This is how to give up a baby for adoption.
(Hey, that’s not normally how we like to talk about the process of making adoption plans, but if adoption is new to you, we know it may be the information you start searching for?)
For most moms who think about giving a baby up for adoption, it starts with finding out you are pregnant and not knowing what else to do.
You may be so in denial you go for weeks or months without buying a pregnancy test at the dollar store because you’re hoping somehow if you don’t find out for sure it won’t be for real.
(That doesn’t really work, by the way.)
Or you put off going to the doctor or starting prenatal care because you’re hoping if you just ignore the problem, it’ll go away. (Yeah… right. That one’s not effective, either.)
You start wearing bigger clothes to hide your growing belly and you tell others you’re just putting on some extra weight.
You can fool some people some of the time, as they say. But you can’t fool yourself for long. (Not really.)
You might even text or leave a message for the babydaddy or try to run into him or drop some hints to see if he wants to man up and be a part of what’s going on, but if he doesn’t respond or blows you off, then you’re left to deal with the problem all by yourself. (Again.)
Thinking about adoption? That’s being responsible. (Yay, you!)
You know there’s a baby growing inside of you. You know at some point you are going to have to do something about it. You know you could parent, and you know it’s your right to keep the baby if you want to, but there’s so much more you wanted to do, and a baby is going to change everything. You know there are programs out there that help moms (like AFDC and WIC and stuff) but this isn’t just about not being able to afford a kid.
It’s about wanting to become a mom or grow your family when you feel the time is right, and not just because a condom broke or you missed a pill or somebody had his way with you when you had a weak moment.
So kudos to you for having the courage to “do you” and having the conscience to want the very best for your child’s future, too. That’s the best that any parent can do: to take good care of herself and to make sure her child is taken care of, also.
Society may claim that birthmothers who place don’t care about their kids, but nothing could be further from the truth. Adoption is a loving, mature and responsible decision made by caring parents and that is nothing to be ashamed of, if it’s done the right way and for the right reasons.
So you know your reasons, and you know your rights, but what’s next?
The right way to give up a baby for adoption
Let’s shoot straight, here: motherhood is a lifelong responsibility, but pregnancy is a temporary condition, and if you are not ready to be somebody’s mom in every way, then it’s perfectly all right to admit it, and to enable someone else to step in and help get the child’s needs met through adoption.
Adoption means legally allowing another person or persons permanent and full legal rights to take over the responsibilities of serving as your child’s parent(s).
If that’s what you know you need to do, either for a baby you are expecting or for a child already in your care, then here’s how to give up a baby for adoption (or how to make a loving placement plan):
1. Call Abrazo (210-342-5683 or 1-800-454-5683) anytime, or text the word “PLACE” to 210-860-5683. Abrazo is a private, nonprofit agency that’s been licensed by the State of Texas since 1994, so you know you can trust the help we offer.
An Abrazo staff member will contact you promptly and confidentially to talk with you about the adoption process and your preferences and our services. If you are already in the hospital, Abrazo can come meet with you there.
2. Abrazo can either mail, email or bring you a packet of information about your adoption options, your rights and responsibilities and the emotions and support you can expect during the adoption process.
It’s up to you if you want your family or the baby’s father involved in your adoption plan (note: if you are legally-married to the baby’s father, he must be informed of the pending adoption, but it is not your responsibility to get the father to sign papers.)
If you are pregnant, we can also assist you in lining up prenatal care, housing, maternity transportation, counseling and other support services you may need during pregnancy and up to 8 weeks afterwards.
3. Abrazo gives you the option of choosing your child’s future family and getting to know them in advance. You also have the option of keeping in touch afterwards, if you wish.
We’ll respect your wishes, whether you want to pick a family and get acquainted or if you just want the agency to choose a family for your child. It’s your choice, after all.
4. When you go to the hospital to deliver, you let Abrazo know. If you want our adoptive family there with you for the delivery (or afterwards,) that’s your right. You can sign Abrazo’s legal documents to release your child for adoption anytime after the child is 48 hours old, provided you are free of any mind-altering medication, and that decision is permanent and irreversible from the time the papers are signed.
Your child can go right home with the adoptive family of your choice. Your decision is private and confidential, and you don’t need to appear in court. And you can continue to participate in Abrazo’s counseling program afterwards for as long as you choose.
Want to learn more? Visit www.abrazo.org, or contact Abrazo, and let’s turn your need to know how to give up a baby for adoption into a beautiful placement plan that changes your life, your child’s destiny, and an adoptive family’s home, in all the very nicest of ways.
One of Abrazo’s staff found herself in an exchange with someone this week about what open adoption means.
That’s a conversation we find ourselves in nearly every week, of course, in one way or another.
What is open adoption? How does open adoption work? Why is open adoption better? These are questions we answer all the time, for prospective birthparents and adopting parents. It’s not co-parenting, nor joint custody, we tell them, and it’s not legally-enforceable in Texas. But it is a sacred covenant to be truly known to each other, to relate to each other as family and to maintain some level of communication with each other in the years to come, for the good of the adoptee.
And this is what broke our hearts about having to explain to a former Adoption Services Associates birthparent who’d been told she had an open adoption why it wasn’t not an open adoption if she never was allowed to know the adopting family’s identifying information and did not have the option nor access to stay in touch with them. (That was a tough one.)
