Monday, December 31, 2018

AS WE ENTER THE NEW YEAR....

It has been my pleasure and honor to work with each and every one of you this past year. 

To those whose family has grown - I have delighted in your success and enjoy all picture - whether the arrival photos or annual update. 

To those who are waiting - never give up your dream. There is a child out there for you. An expectant woman will see your unique qualities and trust you with the role of parent. 

To those still considering your options - adoption is amazing but not for everyone. I remain available to help you think through your options.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday and promising new year.............
Kathy

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 EMAIL

Friday, December 14, 2018

I'M HERE IF YOU NEED ME

Starting with the initial contact (usually by phone or email) I explain the adoption process, encourage questions and explain my availability throughout as well as in the years ahead. I don’t just disappear. A quick email, text or phone call is all that is needed for me to be there with advice, guidance, resources or a shoulder to lean on.

Holidays are a time that many people find particularly difficult. Attending family events or other social gatherings can put you in a position to be questioned about children, fertility or adoption.

Figuring out how to respond in these situations can raise anxieties. Being around children while waiting for your own can lead to sadness or even hopelessness for your situation.

It can help to remember that one day you too will be celebrating with a child by your side. In the meantime, you have the right to participate however you wish and however it makes you feel comfortable.

Last year my blog GETTING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS gave suggestions on how to navigate through the parties, family reunions, friend gatherings and more. Refer to it for specific hints.

Wishing you the best of the holidays….Kathy

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 EMAIL


Thursday, November 15, 2018

SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

My daughters like to cook. Their interest and love of cooking  was learned from me, but their individual taste for foods is probably influenced by their biological make-up. For anyone who might not know, my daughters  were adopted. Each of us has  very  different dishes we love, those we will tolerate and those we wouldn't even taste.

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

We always took home the school pets. We provided vacation sanctuary to frogs, turtles, guinea pigs and more. All our own pets were rescued or re-homed: the guinea pigs, cat, rabbit, horse, squirrel, four dogs. I, myself, grew up in a home with a cat, a dog, hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs. This did not stop us from volunteering to provide care for the classroom baby chicks and mice, when needed. It’s no wonder I passed this trait along to my girls and they have continued to provide homes for animals too.

My girls LOVE animals. As a family, we have a virtual zoo. One daughter, whom we refer to as "the animal whisperer" has worked with animals since the age of 15 and recently opened her own horse farm in Virginia. She lives with her personal “zoo” consisting of her horse, a mini pony to keep him company, 2 dogs, a cat, a bearded dragon and a flop-eared bunny. This doesn’t include her boarder horses. The other daughter has surrounded herself with a turtle, rescued cats and a dog.

Just as I do with my own mother and sister, my girls and I text, talk or email daily.  This is not unique to our family, but I think they continue to do this because this is what they saw me do and 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 together if and how their lives would have been different if they had been raised by their birth families. While many children fantasize about having a different life, for adopted children and their parents, this is a reality. With information we had or obtained over the years - we could imagine some of the ways their lives could have been different. Without them, mine would have been different, too.

Similarities and differences are what makes us a family. I think all families are like that. It’s just that in adoptive families we have the responsibility to think these things through.

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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

THERE ARE KIDS TO ADOPT

It is one of the highlights of my profession to help singles and couples adopt children in the U.S. and overseas. From newborn infants to children as old as 17 years of age, adoptions are taking place daily. 


EARLY QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
It is important to give thought to the building or enlarging of your family through adoption. After deciding on the age of the child you are seeking to adopt, determine how much background information will make you comfortable and whether you can travel to meet your child. The answers to these simple questions will help to shape your adoption journey.

ADOPTING DOMESTICALLY
In the United States, children are adopted privately or through the foster care system.

A private adoption, sometimes called an independent or agency adoption, involves the prospective adoptive parent being an active participant in the adoption process. The majority of children adopted through this type of option are newborn. You choose an attorney or adoption agency to work with. They will handle various parts of the legal process and, depending on the state you reside in, may help to locate a birth situation or child for you. In other situations, you will actively seek a birth parent through advertising, Internet postings and word-of-mouth networking. You can do this yourself or hire an adoption consultant to do the outreach campaign for you. Prior to starting the adoption process, you will need to complete an Adoption Homestudy in your home state, which consists of a social worker visiting your home and submission of documents including child abuse and criminal clearances.

Children, from newborn through 17 years of age, can be adopted through the foster care system.  You start by contacting your local social service agency.  They typically invite you to an orientation meeting and if you wish to proceed will complete your Adoption Homestudy, provide adoptive parent training and match you with a child. You may also be able to adopt a child in foster care from another state. After an initial adjustment period, decisions are made about proceeding with the adoption. 

Whichever option you choose, private or foster care, you will work with an attorney and/or agency to complete the legal finalization of the adoption. You will complete a series of visits with your local social worker (Post Placement Supervisory Visits) and a finalization hearing will take place either in your home state or where the child was born.

ADOPTING INTERNATIONALLY
While the numbers of children and countries open for adoption change periodically, there are children being adopted overseas every day.

