Thursday, June 24, 2010

Documentary Series Seeking Adoption Stories

Family Life Services has been contacted by a production company who is gathering information to produce a documentary about adoption.  It is my understanding that they are specifically looking for couples or individuals waiting for an adoption placement to follow through the time of placement and birth parents who are considering adoption for an unborn child.  If you or someone you know may be interested in such an opportunity, please submit your story directly to Kara at High Noon Entertainment. 


High Noon Entertainment is teaming up with a major cable network to produce a documentary series about the real life joy, laughter and heartache American families and mothers experience from every side of the adoption process.

If you’re in the middle of your own real-life adoption story, we want to hear from you! We’re looking for dynamic people from all walks of life who have a current, compelling story focused on the adoption process.

Whether you’re… the married couple who’ve tried for years to have a child and are now looking into alternate options…the woman who has decided to become a surrogate for a family member or friend … or the pregnant woman considering an open adoption… we want to hear YOUR story.

If you have a story you’d like to share or know someone who does, please send a one- or two- paragraph summary and a digital photo of the person or people whose story is being told to

For more information, please contact Kara at 310/943-5029 or email at

Placement Pictures - Jaron Lee

Placement pictures are posted on the sidebar from Monday, June 21st, when we had a Happy Adoption Day for Jaron Lee - Hope you like them!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Adoption Day, Jaron!

The week started on a high note at FLS as we had a special adoption day of Baby Jaron on Monday, June 21st!  Adoptive parents, Mathew and Laura, welcomed their second son into the family and big brother, Jacob, was eager to give lots of love to his little brother.  We rejoice with them as they have experienced an answer to their prayers!

More pictures from placement will be posted on the sidebar in the coming days.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When is Birth Father's Day?

With Mother's Day being just over a month ago, I want to give equal time and attention to Father's Day as Dads play such a vital and important role in the family.  There seems to be an imbalance, of sorts, between the sensitivity that surrounds Mother's Day and Father's Day.  For many men, they experienced this past weekend with a void in their hearts - perhaps as birth fathers or waiting adoptive fathers.  It is less acceptable by society for men to express their emotions yet that does not make the feelings more insignificant.

I struggle with the reality that there is a Birth Mother's Day (the Saturday before Mother's Day) each year, yet there has not been a declaration of Birth Father's Day.  Is it because many in the adoption field still either consciously or unconsciously view birth fathers as villains while birth mother's are hailed as heroes?  Every situation is unique and the individuals involved are unique, however, I believe that positive qualities can be drawn out of even the most difficult of circumstances. 

It is important to be honest when talking about birth parents, but it is also a conversation that must be handled carefully and delicately.  I caution adoptive families from talking negatively about birth parents as the child's DNA is a combination of that of his or her birth parents.  For a family to believe that a birth parent is "bad" can translate into the child wondering if there is something "bad" about them because they are connected.

We continue to make a conscious effort to have an open and non-judgmental approach to both birth mothers and birth fathers.  I applaud the birth fathers who give us a chance to talk with them about the possibility of an adoption plan, whether they choose to follow through with that plan or not.  They deserve the education and understanding about their choices that birth mothers receive. all the men waiting to become adoptive fathers and the birth fathers who found themselves in uncharted territory last weekend, we honor you and want you to know that you were not forgotten.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Transracial Adoption: A Family's Experience & Advice

Agency Audited - Check!

As a private, child-placing agency licensed in Virginia, Family Life Services is audited on a semi-annual basis to ensure that our policies and adoption practices are within the boundaries of our Virginia Adoption Laws.  We had a 2-day visit from our licensing representative this week and had an excellent report.  This visit was also to evaluate our application for licensure for another three year period.  It was a success and we are thankful for the caseworkers and staff that we currently have with FLS....great job!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Accused of Being "All About" The Birth Parents!

There has been a comment that I have heard from several prospective adoptive parents over the last couple of years....interestingly enough, it is not uncommon for a "catch phrase" to trickle through adoptive families and prospective adoptive families so that I hear it repeated many, many times in the months to follow.  I can't decide if it's meant, in all cases, to be a criticism of our program or not, but here it is "Family Life Services seems to be all about the birth parents".

