Welcome

Brittany's-Birthmom-Blog-HeaderBrittany’s Blog will be a place where birth parents can learn from each other. Facing an unplanned pregnancy  can be stressful. The hope is that by sharing experiences and feelings, we can make this time less stressful and more supported. Here is Brittany’s journey through the decision to make an adoption plan.  We hope you’ll check in regularly.

Here are our current posts:

The Journey of “Hope”

Hope Arrives

A TRIBUTE TO ALL BIRTHMOTHERS ON THEIR SPECIAL DAY!

Every year, on a special day in May, we celebrate Mother’s Day. For many of us, that celebration may never have been possible without the privilege and honor given to us by the Birthmothers of our children. On the Saturday BEFORE Mother’s Day, we celebrate BIRTHMOTHER’S DAY and remember the women who gave us the ultimate gift of becoming a Mother! So, to the very special and loving Birthmothers that have touched my heart over the last 35+ years and to the Birthmothers who are part of my family, I remember you and you will always have a special place in my heart.

Just last week, a woman named “Laura” asked to ‘friend’ my husband Sam on Facebook. We both looked at her picture and were fairly certain she was the Laura we came to know and love over 35 years ago when she made an adoption plan for her daughter. Sure enough, we were right and were instantly reconnected. Laura told us she knows she made the right decision all those many years ago. What a beautiful lady that we will always love and respect.

Laura is just one of the special Moms who make the meaning of the word “Mother” so special. These very special mothers made the hardest and most selfless decision of their lives when they chose life and adoption, when they made a plan for their child’s future and placed their child above their own feelings. That for sure is the ultimate sacrifice any MOTHER can make.

To all the Birthmoms that may be reading this, thank you for the gift of your child into our lives. In our hearts, there will always be a very special place for you because without you, our dreams of becoming a “Mommy” may never have come true. We will always share the pride that we have in our children with you because you will always be part of who they are. When someone says “Happy Mother’s Day,” I am always reminded of all of the Loving Birthmothers who will always have a special place in my heart.

Giving Up Your Baby for Adoption

When Baby Hope was born, her new parents and I shared precious time together in the hospital but, eventually, the time came for me to be discharged. This meant Baby Hope would be discharged too; not into my arms but, instead, into the arms of her new family. It was time… time to move on with my life and time to remember the reasoning behind my decision of giving my baby up for adoption.  I had to stay strong. I would always be a mother to my two little boys at home and the Birth Mother to my daughter, Baby Hope.

Options After The DeliveryGiving Baby Up For Adoption

After the delivery, there is a period of time when the adoptive parents had to remain in Michigan awaiting my court date and then approval to go home. About a week after discharge, I would attend a short hearing and formally state I wanted the adoption to go forward. As these days loomed forward, I was given the choice of whether or not to spend more time with Hope and her new parents. Our ‘together time’ in the hospital was precious, but now, I had another decision to make which I contemplated a lot, even before she was born. I wanted to be sure I made the best and healthiest decision for everyone involved. So many questions swirled in my head and my heart. Will more time with Hope after her discharge put my mind into an unhealthy state? Would I be more upset afterwards because I would fall in love with her even more? Will her new adoptive parents be uncomfortable or even scared or nervous about how I would react?

My options were many.  I could have said my goodbyes at the hospital. But Bill, Joan, and I had developed a much better relationship than that and I knew seeing them would be good for all of us. We had become so close and our time together was precious. They were like family to me. I trusted them completely and I wanted to be sure that they knew they could always trust me too. I knew deep down I would regret it if I did not spend this special time with them. Once I knew for sure that they were okay with this, we visited each other every other day during this waiting period. We did a lot together. We would go to dinner, have lunch, and we even played outside with my boys. During that special week, we made memories that all of us will cherish forever. Joan was so caring, always checking to see how I was doing. Joan encouraged me to help when things needed to be done for Hope and it was an honor to feed her, and change her diaper. It was also a great feeling to look at Joan and see how she too was so much in love with Hope. It was also reassuring to me to witness what a great mother she was.

During this special time, I embraced all of my blessings and, while I was still sad, I knew the reasons I chose adoption were more important than the pain I also felt. With each passing day until the court hearing, my heart hurt a little more. My counselors at ANA explained this was to be expected but that pain was now a reality. Even so, I know in my heart that my whole adoption experience was a blessing. I am a woman of faith and after prayer, I felt peace and comfort in knowing I was doing the work of the Lord. That Peace surrounded me with the assurance that my daughter was with the family I chose for her, my boys were safe with me and my heart would always hold all three of them close. God gave me the peace I needed. Adoption has blessed my life, the life of Baby Hope and Bill and Joan. I know they’re the parents the Lord intended for my daughter.

