Wednesday, September 5, 2018

IT WAS ALL WORTH IT

It’s early in the morning and I am awake. The  only  times I have been up  at this hour before were  for  business  trips  and  of  course, when my girls were babies. I remember sitting in a darkened room listening to them sucking on a bottle. I remember being more tired than I had ever  remembered  yet  amazed  with  the  wondrous  miracle  that  I  had  become a mom – through adoption.

I had survived the planning, the homestudy and talking to and meeting women considering me to be the mother of their unborn child. I had gotten through all the legal steps of the adoption process including the court appearances. I was scared and worried but so happy when the judge allowed the adoption to be finalized. I was thrilled when the adoption decree and birth certificate arrived.
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But the actual parenting part was the best even though there were days I was tired beyond my wildest dreams and despite worrying if I could meet the expectations of everyone around me.  I was my toughest critic. Did I provide the best education to meet their individual needs? Were their passions fostered? Did they have positive social experiences? Were they happy?

Even now with my daughters 27 and 30, I still wonder if I am doing my best. I have two independent women exploring the world and all it has to offer. They have moved on – live far away from me, but always keep in touch. One is training horses, the other is helping people resolve financial commitments.

I am a proud mother who once again is up early and though they are no longer babies, I’m still thinking about my girls.

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, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt 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


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

SCHOOL: TO SHARE OR NOT TO SHARE

School  is around  the  corner  and  I  am  getting  increased  calls  and emails about sharing adoption with teachers, daycare providers and/or after school programs.

There are several approaches to take - you can share all, share nothing or share on an as needed basis. The decision is yours.

Sharing everything does not mean providing details of your child's background or the circumstances of the adoption placement. It means telling those caring for or interacting with your child that your child joined your family through adoption. It is a way to alert them that your child may mention adoption, that another child may ask questions or classroom work or assignments may raise specific questions or responses from your child relating to adoption. 

Sharing nothing means your child is on their own to respond to questions or comments coming from peers or adults. It means you will not be notified when a classroom discussion may include family formation such as family trees, genetic or sex education talks when kids are older or even just talk among the children. If you decide this is the way you want to go, you should prepare your child as to what to share, how to respond if the topic comes up and when to come to you if something occurs at school.  It is also important to make sure your child understands the difference between privacy and secrecy. It is not a secret (nothing is wrong) that they were adopted.  However, it is information that they may choose to keep private.

Sharing on an as needed basis means you will need to carefully monitor what is going on at school and with your child’s peers. If your child mentions the adoption, you need to be prepared to answer questions. Again, you do not need to share personal histories - only that yes, your family was built through adoption.

Mostly, school means there will be questions from your child's peers or their parents. Some will be curious, some may be thinking of adopting themselves. What you share should be generic in nature, about the process - not about your child's history.

In the classroom itself, your sharing any information should be based on what is needed to provide your child with not only the best education but a comfortable environment. Your sharing should also include an assessment of the knowledge and preparedness of the caretakers and teachers to respond and to inform you of upcoming events and to ask you for guidance if needed. 

Perhaps, you can read a book or come in to discuss adoption with the class. I have been asked to speak to teachers or classmates in the past when information about adoption is needed, and the family does not want to take on that role. However you do it, make sure your child has all the support he or she needs.

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, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt 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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

HOW I BECAME THE ADOPTION MAVEN

My mom is the wind beneath my wings. She always was and still is. She believed in me and what I could achieve, personally and professionally. 


She’s the one who, so many years ago, raised adoption as the path for me to fulfill my dream of motherhood. She and my dad provided emotional and financial support throughout the process. They welcomed 2 granddaughters with open arms. Their love always apparent. Their relationships with my daughters no different than with my sister’s biological sons. The cousins interacting like any others. 


My personal and professional lives merged in 1986, when I started the adoption process. Since then, I have counseled individuals, couples, expectant and birth parents in parenting and adoption options and have provided parenting advice. I conducted homestudies and post placements for domestic and international adoptions. I supervised and trained professionals and administratively ran a private adoption program for 23 years. Simultaneously, I was raising my 2 daughters. 

When my mom suggested I expand my private practice as The Adoption Maven (formerly the Short-Term Therapy Network), it seemed right.  

I love the process of helping people decide if adoption is right for them; of figuring out what type and which professionals to work with; of getting you through the process and supporting you in navigating everyday parenting. I welcome facilitating your discovery of who you are and how you view adoption and parenting; of expediting your decisions and plans; of watching you learn how parenting through adoption is different and of seeing you handle those complexities with confidence. 

