Our blog covers topics on adoption, assisted reproduction, and surrogacy. You can read articles, personal stories, and commentaries written by our staff and our clients. A complete listing of all blog postings appear in chronological order below. To sort entries based on your interests, select one of the categories to the right under “categories.”
Please call us or send a confidential email if you have any questions, comments or would like to to contribute to our blog. We look forward to hearing from you!
(925) 945 1880 or (800) 877-1880.
Making an open adoption plan can be emotionally difficult. Facing tough life choices and finding support from family and friends while pregnant and planning for delivery can feel overwhelming. It’s important to keep your heart and mind open to an open adoption during this potentially stressful time.
Some women think that a closed adoption will make the process easier. They feel that a closed adoption means they won’t have to think about the details or process the difficult emotions. It’s almost like they feel they can pretend it isn’t happening if they don’t “make it real.” While this might work for some women, it isn’t a healthy path for everyone. For some, this might even be denial.
It’s true that making an open adoption plan can make the adoption feel more real, or as birth mother Sarah recently said: “now it’s getting serious.” This is a good thing for two reasons. The first is that making the adoption real will help you decide if adoption is right for you. Making a plan doesn’t commit you to the adoption, so it’s important at some point to try really living with the idea, talk with adoption professionals, review the paperwork involved, maybe even speak with a potential adopting family. The sooner you know in your heart whether adoption is right for you, the better for everyone involved.
The second reason it’s good to make the adoption real is that once you get over this hurdle, the adoption will probably feel less scary. This is where you want your head to be as you think about openness—not frightened and overwhelmed, but empowered and in control of a plan.
You don’t have to decide all the specifics of what your open adoption will look like, but you can decide that you are at least open to it and recognize that you might be even more open to it later in life as you move past the difficult emotions, get your life settled and moving in the direction you’re hoping for.
If you aren’t sure about how open you want your adoption, make sure you choose a family who is really flexible on this point. In fact, if you want a closed adoption, it’s probably a good idea to still choose a flexible family so that if you change your mind later, that option will always be available to you.
At Family Formation we are available 24/7 to talk with you and answer your questions whether you have decided on open adoption or not. Feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!
If you live in or near the Bay Area, there are several reasons why you might want to become a surrogate with a program in Northern California, which is basically in your backyard! Getting to know your intended parents face to face, letting them share in local medical appointments, and shorter travel to the fertility center are just of few of these reasons.
Our program is located in Northern California, and our intended parents work with local fertility centers. The vast majority of these couples also live within just a few miles of our office. This is why our program attracts surrogates from the Bay Area—they know they will be working with local intended parents at a local fertility center.
Most women want to become a surrogate because they really want to help another couple have a child. This compassion for others, and desire to help, naturally lends itself to building a really personal and trusting relationship with the intended parents. It’s much easier to get to know people in person. Having face to face time with the intended parents, understanding where they’ve been on their journey to family, and understanding how much they appreciate your time and sacrifice as a surrogate are all part of building this important relationship. Having multiple opportunities to meet in person will help foster this.
Sharing in medical appointments with intended parents is part of what makes being a surrogate so rewarding. You get to share their joy at their first moments of parenthood and know that it was only possible because of you. You remember that you aren’t alone in the journey, that you are supported and appreciated. The intended parents also can get important information from your doctor, straight from the expert, rather than your being in the middle.
Traveling to fertility centers for medical clearance, to pick up medications, to learn to use those medications, and then ultimately to the transfer, may sound overwhelming if that fertility center is more than 100 miles away. When the fertility center closer to home, there’s far less of a disruption in your life. A last minute visit or a rescheduled appointment is less stressful on you and your family.
Family Formation is a small, local program for women in the Bay Area who would like to become a surrogate for a couple dreaming of family. Contact us today to learn more how to get started.
What is open adoption?
Open adoption is a relatively new concept, and many women who are thinking about making an adoption plan don’t realize that closed adoptions, where the birth mother doesn’t know or choose the adopting parents, are a thing of the past.
Open adoption means, at a minimum, that the birth mother knows the identity, usually the first and last names, of the adopting parents; and the adopting parents know the identity of the birth mother. The birth mother chooses the adopting parents in an open adoption and has access to information about them, such as where they live, how long they’ve been married, if they have any other children, and any health issues they might have.
Typically an open adoption will also include contact between the birth mother and the adopting parents. This can be as little or as much as the birth mother and adopting parents want. Open communication either by phone, email or in person is really important as you get to know each other and build your relationship.
