Too Cute Tuesday: Welcome Baby Harlow

Haley and Noah brought home their newest family member on the last day of September. They had been waiting for the perfect match and after meeting with their daughter's birth parents, they knew that the situation was the right one for all of them.

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Harlow was born on September 10, 2017, and she has been thriving in the care of Haley, Noah and her big brother, Jason since placement. The family of three grew to four just over a month ago, and the time spent together has been precious. AOW Social Worker and Executive Director, Claire, could tell that there was an emotional connection between the adoptive parents and the birth parents at their first meeting. Haley and Noah have an open relationship with Harlow's birth mother and father and are hoping to continue communication with both of them in the future.

The family of four is spending quality time together following placement of Harlow in their home. When we asked for an update, Haley gushed about their newborn daughter. "The first few weeks after bringing Harlow home have been everything we had hoped for. She is happy, healthy and strong, and has just started to give big smiles. Harlow's five-year-old brother, Jason, is completely smitten with "his baby", as he calls her. We are already seeing her growing and changing in this short time and we cannot wait to see what comes next for our beautiful baby girl!"

AOW Social Worker, Megan, is completing post placement visits with the family and will continue to get photo updates as the months to finalization approach. We feel humbled to have been a small part of the adoption journey that brought Haley, Noah, Jason and Harlow together as a family.

Too Cute Tuesday: Sweet Ella

Sweet baby Ella is already 5 months old! Today's Too Cute Tuesday feature is Ella. She was previously celebrated on our website and Facebook for her Adoption Day!

Ella's birth situation was unique, as it was an interstate-independent adoption. Her birth mother had previously placed her first baby with adoptive parents, Nicole and Dan. After she learned she was pregnant again, she decided that she would love for Ella to be placed with her brother and be raised by Nicole and Dan in the same environment. The adoptive parents decided to match with her, and Ella's future unfolded quickly. After a whirlwind couple of weeks dealing with paperwork and ICPC processes (the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children), Ella and her family left Wisconsin and returned home. Although the ICPC process is long, it is necessary and provides the same protections and rights to children who are entering and leaving Wisconsin, as those who live in our state.

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Today, Ella is doing more wonderful than ever! She just turned five months old on October 16th and her family is cherishing every moment they spend with her. Her mother, Nicole, commented that Ella's smile lights up her whole face. She is just now sleeping through the night (Nicole and Dan are so glad!) and is learning how to roll over. She's close to being able to sit up on her own, wobbling just a bit. Her favorite person to see is her big brother. She loves to watch his every move and they are sure to be best friends.

Ella is getting in the spirit of Halloween, ready to celebrate her first of this sweet holiday! We are glad to see Ella's development as she gets cuter with every passing day.

Ella is getting in the spirit of Halloween, ready to celebrate her first of this sweet holiday! We are glad to see Ella's development as she gets cuter with every passing day.

Will Our Child Have To Go Into Foster Care Before Being Adopted?

Many birth parents and adoptive parents wonder whether their child will have to go into foster care after birth and before the hearing. The good news is that foster care in this situation is no longer required. It is up to the birth parents and adoptive parents.

Adoptive families who have completed a home study and received a pre-adoptive foster care license are able to take the baby home from the hospital if the expectant birth parents feel comfortable with them doing so. Adoptions of Wisconsin social workers work with expectant birth parents to create a hospital plan that outlines an expectant birth parent’s thoughts and decisions regarding her time at the hospital and her decisions regarding her baby’s care. The hospital and the adoptive family are provided a copy of the hospital plan prior to the baby’s birth. Adoptions of Wisconsin social workers are available to provide counseling and support to both birth parents and adoptive parents during this time.

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

Too Cute Tuesday: Neiko

Happy Too Cute Tuesday! Today we are featuring the almost one-year-old, Nicholas, who is a couple short weeks away from his first birthday! Affectionately nicknamed "Neiko" by his family, he is a preciously handsome 11-month-old baby who has had many new experiences and felt much love during his first year. His parents, Jim and Michelle, are beyond joyful to have Neiko in their lives and they love sharing his milestones with all their friends and family.

