Sunday, January 4, 2009

Adoption Announcements

Adoption Announcements

They aren’t a new thing. They are exactly like receiving a New Baby announcement. Respond the exact same way. If you’d normally send a Congrats card or gift do so. Adoption is as exciting as a brand new baby especially to the new parents; even if the child is older, part of a sibling group, had previously been the parents foster child they are now able to adopt, or has special needs. Its celebration time and your acknowledgement will go a long way with the new family!

Adoption Announcements can be specially ordered or handmade. Decide if you are sending an individual annoucement for each child or a group one if adopting siblings. If you are having an adoption ceremony or celebration you could include the invitation. Consider including a list of Positive Adoption Language if you think your loved ones will be more comfortable knowing the most PC terms. The important information on the announcement is the child’s name as it’ll read on the newly issued birth certificate, birth date and the word “forever”. Adoption education isn’t a taught subject in school and some people just don’t understand that adoption is, is, is forever. It’ll be reassuring that your child is your child no matter what issues may develop in the coming years.

Lovely homemade ones can be done on colored note cards with a picture showing off your new child, hand printed, made on a computer, ordered or done as an e-card:

The Jones Family proudly announces the adoption of
Suzy Q Jones
Date of Birth

Home forever!
Our dearly adored son

Johnny Doe

-Date of Birth-

Joining proud parents Jose and Janie Doe, and brother and sister Joe and Jan Doe


The mannerism rule for adoption announcements is this: “Celebrate the child as you would any child/baby!”

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Giving Gifts

Gift Giving

To give or not to give shouldn’t even be a question, but there are many circumstances that make us wonder. If Birth Mom is on drugs do we want to supply her with diamond earrings? Probably not, but pictures of the child would be appropriate in most cases. Should Birth Family give gifts to the Adoptive Family? Only if they are anticipating a gift, have already been given one, feel like giving them a gift, or have arranged a holiday to exchange gifts. The best gifts Birth Families can give is information. Kids ask endless questions. Tons! More than can ever be thought of or put into a book. Having a picture, a baby item, a written memory to share with the child about themselves or a birth family member is a priceless treasure. Give information!

When giving gifts to a child please consider if they have other kids and non-biological siblings in the home they are living in.
The Adoptive Family is operating as one unit in their daily lives. The child is bonded and connected to their siblings even if they don’t share a genetic connection. The kids most likely have friends and relatives of the Adoptive Parents that treat the whole family equally. It could be hurtful to the other children to be ignored or segregated. The child you are giving the gift to may not understand why their brother or sister would be left out and it could make the joy of their present diminished to know that their brother or sister has hurt feelings.
I’ve often seen the embarrassed faces of foster kiddos as they are singled out to receive a toy but the biological kids in the home were not. Some would think the extra attention by the relative would be welcomed but more often one more reminder that they are different is not a joyful occasion.

Sometimes giving gifts to all the children in the home is not an option financially so think of family games, a shared gift card, a DVD, a photo album, a book, Dollar Store items, a recipe, homemade craft, art supplies, or information about the child as a replacement to only gifting to your biologically-related child. It truly is the thought that counts!
The Adoption Mannerism rule is, "Gifts for all or gifts for none."

Naming and Name Changing

Yes, I’m going to start with a topic that’s controversial even amongst adoptive parents. There are valid reasons to let the birth parents name the adoptive child and equally valid reasons for the adoptive parents to rename the child.

When you think about raising a child, the child of your heart, do you envision that someone else named that child or do you have a name you always liked and want to give the child a special name? Of course a parent will love a child no matter what the name is. There’s a saying in the adoption community, “Naming is claiming.” Some adoptive parents change the name because it means they can, it’s a fully legal adoption and no one gets to make decisions but the parent. It feels good to have the power and ability even though it hurts to tell the child’s birth family the decision has been made. Naming is a powerful right that many non-adoptive parents take for granted.
If you are in the midst of a related child's name change you could face a wide range of emotions from anger to disappointment to gladness to acceptance. If you are grieving for the old name or grieving from the loss of renaming a child there are some things you can do to recognize the name and all it’s meant to you: Donate money to a charity in that name, by a new brick, plaque or tile with the name on it such as at a zoo when they are constructing new buildings. Start a Blog or web page under that name and write about your feelings possibly to share with others who may be experiencing the same thing; cute clip art and cool backgrounds could really let your creativity out. Make up a nickname for the child to address them by until you are comfortable with the name.
Adoptive parents should take some time before deciding either way. It's not unusual for a year to go by before feeling comfortable enough to make a change. Be open and accepting of your feelings. Have a list of names you like pre-adoption so changing it was just part of the plan and not directly hurtful to the birth parents.

