Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Last Day...

It's the very last day of November! The last official day of National Adoption Month. 
How did National Adoption Month go for you?
  • The FSA board didn't post every day on this blog liked we hoped but we did post often and plan to continue doing so.
  • The picture above is a display my local library put together after I gave them a list of children's adoption books. It was very exciting to see the display and people checking out books. I also had a good conversation about adoption with the children's librarian.

  • I was chatting with my neighbor in my driveway when she saw our license plate frame on our car and asked more about our involvement with adoption. We had a very nice discussion. 

  • I received positive responses to my posts about adoption on Facebook and my personal blogs.  (I saw many of you post things about adoption, too!)
It was a great month!

We would like to know more about what the members of the Indiana & Kentucky FSA chapter did to celebrate, outreach and/or show support for adoption! Please tell us your stories by emailing us (indianafsa@gmail.com) or leaving a comment.

I hope we all will continue to find ways to expand our knowledge about adoption issues and to share our testimonies.

Adoption is about love!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Birth Parent Fantasies

This post is in response to a comment made on the previous post asking for more information about birth parent fantasies. Hope this provides some useful information and answers questions that many people might have.

Child development research shows that most children around elementary school age, will create a "family fantasy."  For the child who has not been adopted this is just a stage, a short-term fantasy that is fun and can aide continued attachment development with parents despite disappointments and realizing those parents are not perfect or solely good.

For the child who has been adopted it is usually not "just a stage" or a short-term fantasy mainly because this fantasy is based on some actual facts--the child actually has "other" parents before the adoptive parents. The birth parent fantasies are also not as much fun for the child who has been adopted. They will often feel very conflicted about their fantasies. One reason why birth parent fantasies develop is to help protect the child from and also help the child to make sense of hard facts, such as relinquishment.  In fantasies dealing with relinquishment and abandonment the child may wish and fear at the same time his birth parents coming to reclaim him. The child who has been adopted, often wants her birth parents to want her but not to actually take her.

Another conflicting aspect about birth family fantasies is that the child is still in the developmental stage where everything and everyone is either good or bad. These fantasies may categorize birth parents as "bad" but then the conflicting aspect is what does that say about the child himself; the biological child of said "bad" parents? If the fantasy categorizes the adoptive parents as "bad" it puts conflicting thoughts on practically everything the child has ever known of family and life. Then the last option is for the child to categorize herself as "bad" and obviously this is not conducive to healthy emotional and/or identity development.

So what do we do as adoptive parents or others involved with children who have been adopted?
  • We do not encourage or discourage per se, the actual having birth parent fantasies but are to encourage the expression of the fantasies if they develop (and they most likely will develop in some form). 
  • You cannot help a child with the difficult emotional work, or the resolving of conflicting and ambiguous thoughts and circumstances or  integrate hard facts about their life story that are contained in their birth parent fantasies if you do not know what their fantasies are.
  • The fantasies can be expressed verbally but as the fantasy might have lots of conflicting and strong emotions attached to them it might be difficult for a child to just talk about them. The lifebooks can help bring about discussion of birth family fantasies safely through the use of prompts, the child's birth and adoption stories and pictures.
  • When creating a lifebook, sharing the adoption or birth story etc...be careful to neither idealize or vilify people in the story. Birth parents should not be "sacrificing saints" nor "losers"; adoptive parents should not be "rescuers" or "saviors" and the adopted child should not be "lucky" etc... One possible underlying theme is we are all humans, who make both good and bad choices and no one is solely good or bad.
  • You might encourage other forms of expression besides verbal, by having the child draw pictures of the birth parents and birth family fantasies.
  • When discussing the birth family fantasy, name emotions both the positive and the negative that the child expresses or are most likely underlying the fantasy. Again highlight that it's hard and often uncomfortable to accept people as both good and bad but it's the healthiest path.
  • Be aware of your own emotions. For example, as an adoptive parent listening to the birth family fantasy do you feel threaten? Recognize and acknowledge your emotions. Your feelings, especially if left unrecognized, can influence and even sabotage your efforts of communication with and help to your child.
  • Resist transmitting society's pressure to choose "sides" and to have loyalty to only one person/family. Having a relationship, interest or love for the birth family does not mean the child cannot or does not have relationships, interest and love for the adoptive family and vice versa.
  • Revisit the fantasy, rediscuss the birth family and other facts and details about adoption. Just because you have been using the term adoption or birth parent since the child was young doesn't mean they understand the meaning or concept. Children will usually need to come to terms, a new understanding of what it means to be adopted, at each new developmental stage.
  • Open adoption and/or sharing the facts that you have about the birth family and adoption has been shown to help discuss and ground the fantasy in reality but don't assume that this will eliminate the child's birth family fantasy all together. Many children take the facts and elaborate on them further in their fantasies. For example, one young women who knew her birth mother did not finish high school, elaborated on that fact with the belief her birth mother went to beauty school instead, just like many of the girls who dropped out in her own school did. The young woman started considering going to beauty school, too. If an adoptive parent or other individual involved with the young woman, knew of this elaboration or the fantasy, they could help her find ways to be her own person and find other ways to feel connected with her birth mother.  
This post was written using the research article: Birthparent Romances and Identity Formation in Adopted Children by Elinor Rosenberg and Thomas M. Horner.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


What are Lifebooks

A Lifebook is a record of a foster/adopted child’s life that uses words, photos, the child’s artwork, and memorabilia. It is like a scrapbook but provides different information and details than your average scrapbook.