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Neiko was born on November 7, 2016. His parents were so excited to learn about his birth and worked with Adoptions of Wisconsin for home study and post placement services. AOW Social Worker and Executive Director, Claire, worked with the family of three during post placement and she adored getting updates from smiling Neiko and his parents. Always smiling and having great things to say about their son, Claire was impressed by the level of care that Jim and Michelle have consistently shown Neiko.

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Neiko has grown into an adventurous young toddler who loves to play and listen to songs. He is constantly crawling around the house, climbing on things and getting into trouble, and Jim and Michelle think he's very close to beginning to walk! He stands himself up on furniture and other objects, but just won't take that first step. Neiko is also a talker- Michelle says that he says "Dada" reliably and "Mama" if he's in a cooperative mood.

Neiko's favorite thing to eat is raspberries! He also loves going for walks outside, playing with his cousins and clapping and singing along to some tunes. Michelle can't help herself from sharing photos of Neiko and gushes that she can talk about her son all day. Above all, Michelle says, Neiko's most favorite activity is bath time!

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This big guy is turning 1-year-old early next month and we can't wait to celebrate his birthday.

"We Keep Coming Back to Wisconsin"

The majority of the waiting families that Adoptions of Wisconsin works with reside in the state of Wisconsin, but one family in our active outreach program lives in Washington D.C. Scott and Patrick have expressed high motivation and intention throughout the adoption process, and feel a very strong connection to our state. Many members of their families reside here and they are often traveling to and from their home to visit and are always cheering on the Green Bay Packers. Patrick and Scott have been a pleasure to work with as they are always timely, responsive and optimistic when communicating with us about the adoption process. Scott and Patrick have been kind enough to write up a blog post for us about why they continue to pursue adoption through our agency and we are excited to share their story.

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"We keep coming back to Wisconsin:

When we first decided to adopt, our adoption attorney suggested we interview a few agencies, and choose an agency we "connected" with.  After speaking with four different agencies in a week, there was no question Adoptions of Wisconsin was our first choice.  With a large family in Wisconsin, who we visit often, we've always felt a strong connection to the state and feel aligned with the personalities and values of the people who live there.  In our initial conversations with Hollie, Claire, and Megan, we immediately felt like part of the AOW family.  They were so kind, informative, and responsive to our questions and concerns.  And that same kindness has been shown to us throughout our time with their agency.

We keep coming back to Wisconsin:

Shortly after we were in the "active" pool of adoptive parents with AOW, we received news of a match from another agency that put us over the moon.  We called the ladies of AOW to let them know our good news, and while on the phone, we asked several questions of them, and hung up with more knowledge, and well wishes.  We almost felt guilty to be placed via another agency.  Adoptions of Wisconsin had been our choice from the beginning, but we could not pass up this opportunity to start our family.  During the process with the other agency, Megan would check with us periodically to make sure all was going well.  We know this was out of pure goodness, and we appreciated their concern.  Ironically, we felt AOW communicated with us more during this match period, than the other agency did.

We keep coming back to Wisconsin:

About a month before our son was to be born, the birth took place.  The birth mother decided due to the complicated birth, she would raise the child herself.  Our hearts were broken.  We grieved...but we knew what we had to do.  We called Adoptions of Wisconsin a few days later, and spoke with Megan.  We told her what had happened, and I am not sure who felt worse, her or us.  This again goes to show you the depth of the goodness that these ladies, and Adoptions of Wisconsin has for families like us, and birth mothers in need.  We received more words of encouragement, more counseling, and more support from AOW, than we did from the other agency.

We keep coming back to Wisconsin:

After grieving the "almost" adoption, we decided to focus on what is important to us, one more time.  Our family.  Our family is in Wisconsin, therefore, to us, it makes perfect sense to adopt from this state, despite being a 14 hour car ride away, we keep coming back to Wisconsin.  Just like the team at AOW, our family gives us the support, guidance, and love we need to live our lives, and raise our family.  We will always come back to Wisconsin, and we hope that soon, we will have a son or daughter through Adoptions of Wisconsin, to give us one more great reason to keep coming back to Wisconsin."

