Pinterest & Adoption

 

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As you likely know, Pinterest is a social bookmarking website for saving, organizing and sharing things. Many, many people have already recognized its benefits for design, fashion, beauty, cooking and other lifestyle topics. But, it can have some wonderful benefits for couples and singles who are hoping to adopt ~ or in the middle of that process, too.

We have been building our agency Pinterest page for a long while now.  And, we’ve proudly amassed a wealth of resources.  In fact, our Pinterest boards have made it hard to keep this “blog” alive — We’ve come to notice that so much important content has already been written and it’s written so well, that, well… why would CHI write it again?

Please accept our invitation visit and “follow” our Pinterest page: Chrysalis House.  You will then have access to a resource that we have designed to support any and every family, including those who are -or- aren’t clients of our adoption agency.

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We have reviewed a wide collection of topics and amassed over 800 pins all nicely divided into boards on adoption and issue specific topics such as:  anger management, special needs, chores, developmental milestones, safety strategies, foster/domestic/inter-country adoption, bonding and attachment, nutrition, discipline, transracial adoption and …probably just about everything in between, too.  We’ve created boards on: what to do while you are waiting (prospective adoptive parents), how to coach adoptive relatives, how to apply for adoption grants and even how to get ready for back-to-school.

Our Pinterest boards are there for you and they. are. free.  Please access our Pinterest pages whenever it can be of use to you.  Simply put, that’s why it’s there.  And, if you see a topic that we’ve missed, we hope you’ll make a recommendation for us to research it too!  (Just email it to stacy@chrysalishouse.com & she’ll humbly accept that challenge!)

But, there’s another reason why we bring up Pinterest…  This social platform can be part of any waiting parent’s adoption networking strategy. It’s popular and has many millions of visitors ~ which is a fantastic audience.  68 percent of Pinterest visitors are women and 70.9% are between the ages of 17 to 44– which includes the demographic you want to reach and connect with, when you are prospective adoptive parents seeking a domestic adoption.  According to a report, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined and is now one of the top 10 social networking websites.

How waiting adoptive parents can use Pinterest:

It’s easy to use and once you’ve joined, sharing, following and “liking” others couldn’t be easier. Just create a board and start pinning.  Conveying “who” you are with words can be a challenge.  Pinterest helps you show the “real” you when it comes to telling an authentic story.  Because Pinterest reveals “who” you are through photos and images that you personally identify with, it gives you the chance to connect with prospective birth parents on a visceral level.

For waiting parents, beyond research on “what you can expect while you’re expecting” –you can also use Pinterest to showcase your personality and share many bits and pieces of your life that didn’t make it into your profile.  Your Pinterest page can show additional facets to your family like: hobbies, traveling plans, your love for the garden, recipes you’d like to try, charities you support, and can ultimately reflect …how you hope to parent that child that you hope to adopt.  Consider loading your families Adoptive Profile to your Pinterest page and consider Pinterest to be another resource for connection(s).  Finally, for anyone who is going through the sometimes arduous (but eventually rewarding) process that is adoption, Pinterest’s beauty, messages of hope, and celebration of the everyday can be a daily pick-me-up.

Now, isn’t that (P)interesting?  (wink.)

 

 

Post Adoption Support

Post Adoption Support

Adoption affects adopted persons and families in many different ways over the course of their lifetime.  As result many adoptive families need information and support to manage challenges as they arise. Challenges may appear and reappear at different stages of life, even when their adoption is a positive experience.  We encourage families to seek assistance proactively when the first concern or questions arise.  Please note: there is no need for a family to feel ashamed or hesitant to request help… Just give yourself permission to learn & expand your skills!