Choosing The Parents Of Your Baby

In the beginning of my pregnancy I wondered how my search would evolve. I prayed a lot for a couple who would have hearts to match mine and who shared my values. After finding ANA Adoptions and talking with Andrea, I realized there is much beauty to adoption too. What stands out most of all, is that I was able to choose the adoption plan that felt right for me. Andrea sent me many adoption profiles to review but Bill and Joan’s book drew me in. I read about their lives as children and I learned about their families. I read about their married life and their dreams for a child. They tugged at my heart and I kept going back, drawn by their photos and drawn by their promises.

You too can choose the parents of your baby and work out the time you get to spend with your baby, the pictures you will receive and ongoing relationships are possible. It’s not you against them, it’s you WITH them. In the end, there are never too many people to love one child. I am blessed that Hope has a wonderful life – the one that I planned for her. I will never stop loving her and I know that Bill and Joan will never stop loving her either. How amazing is that! How amazing is trust and faith! How amazing is adoption when it’s done because of love . . .

Staying In Touch With Your Child’s Birthmom: Tips For Your Updates

Once a year I sit down and write a letter to the Birthmother of each of my children. I made this agreement when my daughter and son were born. Yes, it takes time to organize my thoughts, gather the pictures, get them printed, write the letter and mail out the packet. I live up to this commitment because I feel it is the least I can do for the woman who helped make my dreams of being a Mom come true. Does receiving an update matter to their Birthmoms ? Absolutely! I know this because they’ve told me what joy it brings to them to read about the child that they made an adoption plan for and whose care they entrusted to my husband and me. Now that I work at ANA Adoptions, I see how thankful birthmoms are to receive letters, pictures and updates of these loved children. Knowing that the child they gave birth to is growing, learning and living in a stable and loving home reaffirms their adoption decision and gives them peace.

Here is a list of information I include in our yearly letter. Remember, send clear pictures (at least 8) of your child that they can cherish. I include some images in the body of my letter too, but that’s the marketing/graphics person in me!

  1.  Talk about how our child is growing and the kind of person they are and are growing into
  2.  Overview of our child’s interests – arts, sports, music, friendships, etc.
  3.  Child’s Health – well visit updates, growth, health issues, new foods eaten
  4.  School or developmental progress
  5.  Other activities/interests in more detail
  6.  What we do each season (activities each season, Halloween, Christmas, Festivals, camps, vacations, etc.) and upcoming plans. We also talk about our kids’ birthday celebrations
  7.  Relationship with their sibling
  8.  Encourage them to write back as it is important for you to keep contact for health updates and for your child, either now or in the future, and to know that their birthmom thought about them
  9.  Closing – reaffirm that their adoption decision was a good one and what a blessing “our” child is to all around them
  10.  Hand sign the letter, and when old enough, have your child sign it too

Keeping our child’s Birthmom informed is a small thing that I can do considering how much their adoption choice blessed my life.

There is another benefit of these yearly updates that someone pointed out to me years ago. They said that my children have a wonderful record of their growing up. There are photos and a detailed story of what happened throughout the year for them to read about in the future. I read the letters to my daughter and son every now and then, and they do enjoy hearing about their past. I too enjoy reading back over the letters; it lets me relive many of the milestones – big and small – of their childhood!

Hope Arrives

Brittany's Birthmom BlogHope Arrives

I guess you could call it “Mother’s Intuition.” When I opened my eyes from a difficult sleep, I knew this day was the day my baby girl Hope would make her grand appearance. Initially, I did not share with anyone that I may (or may not) be in labor, because I had experienced false labor for weeks now. But, today was different and I began to prepare myself emotionally in a way that had played over and over in my mind ever since the day I decided to make an adoption plan with ANA Adoptions. Continue reading

The Journey of “Hope”

Brittany's Birthmom BlogThe Journey of “Hope”

I had dreamed of being a mother since I was a child. I always knew deep down I would be good at it and I’d love every moment of motherhood. The day I found out I was pregnant with baby Hope, I had different feelings than when I was pregnant with my first two children. This unplanned pregnancy was a surprise, as I was in an uncommon situation. As time passed and my belly grew, I began to weigh the option of adoption. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Birthmoms

Birthmother Adoption ServicesAs a kid, I grew up bouncing from one relative’s home to another’s because my parents had their own issues and couldn’t provide for me. It wasn’t long before I realized I was headed down the same road as my mom –toward a destination that definitely wasn’t good! When I became pregnant a few years ago, my heart told me that I should keep my child, but I knew that this baby deserved a better life than the one I had or what I could provide. I would not abort but give her the gift of life through adoption. I saw an ad in our paper, and called the number.   Andie answered in the middle of the night and spent lots of time talking to me and going over my options. I received profiles of waiting families and found the perfect couple to become the parents of my baby. Continue reading

The Adoption Tax Credit Survives

Andrea and I were fortunate to be invited as guests by then President Bill Clinton to the White House to witness the first signing of the Adoption Tax Credit bill in August, 1997. Since then, it has had its ups and downs, and was set to go out of existence at the end of 2012. However, as Congress debated whether to let the economy go over the fiscal cliff, cooler heads prevailed and the adoption tax credit was made permanent, effective January2, 2013, as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The adoption tax credit is available to adoptive parents in the year that the adoption becomes final, and is reimbursement for qualified adoption expenses. These include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, agency fees, traveling expenses (including amounts spent for food and lodging while away from home), and for any expenses directly related to the principal purpose of the legal adoption of the eligible child. An eligible child is a child under the age of 18 years old, or be physically or mentally incapable of himself or herself. If you adopt a special needs child, you are able to claim the entire credit, even if your expenses do not meet or exceed the threshold. Further, you will not need to document actual expenses for a special needs child. Continue reading

What Is An Open Adoption?

