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Oxygen Network Looks at Adoption from the Birth Mother’s POV

23 Jul

Starting tonight, July 23, the Oxygen network will begin airing a six-part series examining adoption in America from the birth mother’s point of view.  Each episode of the the docu-series, I’m Having Their Baby, follows the journey of two pregnant women in vastly different circumstances who have each decided to place their baby for adoption. Each week viewers will have an inside look at the emotional struggles involved and gain a greater understanding of why many women choose the path of adoption. Despite very real differences in their lives and circumstances, the women share the common bond of wanting a better life – both for themselves and for their unborn children.

Don’t get the Oxygen network? No problem. The first episode is already available on the website.


PS – This is our 100th blog post on Sweet Little Nest (go back to the beginning). Here are some fun facts about the blog:

Most Popular Post of All Time - Watch Me Grow Onesies

Biggest Source of ReferralsFacebook (have you Liked our Facebook page yet?)

Top Search Terms – After “Sweet Little Nest”, the most searched phrase that brings people to the blog is “Onesies with months on them”. The third most searched phrase actually does relate to adoption, though – “adoption business cards“.

Thanks for listening to us (mostly me) these last 100 posts. Hopefully the next 100 posts will bring news of our match!

 

A Family’s Journey to China

5 Jul

Photo courtesy of futureatlas.com
Chinese and American flags
courtesy of futureatlas.com

On July 4 the Christian Science Monitor started documenting the journey of one of its editors, his wife and their 10-year old to China where they will meet their new daughter and bring her home. Their older daughter, Grace, was adopted from China as well.

Clara Germani explains why the paper chose to publish the family’s story, discusses the downward trend in international adoptions and provides links to a few other adoption stories they have published over the years.

The first installment of the Belsie family’s journal (written by mom, Gretchen) on the Monitor’s website.

Even Golfers Who Wear the Green Jacket Can’t Skirt Adoption Laws

23 Apr

Uhm, I’m seriously overdue in mentioning this and probably everyone in the world already knows about it.

The golfer who won the Masters in Augusta, Ga. earlier this month is the brand new dad to an adopted son named Caleb.

Photo courtesy of c r z
I got your ball, daddy!
courtesy of c r z

Bubba Watson and his wife Angie started the process to adopt about four years ago and on March 22 of this year they received a call that they had been chosen to parent a one month old baby living in Florida. At the time of the call Bubba was getting ready for the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando. They couple headed down to South Florida to meet their son a few days later.

But as luck would have it, Bubba had to turn around and head up to Georgia almost immediately to compete in the biggest tournament of his life.  Readers who are involved in the world of adoption must know that Angie and Caleb were not allowed to go with him.

Why? The ICPC of course.

ICPC is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. It’s a law in place in all 50 states, DC and the Virgin Islands that governs the placement of children from one state to another. In short, it means that the child’s origin state and the home state of the  adoptive parents must first sign off on all paperwork to acknowledge the child will be leaving one state and headed to the other in the custody of the adoptive parents. Until all this paperwork is completed the adoptive parents must remain in the child’s home state.

That’s why Bubba had to head to Georgia alone; one parent was required to remain in Florida with Caleb until the ICPC period was over. This usually takes between 7 – 14 days.

So, let’s say that Don and I adopt a baby who is born in Florida. We’re allowed to go anywhere in the state of Florida during the ICPC (say, to visit Grandma and Grandpa W in Miami), but we can’t come back to Virginia until Florida and Virginia agree that we can move the child across state lines. During the ICPC period most people stay in extended stay hotels with little mini kitchens, though. The likelihood of finding your child in the same state as people willing to let you move in with an infant for two weeks is very slim.

Where did you spend your ICPC waiting period? How long were you there? Are you willing to let Don and I crash at your place with a brand new baby if we adopt from your state?

(One last thing – you can read more about Bubba, Angie and Caleb in People magazine online.)

More Bad News from Russia

8 Mar

Photo courtesy of Justas Petronis
“Respublika” Sees the World Differently
courtesy of Justas Petronis

Newly re-elected president-elect Vladimir Putin expressed his displeasure over the number of Russian children who have found homes out of the country in recent years.

“Foreign adoptions should become a rare exception, a last resort,” he stated at a meeting on Wednesday.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Russia had decided to indefinitely suspend U.S. / Russia adoptions following a couple of incidents involving abuse or mistreatment of Russian children by their American adoptive parents.

Accounting for as much as 10 percent of foreign adoptions, Russia is one of the top international sources for adoptions by U.S. citizens. Some sources estimate there are as many as 700,000 children waiting placement in Russian orphanages.