Post-adoption services can help families with a range of challenges which may include:

  1. A parent struggling with how to explain adoption to a preschooler..or any aged child.
  2. A teenager struggling with their teenage identity, especially as it pertains to being an adopted child.  Identity development can be more complex for adopted children and teenagers.
  3. Identity development can be complicated if the child’s race or birth culture differs from that of the adoptive family.  Given the importance of maintaining a child’s birth heritage, parents may seek resources on this topic.
  4. Families of children who have experienced trauma, neglect, abuse, out-of-home care, or institutionalization may require more intensive services.
  5. All adopted children and youth, (even those adopted as infants) experience some level of grief and loss.  They may grieve as they come to understand their history and they may also struggle with feelings of abandonment.
  6. Any child or youth separated from birth parents has experienced a break in attachment, and may not have known consistent love and affection.  As result, they may have difficulty trusting and attaching to their new family.  These children may need help building healthy relationships.
  7. Open adoptions may lead to families and adopted children needing support in maintaining relationships with birth family members.
  8. Adoptive parents may experience grief and loss issues of their own, which may relate to infertility.  Emotions can be intensified by the reality of their adoption, especially if it doesn’t match what they expected it to be.
  9. At some point, many adoptees want to access birth information and/or reconnect with birth families.  While technology can accelerate a birth relative search, this faster pace can be emotionally overwhelming.  They also may not know where to begin their search.
  10. Children who were exposed prenatally to drugs and alcohol may have ongoing emotional, developmental, physical or behavioral difficulties.  These may vary from health issues, to developmental delays, to feeding, sleeping and attachment issues. Issues may arise at school requiring an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and a referral fro special services.

There are many tangible services available which can help with post-adoption challenges:

  1. Therapy/Counseling:  Professional help for concerns is always available to address any post-adoption challenge.  Proactive access can often prevent concerns from becoming serious problems.  For more information, contact the CHI office for insight and a referral.
  2. Support Groups:  Both Online and in-person groups are available.  Both offer parents and adoptees valuable opportunities to interact and share with others who may have had relevant experiences.  Parents can even start their own group as many post-adoption services were founded by concerned adoptive parents!
  3. Camps, picnics and other events:  Retreats and camps are available for members of adoptive families to connect with others like themselves.
  4. Educational resources:   Parents can access a workshop or conference, or an online resource to learn about the topics important to them, socialize with other families, and access adoption materials.  (many will be listed below).
  5. Financial assistance:  While most services are not free of charge, their may be assistance available for some adoptive families.  Many children adopted from public agencies qualify for adoption subsidy which can be used to pay for these services as spelled out in the adoption assistance agreement. Medicaid is available to meet a child’s special health, mental or emotional needs.  Your health insurance carrier may also offer benefits which can be used for post adoption services.  Some employers may provide benefits which will reimburse adoption related service fees.  Scholarships are often available to help with the cost of attending adoption conferences and seminars.
  6. Public adoption agencies (county or State offices) & many private adoption agencies may provide services which can benefit your family dynamic.

In addition to the specific services listed above, we’ve compiled a lengthy list of online resources – which can be accessed at any time & are listed below.  These may be especially helpful if your family is not living within this agency’s home state, which is California.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network was established to improve access to care, treatment, and services for traumatized children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events. The group offers a wealth of online trainings and informational links.

Child Welfare Information Gateway promotes the well-being of families by connecting the public to information, resources and tools covering topics on child welfare, child abuse & neglect, adoption and more.  Child Information Gateway provides access to information and resources to help protect and strengthen families.

TCU Institute of Child Development  Offers Trust Based Relationship Intervention (TBRI) DVD’s that families can order for themselves.

Empowered to Connect offers a faith based version of TBRI. Families can go onto the website, click resources & then on the righthand side there are many topics they can click & see a short video or write up on the subject.

Attachment Trauma Network promotes healing of traumatized children and their families through support, education and advocacy.

CASE -Center for Adoption Support & Education C.A.S.E. is the national leader in adoption-competent support with foster and adopted children and adults, their families and the network of professionals who assist them. With more than 17 years of adoption expertise and an extensive range of services, C.A.S.E. is empowering families in the adoption and foster care community to grow together and overcome challenges.  This is an excellent site that offers articles, trainings, and lots of resources for all members of an adoptive family.