It is a pleasure and privilege to work with you each and every day. To share what I know from my professional training and my own adoption journey and to pass along what I have learned from all the families I have worked with over the years. As a bonus, I get to pass along all the parenting advice my mom has passed on to me. 

A maven is someone who not only has knowledge, but shares what they know. And that's me.

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, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt 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

Saturday, June 30, 2018

HOW BIG DOES MY HOME NEED TO BE TO ADOPT?

People worry about all sorts of things when thinking of adoption. Over the years many have asked me questions about the size or locations of their home or apartment. Is my apartment large enough? Does our property need to be fenced in? Since I have been asked questions about home size, the need to establish a baby or child's room or move several times in the past month, I am reposting this blog from 2014.

In some states, there are “size” requirements. Particularly for foster care placements or adoptive placements from the public child welfare system. There are room dimensions, required windows and window guards and the need to demonstrate safety precautions. The room must be clean, well-maintained and have ample room for a child(ren). Male and Female children cannot share a room and, often, no more than 2 children in a room.

In a private adoptive placement, you need to show that there is room for a child(ren), that the home is clean, well maintained and that safety proofing the home will be done in an age appropriate manner. In urban cities where real estate is quite costly, people often move to larger apartment or home as the need arises. Having children is a reason to move to a larger apartment, a more kid/family friendly neighborhood or  an area with a better school system.

During the homestudy, I always looked at the general condition of the home and where the child would live. Most infants sleep in their parent’s bedroom until they sleep through the night (the children that is. Parents never sleep through the night, again. I still sleep with one eye and one ear open and my kids are 23 and 26). If there is no separate bedroom, I ask about their plans for space as their child grows. In New York City, where I am, people are very clever at dividing spaces for multiple uses or building walls to create a new living space.

In the suburbs, people frequently have an extra bedroom, but are using it for another purpose (office, guest room, exercise room, storage, etc). They want to know if they need to set up the nursery or child’s bedroom prior to the homestudy.  My answer  is “no”. Can you imagine waiting to adopt and walking past a nursery  room every day? To have a reminder that you do not yet have your baby ? Not good for your emotional health. Besides if you don’t know if it’s a boy or girl – how would you decorate?

In addition, there are religions and superstitions, believing it to be bad luck to set up the room before the child arrives. Many baby and child stores offer the option of purchasing furniture, linen, clothing and child care items in advance, but having them delivered when needed. This is a good thing.

All homes need to have access to local roadways and public services. They need to be near schools, hospitals, social services, religious institutions and recreational facilities. They all need clean running water and electricity. 

Mostly the space must be a safe, clean, secure and stable environment, where a child can learn, grow and thrive. Where the people in it are loving and nurturing. Where the child will be encouraged to try new things and pursue the ones that interest them. Where adoption will be discussed and any differences of culture or ethnic are on the table. Where children will be encouraged to think and express their views and beliefs without being told what to think and believe.. Where all household members will support one another and strive for the best they can be individually and as a family. Where whether there is a vast number of rooms or a small intimate apartment, there is a close, loving feeling.

Look at your home from a square footage and room count, to the emotional space available to grow and develop. Some days you will all be curled up on the couch together watching a movie or reading a book. Others, you will be spread out in many rooms. One day, your kids will move on to their own homes and you will wonder what to do with all that space.

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, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt 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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

WHAT MAKES A FATHER?

What is a father? Someone who is not only a parent, but a friend, teacher, protector and confidante. Someone who teaches you about family, friendships and the world.

In this day and age, a father figure may be more than the man who lives in a home with a child. It could be a grandfather, uncle, older cousin, teacher or neighbor. Male role models come in all shapes and sizes.

My growing up years included a father who was always available. We shared joyous and challenging times. I got my early musical interest from my dad and included playing the guitar and listening to folk and classical music. We built and fixed things together and cared for a series of family pets. I remember following him around and learning how to do things and how to treat others. He was a loving, affectionate, empathetic and ethical man.

He was a part of my adoption story, from the early days when I was told I could not biologically have a child to the days my daughters, his granddaughters, came home to live with me. He embraced them with the same compassion and protectiveness he always showed me. He was part of their lives, teaching them how to fish, play ball, laugh, love and so much more. He was the icing on the cake of what their father was providing. My girls were very lucky.

