For the next two weeks on Tuesday Tips and Table Talk Thursday we will be featuring a 4 part series on Families Grown Through Adoption
by Marcia Hall
On Tuesday I gave you a list of helpful books that can help our children and charges deal with stress from adoption. Over the next 2 weeks I hope to give you a better understanding of why families choose adoption, an explanation of the types of adoption, some real life stories and tips to help nannies support the families of adoption better.
There are many reasons a family might choose adoption. Some families have spent years trying to conceive and found adoption a last effort to have children. For some families biological conception was never an option. Some families are able to conceive, may even have biological children but found adoption as another way to grow their family and fill a need. Whatever the motivation for adoption, when the family makes the decision to adopt, they then need to decide what method and form of adoption they will choose.
There are three basic “methods” of adoption; foreign, private and public. There are also a three “forms” adoption can take; open, semi-open and closed. Before we discuss the method it is important to understand the forms adoption can take.
When a family has an open adoption it means that the child has regular contact with someone in his or her birth family. If a family has a semi-open adoption the child does not have direct contact with the birth family however pictures, updates and sometimes even letters are sent to the birth family through a third party like the adoption agency. This is intended to continue contact between parties so if the child and birth family choose at some point, a reconnection can occur. In most places this legally cannot happen until the child is 18 and the birth parent must also be willing to meet. Often times in semi-open adoptions the connection is lost at some point due to moving or change of heart.
Closed adoptions occur when the adoptive family has no contact with the birth family. This normally happens by choice of the birth parents. It is important to note that in most states once a child is officially adopted, it is up the discretion of the adoptive family to make the choice whether the “open” status will continue and to what degree. If an adoptive family notes that it is harming the child to have contact with his or her birth family, they can pull back the amount of visitation or cancel it all together. However, if possible it is often in the best interest of the child to continue some form of openness.
The first method of adoption we will talk about is foreign adoptions. These are families that adopt from somewhere outside of the USA. Every family making the decision to adopt from outside the country does so for different reasons. Often times families want to know that once the child is here in the states with them, there is no way he or she can be taken away. Adoptive parents may also not want the stress that can come from dealing with birth families.
Though be benefits are great, there are also disadvantages to foreign adoption. First is the cost. It can be upwards of $40,000. The US government offers a nice incentive to adopt, about $12,000 in tax rebates over the following 3 years after the adoption is finalized, but that still leaves the family with a $20,000 + bill. This option is out of reach for many families.
Another drawback is lack of information, like birth families’ medical histories. Of course this can occur in any type of adoption where the birth parents are unknown but is more likely to happen in a foreign adoption. The lack of a medical history can prove to be challenging when trying to diagnose sickness, allergies or diseases. Often adoptive families have to assume their child has everything in his or her family medical history.
Adoption is a long process, but foreign adoption can seem like an eternity. Often times a family will take months to go through the application, home study and be chosen to adopt a child, only to wait again to get to see the child. Issues can arise like a particular country suddenly being closed to adoption. This is what happened with Chris and Mike. After they learned they had been chosen to adopt twin boys from Russia and had seen pictures of them. Suddenly Russia put all adoptions on hold. With no idea whether or not they would open anytime soon, Chris and Mike needed to make a difficult decision. Would they stay the course and pray that Russia opened soon or would they move on and try to adopt from another country. Chris and Mike chose to stay the course and their boys; Caleb and Josh, are now 12 years old!
Another downside to foreign adoption is that teens go through a period of “finding themselves.” Adopted teens may want to know more about their heritage, roots and birth families. There are many programs that can help children learn about the culture of their birth land, but often learning anything about birth families is difficult if not impossible. This could add to the teenage nature of “rebelling.” For Sherri and Stacy this is a real concern for her now 8 year old daughter adopted from China. Elizabeth was left on the steps of the orphanage when she was just a day old. They have no information to console her with but the clothes she was left in and their understanding of the social climate that led to her surrender. Sherri feels it is a double edged sword and she wonders how her daughter will deal with when she is older.
Come back next week on Thursday the 25th and I will talk about the differences of private and public adoptions. Also, don’t miss Tuesday the 23rd when I share some tips for nannies of adoptive families.