REACH – Tulare County and REACH- Kings County  REACH, which stands for Resources, Education, Advocacy, Crisis Intervention and Hope was designed to support and enrich the lives of adopted children and families, as well as others who have been touched by adoption.   REACH services are family-centered and recognize the core issues of adoption. Services are designed to support and preserve all family relationships and maximize the child’s potential and full integration into a family. REACH services are provided at multiple locations throughout California to help families effectively prepare for the experience of adoption and to ensure families receive support at all stages of adoptive parenting. There are REACH programs in the following counties:  Contra Costa, San Benito, Solano, Kings, Mono, Madera, Mariposa, and Tulare.

Dave Thomas Foundation  Access the link for a guide to Strengthen your Forever Family:  A step-by-Step guide to Post-Adoption.  This free resource booklet includes information for parents about the types of resources available after adoptions have been finalized. Topics include how to select and locate providers, what to do if your community doesn’t have resources available, and recommendations of other national non-profits that can help.

NACAC North American Council on Adoptable Children is an organization that offers numerous articles designed to help families who have adopted children with special needs.

PACT, an Adoption Alliance, was begun by two adoptive parents in 1991.  Pact has developed a range of services that can connect you to other families like your own.

CWLA Child Welfare League of America is the oldest national organization serving vulnerable children, youth, and their families. CLWA provides trainings, consultations, and a variety of conferences including teleconferences found at the link.

Voice for Adoption is a national organization that works to make a difference in the lives of children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted and the families who adopt children from foster care

Adoption Learning Partners provides educational adoption resources for adopted individuals, parents, families, and professionals through web-based and interactive courses. Adoption Learning Partners offers courses for families parenting adopted children to learn how to sort through issues and learn new skills. Courses address topics like talking to your child about adoption, helping your child cope with feelings of grief and loss, and answering questions about your child’s heritage and background with sensitivity and respect.

Evan B. Donaldson Institute is a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to adoption by improving the current policies and practices of adoption. Through a wealth of publications, the Institute seeks to end negative stereotypes and misinformation about adoption by providing an accurate picture of its rewards, as well as its challenges.  Search by topic to locate resources you may need.

Adoptive Families Magazine is an excellent magazine with well-written articles for all adoptive parents.

What have we missed? Please add any resources you have found to be helpful to your family in the comments.

 

Blessed to Be A Mom

Adoption Awareness

To celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, we are sharing another story written by a loving Mom (& proofread by Dad!). They began their domestic adoption journey to become first-time parents over 12 years ago. Along the way, they’ve handled unexpected challenges with grace and stayed the path they felt meant to be on. Together, they have built an adorable little family …one adoption at a time, and are now raising three gorgeous kiddos! Again, we have Facebook to thank for an ongoing connection ~ and the privilege of watching their family enjoy a lovely life together. Many thanks to her for sharing the blessings of Motherhood, below.

Blessed To Be a Mom

I knew. I knew for as far back as I could remember. He pointed all the signs and my heart to adoption. It was just going to be a part of my life and I saw the signs that God was giving me the entire time I was growing up. Little hints along the way. Confirmation came the night I found out my boyfriend (and now my husband) was adopted. It made me smile because at that moment I knew he was the one.  If adoption was in our future, he would be the perfect mate to raise adopted children with because his experiences would strengthen our journey. Thank you God, for yet another sign that I was walking the right path all those years ago.

I remember early on sitting across from our IVF doctor after several failed and intrusive IVF attempts and flat out asking him, “Is this going to work or should we move on to adoption?” His response, after all these years, is still so vivid in my mind and even stings a little, “Well, that would be like giving up”. If he only knew what “giving up” meant to our family today, I’m pretty sure his response would be different. We “gave up” only to “give in” to a lifetime of happiness, family, and ultimately parenthood with three amazing and adopted children.

We have been given the privilege of walking three amazing little people through childhood and life all because of adoption. Our oldest son is 12, our middle son is 9, and our daughter is 6. We were fortunate enough to be present for all three of their births, taking in the sights and sounds of each. Hearing first cries, cutting cords, watching first baths, seeing first smiles, and holding swaddled newborns in our arms. Each birth was so unique and different and today distinguishes who they are. We were given three very special and unique gifts and promised to take care of each of them. And yes, there is life after adoption.