There was never a moment when a male role model wasn’t present. When grandpa passed, they still had their dad. At 27 and 30, my daughters have male friends and new role models. They know what a loving relationship can be. Women must stand up for themselves and demand proper and respectful treatment by the men in their lives. As parents, we have a responsibility to demonstrate proper treatment and relationships. We can do this through discussion and proper role modeling.

With adoption being a part of our children’s’ experiences, it is important to raise the question of birth fathers. This can be difficult and perhaps, when our children are older, we can help them to understand what the role of the birth father was in their story. Why he may not be present. Why he decided he could not parent. Why he may have never acknowledged paternity. Why he lives in a different home. How his behavior changed their destiny. How not to repeat this cycle.

Yet with adoption, I think of all the men who stepped forward - the adoptive fathers, the uncles, grandfathers and adult male friends, the teachers, tutors, coaches and more who are filling that role.

Father’s Day is a great time to have a discussion with your child (daughters and sons). Asking them if they ever wonder about their birth father gives you a chance to find out what they are thinking and reminds them that you are always there to discuss things with them. It might be a good time for your child to express how they are feeling. A good time for you to add more information to their adoption narrative. It is also a good time for you to reconnect with how you are feeling about adoption and if your child has strong male role models in their life.

On Father’s Day I wish you and your family a day filled with love, memories and dreams of what is and what may be.

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, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt 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, May 31, 2018

CAN WE GIVE HER BACK YET?

I have read a lot of articles and spoken to many families about preparing siblings for a new baby and have seen them in the early days of adjusting to the larger family. Most of the time I hear how new big brothers and sisters are doing well. But once in a while, there is a sibling who is unhappy.

“Can we give her back now?” “Put him down.” “I need you” are just a few of the things older siblings have said.

The first thing I advise a parent is to listen. Let the child express their feelings. Confirm the changes in routines that will interfere with your child’s usual schedule or plans. Recognize your new role and how it is affecting your relationship with your older child. Are you less available, tired or feeling a bit overwhelmed with new schedules and demands?

Discuss your older child’s narrative with them, reviewing their baby book and describing what care they needed as an infant. Talk about why babies cry and how to meet their needs. If you didn’t make a baby book for them, make one now, or ask if they want to help make a baby book for the new sibling. If they say no, that’s okay.

Some children like to help care for an infant or younger child. If they show an interest, let them get you a diaper or hand you the diaper cream or a wipe. Let them pour measured water into a baby bottle. Let them hold the bottle or baby (with close supervision.)

Set aside alone time with your older child. Pick something, they like to do and do it together. Hire a mother’s helper or babysitter if need be, so you are uninterrupted and can give your undivided attention.

Try to keep your older child’s schedule as much the same as possible. If things need to change, ask them which activity they like doing the most and try to provide that one even if someone else needs to take them. Some children prefer to have more playdates, which gives you more time with the new baby (if in someone else’s home). If in your home, consider having a mother’s helper or babysitter supervise the visit or be available to the new child allowing you to focus on the older sibling and playmate.

As family and friends visit, make sure they don’t just focus on the new baby. In fact, talk to them ahead of time on how they can interact with your older child. If they are bringing a baby gift, perhaps they can bring something for other children in the home as well. Maybe after meeting the new baby, they can do something special with the other sibling(s).

Even with the best of preparation, you will find surprises as you welcome another child into your family.  It’s a big deal for you and your other children filled with many changes in schedules, priorities and family dynamics. There will be challenges, but well worth the effort.

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, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt 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, May 10, 2018

ALL MOTHER'S DAY

I have cared for you with all my heart since you were placed into my waiting arms. The arms that yearned for you for many years. The ones that would protect you since you were placed in my arms. I have fed and clothed you, cared for you when you were ill, shared your delight and joy and held you while you cried.

I have helped you try new activities, pursue your interests and develop your talents, I introduced you to family and friends of all ages. I provided direct care and chosen nanny’s, babysitters and schools to meet my and your needs.  I have seen you become a good friend and confidante.

I am the one who told you about your adoption since you were a baby. Yes, I talked to you before you even understood what I was saying. I am the one who added information over the years. I used life events, movies, television shows and even commercials to checking with you and how you were feeling. I have answered multiple questions over the years, helping you figure things out.

 I will always be here for you.

You have another mother, whom we have called by many names over the years. She was the one who carried you into this world. She is the one who made a decision I can’t even contemplate. She is responsible for your beautiful face and shining eyes. Her talents and characteristics are visible in your daily activities and choices. She gave me a gift no one else could – the gift of motherhood.

To all mothers, by birth or adoption, I wish you a wonderful Mother’s Day.

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, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt 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