Lifebook Page Ideas

  • The day you were born
  • How your parents found out about you
  • Waiting for you
  • Meeting you
  • Your birth family and/or foster family or orphanage
  • Your family tree (both families as much as possible)
  • Adoption day
  • Visits with your birth family
  • About your birth country
Lifebook Journaling Ideas
  • Dates of important events and milestones
  • Names of social workers, facilitators and agency officials
  • Locations and names of foster families and orphanages
  • Meeting birth family members or correspondence with them (if available)
  • Weather and news headlines on their adoption day and/or birthday
  • Making the decision to adopt
  • Your thoughts and feelings about the adoption process
  • Poetry and quotations about adoption
  • Foods eaten, sights seen on their day of birth or adoption day
  • Stories about traveling home
  • Details of the first days together as a family

Reasons to Make Lifebooks

Throughout the adoptee’s life, he or she will hear about the day she arrived into the family. Stories abound from that point. The child’s birth and birth family are not discussed as often, usually because the new family members lack the personal knowledge of the birth family’s story. The lifebook helps to fill that void.

Lifebooks Provide:

  • A concrete tool for meaningful conversation
  • An adoption security blanket
  • A prop to use as part of attachment rituals
  • A structure to use when discussing difficult subjects (such as reasons for relinquishment)
  • A way to normalize adoption language
  • A way to discuss fantasies about birth parents
  • A method of embedding positive messages during childhood that will be remembered during adolescence strengthening postive adoptive identity
  • An opportunity to strengthen other facets of identity such as self-esteem and positive ethnic identity
  • A method of reducing society's pressure on children to have divided loyalties between birth and adoptive families
  • A space to document future events


Recommended Books & References

Monday, November 8, 2010

Picture Books about Adoption

Last year we posted a list of picture books about adoption. This time the books are categorized to help you find the book that best fits your child's adoption needs and stage, plus additional titles. Do you want a book to help share  your child's birth and adoption journey? Do you want a book to help discuss your child's birthparents? Do you want a book to help understanding about what being an adoptive family means? Do you need a book to discuss adopting a child into your family to either biological or adoptive children? Check out these books!

Adoption Stories
Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born by Jaime Lee Curtis
How I Was Adopted by Joanna Cole
Over the Moon by Karen Katz
My Family is Forever by Nancy Carlson
The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin
I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis

Books discussing Birthparents
Forever Fingerprints by Sherrie Eldridge
The Mulberry Bird: An Adoption Story by Anne Braff Brodzinsky
Did My First Mother Love Me?: A Story for an Adopted Child by Kathryn Ann Miller
Three Names of Me by Mary Cummings
Mommy Far, Mommy Near: An Adoption Story by Carol Antoinette Peacock
Sam's Sister by Juliet C. Bond

Books about Adoptive Families
All Together Now by Anita Jeram
A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
Horace by Holly Keller
Every Year on Your Birthday by Rose A. Lewis
Happy Adoption Day! by John McCutcheon
We Belong Together by Todd Parr
I Don't Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze

Books about Adopting a Younger Sibling
Ten Days and Nine Nights by Yumi Heo
My Mei Mei by Ed Young
Rebecca’s Journey Home by Brynn Olenberg Sugarman
Waiting for May by Janet Morgan Stoeke
Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami

Most of these titles are available at local public libraries. This is just a starter list of picture books about adoption. There are many more titles available.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Complimentary Photo Session for Adoptive Families

I recently discovered this website called "Celebrating Adoption" that I'm really excited about!
A group of photographers across the nation have volunteered to give one complimentary photo shoot (waiving the session fee) for adoptive couples working on their profiles or for adoptive families with their newest addition. 

The list of the participating photographers for Indiana and Kentucky are hard to read on the actual website due to very small font size, so I have provided them here but please go to the Celebrating Adoption's website for more details and the terms, conditions and disclaimer policies.

Outreach that we can do is email these photographers and thank them for supporting adoption so generously with their time and talents. Also encourage your photographer friends to consider becoming a participating photographer.

Jane Fritchley Photography
Jane Fritchley
Southern Indiana/Evansville

Carmel Flores Photography
Carmel Flores
Indianapolis, IN

Ferie's Fotography
Erin Medlin
Indianapolis, IN

Kristi Hibbetts Photography
Kristi Hibbetts
Fishers, IN

Tonya Marie Photograpy
Tonya Bussema
Angola, IN and Western MI

LZ Photography
Lisa Zanchi
Brandenburg, KY

Kennedy Photography
Taran Kennedy
Somerset, KY

Erin Ivie Photography
Erin Ivie
Henderson, KY

Lizzie Loo Photography
Elizabeth Lauer
Louisville, Ky

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Outreach On the Go

Don't have a lot of time for adoption advocacy and outreach?
Let these items speak for you or be the conversation starters needed to share your testimony.