 

 

Sad News from Russia; U.S. Adoptions Suspended

11 Feb

Photo courtesy of Jeremie R
Kremlin – Moscow
courtesy of Jeremie R

Earlier today, the Foreign Ministry of Russia announced that it will suspend the adoption of Russian children by Americans until the U.S. can show it is strictly enforcing the bilateral adoption agreement the two countries reached in July. The move comes after a U.S. district court in Pennsylvania issued a mild sentence for Theresa McNulty who brutally abused her Russian adopted child. The ministry claimed her sentence of 23 months with the possibility of parole in eight months aroused “serious concerns about the U.S. authorities’ capability to protect the rights of Russian adopted children”. The child, who had been suspected of being abused for more than three years, was admitted to a hospital with severe burns received during a punishment.

According to the most recent figures, about 60,000 Russian-born children have been adopted by families in the United States since the U.S. / Russia adoption program started 15 years ago.

While the current situation calls for a temporary suspension, there is no projected date at which adoptions will resume. No word on how many Americans are currently waiting for Russian matches or what will happen to those families in the interim.

And Now for a Heartwarming Tale

1 Feb

Photo courtesy of Master Magnius
Wonder Twins
courtesy of Master Magnius

No posts about children being removed from adoptive or foster homes, foreign nationals being deported or horrible agency experiences today. We’re all sunshine and rainbows over at the Nest today.

I read this amazing article about 29-year old twins who were reunited after being separated and adopted as infants. Originally from Indonesia, both girls were adopted by Swedish couples and have lived only 25 miles apart their wholes lives.

The craziest part about the story is that the parents suspected their girls were twins and tried to verify when the children were small. A series of inconsistencies convinced them it wasn’t true and they gave up trying to find the connection.  It’s not like they tried to keep the information from the girls either – both had been told as children that their parents had once believed they had been a twin. And, even crazier, the twins think that the person who tipped off one set of parents, the cab driver that picked them up at the orphanage after the placement, could actually be their father.

I love this story! When I was kid I used to imagine that I was secretly a twin, my sister had been placed with another family and that one day we would be re-united. Of course, now I know how utterly sad that would be and I’m so glad it didn’t happen.

What’s your favorite adoption reunion story?

Dad Challenges Green Card Status to Stay in U.S. with His Family

13 Jan

Photo courtesy of doug the trail builder
P1010028.JPG
courtesy of doug the trail builder

Today my co-worker, Kate, sent me a link to an article about her high school French teacher. He’s a French national, a community college professor, a Harrisburg resident and the father of four lovely children, all adopted by Frederick and his partner of 22 years, Mark.

This week they had to go to court to defend their marriage of four years in order to prevent Fred’s deportation. While marriage laws are established by the states, along with adoption laws, immigration officials are barred from recognizing the marriages of same sex individuals under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

From Philadelphia magazine:

But theirs is a story not only about the federal government’s lack of recognition of same-sex marriage, but the legal limbo that it creates for same-sex bi-national couples with children. During the two decades together, they
have adopted four beautiful children. But a patchwork of incoherent legislation means that while they are recognized legally as same-sex adoptive parents in Pennsylvania, the federal government refuses to recognize their marriage.

I hope I don’t have to explain how tragic this is for Fred and Mark’s family. For Fred and Mark all we can do is offer hope, good thoughts, prayers – whatever form of emotional support you can spare. The outcome they hope for at this time is that the immigration office places their case into abeyance for the time being and a federal court rules on the constitutionality of DOMA soon.

But for other families - those with and without children - who might face this battle in the future, we can do more.

Read more about Fred and Mark (how they met, how they became dads and what it’s like to face down U.S. immigration officials over the validity of your marriage) on The DOMA Project: Stop the Deportations.

Next week I promise to be back with some happy, fun stories.

A Heartbreaking Tale on Every Level

12 Jan

Photo courtesy of mazaletel
holding mama’s hand
courtesy of mazaletel

You already know that my parents have a little experience with adoption, but you might not know that Don’s dad does, too. He serves as a guardian ad litem for Miami-Dade county in Florida. A guardian ad litem is an individual appointed by a court to represent the interests of a child in a particular legal action or proceeding. In other words, let’s say there is a legal proceeding in which a child is an issue but is not either party actually involved in the action (divorce proceedings, custody arrangements, etc.). The parties involved have attorneys who protect their clients’ interests, but the child – who is not a part of the formal legal action - does not. Enter the guardian ad litem whose job it is to make sure that the court considers the best interests of a child in handing down its decision.