See, this birthmom had never given the adoptive family (nor agency) any reason to fear her. She never made demands. Never sought to interfere. All she wanted was to be informed of how her child was faring. Exorcising her from the life of the baby girl she faithfully placed nearly 20 years ago was not in that child’s best interests nor her birthmom’s (even if it did alleviate the adoptive parents’ insecurity or fears or apprehensions.)
Allowing this mother to think she was doing an open adoption (in order to induce or persuade her to sign the paperwork) and then denying her the benefits of a genuine open adoption was anything but an act of charity. Rather, it was about power and control– and yes, personal gain (whether that of the agency and/or adoption attorney and/or adopters.) Using a promise of open adoption as a means to anyone’s end is cruel, dangerous and deceitful. There’s no other way to explain it.
So how does genuine open adoption work?
Open adoption means the joining of two families for the benefit of one (or more) child(ren.) It means the families agree and commit to the sharing of their identifying information as well as the sharing of their lives– across the child’s lifespan and without anonymity or an intermediary.
Even if open adoption arrangements seem to come together quickly, for some, the relationship doesn’t just happen overnight. These connections requires deep trust, and it takes time to build trust in any authentic relationship. (But if people can’t trust each other, then why should they share a child?) Open adoption relationships are always “works in progress” that grow and change over time (just as children do.) This requires mutual respect, love, patience and kindness.
There’s even a biblical foundation for this sort of thing. Sister Joan Chittister says that “one of scripture’s most powerful icons” was that of the prophet Abraham’s rush to welcome strangers to his table, because this calls us to be “keepers of an open tent in the desert.”
When you welcome relatives over, you don’t open your front door to admit one relative in and then say to the others through the closed screen door “… but not you, you stay outside, okay?” (That would a rude thing to say to anyone, even the dog.) Openness means transparency and access and clarity and understanding. There’s no such thing as being “semi-open” and the adoption community needs to state clearly that “semi-open adoptions” are really just closed adoptions in prettier wrapping paper.
Forever families make room and time for each other
Open adoption means setting a place for everyone at the table, and making room as needed.
In open adoption, you love your child’s people because you love your child and you want your child to feel proud of who they are and where they’re from.
This doesn’t mean that those in open adoption never disagree or never misunderstand each other. It doesn’t mean that the child will necessarily value the relationship as the adults do. It doesn’t mean that there’s never a need for space nor for healthy boundaries. But what it does mean is that the best of family treat each other like the best of family, that “forever family” includes everyone forever, and that any problems are dealt with as a family.
Open adoptions take work to make them work, and it’s not uncommon for Abrazo’s adoptive families to sometimes feel that they’re doing most of the work. (This is particularly true if their child/ren’s birthparents are struggling with post-adoption grief, are nomadic, or are seemingly ambivalent about or incapable of keeping in touch.) Yet we have almost never heard anyone say their efforts were “not worth it,” whatever it’s taken, because few people harbor regrets about doing the right thing.
Adoption guru Jim Gritter described open adoption as “hospitious adoption” in his book by the same title. In it, Gritter writes:
“It is not that adoption done well erases or nullifies the sadness. What was lost remains lost, but loss need not be the entirety of the story. When separation and disconnection are addressed with hospitality, adoption holds new potential.”
(And that is the very message we hope to convey to ASA’s adoptive family, when we reach out to attempt to reunite them with the ASA birthmother who contacted us for post-adoption assistance.)
What open adoption means, essentially, is doing an adoption without secrets nor shame and one that honors all of the adoptee’s family connections, never forcing them to choose between them.
And then, what open adoption means can truly be good for everyone involved.
Let’s just admit it: maybe some people just shouldn’t have kids.
We know this is a sensitive thing to say, especially around folks with infertility.
Yet it’s because of all the good people we know who desperately long to have children to love that we are particularly incensed by all the people who do have children and don’t appreciate them. (Who neglect or mistreat them. Who fail them in every way.)
We try to be philosophical about the fact that not everybody shares the same parenting values.
We know that money and advantage are no guarantee of good parenting, just as tattoos and welfare are no indication that somebody cannot parent well.
Education may be an advantage in some cases, yet we know parents living in projects who do an extraordinary job of raising fine children without college degrees.
Sometimes good parents make bad choices, and yes, sometimes proper intervention can lead some parents to make better choices in the future.
But the stories in the news recently have got us riled up, on behalf of all the children who surely deserved better. How long should kids have to wait for their parents to get their act(s) together? And what can we all do, to help identify children-at-risk and keep them safe?
Broken hearts and broken children
In Richardson, Texas, a three-year-old girl adopted from India has gone missing, after her father made her put her out to stand alone in the dark at 3 am, reportedly for failing to drink her milk.
We recognize that there may be cultural differences in parenting styles. Maybe he’s a great dad who just lost it momentarily. But to leave a toddler with developmental issues outside in the dark of night in an area known for coyotes and train tracks? (Who does that?!)
Say it with us: maybe some people just shouldn’t have kids.
In St. Joseph, Louisiana, a mother has been arrested in the death of her one-day-old baby, who was found in a dumpster and was believed to have died of blunt force trauma.
In West Palm Beach, Florida, the mother of a child born at home during the hurricane says she wrapped the baby’s body in garbage bags and kept it in her car; she is being investigated for manslaughter.