Contact after the baby is born and goes home with the adopting parents is also typical in an open adoption. How much contact you have and what that contact looks like—phone calls, emails, face time over the internet, in person visits—is up to the birth parents and the adopting parents. It’s critical that everyone is honest and open about the type of contact they want before deciding to move forward with each other in the adoption plan. The success of the adoption throughout the lives of everyone involved, including the adoptee, is based on this honesty and trust.
At Family Formation, we are experts at helping adopting parents and birth parents find the right connection in an open adoption. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you make an adoption plan.
Understand that the birth mother needs to experience and process her grief in order to work through it.
A woman who has made the decision to put her baby up for adoption is a selfless, courageous woman. It’s important to use the right language to describe a woman’s choice: she isn’t putting a baby up for adoption; she’s making an adoption plan. Many women are unable to think this logically and make the sacrifices they need to in order to ensure the best future for both their babies and themselves. It takes tremendous strength to resist our maternal instincts for what she believes in her heart is best for her child.
Honor this woman, but never overestimate her strength to the point where you forget to give her the support she needs to get through this.
People often believe that, once the decision is made, it means that a birth mother is always at peace with her decision and ready to move forward with relief and joy, putting it all “behind her.”
Rarely does a woman put her child “behind her,” though. A birth mother carries her child forever in her heart, along with some level of guilt, sadness, longing, questions, and wondering whether she truly made the right choice. She will never forget her child. Show her that you haven’t forgotten either.
Whether this woman is your daughter, relative, friend, significant other, or even the woman who has enabled you to have a child through open adoption, your instinct may be to try to help her forget, or to tell her that her feelings are not the right ones. Of course, your heart is in the right place, but the best thing to do is allow her to experience her feelings. Acknowledge that this is a difficult grieving process.
With loss comes grief. This is normal, and she doesn’t need to run and hide from it, but she does need a lot of support.
Agree that life is not always fair. Let her know how brave and selfless you believe her to be, and that you understand why she won’t always believe this of herself. Remind her that she has value and worth, and how important her own life is, in addition to the life she gave to her birth baby. She gave life by carrying and birthing the baby, but also made important sacrifices to give her baby the life she wanted for her or him.
Stressing her bravery and worth is so important, because these are things she may question perpetually. If she begins to withdraw or provoke arguments, understand that she is questioning whether she deserves love or relationships of other kinds after making a difficult choice for her own baby. Assure her that she does.
Ignoring grief makes it fester and persist. Encourage her to face it and she will heal, though the grief will resurface throughout her life, just as grief resurfaces when we think of friends we’ve lost touch with or people who have died. We get through it by letting it in. Allow her to do the same.
Help her find support from a therapist experienced with birth mothers, as well as other birth mothers who are going through the same thing. While family and friends are invaluable, those who are so very familiar with her situation can offer a special kind of comfort.
We have been where she is now. Contact Family Formation today to speak with a counselor who can help.
Don’t ignore your own feelings. Working through them is the best way to move forward.
While putting a baby up for adoption is a heroic and selfless act, feelings of loss are normal. First, remember that you made an adoption plan for your baby, you didn’t give your baby up. Then recognize that ignoring your grief is not a good idea; it is much healthier to face and express your feelings of loss. Don’t be afraid. It’s what helps you move on and learn to experience the good feelings about your decision as well.
As a birth mother, your grief may come as a surprise to you. It is unexpected because, after all, you put a great deal of thought into the adoption process beforehand and you were certain you were doing the right thing.
Sadness does not mean that you were wrong in your decision. Many of the most important decisions in our lives involve difficult choices. We cannot shut out grief and still hope to live a happy, productive life. Although the process of grieving may not be easy, working through loss will help you experience all emotions more fully, including those that are positive and joyous.
Know that what you feel is normal, and that you are not alone. These two factors can help more than anything else. Don’t deny your own feelings; sadness is a normal part of life. Denying our feelings of sadness makes it more difficult to experience joy as well. It is up to you to process the grief and strive for inner peace.
All these may seem like lofty directives, but positive self talk, reassurance and forgiveness can be very effective. Most of us do the opposite, intentionally beating ourselves up and relegating ourselves to a life without peace.
Don’t do that to yourself.
Unresolved grief can wreak havoc in so many other areas. It can interfere with romantic relationships, those with your own parents, friendships and your ability to work productively and remain focused. If you are having trouble functioning in any number of ways, it could be that denial of your own grief is getting in your way.
