Throwback Thursday: Waiting Family Group

On Thursday, November 9th 2017, Adoptions of Wisconsin held a Waiting Family Group for the families in our program. In the past, AOW has offered similar groups for open discussion, support and building connections in the adoption world. After inquires and encouragement from families in the program, we planned and offered this successful group!

The theme for our first waiting family group was "What to Do When Waiting Gets Tough". We invited Joanna Ivey, owner of Our Chosen Child, author of The Essential Guide to Adoption Outreach, adoptive parent and friend to AOW, to come speak at the meeting. She shared her personal adoption story, offered suggestions for increasing outreach efforts and gave tips for beating the waiting game. Joanna has a significant amount of experience with helping adoptive parents create successful profile booklets and manage their social media/outreach efforts. One of the main takeaways from Joanna's advice seemed to revolve around keeping yourself busy, especially after you've completed the home study and have become a family in the active program.

We also invited two families who have adopted through AOW recently to share their stories of how they coped with the wait and process. The open discussion format of the group prompted questions, laughs and even tears of joy. Both families had completely different stories, and it was encouraging to see that adoption can work in several ways, even if the path is not always free of twists and turns.

We are planning to offer quarterly waiting family groups with new topics for each group. The next, planned for February, is going to focus on transracial adoption. We are excited for our families to connect with staff and with each other! Thank you to everyone who attended and made our group a success.

Throwback Thursday: Interview with a Birth Mother

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Mandy* placed her son (Justin*) for adoption 11 years ago. She was 17 years old at the time of Justin’s birth and developed a strong relationship with Social Worker, Claire Schulz Bergman throughout the adoption process. Mandy has stayed in contact with Claire over the years for support, to check in about Justin and share interesting news about her life. She is currently parenting two beautiful children. Mandy agreed to speak with Claire about the impact that adoption has had on her life and to share what she learned about herself by going through the adoption process.


Q: First off, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for this blog post. I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since Justin was born! How often do you think of him?

A: I think about him every day. I wonder how he is, if he is healthy and how he is doing in school. I chose a semi-open adoption where I had contact with him the first year and then occasional pictures and letter updates about him after that. This is fine for me. I honestly don’t know if I could handle any more than that right now because I’m busy trying to parent my other children. I am open to him reaching out to me if he is interested in knowing more about me in the future, though.

Q: I know you wrote him a letter last year for the first time since he was born. What prompted you to do this?

A: I tried to write him a letter each year on his birthday since he was born, but I struggled with what to say. I would write a letter and then not send it because I didn’t know what to tell him. Last year I learned some information about my other children that I thought he should know and so I finally decided to send the letter I wrote. I also wanted him to know that I love him and hope that he is happy.

Q: Do you ever imagine what he thinks about you?

A: Yes. I wonder if he hates me. When I really think about it, I’m sure he doesn’t. I was able to get to know his parents before he was born and I was able to tell them my reasons for choosing adoption. I was 17 when he was born; I wasn’t ready to be a parent. His parents know that I did adoption because I wanted the best for him. I believe this is what they tell him if he asks.

Q: What did you learn about yourself by going through the adoption process?

A: How strong I was …am. I am proud of myself that I was actually able to do all the things I’ve done since Justin was born. Everybody thought that I was going to drop out of high school, but I graduated. I sunk into a depression after Justin’s birth for a lot of reasons: I was post-partum, my mom got divorced, my housing was unstable, but I had the strength to push through and the willingness to move forward. I’m really proud of that.

I really feel that doing adoption was a positive experience. In hindsight, I realize that the struggle and self-doubt that came after placing him was important for me to go through because it changed me as a person. I have more confidence in myself now and I know I can do hard things, because I already did one of the hardest things in my life.

Q: What was the most helpful thing for you during your pregnancy and Justin’s adoption?

A: The support from my mom and grandmother. They supported me through everything, especially my grandmother. I could call and talk to her about anything. They would check in with me to make sure I was still doing what I thought was best and I knew that they would support me with whatever my decision was. They were also there for me after he was born, when I was so sad. They really helped me through that hard time.