A Sacramento, California father has been arrested and charged with the murder of his three children and a deadly assault upon his wife.
In New Jersey, a mother abandoned her ten-year-old special needs son in the woods with his luggage because he was denied benefits for his care.
An Iowa mom has been charged with child endangerment for leaving her four kids at home alone while she took off on a twelve-day vacation in Europe.
You know it’s true: maybe some people just shouldn’t have kids.
This is just a small sampling of the countless stories of horrific malparenting that goes on in America in any given month. And yes, we realize there are mental health issues and addiction issues and other circumstances involved, but how is it possible that after all the millions of dollars spent in this country on child abuse prevention campaigns and safe haven programs and family planning centers and child protection and family support, America is still doing such a sorry job of saving our kids?
Can adoption save lives?
Admittedly, adoption is not a silver bullet solution, and we’re not suggesting that it is. Parents who adopt can be guilt of abuse, just as those who don’t place can be. Yet it breaks our hearts to know how many wonderful, homestudy-approved families have jumped through countless hoops in hopes of becoming parents, only to wait for months (or years) while the nightly news bears these tragic tales of children who might have been theirs and who could still be alive, had they been in a different home or family?
For all its faults, adoption can still offer children in need safe harbor from the storms of homelessness, parent loss, child abuse and neglect, addiction, poverty, and exploitation. And yes, Abrazo has placed some children who may have done just as well growing up in their original families, but we have also known many children whose birthparents’ loving choices have spared them a “mess of trouble,” and for whom adoption truly was a lifesaving measure.
Please know that we take our work very seriously. Abrazo doesn’t accept everyone who applies to adopt here. We don’t operate some cheap social work vending service that ensures that anyone who can pay a fee gets a child in exchange. We don’t see our purpose as “procuring children” for everyone that wants them– but rather, finding the best of loving homes for children that need them.
And a big part of doing great adoptions is finding birthparents and adoptive parents that fit together, and helping them build healthy relationships to surround children with love and affirmation. (As well as consistent nurture and parental guidance, good education, safe homes, and lives rich with opportunity.) We aim to surround that triad (birthparents, adoptive parents and adoptees) with a lifetime of support, which Abrazo tries to do with its annual reunion and with its online community.
We’re not here to tell anyone that they are or not entitled to have children. We don’t presume to understand why biology equips some people to parent when it seems they shouldn’t and why others are denied when they seemingly have everything in life to offer a child.
Yet we do think it’s important to remind our society that parenting is optional; that there are resources available to help those who wish to parent better; and that adoption is a selfless and compassionate alternative for those realize that “maybe some people just shouldn’t have kids” and that this includes them.
Yes, at Abrazo, we work with birthparents who are placing and parents who are adopting toddlers and older kids– because adoption isn’t just for babies.
While the majority of Abrazo’s placements do involve infants, each year Abrazo also handles a number of adoptions for toddlers, sibling groups and older children, and it is a special honor to have such cases entrusted to our care.
Who places toddlers and older kids and why?
There are a variety of reasons that people find themselves needing to voluntarily arrange adoptions for children who are toddlers, older kids and sibling groups, even if they never could have imagined having to make such a decision in their lives.
For “Felicia,” adoption was something she’d considered during pregnancy but decided against after the birth of her son. “When I was in the hospital, everyone said they’d help. The dad was there with his family. My family was all over me to keep the baby, too. So I did. For the first few months, things were good. Then all the people who said they’d help disappeared. The dad got another girl pregnant. And it was just me and my son, and nothing was going right. He wasn’t getting what he needed and neither was I. When he was two, I called Abrazo back. It wasn’t easy. But it was definitely right, for him and for me and for his adoptive parents, too.”
“Inez” came to the adoption decision when a family dispute led to Child Protective Services threatening to take her children. “I didn’t do what they said I did. But I knew I wasn’t going to win against them, you know what I’m saying? I chose adoption with Abrazo so I could choose my kids’ new home. Being able to meet the parents and keep in touch, that was something I couldn’t do if CPS got my kids. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I know it was the best thing, though. They’re happy. And that makes me happy.”
Sometimes, it’s not a child’s biological parents but the legal guardian/s who contact/s Abrazo to make an open adoption plan for the child/ren in their care. The Washingtons (name has been changed) had been raising their grandchildren since their daughter’s addictions made her unable to care for her kids, but their advanced ages led them to make alternative plans for their grandchildren’s futures. “We didn’t have family who could take them in, so Abrazo helped us add new family to ours so the children have the stability they need. And we still have the connection with them that we need, too.”
“James” was a single dad who struggled to raise his son alone after his girlfriend had left the baby in their apartment, gone to the store and never came home. “I was always at work, so it wasn’t fair to him to just grow up in daycare. Your agency helped me find him the kind of home he really deserved.”
Placing children you’ve already bonded with is an intricate emotional experience for adults and children, and does entail loss and grief for both, no matter if the adoption is open or closed, and despite the potential benefits of the placement. It should be a decision of last resort, made only with ample preparation and counseling for all parties, beforehand and afterwards. Abrazo has guided many parents who were considering toddler adoption and older child adoptions; if we can offer support or referrals, please call us: 210-342-5683.