- Patrick and Scott, AOW Waiting Family

 

A huge thank you to Patrick and Scott who took the time to write this thoughtful post. We are excited for them to continue their adoption journey and hope that they are visiting often with the holidays quickly approaching!

 

 

Too Cute Tuesday: Four-Month-Old Ben

It has been too long since we featured the perfect, adorable baby Ben on our AOW Blog and Family Gallery. Ben is now four-months-old and is loving all the camera time his mom and dad give him!

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The above photo is Ben celebrating his three-month birthday with a "fist bump" to growing older! His mom loves posing him in his daily outfits and Ben loves to show off. He likes going on trips to Costco because he gets to look at all the pretty lights. Below is Ben with his dad in Costco.

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Ben was born on June 7, 2017 and has been a joy in his parent's lives in the four months that they have been raising him. AOW Social Worker, Megan, has been completing the post placement visits with Heather, Steve and Ben. When asked about the family of three, Megan gushed about their openness, honesty and genuine natures, "Heather and Steve are completely in love with Ben and are always excited to talk to me about his new skills and changes. I always observe Ben to be a laid-back, easy-going baby who fits in perfectly with his parents. I feel lucky to have worked both with Ben's birth mother and Ben's adoptive parents. I know Ben's birth mom is grateful to Heather and Steve for how open they've been with her."  Heather and Steve have always expressed interest in getting to know Ben's birth mother and they continue to be open to communication in the future in whatever capacity makes her feel comfortable.

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Ben's mother, Heather, loves talking about her son. When we asked for an update about their lives together, she said, "Ben has brought so much joy to our lives. Our hearts are so full now. I love the simplest moments with him throughout the day: talking, singing, exploring his toys, seeing him grow and develop new skills every day. Steve loves early morning rockings and snuggles with him before work. Ben is truly perfect in every way and we feel so lucky that we were chosen to be his parents."

Too Cute Tuesday: Baby S

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On October's first Too Cute Tuesday, we happily introduce Baby S! This remarkably adorable infant was born on May 19, 2017, and she just celebrated her four-month-old birthday in September. Baby S has had many experiences early in her life. After birth, AOW received a call from a local hospital stating that a baby had been born and she was to be placed for adoption. Soon after, Baby S was discharged from the hospital into the home of foster parents who are licensed through Adoptions of Wisconsin. She spent a few weeks with the foster couple while our Social Workers contacted the prospective adoptive family and prepared to place Baby S in their home. After a whirlwind first few weeks in this world, she was placed with her forever family.

Baby S has since been thriving in the care of her adoptive parents. She is even blessed to have an older brother who dotes on her daily! She has brought so much laughter and joy into the lives of her adoptive family. A few of her favorite things are going for walks around their neighborhood, playing and interacting with her big brother and being read to by her parents.

When we asked about Baby S, her parents gushed about her. "She just turned four months old and her personality just keeps getting more defined with every passing day. She is such a little sweetheart. She is quite easy going, but is also opinionated and adept at letting us know what she needs and wants. She has the most adorable smile and her giggle is irresistible."

AOW Social Worker, Claire, is performing the monthly post placement visits with the family of four, and we cannot wait to see Baby S grow and develop into an even cuter infant and toddler. We are so happy to be a part of your adoption journey!

An Interview With Birth Parents

Background: Jessica is 5 months pregnant and due in January. She and Michael are making this adoption plan together. They are already parenting two small children and decided that they can’t afford to take care of any more children. They are matched. Adoptions of Wisconsin's Claire Schulz Bergman sat down with Jessica and Michael to interview them about the adoption process.

Q: What surprised you about the adoption process so far?

A (Jessica): The process was easier than I thought. I expected a lot of paperwork and to have to meet a lot of people. All I wanted was a loving couple for my baby. I wanted a family without kids who was financially stable and had steady jobs. I looked through the profiles that you gave me and decided to meet two couples. Both were great, we just connected with one more than the other.

