Friday, June 16, 2017

FATHER''S DAY

Anyone who knows me, knows how close I was to my father. He was a loving and nurturing man. He was my protector and defender. He was incredibly ethical and moral. He treated everyone around him with patience and professionalism.

His experiences as an English teacher influenced my ability to articulate my spoken and written thoughts. His years as an insurance broker resulted in my knowing the importance of a safety net. He shared my love of animals, appreciation of quiet time and the importance of a comfortable pair of jeans or shoes.

I remember clearly being bundled up by my mother and my dad taking my sister and me to the New York Thanksgiving Day Parade. I must have been 5 years old, if that. I remember him taking us sledding, going on walks and enjoying his loving smile and laugh. He allowed me to help him with home repairs and encouraged me to pursue my interests. I was lucky.

My dad passed away 15 years ago and I still miss him. It makes me wonder how children think and feel about the fathers who are physically in their lives or living apart.

Fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, and male role models all play an important part in a child’s life. Their contributions to a child’s upbringing should be celebrated.

Many adopted children spend more time talking about their birth mothers and siblings, rather than birth fathers. Is it because we don’t mention them? Is it because there is often less information available? That not knowing leads us to avoid the conversations? Is it because as a society, we place more importance on mothering in a child’s early years? Do we have more difficulty explaining how a man was involved in their coming to be?

Regardless of the reason, we need to have these discussions, amongst ourselves and with our children. Maybe it’s to wonder what he was like or what life might have been like if he was in their lives. Maybe it’s to contemplate which skills, talents, physical or personality traits came from him or even where he is now. I know I will again be thinking about all of this as it applies to my adopted daughters.

On this Father’s Day, as my sister and I remember my father, my daughters remember their grandpa (gumpa as they pronounced it) and my mother remembers the man who loved her dearly, I thank all the men who were part of my daughters’ upbringing. 


Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents, parents-to-be and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA, a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series, currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen at her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET  She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL

Sunday, June 4, 2017

NATURE AND NURTURE

My daughters like to cook - when they have the time. I think their interest and love of cooking was learned but their individual taste for foods is probably influenced by their biological make-up. Each of us has dishes we love, will tolerate and wouldn't even taste.

We all like down time, to catch up on sleep, regroup, pamper ourselves and spend time with nature or our many pets.

My girls LOVE animals. As a family, we have a virtual zoo that includes dogs and cats, a horse, a rabbit, a turtle and a bearded dragon. One daughter, whom we refer to as "the animal whisperer" works in an animal rescue. She has an amazing way with anything on four  legs. The other daughter has surrounded herself with rescued cats and a dog.

As a family, we always took home the school pets at vacation time. We provided vacation sanctuary to frogs, turtles, guinea pigs and more. All of our pets were rescued or re-homed, including the guinea pigs and four  dogs. I, myself, grew up in a home with a cat and a dog. We also provided care for classroom pets - the baby chicks, the guinea pigs, and the mice. It’s no wonder, I passed this trait along to my girls and they have continued to provide homes for animals too.

Like my own mother and sister, we text, talk or email daily. My girls continue this tradition, not unique to our family, but because they were raised that way. Would they do this if raised by their birth parents? We will never know.

As my daughters grew up, sometimes we wondered aloud if and how their life would have been different if they were raised by their birth families. While many children fantasize about a different life, for adopted children this is a reality. With information we had or obtained over the years - we realized some of the ways their lives could have been different. Without them, mine would have been, too.


Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents, parents-to-be and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA, a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series, currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen at her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET  She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL

Saturday, May 27, 2017

JUST BECAUSE


Sometimes I do things not because I want to, but because they need to be done. Other days, I lounge around all morning. I delay reading the mail, writing reports or making phone calls.  Then my guilt takes over. There are families and kids counting on me to complete the reports and to move their adoption process or actual adoption along. My family or friends may also be counting on me. So, I do what needs to be done.


Talking about adoption with your kids can seem the same. Sometimes you are on top of things. At other times, you let things slide. You aren't sure what to say or how to say it. Should you ask questions or wait for your child to bring it up? Will you be causing issues by mentioning adoption?  Do you take this opportunity and do what needs to be done or do you let the moment pass?

Honestly, how will your child become comfortable with adoption in their lives or know it's all right to talk to you about it if you don't show them that it's okay to do so?