International adoption has four components. You need to work with an accredited or approved agency or individual (Adoption Service Provider) who has a program in the country from which you want to adopt, complete an agency Adoption Homestudy, apply through U.S. immigration (USCIS), and comply with the adoption process in the country from which you are adopting.

Once you have immigration approval as an adoptive parent, your agency will start the process to match you with a child overseas. Each country has its own rules and regulations for adoption, its own guidelines for the type and ages of children available for international adoption, and its own timeline for referrals and the actual in-country adoption process.

Your agency will discuss with you the age and background of children available to you. If there are age restrictions based on your age, your agency will inform you of the age of a child you are eligible to adopt. Once there is a referral for you, you will get the background and current condition of the child. You will have an opportunity to have the medical and social background reviewed by medical experts in the United States before making a decision about moving forward. The next step will be to travel overseas to meet the child. If you decide to pursue the adoption, the legal component of the process starts. You may be able to complete the adoption while there, or you may return home (for several weeks or months), traveling back at a later date to complete the legal part of the adoption and bring your child home. In some instances, you will come back to the U.S. without a final adoption and need help from a local attorney to complete the adoption in your home state. If the adoption is finalized in the U.S, it is critical to remember to apply for citizenship for your child.

AFTER FINALIZATION
You have now started or enlarged your family through adoption. You are adjusting to parenting and, perhaps, the complexities of a multicultural family. Reach out to an adoptive family group (in person or online) so you and your child have a network of peers and families formed through adoption.

COMMUNITY
Welcoming a child into the new family may include a welcoming celebration. The inclusion of family, friends and community members helps the adoptive family feel they are among friends and begins the child’s journey into their community.

CONCLUSION
Adoptive families are thriving in the United States. Newborns and older children are finding permanent homes with parents who are living their dreams. As I counsel singles and couples on adoption options, conduct adoption homestudies and provide practical guidance on living as an adoption family, I am continually answering questions and sharing in the challenges and joys adoptive parenting can bring. Being prepared for the adoption process, as well as knowing how your family, friends and community can support you and your child will make your journey to parenthood smoother.

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

MYTHS & REALITIES

Once people start thinking about building or enlarging a family through adoption, they have a lot of questions. While they are mostly about the adoption process, there are many questions about differences in adoptive parenting and living as an adoptive family. Asking these questions early on helps singles and couples prepare not only for the adoption process but also for the years to come. In my work, it is not unusual for my clients to come back for advice or guidance well after the adoption has been finalized


The following article ADOPTION MYTHS & REALITIES addresses several pre-adoption questions. 


It appeared in the 2018 Guide of Path2Parenthood, an organization committed to helping people create their families by providing leading-edge outreach programs and timely educational information. They provide in person-educational events as well as an extensive on-line library, a resource directory and outreach events. 

When you become a parent, there are additional things to consider.

1. Once I tell my child they are adopted, I have done my job.
Telling a child about their adoption is just the beginning of a lifetime of conversations. You should start talking to them before they even understand and give yourself time to get comfortable with the words you choose to use. Children as young as 2 understand baby's come from bellies. You can explain that once they are born a decision is made as to whom they go home with. Your job is to create an open dialogue where your child feels comfortable sharing thoughts or asking questions. Watch for opportunities to bring up adoption in everyday life, such as television shows, conversations overheard or holiday celebrations.

2. I don't have to share my child's history with their teachers.
There is a difference between privacy and secrecy.  If your child is old enough to talk to the teacher, involve them in the discussion.  You want the teacher to know enough to be aware in order to alert you to upcoming classroom and homework assignments and to let you know of any discussions with or comments from peers. You should not provide details of your child's background or adoption story unless it may impact upon their interactions with others. Make arrangements with the teacher on how best to share information (emails, notes, phone calls, meetings, etc.)

3. My child will be confused if they meet their birth parent(s).
Contact with a birth parent does not constitute co-parenting. Your child will know who the parent is and you and the birth parent(s) can determine what names everyone will be called and how the relationship will be presented. Children who have contact with their birth family from the start are more comfortable with the relationships and have access to background information as they grow.

 4. Talking about my child's race or culture is enough to help them understand their racial/cultural background.
Adopting a child of a different race or culture makes YOU a multi-racial/cultural family. It is important to talk about the diversity, provide role models and expose them to cultural experiences. Your social network should include individuals and families reflecting your family's composition and should include adoptive and diverse racial/cultural families. As your child grows, it is important to reflect on your own experiences, listen to your child and keep this conversation going.

5. If I ask the social worker who did my homestudy for help, I will be judged as an incompetent parent and risk losing my child.
Hopefully, your social worker was a part of your adoption team, offering information and support and advocating, if necessary, from the start. They know you and your journey. They want you to succeed. Parenting is not easy; adoptive parenting has even more complexities.

It takes time to adjust to anything new and sometimes incremental learning is needed. Knowing the truth about adoption is paramount. Educating yourself early on is important. But no matter how much you prepare, there are always things you never thought of or now that you are experiencing them, you have questions.

As always, I remain available to listen, sort through concerns, answer questions and provide guidance or referrals for additional assistance.

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, 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