For most birth mothers, it takes time to process the grief and some of it will always resurface over the years, just as our grief over other losses does. Accepting this, and allowing it into your life will make it so much easier to overcome. When you are afraid of it, when you run from it, the grief can become larger than life.
Make sure you have supportive people in your life. If they don’t come in the form of your existing family and friends, there are others out there who have been through exactly what you are experiencing. Support groups and online forums are out there for you. One of the most powerful things you can do is to seek out an experienced grief counselor. The world is a smaller place today and you never have to go through this process alone.
Again, we’ve been there and we can help. To talk to someone at Family Formation, contact us today. A happy tomorrow is possible.
Planning ahead will ease some of the last minute stress.
The last month or two of pregnancy can be very busy, not to mention challenging. You’re only weeks away from delivery and then recovery. The last thing you need is to be scrambling when you’re physically and emotionally drained. Try to prepare in advance so the entire process will be easier for you.
Water often breaks in very inconvenient places, on newly laundered sheets for instance. You don’t really need the extra chore of somehow cleaning amniotic fluid out of the mattress. Consider putting plastic in between the mattress itself and the sheet. Waterproof crib sheets (cheaper) or even large garbage bags can work as well, though sheets stay put much more effectively.
You will need rest and serenity when you come home; a messy, dirty environment may cause anxiety and depression or it could just amplify stress. On the other hand, a clean, neat, accommodating environment can do wonders for your state of mind.
Think of your near-future self as the very best friend you want to pamper and comfort, then make sure the place meets your standards for her!
Don’t do it alone if you don’t have to. Ask for help. Friends can work with you to clean the place inside and out, get all laundry done and stock the freezer and cupboard. Frozen and dried foods are ideal since you don’t know an exact delivery date (unless you’ve scheduled a c-section.)
Make sure all your paperwork is in order for the hospital. Do you have numbers for labor and delivery or the birth center, OB or midwife, doula or any other support personnel? Bring the numbers of any friends and family you will want to contact, as well as numbers for the adoptive parents. These, along with your insurance carrier’s number should be in your packed bags, easily accessible. Remember to include ID and the actual insurance card too.
If you have children or pets at home, arrange for their care now, with someone who can get to your place on short notice. If they have to go to work or might have other conflicts, be sure to have back up as well. Remind every support person now of how close you are to your due date. Time flies, especially for those who are not the pregnant ones!
Plan, prepare, and write things down.
Use a paper map or Map Quest to double check directions to the hospital. Determine two alternate routes in the event of accidents or road work.
Do a drive by in advance to get familiar with the labor and delivery or birthing entrance, if you have not done this already. If you haven’t had a tour yet, arrange that. Ask what the procedures are for birthing, especially for birth mothers. If you have arranged an open adoption and plan to see, hold or nurse the baby, make sure the staff is well aware of that.
Establish or refine your birth plan, print a few copies and put them in your overnight hospital bag. If you have not done any planning, consider a birthing class so you can maneuver labor a bit more easily.
Plan for therapy to help you through the emotional impact of coming home no longer pregnant. Although you’ll know you made a selfless and responsible choice, you will still have a major transition to adjust to.
Last, but definitely not least, gather the things you want to give to the adoptive parents: Any information about the pregnancy or baby that you have and they don’t yet; family photos for later; health and genetic information; a letter to them about your dreams and wishes for the baby; a letter to your birth child, to be read when the time is right; a little outfit, board book, stuffed animal or other gift you’d like to send along.
We know this can be a challenging time. We’ve been there and we’re here to help. Contact us today to discuss any aspect of your adoption plans. You are not alone.
All medications should be doctor-approved.
Adoption Questions about Drugs, Alcohol
When adoption questions about drug and alcohol use come up, if a birth mother has used any of these substances, she will often feel too uncomfortable to admit it.
She might worry that knowing this history, no adoptive family will want the baby, but this is not the case at all. Adoptive parents and their plans and desires vary just as much as the babies and birth mothers do.
Being honest about drug use during pregnancy helps ensure you will find a genuinely good match in an adoptive family. As a birth mother, you want your baby to be with a family who is fully committed to whatever challenges may arise. Some families actually look for a baby who might have challenges, specifically because they want to help.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the family will be disappointed if there are no problems, just that they feel good about making a commitment to go above and beyond. They are more than willing to provide unconditional love to a little one who needs it most.
