black or white view. But, to really understand the nuances of adoption, adoptive parents and expectant parents must talk with an experienced specialist. Only that way can all of their answers and concerns be addressed.
When prospective birth and adoptive parents truly understand the sometimes-difficult realities of adoption, the adoptee at the center of the triad will better find the support and empathy they need throughout their life.
7. Providing Answers and Support to Adoptees
American Adoptions’ support doesn’t end once a child is placed with adoptive parents. We’re there to support birth parents and adoptive parents through the years to come — and that means supporting adoptees as they grow up, too.
Just as we are here to answer questions for their parents (birth and adoptive), our specialists are here to answer adoptees’ questions. Sometimes, that’s as simple as explaining their adoption story from our viewpoint. Other times, that means referring them to adoption-qualified counselors when they’re dealing with personal struggles. Several of our staff members are adoptees, too, and happy to share their experiences with those who want to listen.
We also maintain an adoptee testimonial page. Here, adoptees can read from others like them, realize others share their challenges and learn from those in similar situations. Adoptees can also email our writing staff anytime to share their own story of adoption through our agency.
We know adoption can be hard for every member of the triad. That’s why we’re always here to help. You can contact our trained team of specialists anytime or request free information online to learn more about our agency’s mission.
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