(Michael): I felt “relief” when we matched because we didn’t have to worry anymore. We didn’t have to worry that we wouldn’t find anybody and end up having to care for a child we couldn’t afford. We wanted people who were honest and genuine to take care of our baby and we really think we’ve found them.

Q: Why did you feel more connected to the couple you chose?

A (Michael): They were more “like us.” They were really easy to talk to and made us feel at ease.

Q: You have spent some time with and communicated with the couple you chose since you initially met them. What has it been like for you to have contact via phone/text and spend time together with them?

A (Jessica): This really helped us because it feels like they are who they say they are. We feel like we can trust them and share in their excitement of becoming new parents. We went to a park with them to introduce our other kids to them and it was great watching them interact with our kids. They jumped right in and started playing with them. It showed us what they’d be like with this baby (that they are going to adopt). We want to have visits in the future because we want our kids to know this baby and getting together with them was a glimpse of what it would be like in the future when we get together for a play date.

We also went to the ultrasound together and found out what the sex of the baby is. It was really fun watching them see the baby for the first time. This is their first baby and they’ve never been through an ultrasound before.

We text frequently and I am able to ease my worries by telling them what I would do if I was going to care for him (like, buying footed pjs, recommending formula that worked for my other kids, etc.). It helps me feel like I can also prepare for his arrival and get excited with them.

Q: Are you starting to feel attached to your baby?

A (Jessica): Yes. How could I not be attached, he’s growing inside me! I love him and am doing adoption because I know I can’t provide for him and they can. I know he will be taken care of and getting to know them [the APs] better helps me really know this.

(Michael): I’m getting more attached than I probably should be. But, I know that doing adoption will be better for our other kids, too, and open adoption will allow our other kids to know this one.

Q: Do you have any fears about the adoption process?

A (Jessica): The usual parent worries, I just want to make sure that the APs are prepared.

Q: What advice would you give to others considering placing their child for adoption?

A (Jessica): Think of the baby. Meet as many families as you need to so that you can find the best one. Have enough time so that you can build a relationship with the adoptive parents before your baby is born. Have a few questions that you know you want the answer to at the first meeting, but don’t be overly structured about it.

(Michael): Have an open heart and an open mind. Keep the baby’s best interest first. Be honest with yourself, what is best for the child?

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A (Jessica): The APs have become an extension of our family. Since we’re getting to know them, they aren’t just people who are going to take care of our baby, they are like extended family members. This is what we wanted and I really believe that this is how it’s going to be.

(later Jessica texted this to me): I was thinking back on our first meeting with you and you made it really easy and pleasant. When I first made the call to the agency and was going to meet with you, I was kind of nervous that you would be someone like a case worker… up tight and straight corners… but you weren’t. Meeting you and having someone like you for this process has made it a lot easier in this whole thing.

 

*Not their real names

Too Cute Tuesday: Kai at Two Months

It's hardly a surprise that sweet baby Kai has only gotten ten times cuter over the past two months of his life. His parents are deeply in love and continue to nurture his development month to month and advocate for Kai as he grows older.

Kai was born on July 19, 2017,  and was lovingly placed by both his birth mother and birth father into the care of Andy and Sarah, prospective adoptive parents through Adoptions of Wisconsin. They have enjoyed every second that they've spent with their son and have appreciated the deep strength of his birth parents to place him for adoption. Andy and Sarah spent time in the months prior to Kai's birth getting to know his birth parents and continue to have an open relationship with them today.

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Funding Your Adoption: Baby K Bake Sale

Funding any long-term endeavor, whether it be completing your education, buying a home or pursuing adoption, often requires more money than can seem feasible. A common hesitation for prospective adoptive parents is the big dollar amount that is looming over the decision to pursue adoption. This leaves many families feeling frustrated or even giving up on their dreams of growing their family through adoption. Although there are hurdles to overcome, there are ways to fund your adoption journey outside of your income alone.

Kelly and Neil, a waiting family on AOW’s inactive list, have been getting creative with their funding ideas for “Baby K’s” adoption. Not only have they been doing extensive research about possible grants and fundraising options, but they have gotten creative with simple ideas that they could do. Kelly and Neil then reached out to family members to let them know about their adoption plan, and their support has been overwhelming! Kelly’s extended family in Tennessee immediately thought of having a bake sale to support Baby K. Take a look at some photos of the busy work days and the finished product. The story below is written in Kelly’s own words about her experience with funding her adoption journey.