What prospective adoptive parents need to know
Adopting the children who truly need loving homes most means opening your heart and home to the children in greatest need, which isn’t typically the healthy newborn for whom 50 or more other hopeful adoptive parents are waiting. That said, however, not every adopting parent can be the kind of extraordinary mom and dad that every most needy child needs.
Parents open to such cases need to do their homework by learning all they can before matching or placing about adoption trauma and attachment issues. While not every toddler, older child or sibling group will face such issues, being educated as to what these are and how to address them goes a long way in empowering you to parent any adopted child more effectively.
Additional reading that may be helpful would be Adopting the Older Child and Helping Children Cope with Separation & Loss by Claudia Jewett Jarratt The Connected Child by Karen Purvis.
Any toddler adoption, older child adoption or sibling adoption should be handled like a special needs adoption, because there will be issues and dynamics that are different than the average infant adoption. The adopting parents will need extra support from professionals as well as relatives and friends, and this is why, at Abrazo, we take extra time to support the family after placement, delaying the finalization proceedings for 12-18 months to ensure that the completion occurs only after everyone’s adjustment can be confirmed first.
The adoption tax credit is available to families adopting children who are no longer infants. In many states, adoption subsidies may also be available to help offset any costs the adopting family may have incurred in the process of adopting a toddler, older children or sibling group. (Note: TDFPS now only offers subsidy assistance to residents of Texas, a disappointing departure from earlier subsidy guidelines.)
If you’re interested in adopting toddlers and older kids, Abrazo would be very interested in hearing from you.
There’s so much heavy stuff in the news lately, we thought instead of a serious blog topic we’d go with something light and frothy, like “what to wear to adopt.”
Because yassssss, knowing what to wear (and not wear) might definitely make for a more entertaining read than the pending tax cuts legislation or the rising prices of avocadoes or the latest domestic terrorism death toll– you know what we’re saying?
So if you’re seeking to adopt through Abrazo, here’s our handy-dandy fashion advisory on what to wear to adopt. In the what-not-to-wear column is maternity clothes if you’re not pregnant (and yes, we have seen this done.) We’re all for the ease of enjoying “big shirts and leggings,” sure. But shopping at Motherhood Maternity and pretending to be physically-pregnant in order to enjoy the benefits of being paper-pregnant might just make one more pathological than pregnant– in the big picture. (Just saying.)
Coming to orientation
When you are adopting through Abrazo’s full-service program, you win an all-expense-paid-by-you trip to sunny San Antonio to spend an orientation weekend getting to know the AbrazoChicks and learning all about open adoption the Abrazo Way, to start you off right! Some folks come thinking this is really some sort of twisted group interview, but no need to dress-to-impress; if you hadn’t already impressed us with your application, you wouldn’t be invited. So come comfy! We’re not talking about skivvies-and-teddies comfy, of course? But if you’re ever going to show up anywhere in your worn jeans or sweats or flannel jammie bottoms, this is the safest time to do it. Because we already pretty much like you (unless you wear a “Spurs Suck” tee, in which case we’re warning you now: you’ll be doing yourself no favors with our staff.)
Meet the (prospective) birthparents
Whether you’re picking out pics for your profile or coming to meet in person, the old job-hunting advice about “dress for the job you’re seeking” probably applies here… which is parenting, of course. (And no, this doesn’t mean you need to go invest in mom-jeans or show up for lunch in a June Cleaver-style apron. Do not get a baseball cap embroidered with the words “Pick Me for Papa” across it.) If you look decent in a swimsuit, then including vacay pics on your profile is fine, but watch out for excessive cleavage or overexposure. For your first in-person meeting with the prospective birthparents (or the homestudy worker,) wearing nice jeans or khakis with a pullover or button down will obviously look more respectable than torn jeans and a midriffs, just as something clean and casual will make you look more approachable than donning your Sunday best. Some couples coordinate well, wearing variations of the same color, but matching husband/wife Hawaiian shirts just make you look, well, kitschy. Oh, and leave the heavy hardware (expensive jewelry, Rolex, etc.) at home, too, please. Make “show and tell” about who you are, not what you have.
If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to the hospital to share in the birth experience, then definitely make sure you wear the most comfortable flat shoes you own. Take along a light sweater or wrap in case the A/C is cranked up to accommodate the mama who’s doing all the hard work. Do not (not, not) wear anything identifying yourself as a new parent or parent-to-be (surely, this goes without saying, right?) and don’t bring along an overnight bag, either, because every conscientious adopting parent knows that the potential birthparents need whatever time they have to be the baby’s parents and you cannot rightfully assume that role until after placement has occurred. (So also leave your diaper bag and car seat out in the car until after discharge, capisce?)
After two or more days of respectful hospital visits, when it’s time for placement to occur, you can wear whatever you like– but remember, there will be many photos taken on this day that you’ll treasure for life, so you’re going to want to tidy up just a little, so your child doesn’t question why you looked so trashed even before your first sleepless night as a new parent. (As excited as you may be to finally don the neon “I’m the Mom” and “I’m the Dad” tshirts your in-laws bought for this occasion, most of Abrazo’s birthparents and adoptive parents go out together to eat after placement, so you may find such a fashion statement to be a bit awkward, if not altogether insensitive.) Oh, and word to the wise: from now on, avoid monochrome solids like black and white, amd don’t leave the house without a burp cloth and wet wipes in your diaper bag for the next three years at least. Even if the baby’s staying home. (You’re welcome.)