In the beginning, people asked so many questions.  I would share our story and see wide eyes always starting back at me. The most frequent was, “Can they take the baby back?” I wanted to tape a sign to my forehead that said, “Yes, they can the baby back, but we are willing to take the risk to be able to parent these children”. And it did happen. And it stunk. BUT without the devastating moment of our failed adoption, we would not have the children we have today; God’s path, God’s time. We relinquished, let go, and trusted. My mother in law was so worried about our “open adoption” and how difficult that would be. She says I taught her a lesson that day when I responded, “but that means our children will have two more people to love them and why would we want anything less than for them to be loved fully by others?”

Last week, I was at lunch with a girlfriend and we were discussing our children, as most mommies do. We were sharing successes and struggles. We were saying how frustrating the teenage eye roll can be. “Yes”, my friend said to me, “you give birth to them, the least they can do is not roll their eyes at you”. And in that moment we both laughed because she had completely forgotten that, I didn’t physically give birth to my kids. We have given them a good life, a family, and a whole lot of love. Giving birth is not required to raise a family. Adoption is part of who they are, who we are as a family, and a selfless gift given to my husband and me. We are raising them with all the same struggles and success as any other family; baseball, Band-Aids and bruises, dance, tears, soccer, student council, failed tests, school awards, and the all so frustrating sibling squabbles. You see, it’s no different. We tackle each day as a family; a very blessed family full of adopted children.

Every once in a while when I hear one of them call me “mom”, I smile, turn, and see a sweet child staring back at me. I realize they are talking to ME, their mom, and know it was all worth it, every single tear, heartache, and disappointment throughout our adoption journey. I love being their mom and will continue to help guide, nurture and love them as they grow up and become adults. I appreciate life so much more because of our struggles to have a family but know we are better off because of our three precious gifts. My HOME is full of children, my MIND is full of memories, and my HEART is full of love. And I’m pretty sure that makes me one very blessed MOM.

A Journey: A Domestic Adoption Story

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we hope to fill our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others. We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for! Our sincerest thanks to the families who have put their lives into words.

We are still seeking & accepting submissions through the month of November! Please send your submissions to stacy@chrysalishouse.com. Below, please enjoy the story of a family’s: Domestic Adoption.

In the event you wish to discuss our Domestic program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.

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Ever since I was in high school, I have thought about adoption. I knew a few families in our neighborhood who had adopted and saw how it changed their lives. For some reason, it resonated with me and I always felt like it would be a part of my life in some way.

For my husband, adoption was even closer to home: his father and uncle were adopted from birth. My husband saw adoption as a huge blessing and was very grateful to his father’s birth mom for making the courageous decision to place him in his family.

As we dated and started dreaming about the family we would one day have, we both talked about adoption as potentially being a part of it. I think, however, that we both figured that we would have biological children first while we were young and then adopt one or two as our family was more established.

After we were married for a few years, we initially thought about starting our family through the “typical” way of getting pregnant. But we both felt that something different was out there for us. As we pondered and prayed about how we should start our family and when, we both felt a strong impression that we should pursue adoption now – not as a last resort and not once we were older and more established.

So the next day we researched local adoption agencies and by the following week, we interviewed several in Fresno. These introductions opened our eyes to multiple ways one can go about adoption – domestic, international, fost-adopt, etc. While we liked all agencies, we felt a more personal bond with the people from Chrysalis House and decided to work with them. We felt that domestic adoption was the right path for us at this time – we really wanted to look locally to help someone out, and we weren’t quite ready for the uncertainty that can come with fost-adopt.

Both my husband and I are go-getters and so we barreled through the application process, turning in all the paperwork and meeting the requirements just as fast as we possibly could. Once we had made our decision, we felt so good and clear about it that there was no turning back and we were anxious to be in a position to welcome a little baby into our home.