What should you do? Look for openings to talk about adoption. They are all around you. Movies, television shows and even commercials provide these opportunities. Even if what you've seen is not the positive message you hope for, it can be used as a teaching example of what adoption is, should be or how you want to change someone’s impression of what it is.

Go for it.

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents, parents-to-be and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA, a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series, currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen at her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET  She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL

Thursday, May 11, 2017

MOTHER'S DAY (BIRTH AND ADOPTIVE)

I'm a mother and always will be. It doesn't matter that my daughters are now 26 and 29 and living in their own homes. I still keep one eye and one ear open at all times. And like my mother, who still likes to know I am safe and sound, there seems to be an ongoing monitoring of their lives that continues through the ages. If I don't hear from them, is it because they are happy and busy or is something wrong? Luckily, a quick text is enough to satisfy me.

On Mother’s Day in particular, I wonder about their birth mothers.  Do they have a psychic connection (like me?) Is this connection biological or nurtured?

With the increase in open relationships between adoptive and birth families, many will have contact this Mother’s Day - a card, a call, a video chat or a meeting. But for others, there is no way to know how one another is doing. No way to let birth parents know how children are doing. No way for adoptive parents to confirm where a talent, ability, personality trait or preference comes from. No way for an adopted person to connect to their heritage, birth family or biological information.

Also, while Mother’s Day is a celebration for many, let's not forget those who find this a difficult day: those waiting to parent, those who are living apart from their children and the children (birth and adopted) themselves. Don't ignore how you became a mother – by giving birth or through adoption.  Don't ignore a child's curiosity about their birth mother.

Maybe you, or your child will want to write a letter or send a card to one another. If you have remained in touch, this can be sent directly by mail, email or text. Perhaps your attorney or the agency can be the conduit of that information. If you have no way to share the information, you or your child can still write a letter expressing your feelings and thoughts. You can keep it as a record of how you were feeling and what questions existed at that time or you can forward it to the agency or attorney who helped you with the adoption and tell them to provide it if ever contacted for information in the future.

That there were two women involved in your child’s being is a fact. It’s okay that a child mentions their birth mother on this and other days. It's okay to tell a child you are thinking about their birth mother, too. It's okay to ask if they are thinking about her.  It is important for  your child to know they can always come to you. That even though you may not have an answer, you are willing to discuss their adoption with them. That adoption is always a safe topic for discussion. Its okay for a birth mother to think, feel and talk about their child.  Even if she has no contact or lives apart, there is still an emotional connection.


Mother’s Day is an opportune moment for all women involved in a child’s life to celebrate. Mothers – what would we do without them?

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents, parents-to-be and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA, a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series, currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen at her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET  She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL

Sunday, April 30, 2017

SPRING IS IN THE AIR

I am not a great winter person. I love watching the snow, but navigating slushy and icy streets is not for me. This year, I found myself hibernating on the cold and blustery days. Long gone were the days of making snowmen, having snow ball fights and building igloos. My girls are now 26 and 29. Their winter activities are with their friends while I sit on the couch with the dog and a hot cup of coffee.

Spring changes things. I am out and about. I’m listening to the gleeful sounds of kids playing in the parks and playgrounds. I chuckle as the parent tries to cajole them back into sweaters or insists that it’s time to go home. One little girl told her mom –“No, it’s not dark yet!”

It brought back memories of trying to put my girls to bed when the sun was still out. Questions about why it was still light out were tricky for me. I did not have a scientific explanation, nor would they understand, if I did. It reminded me of some adoption questions which I had to field over the years.

Adoption questions from children come at all ages and with all implications. Sometimes, they just want a simple answer and we provide too much information. “Where was I born?” may just need a simple place – a city or state response, not a full explanation of adoption and custody. At other times, your child will actually want more information. How do you know what it is they are asking?

Most parents who have open dialogues about adoption find questions and answers come more easily. They tend to know what their child is thinking and how they are processing the adoption part of their life story. They are tuned into what’s going on in their social circles, school settings and more. So a simple “Where was I born?” may be part of a school timeline assignment or something they heard from friends or from a book or TV show or a social setting.