After the baby’s been home with you for 6-12 months, you’ll get notice from Abrazo that it’s time to come back to finalize the adoption. This (at long last!) is Dress-Up Day! Even though your final court appearance is likely to be brief, this is definitely a proceeding for which you’ll want to “clean up good,” as we say here in Texas. Gentlemen, a shirt and tie and “nice pants” are required (no tshirts nor jeans, please!) although suits and boots are optional. Ladies will want to wear dresses, skirts or nice outfits, like what you would wear to church, a job interview or to a luncheon at the country club. And don’t forget to deck out the baby, too! Because even the judge will want to be photographed with your gorgeous little one, so dress him/her up (the baby, not the judge) and bring along a change of clothes for the baby, just in case a last-minute eruption makes a wardrobe swap necessary at the courthouse.
All the cool kids and their families come back for Camp Abrazo, so if you’re cool like that, then dress cool, because Texas’ dude ranches are hot in the summer! Camp wear is Western fare, swimsuits and clothes for horseback riding. Plus we’ll even give you a camp t-shirt for the group photo, just to say “thanks for coming,” so plan now to be one of those lucky Abrazofolks who amass a closetful of limited edition Abrazo tees. (They’re sure to be worth big bucks, someday!) Incidentally, very few of Abrazo’s tees bear the word “adoption” on them, because much as we believe in the concept, it’s important to remember that it’s every adoption triad member’s right to decide if and when to publicly share that experience.
And now, Dear Reader, you know what to wear to adopt, so get gussied up, and we’ll hope to see you back in these parts right quick!
He was internationally-recognizable as the playboy who lived in silk pajamas while making millions, but perhaps far fewer would recognize Hugh Hefner as birthfather– though it was also his title for a time.
Hugh Hefner passed away in California on September 27, 2017 at the age of 91.
In the years since he’d deployed as a soldier in love with his college sweetheart, Hugh Hefner had accomplished many things, some of them newsworthy (and some perhaps not.)
He had claimed to “saved himself” for marriage, only to learn that his beloved had had an affair while he was serving his country in World War II. Hugh Hefner and Mildred Williams married anyway, but as a result, the marriage was (sadly) off to a rocky start.
He remembered his wife’s confession as being devastating to him, and he admittedly retaliated by having numerous extramarital affairs, albeit with his wife’s knowledge. He used to joke that his favorite pickup line was “my name is Hugh Hefner.”
How Hugh Hefner became his kids’ birthfather
Hefner often bragged that he launched his own magazine, called Playboy, with $600 borrowed capitol. He began to build a reputation as a “man about town.” His marriage produced his first two children, a boy (David) and a girl (Christie).
But by the time his daughter was three and his son was one, Hugh had reportedly abandoned his children, for all intents and purposes.
The couple divorced in 1959, and Mildred Williams Hefner was left to raise the kids on her own. Hef did pay for music camp, according to reports, and sometimes sent limos so the kids could come play pinball at his mansion, but he wasn’t ever really into the whole daddy thing– nor did he ever regret all the years he’d missed.
As Hefner recounted to Vanity Fair in March of 2001: “I don’t enjoy parenthood as such. I don’t have a lot in common with children… I didn’t really want the children and didn’t plan them, but I accepted it simply as a part of life. But parenthood was not a natural thing to me, and it wasn’t to my parents, and I think you pass that on to some extent.”
Mildred married again, and at some point, Hugh Hefner’s parental rights were terminated, and the Hefner children were legally adopted by Mildred’s new husband, Chicago attorney Edwin Gunn.
As Christie recalled, she and her brother would occasionally see their birthdad Hugh Hefner for dinners, but it wasn’t until Edwin and Mildred separated years later that she and David reconciled with their birthfather, eventually opting to take his last name again.
One might surmise that the end of that adoption had been a painful parting. According to reports, Christie had long had issues with her adoptive father, but David had felt closer and kept his adoptive dad’s surname longer than did his sister.
And Edwin was said to have loved kids and was similarly adored by the families of his friends and associates. Edwin Gunn died of cancer in Florida in 2008 and his obituary stated simply “survived by many devoted friends, but no immediate family.”
Christie went on to work for Playboy Enterprises from 1982-2009 and became the CEO. Her brother David chose to stay out of the limelight, but both continued a loving family relationship with their birthdad until Hefner’s death this week.
The importance of leaving no one behind
Clearly, the resurgence of Hefner’s interest in his offspring was important to them, and beneficial to him, as well.
But there’s room, nowadays, for children to grow up enjoying lifelong connections with their adoptive dads, as well as their birthfathers.
Open adoption recognizes that adoptees benefit from the presence of both in their lives, and that neither relationship need be mutually-exclusive.
Just because a man may father a child doesn’t mean he’s necessarily well-qualified to “daddy” one, and not every man cut out to be a daddy can become a father biologically.
Still: fatherhood is an important calling, no matter how one comes to it and however one fulfills their role.
In the wake of his passing, we extend our condolences to the four surviving and known Hefner children, as we remember Hugh Hefner: as birthfather, as dad, as serial womanizer and as magnate.
The foundling was discovered on the back steps of the parsonage on a bright and sunny Sunday morning.
The pastor’s wife had just gone to let the dog out before getting breakfast on, when she spotted the butter box sitting there.