Both my husband and I really appreciated the classes that were given as part of the application process, as we had our own concerns. For my husband, he was fairly concerned about open adoptions. His father’s adoption had been closed and his father never pursued a relationship with his birth mom, so that’s what he was used to. We had heard stories about birth parents trying to get their children back, or trying to co-parent once their child was placed and that wasn’t something we wanted. Through hearing testimonials and learning more about what open adoption means, we both felt reassured. We knew that we could work out guidelines with the birth mother that would make both of us feel safe and comfortable. Additionally, we both realized that having more people out there who love your child, even if distantly, is never a bad thing.

For me, I was initially concerned about raising a child different than my own ethnicity. I personally had no problem with it and we were open to adopting all races, but I was worried about our child feeling like s/he could still connect to his roots, while at the same time be a full part of our family. I wanted to teach our child my family’s wonderful history, as well as his, but I didn’t know if I could do it justice. Again, the testimonies and discussion around raising children of different races was extremely helpful. I understood more completely the issues that children could go through and that while there might be difficult times of identity issues, that it was something we could tackle with love and empathy.

After we got approved came the hardest part of the process: waiting. In some ways, it was a bit of a let down. While getting approved, we had felt good being busy, proactive and working towards a goal. Once approved, we realized how helpless we were in the rest of the process and that we simply had to wait patiently until an opportunity arose. While we tried to lead our normal lives, our minds definitely were fixated on hoping and praying that we would receive a little baby sooner rather than later.

Luckily, our wait was not very long (something for which we are very grateful!). We soon welcomed home a precious baby girl. While we didn’t have a lot of notice to get things ready, we were so excited to start our family. We both immediately fell in love with her and couldn’t imagine our lives without her.

While adoption will come with its own particular struggles and ups and downs, we are so grateful for this opportunity. We feel a great deal of admiration and respect for our girl’s birth mom and the choice that she made. We are in love with our little girl and she couldn’t have been a part of our family any other way. We are looking forward to her growing up (not too quickly, though) so that we can share her wonderful story with her.

Creating Awareness: of a Birthmother Experience.

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we are filling our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others.  We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for!  We are still accepting submissions through the month of November!  Please send your submissions to stacy@chrysalishouse.com.

Please honor today’s story, from the perspective of a: Mother – who chose to place her child in the arms of another family.  The story is important, beautiful and powerful… & the honesty speaks volumes.  Of all the posts we’ve shared this month, we envision that this was the most difficult to write.  Our sincerest thanks to this Birthmother for putting her experience, love and grief into words.  There is such value in your story and we are filled with gratitude that you have allowed us the privilege of sharing it.

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Birthmother.  Such a simple word with an entire world of complexities behind it and one incredibly important piece to the miracle of adoption. People who are foreign or unrelated to adoption may think of a birthmother as a woman who doesn’t want her child or someone who doesn’t want to take responsibility for her actions. People who are familiar with adoption may view a birthmother as I do—a courageous, selfless, loving woman who gave life to a child, then decided to give her child more.

I am a birthmother to the most incredible, beautiful, loved little girl who ever existed. I made a voluntary plan of adoption for my daughter, a decision that did not come lightly, at the young age of 17. Upon discovering my pregnancy, I was afraid and alone. Abortion weighed heavily on my mind during the first few weeks of that discovery. Being so frightened of this life changing circumstance I finally told my cousin, my confidant, and through speaking about it, I decided to continue with my pregnancy.

Telling the rest of my family was not so easy. While I didn’t expect a congratulatory celebration, I was astounded and deeply hurt by the harsh rejection I faced for the majority of my pregnancy. At this point, my options were to find a new family for my child or to have my child and not return home. I chose the latter. I graduated high school after my first semester of my junior year, started working, applied for college, and just knew I could make this work. I could fulfill my dreams of graduating college and having an established career while simultaneously raising a child without familial support. I would struggle, but I was capable, intelligent, driven, and had enough love for my child to be a good parent. I knew from the moment I decided to follow through with my pregnancy that I would be enough. However, about the time I was six months pregnant I decided I wanted her to have more than just enough.