Kelly and Neil with family busy decorating deserts

Kelly and Neil with family busy decorating deserts

“Adoption has always been in our hearts. However, the expense of adoption was something that seemed overwhelming. I am a planner, so I had a plan for how we would make our family of four, which included adopting a child in our late thirties (when my husband had completed graduate school, which would give us two incomes, and life would be perfect). However, as we grew older and began to experience fertility problems I began to worry we might never be able to grow our family or we might have to wait another 10 years. It was then I decided we could do anything we put our minds to and we could find a way to pay for adoption and grow our family. I realized then that there was probably never going to be a time in the near future where we had an extra $30,000 laying around. Like any large, overly ambitious project I have talked my husband into tackling (such as quitting my full-time job and going back to graduate school, while remodeling our 100-year old home) I could put together a plan to grow our family through adoption. After meeting with a few agencies and discussing their practices, we decided that Adoptions of Wisconsin (AOW) was the best fit for us. While the adoption fees were still a bit overwhelming they were broken down and spread out over a period of time, which seemed more manageable. I then put together a spreadsheet, including a budget and savings plan to our adoption fund.

As we started the adoption fund I began to look to see how others had funded adoption. I began reading blogs and looking on Pinterest for adoption grants and fundraising ideas. I started to share with family our plan of adopting and our potential plans for fundraising. Once on the inactive list we made an adoption announcement via email and social media to let our family and friends know of our upcoming plans! We were overwhelmed with the love and support we received from our family and friends. Not only were they so excited for us, but they wanted to know how they could help make our dream come true. We started a crowdfund with 501c3, where people could make a tax-deductible donation that could be directly applied to our adoption fees. We also had family and friends offering to host garage sales and bake sales to raise funds for Baby K. My aunt and cousin that live in Tennessee were avid bakers and had done many bake sale fundraisers. They began to make themed treats weekly, post pictures on social media and sell them at work. Friends and family in Wisconsin instantly started drooling over these baked goods and asking if they would ship. Because the baked goods were not commercial, shipping was not an option. However, my creative cousin came up with an idea to bring the Baby K Bake Sale to Wisconsin for one weekend. We’re not sure they knew what they were getting themselves into. Neil created a “pre-order” form and my cousin created Disney-themed cupcake samplers and a variety of cookie options. Soon after the order form went live, we had nearly 500 orders for cupcakes and cookies. One week later we had over 950 cupcake orders and over 350 cookie orders. My aunt and cousin packed up their truck and brought the Baby K Bake Sale to Wisconsin. They had pre-made and frozen many of the cupcakes, and then set up “shop” at her other cousin’s home for the weekend with banquet tables full of cupcakes to be individually decorated. My cousin spent three days decorating cupcakes on nearly no sleep. At the end of the weekend the task was complete! We spent two days afterward hand delivering cupcakes and cookies to family and friends throughout Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. The “Baby K Bake Sale- Wisconsin Edition” ended up raising a net of over $1,000. As my cousin and aunt packed up the truck to head back to Tennessee, they began discussing the next “Baby K Bake Sale- Wisconsin Edition” and winter-themed cupcakes and cookies!”

A big thank you to Kelly and Neil for taking the time to write this blog post about funding your adoption. Also, we are excited to see where your adoption journey goes and can’t wait to see the winter-themed bake sale!

Disney-themed cupcakes

Disney-themed cupcakes

Disney-themed cupcakes

Disney-themed cupcakes

Some of the finished product!

Some of the finished product!

The cupcakes look almost too pretty to eat!

The cupcakes look almost too pretty to eat!

Too Cute Tuesday: Adorable Zoe

Happy Too Cute Tuesday! This week we are featuring the adorable baby Zoe!

