Fifteen very short years ago, my husband and I began the home study process with the hope of adopting our first child. We met with Meg Sterchi, Founder and Executive Director of Adoptions of Indiana, and our lives were forever changed. Today, I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work with many prospective adoptive families. During our most recent, “Journey As Adoptive Parents” seminar, I spoke with a gentleman, and during that conversation I became acutely aware of how much adoption has changed since my own journey.
The changes start at the very beginning of the process. For example, my husband and I did not pop on Google and browse websites. We did not download pdf files, nor did we enter any a portal to submit documents. We met with friends who were parents through adoption, we made an appointments, and watched videos VHS tapes. We sat face-to-face exchanging paperwork with our caseworker, and we used the US Postal Service. To say that technology has dramatically influenced adoption practices at every phase of the process is an understatement. When we created our profile books to be shared with expectant parents, I scrapbooked each and every one of them. Hours were spent cutting pictures, rounding corners, finding stickers, and tying ribbon. Today’s prospective adoptive parents make beautiful books using online photo sites. Their profiles are made public on websites and expectant parents have access to their information twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In our home, we had a landline phone set-up to receive calls, which we would have forward to a large, cellular flip phone when we were out. Following placement, we mailed packets of pictures with our updates. Today’s families utilize sharing sites and blogging to share updates and keep in touch with birth families near and far. Text and e-mail correspondence has become the norm. Skype, Facetime, and other apps have made it possible for families to “see” one another when geography might otherwise have prevented it. Truly the changes are remarkable.
The use of technology is not the only change that has occurred. Adoptions today are a great deal more open than they were even 15 years ago. Relationships developed before birth often continue post-placement and blossom into modern families in many cases. In fact, 65% of adoptions today are considered to be “open” where identifying information is shared and direct communication occurs. In 2000, research was still being conducted to discover the impact of openness on the lives of all members of the adoption triad. We did not fully understand benefits to children, birth families, and adoptive families in the capacity we do today. Now, we recognize that while openness does not repair the loss, when child-centered, it does give children a deeper understanding of who they are and eases their mind about facts that may have otherwise been a mystery. It is true that a change in behavior begins with a change in the heart.
While we were well prepared for adoption, the families who participate in Adoptions of Indiana’s educational seminars today are even more prepared than we were. To spend time with our families is a treasure. The questions being asked, the depth of conversation, and the thoughtfulness of our prospective adoptive families today excites me. There is a deep desire understand and honor birth parents, to learn more about the needs of their children, and to continue as life long learners as they journey through parenthood. Meaningful, supportive, enlightening relationships are the hallmark of this generation of prospective adoptive families. This is one of the most beautiful changes of all.
We are still registering students for our Adoption Connection Club and our Equipped and Empowered program. Both will be taking place this June! For more information, or to register, please call our office at (317) 574-8950. Hope to see you there!
Equipped and Empowered for Middle School
Equipped and Empowered for High School