Just as I had a plan for my future with my daughter put into place, adoption was put back onto my heart by my own will this time. For me, it was a sudden moment of realization that this decision wasn’t about me anymore. Soon I would be bringing this little girl into the world and this decision had to be about her, what was best for her, what I wanted her future to look like, and in that moment I became a mother. I realized I didn’t want her to spend her childhood waiting for me to get my life together. I had to put my child first, and as a parent, that’s what you do. You put your child first.

I went to multiple adoption agencies in order to have the largest pool of waiting families to pick from as possible. I decided if I found the perfect family then I would make an adoption plan, but I had very high expectations of that family. I was still very confused and didn’t think it was possible for anyone to love her as much as I did. But I still looked through dozens of albums and met with some waiting families. I was let down a few times, hopeful a few times, but ultimately I was running out of time.

I met with one couple less than six weeks before my due date, and I remember leaving that meeting sort of at peace. The next two days following, however, were the most exhausting and confusing that I can recall. I was playing out three scenarios in my head: two were with separate potential adoptive parents and the third was me parenting. I was describing each one to a friend, and I remember so clearly her saying to me, “Brooke, it sounds like you made your decision.” And I realized it was true. The last couple I had met with would be my Perri’s parents.

My first feeling was such an inner peace that I hadn’t experienced at all throughout my entire pregnancy. Then I felt sad. I knew my time left with my little girl was not long at all. I spent the next several weeks getting to know the couple I had chosen to be my daughter’s parents, and we planned what our open adoption would look like.

Just seven short weeks after our first meeting, Perri was born. I was instantly overwhelmed by the love that flooded out for this little girl. I was in a state of euphoria and held her close on my chest, staring at her immaculate beauty. She wailed when she first came out, but then was calm, quiet, and so perfect. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of her. Her parents held her next. Seeing them all together as a family for the first time, watching her, adoring her, didn’t make me sad, but proud. I was so proud of this amazing child I brought into the world. The time in the hospital was short, but for two days I was that little girl’s mother; two days that I will treasure for the rest of my lifetime.

A year and a half later, we still have a lot of communication in our adoption. We visit often, and I receive pictures when I ask. My daughter is healthy, loved, well-taken care of, and so happy. I know I couldn’t have provided for her in the same way her parents do, so every time I am with my daughter I am reassured that I made the right decision. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my decision. Each stage of life Perri enters brings and will continue to bring a new wave of emotions for me deal with.

I would be lying if I said open adoption was rosy and beautiful all the time. Often adoption is ugly and messy, even the healthy, “ideal” adoption situations. There are still those times when I replay every moment in my head that I had a chance to change my mind and have my little girl back. Sometimes I am angry and resentful at each person who played a hand in carrying out my daughter’s adoption. I get sad when I hear Perri say “mama” and it’s not to address me or when she is hurt and it isn’t me she wants to console her. I realize, though, that each one of those passionate emotions stems from the same emotion that led me to this decision in the first place—the great love I have for my child. There’s not an hour that goes by that I am not thinking of her. Sometimes they are sad thoughts, like wishing she was with me in this very moment, that I could be her mommy, missing her so much that my heart actually feels broken. But more often there are thoughts of contentment and happiness.

I always wonder what silly thing she is doing in this very minute or what new quirk will she have when I see her next. I love seeing how much she has grown in the past month; I love watching her thrive with her family and that she is happy and learning new things; I love that she gives me kisses when she sees me now. Whether I am with her or away from her, she is always the center of my world and the light of my life.

An important aspect of adoption awareness is awareness of birthmothers’ experiences. My experience as a birthmother is one that is real and valid. I am simply a mother who chose to give her child more, who aches for her child when they are apart, and who loves her daughter more than words can describe. The love a birthmother has for her child is the greatest, most sacrificial love there is. To be a part of that makes me proud to be a birthmother.

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Please note:  If you or a loved one would like to talk with our staff about an unexpected pregnancy – please call our office at 559.229.9862.  Although we are indeed an adoption agency ~ we can help you consider all your options, suggest resources and answer questions.  We will support you in creating the life for your child that -you- feel is best.