Let me start by saying that FLS is not perfect, nor do we claim to be perfect.  If you are looking for the perfect agency with perfect caseworkers, we fail miserably just as we have yet to find the "perfect birth parents" or the "perfect adoptive family".  We can commit to is this - to do our best to work with each unique situation to bring together the needs of the birth family and adoptive family to do what's in the best interest of the child.

Our agency and adoption affiliates provide various opportunities for waiting adoptive families to be supported during the adoption process, in addition to our willingness to provide individual meetings or counseling at any time with families prior to or following an adoption.  However, at a point of frustration, we hear the saying "you're all about the birth parents".

I began to ponder the phrase and what it meant for us.  This could be said of FLS because we try to build good relationships with birth mothers and birth fathers prior to the child's birth to ensure that they are aware of all of their options and can make a personalized adoption plan that works for them; because we seek to be flexible, when possible, to meet the changing needs and intense emotions of birth parents who are making the decision to place a child - forever - with an adoptive family;  or because we give birth parents all of the choices that they can possibly have within our state regulations and our agency's standards in order to allow them to control the pace and details of their adoption plan.  A birth parent's choices don't always line up completely with a prospective adoptive couple's plans for a placement.

Here's what is often forgotten - it ALL starts with the birth parents.  They chose life for the child, they must now decide how to provide the best future for the child possible through parenting or adoption, and they must make a host of difficult decisions in making the plan that they feel is best for the situation.  If our agency's philosophy was different, our care, respect, and concern for birth parents would look very different.  Family Life Services is an agency who finds families for babies, not finds babies for families.  Think about that, would you really want it any other way?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Prayer Changes Me

If you have lived a minute, you have heard someone rattle off "Prayer Changes Things"...usually when you're going through something difficult or dealing with a situation beyond your control.  Although there is no doubt that this statement is true, it is usually the last thing that we want to hear in that moment of desperation.

Prayer is a pillar of our adoption services at Family Life Services.  We often pray for our waiting adoptive families, birth parents, foster families, and adoptive families whom we have come to know and love over years of connecting with them on a regular basis.  In turn, we covet your prayers as Adoption Professionals who seek to serve each person in a kind, sensitive, and compassionate way.  We daily remind one another that God is in control of the whole process and He knows whatever is going on in our office that day.

I am overwhelmed with gratefulness today after receiving a definite answer to something that has been a matter of prayer for my husband and I for many months.  This has led me, not only to consider how prayer changed our situation, but how prayer changed me.  Prayer gave me peace, hope, and a confidence that I had done all I could physically and humanly do, yet I continued to actively bring the situation before God and beg Him to intervene on our behalf. 

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I tend to be an action-oriented, problem-solving individual who will go to great lengths to discover a solution and carry it through to completion.  I am naturally inclined to worry, fret, and lose sleep over something that I cannot resolve.  However, situations placed on me that are beyond my control demand that I surrender to the One who ultimately controls every aspect of my life and future.  I have found peace in embracing that truth like never before...

1 Thessalonians 5:17 urges us to "Pray without ceasing."  Would you mention our names when you pray?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Letters to Birthparents

Letters to birthparents....the very thought of it to a new adoptive mom or dad can be intimidating, nerve-wracking, and scary.  Not because adoptive parents don't want to write a letter, it's that they want to write a great that is honest, authentic and that the birthparents will be pleased to read.  Trying to come up with the perfect letter is sometimes a barrier to communication because it takes so long to create the final draft that you are happy with sending.  Let yourself off the hook - it doesn't have to be perfect, just genuine!

Here are some practical tips from our agency:

1.  Include the "high points"  and "milestones" of your month or time frame since the last letter (first smiles, first trips to the zoo, first time in the pool, first steps, etc.).

2.  Describe special events, parties, or activities that your family enjoyed.

3.  If you are sending pictures, link your letter to the pictures by describing what's going on in the photos to bring them alive for the birthparents.

4.  In addition to updating about your child, be sure to include things about the whole family.  The birthparent is getting to know you as much as you are trying to get to know them, so it's important to share things that help him or her to understand your personalities as well.  Remember - for many years, your relationship is primarily between adoptive parents and birthparents until the child is older.

5.  Ask questions to encourage a response from the birthparents.  We often hear birth parents say that they don't have any idea what to write about or share about, yet they know that you want to get to know them.  Help them out by asking the things that you're curious about so they can address them in the response letter.