Thinking a parishioner may have left them a fresh loaf of banana nut bread or perhaps some homegrown apples for breakfast, she ventured down the steps towards the box, and then startled when she heard a tiny cry emitting from it.
“My heavens,” she exclaimed, discovering a tiny, hours-old newborn wrapped in a dirty kitchen towel. “You dear, sweet baby! Who could ever have left you here?”
She lifted the baby from the box as the dog sat panting at her feet and she hastened across the wet grass in her slippers and housecoat, calling urgently for her husband, who’d gone across the yard to ready the church for Sunday services.
She couldn’t know that just yards away, the mailman’s daughter hid behind the hedge, as surreptiously as she’d hidden her growing belly the last 9 months. She was weeping silently, knowing she’d done all she could– and yet knowing somehow that it would never (ever) be enough.
Decades ago, this was not an unusual scenario. Before there was The Pill, and before abortions became legal, “girls in trouble” as well as hyperfertile housewives sometimes gave birth in secret to children they knew they could not care for, and it was common practice across North America and Europe for anonymous parents to leave their young on doorsteps and in church vestibules and at various charitable institutions in the dark of night, in hopes that someone would take their baby in.
Abandoned Babies of Yesteryear
Could there have been any more sorrowful fate than to have been a foundling?
We don’t call children abandoned at fire stations or hospitals or in dumpsters “foundlings” anymore. (Now, they’re referred to as “abandoned babies” or “Safe Haven babies” or “Baby Moses rescues.”) For decades, however, desperate parents unable to care for their wee ones left them in boxes or baskets on doorsteps, at orphanages or charity hospitals called “foundling homes.”
Some wealthier citizens started the foundling homes in order to care for these unwanted youngsters and to save them from the elements. At the start of the last century, particularly in England and in the US on the east coast, foundling homes and orphanages were bursting at the seams.
Parents who turned their infants over to foundling home staff did not have to give their names; they simply snipped off a corner of their clothing, or kept a portion of their child’s clothing or blanket, so they could someday use it as a “coatcheck ticket” of sorts, if need be. In London, there’s even a museum exhibit displaying the memorabilia that was often left behind with foundlings there.
And yet, the era of the foundling did not end with the advent of the adoption agency. In 1965 in New Jersey, one year after an unsolved infant kidnapping from a local hospital, a one-year-old boy was found on a sidewalk. The FBI allowed the parents of the kidnapped baby to adopt him, presuming the two boys could be one and the same. At the age of 49, though, Paul Fronczak sought DNA testing, which revealed he was not his adoptive parents’ biological son. This modern day foundling was a missing child, though: after a lengthy search, he discovered he and his twin sister were the abandoned children of an abusive couple, now deceased. To this day, he has no idea what became of his twin, although he has located two of his four birthsiblings.
Abandoned Babies Today
Nowadays, when children are abandoned, no matter who finds them, they must be turned over to the State. (The first abandoned baby in Bexar County this year was found outdoors shortly after the New Year. And this week in Oklahoma, an abandoned baby was found in a car seat on the side of a highway with his birth certificate, social security card and over $5k in cash found with him.) In such cases, Child Protective Services and law enforcement launch a search for the missing parents, and the children are remanded to foster care for at least a year before the State can free them for adoption if their parents are unable to be found or unwilling to be responsible for them. The parents, if found, can be prosecuted, and any other children in their care may be removed as well. Yet the foundling is tragically forced to go through life often without any medical history, and with the sad legacy of knowing he or she was unwanted and left to die, by the very person who should’ve made safe plans for his or her future.
There is, quite simply, NO excuse for foundlings to exist in this day and age. Any parent who is unable to care for a child they have birthed (whether expectedly or unexpectedly) has the option of calling an adoption agency like Abrazo (210-342-5683) day or night to make adoption arrangements free of charge, or to contact 211 for other resources, programs and referrals.
Dr. Ian Palmer, is a British psychiatrist who specializes in infertility and childlessness, and who wrote the book “What to Expect when you’re Adopting.” He was himself a baby left in a phone booth in 1953. He never did find his birthparents, but he’s never quit wondering about them and he has always kept the baby blanket he was found in. Palmer was adopted by an emotionally-stunted adoptive couple who were unable to ever embrace him as their own, and today, he is in a relationship with an English artist, who is herself a birthmother in an open adoption.
His advice? “I do think adoption can be an act of conscious love. It’s so important to give someone a chance, but the parents also need help through it. It’s not just a case of having a little baby and it all being perfect. Don’t just take the child and run. Talk to people who can help, stay in contact.”
Let’s make the foundling a thing of the past– for the welfare of all children everywhere.
This is a special little thank you note, to all who follow Abrazo Adoption on Facebook.
Being more focused on social work than social media, Abrazo was a bit late to the party, so to speak.
Until March 7, 2016, our entire social media presence consisted of a single “people page” on Facebook under the name of Abrazo Adoption, which had 1408 friends.
At that point, though, Facebook informed us that any nonprofit organization such as Abrazo had to have a “business page” instead of a people page, and thus our “people page” had to be converted to a personal page bearing our director’s name instead.
We hated to lose that page, with all the convos and photos that had gone on there. But as is so often the case, the “change is gonna do you good“– and so it did.
In the 19 months since then, Abrazo’s number of Facebook followers has grown to nearly 8.2k.