I’ve heard all the arguments to keeping or changing the name. Here are some real quotes by real parents:

“I always knew my son would be named after my dad. Biological or adopted he is my son and my family. I love that he’s named after the Grandfather that helped me become the dad I am.”

“I liked the name she picked, but it wasn’t the one I would have picked. I felt bad at first changing it but soon my daughter was just plain my daughter and I didn’t care anymore.”

“She came from a country where the child is named after the city or street they were abandoned on, I couldn’t let that be her legacy when I had a beautiful name already chosen. I don’t mean to deny her nationality, but really she’ll be 18-years-old in the blink of an eye and can change it to anything she wants then.”

“It's not a name I ever would have thought of it but it fits her so well.”

“He was too old to rename so I just changed the last name.”

“I wouldn’t let someone else name my new dog and I’m not going to let someone else name my baby either.”

“I’d known her for a year with that name and it just fit so well, I kept it.”

“She needed a new start in life and I thought a fresh new name helped.”

“Naming is a privilege, one my horrible adoptive parents didn’t deserve.”

Unless the child’s original name is Super-Dude or Falangie it’s safe to assume the name change is to reflect something special for the parents to give their new child and not direct insult to the original name or person who picked it.

Unless specifically asked by the parent that tucks the child in every night the rule here is to use the child’s legal (at the time) name. This is just respectful to the child as much as it is the parents. Refusing to call the child by their legal name or the name the adoptive parents prefer is not going to help bring you or the parents or child closer. In turn some adoptive parents feel giving permission to use the previous name is okay too.

Here are some quotes by real adoptive parents:

“I felt that the birth mom should call her what she wants to so I told her so. I think if she keeps using the old name then I’ll just explain to the child that that’s a special nickname that Birth Mom gets to call her.”

“It was really annoying that the Birth Grandpa kept calling them by their old names. He just looked senile and misinformed to the girls refusing to address them by the names they helped me pick out.”

“When I sent my Adoption Announcements out I expected that people would start referring to the kids as those names, but they didn’t. I finally asked them to and they said that they got use to the names the kids used while they were still legally foster kids before I was able to name them myself. I was really hurt because I was excited to start thinking of my sons as mine now and the names were part of it.”

“When her (birth) Aunt sent her a birthday card with her new name on it I felt she fully accepted the adoption and I was able to trust her and include her more. I always send her pictures now.”

“As time went on the birth family all started to call her by the name we chose. It meant a lot to me and seemed to prove that they were healing from the loss and realized that Child is not completely gone from their family.”

“It must have been really hard for the Birth Mom to write that name on her letter. After years of being angry at her for her drug abuse that hurt my daughter so much I really felt respect for her.”

“The Birth Mom still uses the names she picked. I won’t confront her about it I know she’s hurt enough about losing her parental rights. I don’t like it but I like her enough to over look it. I’ll probably ignore it at our up coming visit, but I’ll be uncomfortable which makes me wonder if she’s not doing very well if she can’t even bring herself to use the new name. I feel sad for her going through this.”

True responses heard from name changing:


“You changed the spelling? How could you do that her ‘real’ mom is going to be really upset!”

“Did the agency say it was okay to do that?”

“Can I still call her her “real” name?”

“I love that name!”

"It'll confuse the child."

“That’s a cow’s name.”

“What was wrong with her real name?”

“Couldn’t you at least make her first name her middle name?”

“I named her __________ and I always expected her to be that (name). She’ll always be my daughter even if I can’t raise her and I’ll always think of her as _________.”

“I hate the new name. It’s just one more jab that _________ isn’t mine anymore. I’d rather not address him at all or just call him Baby then to use that stupid name.”

“Eww, I’ve always hated that name.”

“That’s not a very black name! You really think he wants to be named after some white guy?”

“That’s an unusual name!”

Most adoptive parents start the name change by saying the old name hypenated with the new. Then the parent can gage the child's reactions and ability to accept the new name. From there dropping the old name or even the new name in some cases will depend on the parents perception of how the child is handling the name change. It's often an exciting, loving occassion. Some parents choose to only rename the middle and last name or just the last name, move the first name to the middle or vise versa. Naming is a very personal event. Please don't make negative comments it doesn't help. For this Adoption Mannerism the rule is an oldie but goodie, "If you can't say something nice about the new name don't say anything at all."