6.  Understand that you may not get a response from every letter that you send - and understand that this is ok.  During the first year, especially, birthparents work through a range of difficult emotions.  At times, receiving your update will be very helpful and healing and, at other times, it may be painful.  However, it's important that you continue to write and keep in contact unless the birthparent requests a change to the communication plans.  You are fulfilling your commitment that you made to him or her and honoring your commitment helps them to build trust.

These letters will be cherished by the birth parents.  I suggest that you make a copy of every letter or email that you send to your child's birth parents (and their responses) to keep them in a notebook to share with the child later.  Some of you have been writing letters for many years to birth parents, what are your ideas to new adoptive parents to keep them fresh and new?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Adoptive Family Picnic - Lynchburg, Virginia

The Lynchburg Area Adoptive Family Group is hosting an Adoptive Family Picnic on Saturday, June 12th, from 2-7 pm at the Falling Creek Park, Bedford, Virginia, Pavilion B.  This group is hosted and organized by two families who completed adoptions through Family Life Services and is a great support system for adoptive families or prospective adoptive families.  Please pack your own picnic and come ready to enjoy a great time meeting new friends!

The park is located approximately 1 mile from US Rt. 460 on Falling Creek Rd. behind the Bedford County Nursing Home.  It has a playground, frisbee golf, and hiking trails!

Please RSVP to Dean & Kathy at

Birth Mother Support Group Update

Family Life Services will not have a Birth Mother Support Group this week.  This would have been the larger group including adoptive moms and waiting adoptive moms as well, but we are going to take a break for a couple of months this summer and are working on redesigning our format for support group and monthly meetings.  We have some new ideas and are hoping to have a plan to implement them at the end of the stay tuned and enjoy the beautiful weather this week!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Growing up Black in White

The topic of Transracial Adoption continues to be a "hot topic" among adoptive families and even adoption professionals - and many positive things have come from an increased awareness and willingness to openly discuss the topic.  There is a range of thoughts, emotions, fears, and questions between one end of the continuum, where people think that the best approach is to be "color blind", and the other, where people are hyper-sensitive to racial issues and frame everything from a racial perspective.  I personally believe that the best approach falls somewhere in the middle, where there is cultural and racial awareness with a respect for diversity. 

This past week, my husband and I had a conversation at the dinner table about the unnecessary emphasis that people place on race and skin color in an attempt to categorize people, qualities, or characteristics.  It is very true that there are way more differences and variations within one's racial group than there are between racial groups.

I came across a really interesting and thought provoking interview here with Kevin Hofmann, a biracial man who was adopted by a white family from Detroit in 1967.  He has just released a memoir of his experiences in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood in a new book, Growing up Black in White.  I have not read it yet, but after watching the interview, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Placing After Parenting - Meaghan's Story

When you think of a "birthmother"....what do you think of?  A common stereotype is to think of birthmothers as teenagers - and some are.  However, there are a growing number of women in their 20's, 30's and even 40's who choose adoption for their child.  Perhaps they are already parenting one or more children and they fully understand the financial and emotional investment that successful parenting demands and must come to the realization that they cannot parent another child at this point in their life.  Visit our partner blog The Journey of a Birthmother to read Meaghan's Story - mommy to two and birthmother to one.  We love her and I'm pretty sure you will love her too! 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Follow Us On Twitter

Family Life Services is now on Twitter!  You can click on FlsAdoption to find our page or search Family Life Services from Twitter.  This is a great way for you to keep up-to-date on all the information that we are sending out to families to assist them on the lifelong journey of adoption.  We hope to be able to follow you as well! 

Have a great day,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Petition to Extend the Adoption Tax Credit

As I am sure you are fully aware, there are many costs and fees associated with adopting a child.  Sometimes these costs keep families from adopting, however , there are many families who have been able to say, “Yes”, to adopting a child because of the Federal Adoption Tax Credit.

We were all excited to hear, when the health care bill was passed, that the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was raised to $13,170 and that the bill also made the credit refundable.  However, this credit that is available for international and domestic adoptions, is set to expire in December 2011.  So what can you do?  You can help to make this credit permanent by writing to your representatives and asking them to support The Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act, H.R. 213.  Go to:, type in your zip code, and write a short message to your representative. It will be 5-10 minutes of your day well spent!

Rachel Curley
Adoption Caseworker
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