 

Zoe was born on May 4, 2017, and has brought so much joy into the lives of her adoptive parents. Zoe left the hospital with her parents two days later and has been in their care since then. Zoe's parents are absolutely in love with their four-month-old daughter. Zoe is not a shy baby - her parents say that she loves to talk to everyone she meets and always greets you with a big and beautiful smile!

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Some of Zoe's favorite things to do are play with her toys, talk to new people and go camping with her Mommy and Daddy. She has been a light and joy in her parents lives, and they cannot wait to watch her grow older and become more adorable (if it's even possible!).

As we all know through experience and by reading stories, each adoption journey is different. Although open adoption is becoming more and more common as time goes on, Zoe's adoption was closed. Zoe's birth mother made the decision for herself that she wanted to have a private, confidential adoption plan. Zoe's birth mother and adoptive parents solidified a closed adoption plan through Adoptions of Wisconsin, each respecting each other's wishes. Zoe's adoptive parents have been and continue to be open to connecting with her birth mother in the future, if that is something she would like to do. Ultimately, the degree of openness of the adoption plan falls with the birth mother and father. Closed adoptions are beginning to become rare in adoption, but Zoe's story provides a glimpse at what a closed plan could still look like.

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Zoe really is "too cute". Zoe's adoption will be finalized in a few short months. Stay tuned for her Adoption Day story in the near future!

How to Talk to Your Young Child About Adoption

How to Talk to Your 6 to 8 Year Old Child About Adoption

At  this age,  your child is starting or continuing school. Their classmates, friends, and teachers are beginning to have an impact on their worldview and their opinion of themselves. Children at this age are also becoming more self-aware and realize that they are a person separate from their parents. Because of this, they will begin to question where they fit into the world.

Your child has probably always known that he was adopted, but now others may also be pointing it out to him and asking about adoption. Your child is also realizing that, while she was adopted, most of her classmates were not. Your child’s classmates are becoming more curious about the people around them, just like your child is. They may ask your child blunt questions about themselves and their family. Your child should be encouraged to engage only as she feels comfortable. You can help her to have the language to answer her friends’ (or their parents’) questions.

Your child’s understanding of why his birthparents were unable to raise him is an important developmental milestone at this age. It is important that your child does not associate being adopted by their parents with being rejected by their birthparents. When your child  has questions, you can reassure him that he has not been rejected and  that you will always be there to him.

Let’s look at one of the more common things that adopted children talk about at this age. What if your child says that they must have been a bad baby, and that’s why their birth mother decided to place them for adoption? Instead of the knee jerk response of “no, you were a great baby” you can help correct misconceptions. Let your child know that her birth mother didn’t place her for adoption because of anything the child did. Help your child to understand that no one decides to place a baby for adoption because of anything the baby did. People place children for adoption because they know that all babies need to be cared for, even if a birth mother isn’t able to provide that care for them. Birth parents place children for adoption because they love them.

Your child is getting smarter and more aware every day. Especially at this age, children will notice how you react to things that strangers and acquaintances say about adoption. Figure out a few polite, humorous responses to some of the more ridiculous comments that people will make , so that your child can see you helping to educate others about adoption. For example, if someone asks whether a child is your “real” child, you can response that “Of course, all my children are real.” Or, a well-meaning person may tell you that your child is “so lucky to have you.” You can also point out that you are lucky to have them and fortunate to be a family. Humor can be a powerful tool for managing social situations and presenting a good example to your child. When you talk with your child about this, you help to set them up for a confident, strong path in the future!

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!

Happy Adoption Day, Devin!

Another one of AOW's families celebrated the much anticipated Adoption Day! Erin and Tim, with their daughter, Devin, finalized Devin's adoption in court on September 6, 2017.

The journey that lead Devin to her parents was not a traditional agency adoption. Erin and Tim contacted AOW with an already established birth parent situation, which is referred to as an independent match. They hurriedly completed their home study so as to be approved to adopt through the state of Wisconsin prior to Devin's birth. AOW worked with both Erin and Tim and their birth mother throughout the process.

Devin was born on January 31, 2017. AOW Social Worker and Executive Director, Claire, has been working with the family to provide post placement services and help them prepare for finalization. Erin and Tim have been a pleasure to work with, as they have been timely in all communication efforts and have demonstrated a strong desire to respect the adoption journey.