In his role as guardian ad litem, Don’s dad has worked on a few cases involving adoption - including one that I was reminded of recently when I read this article about a biological father whose two year-old daughter was placed at birth with a family in South Carolina.

A few weeks ago, the birth father was granted custody of the child even though the adoption had already been finalized in South Carolina. As a member of the Cherokee Nation, the birth father was able to point to a provision in the Indian Child Welfare Act that protects Native American families from being separated. An appellate court in South Carolina ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act overruled South Carolina law in this case.

The adoptive family who raised the girl for two years is planning an appeal.

So, back to Don’s dad. A couple of years ago we were discussing a case we’d heard about where a family who had been fostering a child and hoping to adopt her was likely going to be denied because the birth father, who claimed no prior knowledge of the child’s existence, had turned up wanting to parent. Don’s dad explained to us the state’s position – which was that since the child was in foster care (the family was only hoping to have the chance to adopt her), since the birth father appeared to have no knowledge that the state had been given temporary custody of his daughter and since he appeared to be a fit parent, the birth father was likely to win custody. Don and I both recognized the terrible situation the court would face, though I think I was far more sympathetic to the birth father’s position than Don.

The potential adoptive family, Don argued, had been there for the baby since birth. One night of fun with the birth mother does not a father make. Fathers are made by showing up, by changing diapers and drying tears, by planning for the future and living every moment.

I can’t argue with any of that. I know as well as anyone that families are made in a lot of ways and biology is only part of the equation (and not even the biggest part in my opinion). On the other hand, if the birth father didn’t even know the child existed, and if he would have behaved differently had he been made aware, then shouldn’t he have the chance to parent his daughter? Or at least have the chance to be given consideration?

Situations like this have elements of sadness on every level. There is no way for both families to win. Someone is going to get custody, and the other side will likely not be a part of the child’s life going forward.

Take the case of the Native American child. Her birth father loves her and wants the chance to be her full-time dad. Her adoptive family loves her and they’ve spent two years nurturing and caring for her. The adoptive family is all the child has ever known, but the birth father claims to have been fighting for custody since shortly after the child’s birth.

So – it’s sad for the birth father who didn’t want to place, and it’s sad for the adoptive family who consider the girl their own child. But, of course, it’s really sad for the two-year old whose biological father and adoptive parents are fighting about where she should live and who she should be.

I don’t know the specifics of either case, and even if I did I would have a hard time issuing a declaration about the right solution for either. As a casual observer I can only offer the opinion that there’s a lot of heartbreak happening in both of these cases. I can say with confidence, that we’re so lucky situations like this are extremely rare.

 

The Biggest Loser Trainer is a Big Winner

11 Jan

Photo courtesy of csztova
Jillian Michaels
courtesy of csztova

Biggest Loser Trainer Jillian Michaels announced on Tuesday that she has been matched with little girl to adopt in Haiti and is waiting to bring her home.

I think one of the hardest things to publicly declare during the adoption process is that you’ve been matched. I liken it to the first 12 weeks of any pregnancy when you’re afraid to tell anyone in case the unthinkable happens. I can’t remember a celebrity being so forthcoming in the past. Usually you only hear about celebrity adoptions once the child has been placed.

Jillian must know that as well since she says that we’ll know things didn’t work out if ”I’m devastated and not coming out of my house for months.”

How public were you about your match? I feel like I read about matches a lot, since I read tons of adoption blogs. Sometimes I read about a happy match, only to read a few days later that it has not worked out. Am I wrong about celebrities announcing matches, though? Have others made this public declaration and I’ve just missed it?

It’s the Year of the Dragon

10 Jan

Photo courtesy of purysky
CNY: Dragon 2012
courtesy of purysky

I read an interesting article on the Huffington Post today about the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year and cultural observances some families with adopted children practice.

Family traditions run the gamut from simple dumpling dinners to far more elaborate celebrations (with one family even moving to a place where their daughter could be closer to authentic Asian influences).

Meanwhile, the upcoming lunar new year on the Chinese zodiac ushers in the Year of the Dragon.

The Dragon is a creature of myth and legend. A symbol of good fortune and sign of intense power, the Oriental Dragon is regarded as a divine beast. In Eastern philosophy, the Dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune.

Bodes well for us this year, don’t you think?

Do you celebrate the Chinese New Year? If you have children adopted from different cultures, domestic or international, how do you mark special occasions and teach your children about their biological heritage?