Sometimes birth mothers have taken illegal drugs or gone on a drinking binge before even knowing they were pregnant. And in some cases, an addiction has continued through pregnancy. There are also instances when a birth mother takes prescription medications without knowing about the potential side effects to her baby. Drugs that carry risks can even include prescription topical treatments, such as Retin A.
Even prescription pills or topical treatments can carry risks. Don’t be afraid to discuss them all with your doctor.
No matter what the reasons or specific substances, it is extremely important that you explain to doctors and adoptive parents what the substances were, and the amounts and timing involved. Your baby’s health depends on it.
Various substances can each have very individual effects and risk factors, so doctors need to know what to look for. Besides sharing what drug has been used you should also disclose when it was used and for how long. The timing of when a substance is ingested can directly impact any resulting complications. Having this information makes it possible for doctors to take special precautions as needed and order tests that can significantly improve the outcome of any negative results.
The timing of alcohol ingestion can make a huge difference in how the baby will be affected. For example, alcohol during certain stages can cause developmental issues, but during other stages it may cause low blood pressure or fetal or newborn sluggishness. If the doctors can identify causes for health problems, they have a much better chance of giving your birth child the highest level of care.
Potential health issues related to drug use may be minor or serious, and they may show up during pregnancy, at birth, or much later. It is best for pediatricians to have full knowledge of the child’s history as early as possible, so they can provide the best care at birth and throughout childhood.
Pediatricians need to be on the look out for specific risks, so they can take preventative measures of care. Stimulants such as cocaine during pregnancy can later put a child at risk for seizures, respiratory or cardiac issues. Marijuana and alcohol can lead to attention problems. Cigarette smoking can result in lung disease and congenital defects. Almost any drug carries the risk of low birth weight and cognitive problems. No one can change the past, but it’s a loving, caring and brave birth mother who makes sure her baby will be entirely well cared for by prepared parents and doctors.
It would also be devastating to keep information from doctors or adoptive parents, only to have a lab report share the details for you, and the adoptive family pull out. Putting your baby’s health first should always be the top goal. Making sure the birth family really is committed to your baby no matter what is a close runner up. Any way you look at it, honesty is the best policy.
Going through pregnancy can be very challenging. Deciding to put a baby up for adoption is a huge, complex choice involving many emotions. Discussing drug or alcohol use during the process of adoption questions may seem overwhelming but it is necessary.
March of Dimes is the best place to learn about drug and alcohol use during pregnancy, as well as general health during pregnancy for both birth mom and baby.
We’ve been there, we understand, but you can do it, and you’ll feel good about divulging important information that can help ensure your baby receives the best care possible for the long term.
If you are considering putting your baby up for adoption, contact us today for a no-obligation talk about your options. We’re here to help.
Being honest is a good start.
Do you have children already, but plan to put a new baby up for adoption? Or maybe the adopted baby came first, and now you want to tell the children who came later about the baby that was put up for adoption.
Either way, this is a delicate topic for children, and one that needs to be addressed gently and lovingly. It’s important to use the right language when speaking with your children about adoption: you did not put a baby up for adoption, but instead, you made an adoption plan for your baby.
Never keep a secret that is obvious in some way. For instance, questions are bound to come up if your children see that you are pregnant, and then see that you are not. Being truthful and honest is the best way to handle the situation. If you’re not, the children will know something is being kept from them, and kids tend to imagine something much worse than the truth.
A good way to start is to discuss the topic of adoption – before bringing your own personal story to the table. Talk about how wonderful it is when a new family gets to have a baby when they thought they never would. Explain that putting a baby up for adoption can be a very selfless and loving act.
Books and movies that include adoption themes can help kick start the conversation naturally. But you might want to avoid those that focus on children being rescued from evil parents.
Use a delicate approach when talking about adoption.
If your children are young, it can be important to stress that it is newborns who get put up for adoption. You can explain that this makes it possible for the babies to have their mommies from the moment they are born. This approach can help prevent your children from worrying that if they are bad or you get tired of them, you might also put them up for adoption.
If children are very little, be sure to use language that is age-appropriate. Honesty is the best policy, but use your best judgement about how much they need to know. Be prepared for more questions about the birth father, if that has not already come up.
A counselor or adoption specialist can play an integral role in helping you come up with a specific plan for sharing your pending or past adoption scenario with other children.
Depending on a child’s age, temperament and reaction, if you are about to put a baby up for adoption, you can involve your child in the process. After you have thoroughly discussed the plan, it could help to have them assist in choosing a birth family, even if their role is just looking through preliminary pictures and videos.