Adoption Plan: Open AdoptionYears ago, most adoptions in the US were considered closed adoptions, which means no identifying information was exchanged between the biological parents and the adoptive family. Only agencies and the courts retained the personal records. Fortunately, over time and especially in the last few years, adoption has evolved and open adoptions are now the norm. These days, in 99% of adoptions through ANA, everyone meets each other; names, phone numbers and email addresses are shared. It is only a closed adoption if this is what the birthmother requests and, again, that is very rare! Continue reading

Are You Asking Yourself the Important Questions?

Are You Asking Yourself the Important Questions? Have you ever had to deal with tons of unsolicited advice and un-asked-for opinions while going through one of the most difficult times in your life? If you are contemplating an adoption plan for your baby, you will probably be subjected to everything from “ that’s an honorable choice” to “it’s a mistake!”   The nurse in your doctor’s office may offer praise for the unselfish decision you are making. A friend in school might tell you that you’ll regret it.   Your own family may promise to help if you “keep it” and the father of the baby may say he’d rather if you just got rid of it! Just what you need – others telling you what to do! YOU are the only person who really understands what lies ahead of you and what you are feeling!

Ask yourself the questions listed below as you think about the options you have for your child:

  • What are your immediate and long-term goals in life? Remember, parenting is a life-long commitment.
  • If still in school, how important is it to finish? Did you ever dream of a new career?
  • How will bringing another child home from the hospital impact your life and, more importantly, the lives of other children that you may already be parenting?
  • Will you be able to rely on family to help or is there daycare available so you can go back to work? How will you pay for that?
  • Will the father of the baby help to support this child – will you continue to have a relationship with him?
  • What is your relationship with your parents, and the parents of the baby’s father?
  • What emotional and financial support can you rely upon?
  • How would you feel if you found an adoptive family who could provide a stable future and solid foundation in life for your child?
  • What kind of family network do they have in place?
  • Is your decision to parent all about how YOU feel?   Or, is your decision based on your baby and his or her future?

Think about these questions as they may help you make up your mind to either parent your child or to make an adoption plan.  If you do choose adoption, you can be sure that those who make an adoption plan in the best interest of their children ARE GOOD MOTHERS! Hold your head up high – you deserve admiration and respect from not just the adoptive family, but also from your own family and friends.

Post Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA)

Several years ago, the Pennsylvania legislature enacted several amendments to the Pennsylvania Adoption Code, one of which now allows for an option for adoptive parents and birth parents, and certain of their relatives, to enter into voluntary agreements for ongoing communication or contact between themselves and the adopted child. These agreements must be subject to approval by the court prior to or at the finalization of the adoption.

In order for the Post Adoption Contact Agreement (commonly referred to as a “PACA”) to be legally enforceable it must be in writing. Additionally, if the child is 12 years of age or older, the child must also consent to the agreement.

Prior to the enactment of this legislation, similar agreements, whether oral or written, were legally unenforceable in the event that the adoptive parents refused to abide by the terms of the agreement. The court approved PACA now allows for either party to enforce the agreement by court action, but the court is only able to order that the parties carry out the terms of the agreement. No monetary damages are allowed. Further, before a court will enforce a PACA it must determine that the party seeking enforcement is substantially in compliance with the agreement and that the agreement continues to serve the best interest of the child.

Once approved, only the adoptive parents, or the child if over the age of 12 years, may petition the court to modify the agreement. Further, the agreement can only be modified with less contact than in the original PACA. Any of the parties can petition to discontinue the PACA, and by law, unless agreed to otherwise, any PACA will cease at 18 years of age.

A PACA can benefit all parties in an adoption, by allowing birth families to stay in contact with the adoptive family. Contact can be as little as pictures and letters over the years, or as much as visits with the child. PACA’s are tailored to each individual situation, and there is no boilerplate agreement for anyone. There can be as little or as much contact as the parties wish.

Where there is a possibility of an adoption, PACA’s can be an extremely beneficial tool for both birth parents and adoptive parents involved. However, you should proceed with caution in creating such an agreement, and at all times, an attorney should be consulted.

Samuel C. Totaro, Jr., Esquire, Curtin and Heefner, LLP  resizedimage120150-photo2www.curtinheefner.com

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