We know there are other social media sites that matter, too; Abrazo now has accounts on Google+, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit, as well.
Yet when it comes to adoption, on Facebook is where our followers seem to make the biggest difference.
Thanks to you…
The vast majority of Abrazo’s Facebook fans, interestingly, are females under the age of 40, and our followers (male and female) are most active on Facebook between 4-9 pm.
Abrazo tries to update its Facebook content daily, and we make a point of trying to post a wide variety of adoption and parenting-related content, to keep things interesting.
Working in adoption, we know the strengths and weaknesses of the process, so we try to be forthright about adoption’s shortcomings as well as its benefits. We unapologetically support the need for adoption reform and we see it as our obligation to educate our community about this, as well– which may strike some as being negative, but the betterment of adoption as an institution is everyone’s duty.
Some of what we post is better received than other things we post, of course. Our baby product hacks post of 9/17/17 garnered only 136 views and 1 like (thanks, Carine!) Thirty of you posted condolences on our 8/24/17 notice of a Abrazo child’s passing; 285 reacted to our posts on September 8, and the adoptive parent profile and baby fever video we shared on July 20 got 366 positive reactions. You do seem to like the videos we produce; our hospital video of 7/14/17 got 56.k views (27k from Facebook), our Mother’s Day video of 5/11/17 got 54.5 views (16k from Facebook) and our birthmom video of 2/27/17 was seen by 43.8k (19K of which came from Facebook.)
Yet your support has way more impact than just feeding our little agency’s ego. Abrazo’s Facebook followers have been instrumental, over the past year, in helping to spread the word about the important (although yet unsuccessful) move to urge the Texas Legislature to pass laws honoring the civil rights of Texas-born adoptees to access their original birth certificates upon reaching adulthood.
And our Facebook followers have raised $2220 just this month, to help those within the Abrazo community who were victims of the recent hurricanes. (If that isn’t a beautiful example of folks “putting their money where their mouth is,” we don’t know what is?)
But perhaps the most important efforts of all have had to do with your assistance in helping to spread the word when we have special children in need of good homes. As of today (9/22/17), sixty-six loving souls have helped to share our blog post entitled “Prayers for a Baby,” about a special needs child for whom Abrazo is seeking a loving home, and as a result, that post has now organically reached 10,376 people, generating interest from several homestudied families, which could definitely make a huge difference in the future of this child and his birthmother.
So to all who have read that post and commented or shared it, thank you, thank you, thank you… from the bottom of our hearts.
How can you help?
And for anyone out there who is reading this and thinking “I’d be willing to do a good deed and help this little agency out, but I don’t know how?” here’s what you can do to help Abrazo, just in the time that you’re on Facebook on any given day of the week:
1) Please “like” the Abrazo Facebook page and suggest it to others by posting a positive (or 5 star) review on our page.
2) Don’t just read our posts or watch our videos– post comments on them and
3) Click “share” under our posts to post them to your own Facebook page.
Because whatever social media platform you prefer, your support does make a difference and we truly do appreciate your feedback, on behalf of the children and parents we serve.
So thank you for advocating for adoption on Facebook, and thank you for being part of Abrazo’s online community.
Here at Abrazo, we are lifting prayers for a baby, and we hope you’ll join us.
As his mother had cautioned us, the baby boy she birthed unexpectedly this week has a broken heart.
After getting a devastating prenatal diagnosis, she had concluded he “was not meant to be,” and she’d originally sought a late-term abortion.
Her hope was to spare him the pain of a life filled with hardship, hard as that decision was for her, being a loving parent already.
However, in Texas, abortions after 20 weeks are hard to find– and even harder to pay for. She couldn’t come up with a feasible plan, so she elected to continue the pregnancy and plan for adoption, instead.
The baby’s father knew of the pregnancy, but has had no involvement since the couple parted ways.
The baby’s mother is raising another young child on a fast food worker’s salary, thus parenting another child (especially with special needs) at this point in her life is not an option, she says.
She has no living parents, and no family members in a position to help.
She learned of Abrazo through an online search, and for weeks, we have been seeking a special needs family for the baby boy she was expecting next month.
However, he was born early, with complex congenital heart defects, and is expected to undergo several surgeries which will require him to be in the hospital for at least the first half year of his life.
The hospital is applying to get him his own Medicaid coverage, to offset the medical bills that are already accruing daily.
He may qualify for additional assistance, such as SSI and nonrecurrent adoption subidies, as well.
Special Needs Adoptions
But what he needs most is a loving family who can be there for him, to nurture him and love on him and be his everything… and despite the overwhelming numbers of couples seeking to adopt in the US these days, adoptive families for medically-fragile infants are hard to come by. (Note: stock photo.)
It’s easy to understand why, of course. Most adopting couples have endured great disappointments, hardship and personal tragedy in the course of infertility treatments and the fears that come with adopting a child with a complicated diagnosis seem too daunting a prospect.
Yet if adoption in its purest form is about providing homes for children who need them most, and if we truly believe in advocating for women who choose life instead of choosing abortion, then surely this tiny boy deserves to have an adoptive family to call his own?
As an adoption agency, Abrazo has long had a reputation for being the “patron saint of hopeless cases” and has always taken on the kind of cases that other agencies quickly refer elsewhere.