It also helped to get to know Justin’s parents. They’re really nice and I felt good about him going with them. You also helped a lot. You were there whenever I had questions and you never pushed me to do adoption.

Q: What advice would you give to other expectant parents considering adoption?

A: Follow your gut. Ask questions. Seek help. Find someone who has gone through this before and talk to her. Chances are, whatever you’re feeling is normal and hearing someone say “yeah, me too” will help you feel better.


*names have been changed for confidentiality

Throwback Thursday: Hollie

This week for Throwback Thursday we are featuring our Administrative Assistant, Hollie!

Bright and early

Bright and early

Hollie was born and raised in a small town in southern Wisconsin. She is the oldest of eight children in her family – all biological to her wonderful parents! She has four sisters and three brothers, who range in age from eighteen to one. Hollie loves spending time with her family on the weekends as she lives across town from the home she grew up in. She spent her childhood rollerblading, playing in the sprinkler and reading books.

Hollie attended college at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and graduated last December with her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. She came to work for AOW as an Administrative Assistant in January 2017, and is currently attending classes to obtain her Social Work License.

With her sister, Savannah

With her sister, Savannah

At the flower shop with her sister, Carissa

At the flower shop with her sister, Carissa

Hollie loved lollipops!

Hollie loved lollipops!

Throwback Thursday: Katie and Jake in Greece

This week's Throwback Thursday features the travel adventures of one of our waiting families, Katie and Jake!

Katie and Jake became an official waiting family in AOW's Active Outreach Program in June of 2017. Also in June, Katie and Jake traveled across the Atlantic to visit Greece!

While in college, Katie studied abroad in Athens. She has been anxiously waiting for the day that she would be able to take Jake to the beautiful country of Greece to visit the places that have meant so much to her. Katie and Jake visited Athens, Santorini and Crete while abroad. Pictured above, Katie and Jake are seated in front of the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens! They spent their time exploring the cities, wandering the streets and enjoying each other's company. Katie and Jake hope to instill a sense of adventure in their future child and cannot wait to go on vacations as a family of three!

Throwback Thursday: Megan

Throwback Thursday is here again and this week we are featuring AOW Social Worker, Megan! Megan has been working with Adoptions of Wisconsin for over five years, first as the Administrative Assistant and now as a Social Worker. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Social Work.

Before she moved to Wisconsin and started working for AOW, Megan was born and raised in West Virginia. She lived in the country and spent most of her childhood outside playing in the woods. She enjoyed riding four wheelers and going hunting. In 2010, Megan moved to Wisconsin and decided to pursue Social Work. We are definitely happy that she did, because we are blessed to have her as a part of our team!

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Throwback Thursday: Blake's Second Birthday!

Happy Belated Birthday to Blake, who turned two on August 15th!


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Blake was born on August 15, 2015 and her adoption was finalized on March 15, 2016. Blake and her dads celebrated her second birthday with friends and family. Blake enjoyed a decorative pink cake that ended up squished between her fingers and all over her dress rather than in her tummy! Blake's dads report that she is quite the talker, and is growing up to be very independent. Blake continues to thrive in her forever home with her adoptive parents.

Birthday Wishes and Throwback Thursday: John

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Today's Throwback Thursday accompanies a warm welcome to our newest employee, John! John has been hired to fill a part-time Website and Marketing Administrator position with Adoptions of Wisconsin. He began working with us about a month ago and his duties include maintaining our website and managing new marketing campaigns. It won't be a toddler running our website and marketing, however, as John is much older and a more experienced employee than his throwback photos indicate! We are very excited to have him on our team and are excited for the talents he will bring to AOW.

As an added plus, today is John's 22nd birthday. Happy Birthday and welcome to AOW, John!

Throwback Thursday: Claire

AOW is joining in the Throwback Thursday tradition!


As you enjoy your own summer vacations, take a look back at this throwback photo of AOW's Executive Director and Social Worker, Claire, and her siblings on their summer vacation in Canada when she was growing up. Claire's sister and brother were both brought into her family through adoption and she can't imagine life without them. Adoption made Claire's family complete and now she works hard to make AOW's families' dreams come true.