With a very young child, my advice is to give a simple answer and see what your child says afterwards. If they don’t say more, you can add that they were born in one place but came back to your home state, etc. Kids love hearing about living in hotels or flying, even if they don’t remember. Get out a map and show them the route if you drove or flew. With an older child, you may want to add some of the things you did or saw while in the area where they were born.

How parents talk to their children about adoption reminds me of the changing seasons. Are you hiding out in the winter or out and about as in the spring? Getting out there and talking is best for everyone.  

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents, parents-to-be and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA, a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series, currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen at her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET  She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL

Saturday, April 1, 2017

ADOPTION LANGUAGE

There have been many debates over the years regarding language and words used in the adoption process. After a recent conversation with a colleague, it appears another seems to be brewing about the labeling of biological and adoptive parents.

The last controversy concerned the legal definition of "natural parent" to indicate the person who had a biological connection or who gave birth to the child. Adoption advocates preferred words such as "birthparent" or "biological parent". Now the term "expectant parent" is arising as the precursor to "birthparent", meaning until they give birth, they are not "birthparents".   In that case, I wondered, wouldn't adoptive parents be "expectant parents"?

Actually, they are called "prospective adoptive parents", prior to adopting. Once an adoption is finalized, they are the child's legal parent. The legal process never identifies them as adoptive parents except on documents used to request a finalization of the adoption in the court. When the adoption is finalized, they are the child’s parents, although some insist on labeling them the “legal” or “adoptive” parent. 

As a child grows, there are terms you may use to identify biological (birth, first mommy, lady whose belly you were in or by a first name, etc.) and adoptive parents (mommy and/or daddy, etc.). Hopefully, the child has been given some options as they gain more understanding of their birth and early life narrative.

While we can add more definitions to the type of parent - expectant, birth, foster, adoptive, natural   and while some parents will have more influence on the daily life of a child,  I think , whether giving birth or becoming a mom or dad through adoption,  or whether living with or apart from a child - all are the child's parents.


Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. She has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents and parents-to-be, and has trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA (March 1992 to March 2015), Head Writer for Adoption.net and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series. She is currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York (including being the 2016 Conference Keynote). She lives in New York City where she has a private practice specializing in adoption and adoptive parenting. She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. Follow or reach her at ADOPTION MAVEN BLOG or EMAIL

Thursday, March 16, 2017

NATURE VS NURTURE

I'm a homebody. I love being at home. I can always find something to do and like being in my own company. My dog is the same way. He likes to go out but he loves being in his own home. He makes himself comfortable on the couch, in his bed and of course in my bed.

My daughters are just the opposite. And here's where nature and nurture show their effects. My daughters like to be outside. The younger one likes to be out where there is lively activity like down on 42nd Street in New York City or in Las Vegas where she now lives. My older daughter likes to be out in the countryside. She loves taking walks and hikes, riding her horse and spending time running around playing with her dogs.

Their preferring to be outside certainly didn't come from my nurturing them or raising them. Yes we went out to the park, to see friends, to run errands and other events. But the best days for me, were those when we stayed home. They could have friends come over to visit, we could do arts and crafts or cook and bake. We could curl up on the couch and watch a favorite TV show or movie. Snuggling and spending time together was ideal for me.

As the years progressed, there were other areas in which you could see the difference between nature and nurture. They are both very athletic - I am not. They both like to dress up and go out with friends - I do not. They like spicy food- I do not. They like to go out and traipse around in the snow - I do not.

There are areas in which you could see the nurturing.  I have a very close-knit group of friends. These are people whom I trust implicitly and who have been in my life for many, many years. My girls have learned that it doesn't matter how many friends you have, as long as you have some really good ones. You may not see them very often, but the minute you do, you can pick up right where you left off and can always count on them to be there when you need them.

And so it is no surprise that as I write this blog, sitting on the couch with the dog close at hand, one daughter is out at the barn, caring for her horse, and the other is out with friends. We learn and continue to learn from one another. We are aware of and respect our differences. We are a family.

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. She has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents and parents-to-be, and has trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA (March 1992 to March 2015), Head Writer for Adoption.net and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series. She is currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York (including being the 2016 Conference Keynote). She lives in New York City where she has a private practice specializing in adoption and adoptive parenting. She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. Follow or reach her at ADOPTION MAVEN BLOG or EMAIL