Over the past two decades, Abrazo (through the grace of God and the kindness of our supporters) has been able to place babies with Down Syndrome, and babies who were HIV positive. We have placed infants with catastrophic brain injuries and heart defects and cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
We have also sometimes helped parents who had intended to place instead find the courage and resources to parent, themselves.
Not everyone is qualified to become a special needs family; we know this. Yet by the same token, not everyone who thinks all they’re prepared to love is a healthy newborn is truly as limited as they think they are?
How You Can Help
If you know of a homestudied family who is prepared for special needs adoption and open to a hypoglycemic Anglo-Caucasian male newborn with complex CHD, HLHS and abdominal situs inversus, please have them forward their current homestudy to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
There are big decisions to be made for this little baby boy– some of which cannot be made until or unless somebody steps forward and agrees to be his parent(s).
Until then, he doesn’t even have a name to call his own.
Please keep this baby boy without a name in your prayers. Pray for him, for his birthparents, and for his medical team. Pray for the adoption agency that is trying to find him a loving home.
Please pray for whomever it is that is meant to be his family. They’re out there, somewhere.
And hopefully, as they are saying their prayers for a baby, they will be led to this child, who truly needs them just as much as they need him.
This weekend, news broke of a tragic death that has left two little girls with another mother gone.
September is national Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which makes the reported suicide of adoptive mother Michelle Rounds all the more poignant.
Michelle Rounds was just 46. Best known for her brief marriage to and contentious divorce from Rosie O’Donnell, Rounds had adopted her first daughter with O’Donnell and was reportedly forced to terminate parental rights to that child as part of the couple’s divorce settlement in 2016. Since then, she was said to have married another woman and adopted another little girl.
Our hearts go out to both children, to their birthfamilies, and to the family and friends of Michelle Rounds. We know that Ms. Rounds’ untimely passing leaves a compounded loss in the lives of all of them.
Don’t let suicide tragically destroy that which adoption can potentially fix
Adoption being so focused on new beginnings, it is understandable why we cringe at any discussion linking it with a tragic and painful end like suicide. The factors that lead to suicidal actions are varied and complex, but we know that mental health issues such as depression, substance abuse and genetics are leading causes; all of which are concerns in adoption, as well. Adoption does not cause suicide, of course, but for those who are emotionally-fragile to begin with, the losses so prevalent in the adoption process can pose special risks.
The adoption community shudders at the fact that adoptees are more likely to make suicide attempts, although those with open adoption can take comfort in the research that documents that high family connectedness is identified as a “protective factor” decreasing the likelihood of suicide attempts in all adolescents, whether adopted or not. (Curiously, international adoptees seem to be at lower risk for conduct disorders than domestic adoptees, although they are more prone to anxiety and depressive disorders than are non-adopted persons.)
Suicidal ideation can present a lethal risk for birthmothers, as well, when they are struggling with post-partum depression and post-placement grief and do not have adequate support from adoption professionals nor continued contact with their children’s adoptive families. One late mother who placed, only to be shut out by her chosen adoptive family, was Cindy Jordan, whose tragic post-placement suicide should serve as a cautionary tale for any adopting parents who may be approaching adoption as a means to their own ends and discounting the potential impact of broken promises. Amber Sanders, the American birthmom of a son adopted by Hugh Jackman and Deborah Lee Furness, likewise took her own life, after addiction and broken adoption promises destroyed her ability to hold out hope that things would get better for her.
And adoptive parents (although statistically the least likely triad members to succumb to suicidal thoughts,) are also subject to post-placement depression, of course. Homestudies do (or should) address whether or not adopting parents have family histories of mental illness and explore support systems and coping skills as a means of assessing how effectively any family may deal with the stressors of parenthood and adoption; however, adoption professionals should continue to carefully monitor adoptive family adaptation after placement– not just beforehand.
Four years ago, in Belarus, a highly-honored psychologist and adoptive mother named Katsyarnya Onakhava inexplicably took her own life, leaving her husband to fend for their 11 children. She had been the recipient of the coveted Order of Mothers prize, but found her efforts to promote foster care and adoption were leaving her feeling depleted, as she’d written in her blog, prior to her death: “I no longer have the strength to stand at the barricades, smiling and waving.”
If only these mothers had known they were not left to stand alone… and if only every adoptee, birthparent and adoptive parent knew there truly are better days ahead, when depression threatens to get the best of them!
Help for those feeling hopeless
It is essential that those whose lives have been touched by adoption know they are not alone, that there is support available when they feel unable to carry on, and that they know where to turn for help. The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255 and can be reached any hour of the day or night.
How can you help? Take the time to ask how someone is doing, and to listen without judgement. Learn what warning signs to look for, and contact authorities such as local police or suicide prevention organizations if you believe that someone you care about is at risk and has a plan for how they will take their own life. (For more helpful advice on preventing a family member or friend in crisis from harming themselves, click here.)
And if you are a birthparent or adoptive parent of a child who is at risk, please know that reaching out for help and telling someone that your son or daughter needs help does not make you a “bad parent”… rather, it means you’re one of the better parents out there, because you are willing to go the extra mile to help your child and keep them safe, no matter what.
All through September and in the months that follow, let’s dedicate ourselves to the cause of suicide prevention, within the adoption community and beyond it. After all, if doing so helps to save even one child from the sorrow of another mother gone, any efforts we can make will surely have all been well worth it.