Sunday, July 16, 2017

PLACING TRUST IN THOSE CHOSEN TO ASSIST YOU

You made the decision to parent and now find yourself looking into adoption. The more you read and talk to people, the more excited you become. However, you still have some concerns.

You will need the assistance of others to make your family dreams come true. This includes social workers, lawyers, courts and other professionals. Your choice of who will be on your professional team is critical.

Your adoption team should include an adoption attorney and/or a licensed adoption agency, a homestudy social worker and a medical consultant to review pre-natal, hospital and/or medical or orphanage records. Many families find adding a professional, as well as having a peer group of other adopting and adoptive parents who can help you through the challenges of the process and of parenting.

You may find your attorney, agency or social worker through a referral of a friend or other adoptive family or on the Internet. They will answer your questions, explain the process and detail the services they will provide. You need to ask them about their experience with the type of adoption you are doing, costs and time frames. You can check them out through local adoption support groups, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys or state adoption licensing offices.

Since you will receive advice and ongoing guidance from them throughout the legal adoption process, you must trust that they have your best interest at heart, are knowledgeable about the type of adoption you are doing and are ethical.
While every state and country has specific requirements and regulations, every adoption agency and attorney works a bit differently. Some provide more hand holding, other just do specific tasks.

After confirming they can assist you (within your state guidelines), you may ultimately choose them by a leap of faith, feeling that they are the right people to help you achieve your dream

You will work with a social worker during the homestudy and post placement phases of the adoption process. The homestudy is the pre-adoption assessment of you and you home in preparation to adopt. The post adoption phase includes the social worker revisiting you once your child is placed and writing reports that reflect your and your child’s adjustment. All reports are used at various points in the adoption process by attorneys, courts, adoption agencies in the US and agencies, courts and federal agencies in an international adoption.

As you parent, you can choose to seek additional support from your social worker or adoption agency. There may be questions about initial adjustments, especially with a non-infant. Children who have moved from one home or institution to your home will have reactions to new routines, foods, smells, languages and caretakers. Some children can get overwhelmed quickly. Without expressive language, their behavior may seem out of the ordinary or they may not be responding to you as you would like.

As you and your child adjust to one another (it is a two-way street), there may be additional questions you have. Perhaps it is when to talk about adoption, how to handle comments from others, how to help your child deal with peers at school or when to adopt again. Your social worker is a great resource for information or referral to local services. While some parents are fearful of sharing concerns or questions with those who helped with the adoption, these people know you best and have seen your transition to parenthood or a larger family. 

During the process, trust your instincts regarding those helping you and any information they present to you. Ask questions, continue to read about and explore the adoption process and parenting.


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 


Monday, July 3, 2017

DEPORTATION OF ADOPTEES WITHOUT CITIZENSHIP

This  has the potential to destroy more lives and families.


Deportation a ‘Death Sentence’ to Adoptees After a Lifetime in the U.S.

BY CHOE SANG-HUN
Adam Crapser is one of at least half a dozen adoptees who were deported to South Korea because their adoptive parents failed to get them American citizenship

If your child was not granted automatic citizenship or you are unsure - contact an immigration attorney who has adoption experience immediately. If you need the name of someone, message me offline.


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 expectant, birth, pre/post adoptive parents and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and is 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 throughout the Internet, including 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, June 29, 2017

DEMYSTIFYING THE ADOPTION HOMESTUDY

WHAT IS IT, WHY IT IS NEEDED AND WHO SEES IT?

The adoption homestudy is a narrative report prepared by a social worker to describe who you are, why you are adopting, a description of the child you hope to adopt and the type of home you will provide for a child. The overall goal is to show you have the physical, mental, emotional, social and financial means to adopt, plus that you have an understanding of general parenting, the adoption process and the complexities of adoption in your and your child's lives.
Some states allow private social workers to conduct the homestudy. Most require the homestudy to be completed by a licenced adoption agency.

Topics included in the homestudy are your biographical history, where you grew up, who was in your family, family relationships, your education, hobbies, interests, employment and future plans to either work or be a stay at home parent. You will also discuss the adoption process, which will include the reason you are adopting, the type of child you are looking to adopt, relationships with expectant and birth parents and issues of adoptive parenting and living as an adoptive family.

You will also be asked to provide documentation to substantiate the information you provide. Most often the documents requested are birth certificates, marriage, divorce or death decrees, medicals for all household members (this may also include pets), adoption decrees, income verification (letters from employers, W2, 1099, investment income or income tax filings), and reference letters. Child abuse and criminal clearances are also conducted.

There will be, at least, one home visit and at least one interview will be conducted with each member of the household. Children will need to be observed and, depending on age, interviewed. Many homestudy processes include a required adoptive parent training course, which is done in person or on-line. Individual states, countries, adoption agencies or social workers may have additional document and visit requirements.

Once all documents, interviews and training  have been completed, the social worker will write the adoption homestudy report, which includes the recommendation to adopt and the type of child for which you are approved.

The final report is used at various points in your adoption process. In some states, an agency adoption homestudy is the final step of an adoptive parent's approval. In others, the adoption homestudy and accompanying documents need to be submitted to a local court for state adoption approval. Others require the adoption homestudy to be signed off by a state licensing board. For international adoptions, the adoption homestudy and accompanying documents are submitted through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services/Department of Homeland Security, who give the final approval for the adoptive parent to adopt from overseas.

HOW IS IT USED IN A DOMESTIC ADOPTION?

In a domestic adoption, the adoption homestudy is used by attorneys and adoption agencies to become familiar with adopting parent(s) and families. If permitted to make matches of birth and adopting parents, the report is also reviewed to see the type of child the adopting parent(s) are looking for as well as their view on relationships with birth parents during the adoption process and after the child is living in their new home.

The adoption homestudy may be used by a birth parent's attorney to familiarize themselves with the adopting parent(s) and to prepare court or Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) paperwork to bring the child from the state of birth into the resident state of the adopting parent(s).

The adoption homestudy is rarely shared with birth parents, and would be redacted if done so. Rather the adopting family prepares a "Dear Birth Mother Letter” or "Adoptive Parent(s) Book" - which includes their story, photos and description of the type of family and lifestyle the child would have if adopted by them.

The adoption homestudy along with other documents is also reviewed by the court that has jurisdiction over the adoption finalization.

HOW IS IT USED IN AN INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION?

In an international adoption, the adoption homestudy is reviewed by the attorney or adoption agency assisting with the adoption. It is also reviewed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services/Department of Homeland Security as part of the paperwork submitted for the pre-adoption approval as adoptive parents.

The adoption homestudy is then part of the international dossier that is used in the overseas application to adopt, and reviewed by the in country adoption staff, attorneys or agency representatives.

The adoption homestudy is also presented as part of the paperwork reviewed for the finalization of the adoption process - either in country or in the United States.

FINAL WORDS

While many adopting parents fear or resent having to do the adoption homestudy, it is the responsibility of local organizations, states, countries and the United States government to protect children in need of permanent homes. It is also important for adopting parents to understand the responsibility of adopting and raising children, as well as the differences in living as an adoptive family.  The adoption homestudy, if done properly, helps prepare parent(s) for the challenges and joys of adoption and adoptive parenting. In addition, the relationship built with the social worker during the homestudy process offers a source for information and support during the adoption process and in the parenting years to come.

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 expectant, birth, pre/post adoptive parents and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and is 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 throughout the Internet, including 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

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