Decals, bumper stickers, license plate frames.

Church bags, library bags, reusable shopping bags.

T-shirts for kids, parents, grandparents.

Magazines and books on your end tables.

Go here to get 30 days of celebrating National Adoption Month 2010 from Adoptive Families magazine.

Many of these items were bought at the FSA store at a recent adoption conference which unfortunately does not have an on-line store or website but you could easily make your own t-shirts, bags and more.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No Matter How Much Time You Have.....

(Click on the picture below to view a larger version)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Government Advocacy

It's election day!
Here are some ideas for adoption outreach with the courts and government.

• Write a letter to one or two of the elected policymakers who represent you. Share a story about how good (or bad) adoption policies have affected your life. Thank the policymaker for working on adoption issues or encourage them to do so.

• Bring stacks of brochures about an adoption agency, an adoption support group or adoption pass along cards to courthouses and leave them in waiting areas or at free literature stands.

• Thank the judge who finalized your child’s adoption by sending a card and recent family photograph.

• Surf the Internet looking for children’s advocacy sites. Add your email address to an action alert listserv so you can get messages about and respond to pressing legislative issues.

• Volunteer to work on the campaign of a pro-child candidate, help with voter registration, or assist at the polls on election day.
Government websites:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/  Contact the President, Vice President, or other staff.

http://www.house.gov/  To learn about current legislation and contact

http://www.senate.gov/  To contact Congressional representatives.

thomas.loc.gov  Read text of past and current legislation and view records from committee hearings.

http://www.fec.gov/ Obtain forms to become a registered voter from the Federal Elections Commission.

http://www.dnet.org/ Enter your zip code into the League of Women Voters’ Democracy Net to find out
which candidates and issues will appear on your ballot.

http://www.cdfactioncouncil.org/ See each Congressperson’s voting record on children’s issues by visiting the Children’s Defense Fund.

http://www.cwla.org/ Review action alerts on children’s issues from the Child Welfare League of America.

The Indiana/Kentucky FSA chapter is looking for an indiviudal or a couple who are interested in government outreach and legislation to be on our FSA board. If you are interested in participating and volunteering please contact Sara or Esther at indianafsa@gmail.com 

Monday, November 1, 2010

National Adoption Awareness Month

The Indiana/Kentucky chapter of Families Supporting Adoption just wrapped up hosting and attending the 2010 adoption conferences. In May and September there was our chapter’s training conferences. Then in July there was the National FSA Conference in Utah and October was the Regional FSA conference. FSA puts a lot of prayer, time, money and effort into these conferences with a hope to fulfill one of FSA’s purposes: to support adoptive couples, adoptive families, adoptees and birth parents and to provide pre-adoption and post-adoption education and services. We hope you were able to take advantage of these conferences and your testimony of adoption was strengthen.

Another purpose of FSA besides supporting adoptive families is to have our adoptive families and others support adoption. As we all know the family is under attack including adoptive families. Recently at the regional conference, Brother Sunday of the National FSA Board, expressed his concern about domestic adoption remaining an option for building families. He stated that in many countries similar to the US (such as Britain and Australia) domestic adoption has become practically nonexistent. This limits the likelihood for many children to be sealed and raised in an eternal family or for a chance at life at all. This limits the choices of the unmarried expecting parents and potentially leads them further away from the straight and narrow path. This also limits the options a couple can choose from to build an eternal family. If the construct of adoption falters and fails, then Satan wins a major battle in the war for the family.

We need our FSA members who understand the truth and doctrine about adoption- that it is a part of Heavenly Father’s plan for building eternal families and it is about love- to support adoption through outreach. November is National Adoption Month which provides a good opportunity to do outreach. There are many ways to outreach and support adoption and many are simple and easy. A few of my personal favorites are:

• Put “Adoption: It’s About Love” window cling/bumper sticker on your car. (There was one provided in all the folders at the May conference and I believe the Sept. conference too).

• Share your testimony about adoption with others.

• Ask your local libraries to create a display of adoption related books in November.

• Blog about your adoption journey or put posts about adoption on Facebook.

• At our chapter’s blog (www.indianafsa.blogspot.com) we have accepted the challenge to try and post daily during the month of Nov. So make sure to stop by to read, comment and share with others what we have there.

I know if we do these things Heavenly Father will bless us and adoption will grow and prosper. As we outreach, our waiting for placements will become shorter; there will be fewer failed and disrupted adoptions and the environments we work, play, go to school and live in will be more supportive of our children, our families, and birth parents; and love will abound.

With great hope and much love,
Esther Edwards
Co-Chair IN/KY FSA

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret J. Wheatley