Here is what their Social Worker, Claire, had to say about them- "Erin and Tim are such a wonderful couple. It was such a privilege to help them through their adoption of Devin. They showed such high regard for Devin’s birth mother and her family members throughout this whole process, and it is clear that Devin will grow up knowing she has two families (plus numerous others) supporting her and caring about her well-being throughout her life."

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Although we are disappointed that we will not have any more monthly post placement updates about Devin, we are sure that this will not be the last time we hear from the family. We are excited to share news about Devin's life growing up and are hopeful that Erin and Tim will continue to be an active part of the AOW family.

Too Cute Tuesday: Eli's Life After Finalization

This week's Too Cute Tuesday baby couldn't possibly get any cuter! Eli is a few short weeks away from his first birthday and his parents have many wonderful experiences to share from his first year of life.

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Elijah was born on October 4, 2016 and was surrounded with love immediately upon his arrival. Eli's birth mother shared an open relationship with his adoptive parents, who met with her in person prior to Eli's birth. On March 10, 2017, Eli's adoption was finalized.

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Eli's parents have been enjoying every second of life after finalization with their almost one-year-old. Here's what Elijah's parents had to say about their life as a family of three-

"Life after finalization has been an amazing adventure watching Eli grow and discover new things.  We can’t believe how fast this past year has gone by.  Thinking back to this time last year, we had just met Eli’s birth mother and were getting to know her while anxiously waiting and preparing for his arrival.  Fast forward to now, in a few short weeks we will be celebrating his big 1st birthday already.  We have been beyond blessed to share in many of his firsts together.  From first giggles, to crawling, to walking along the furniture and the first time he said Mama and Dada.  He is even getting brave and standing by himself.  It won’t be long before he takes his first steps.

Eli has been hard at work growing the 8 teeth he currently has and more to come.  He loves to eat and just learned to drink from a straw.  He likes to listen for and watch cars, trucks and motorcycles drive by and planes up in the sky.  He loves to climb/crawl on, over and under his toys.  The newest was a big cardboard box with windows and doors cut out to climb through.  His favorite stuffed animal is Mr. Hedgehog and loves story time with Dad, especially his favorite book, The Pout Pout Fish in the Big Big Dark.  He went to his first county fair this past weekend and enjoyed seeing all the animals.  Next month, he will have his first plane ride to South Carolina to visit his Great Grandparents and other extended family who can’t wait to meet him.

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Eli has brought so much joy to our lives and to our family and friends as well.  He has so much personality already and loves to smile and giggle.  We can’t wait to see the person he becomes and are honored to be his parents."

The Modern Family Effect: Adoption in the Media

The television show Modern Family has helped to continue a paradigm shift about the portrayal of adoption in the media. Historically, adoption was not always portrayed accurately in television. We could call this “The Modern Family Effect.” But from Ernie’s adoption in “My Three Sons” to “Glee” and “Arrested Development,” television has been helping us move to a normal, realistic appreciation for adoption as part of life.

It used to be a common device for siblings on sit-coms to tell each other that they were adopted. This was played as a negative, and would result in hijinks centered on the idea that an adopted sibling didn’t belong. This was a harmful theme.

The portrayal of adoption in the media has become much more accurate. If a current-day television show were to use the trope of an adopted sibling being played as “not a real family member” it would be panned as hurtful, wrong, and offensive by reviewers. The media can now play a significant role in changing hurtful myths and stereotypes about adoption, and reverse some of the damage that it has done.

It’s tempting to blame the media for their mischaracterization of adoption in the past. However, television tends to reflect the collective views of society. Fortunately, we can appreciate the positive changes in both society and the media.

Instead of portraying families created through adoption as “unusual” or “not real” we need to, and have begun to, show the reality of love, thoughtfulness and “normalness” that is adoption. The Modern Family Effect bodes well for this change. Sit-coms have always been on the leading edge of how our changing society is portrayed on television, so an accurate and caring portrayal of adoption is a great indicator that adoption will be more fairly and accurately shown in the future.

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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