It’s important too, to let kids express their feelings about the entire process, and to address any sadness or fears they may have about their own security with you and in the family. Encourage your children to write letters, draw pictures, make crafts and ask questions. Allow them to make gifts to send with baby if they’d like to.
For birth mothers who gave up a previous baby, the steps are similar. You may or may not know the whereabouts of the child or be in touch with the birth family, but still, gifts can be made and kept for “some day.” Children may feel they’ve been lied to or betrayed, so be prepared to address that issue with them. The objective is to make them feel secure about their relationship with you.
When talking about the baby that was put up for adoption, try to find out what your child’s hopes, dreams and wishes are, as well as their fears. Young children may be excited about having a long-lost sibling, while others could experience a sense of loss. There are children, of any age, who feel threatened by the idea of another sibling out there.
If your children want a meeting, and that’s a possibility, try to arrange one, but plan carefully. Is your spouse on board? This can be a sensitive time for every member of the family; be sure not to leave anyone out.
Do you have questions about putting your baby up for adoption? We’ve been there, we understand and we can help. Contact us today.
The online world creates both new opportunities and new challenges for those who are giving a baby up for adoption. And while this language (“giving a baby up for adoption”) was common during the dark days of closed adoption, the more accurate way to describe more modern, open adoption, is to call it an adoption plan. In an open adoption, women make plans for their children, they don’t give them up.
Social media has dramatically changed the way all of us live our lives, making the world a much smaller place, even for individuals who are not themselves online. In many instances, this has been a very positive thing. People have found kidney donors, homes for pets, and, of course, rediscovered each other as adoptees or birth mothers.
Indeed, social media has forever changed the landscape of adoption, in more ways than one. We hear about birth parents seeking the children they put up for adoption, and adoptees seeking their birth parents. But there are numerous ways social media can be positively used by women or couples who are giving a baby up for adoption.
1. Seeking Adoptive Parents
Some birth mothers want to be very involved and get started early in the search and selection process of adoptive parents.
There are many scams and unethical people out there, so it is important to always keep all identifying information confidential, and to use an agency or legal team experienced in adoption during this process.
That said, some birth mothers like to connect with prospective adoptive parents online, so they can carry on an ongoing conversation and get to know them, their values and plans for the baby.
2. Emotional Support from Other Birth Mothers
One nice thing about the Internet is that it is relatively easy to find groups of people who are going through or have been through exactly what you are experiencing.
Finding a group of other women who are contemplating giving a baby up for adoption, or who have already done so, can be an incredibly healing, supportive process, and one that can yield life-long friends.
These people can offer advice, resources, and commiseration.
3. Birth and Adoptive Parents Staying Connected
Many birth mothers and adoptive parents use private, password protected social media to remain in contact so that the birth mother can keep track of how the adoptee is doing and receive photographs and updates.
Although this can be difficult to manage at first and emotional at times, with well-defined plans in advance, preferably spelled out in a post adoption contact agreement, this situation can work well. Online communications often offers enough distance for comfort of both parties.
4. In the Future, Seeking Reunion
The very existence of social media can offer a measure of comfort in terms of how easy it can be to reconnect with others. In the future, there may be many opportunities for connection with a birth child.
Of course, children engage in social media as well, and birth mothers will want to abide by legal agreements and those made with adoptive parents in terms of sharing confidential information about each other and the adoptee.
If you’re considering giving your baby up for adoption, we are here to talk. We’ve been there and we understand, so feel free to call us today to talk about the various options you might have.
So, you have made a decision to reunite with the baby you put up for adoption, and you know how to reach your birth child. It’s a brave step, and very emotionally charged. We know, we’ve been there. So, how do you prepare?
What Do You Want From the First Meeting?
Reflect on your own thoughts and needs, and those of the child you put up for adoption. And remember that you made an adoption plan for your baby, you did not give him or her up.
It is OK to fantasize about an emotional, beautiful reunion, or to hope for a lighter, more playful one, but it’s important to realize that the way the reunion plays out cannot be predicted.
The best thing to do is to keep an open mind and to prepare for the unexpected. Allowing for ample time and open space is a good idea, without boxing the two of you in to any time-based commitments.
The adoptee you are meeting with has no experience at being your child. He or she might be shy and withdrawn, or, they could be full of affection and emotion, ranging from relief, to love, to anxiety or anger.
Even the adoptee won’t know for sure until the moment of the reunion what feelings will emerge. Remember to be open and sensitive, holding off on expectations.
How ever the reunion itself unfolds, also remember that it may not be any indication of how the relationship will progress after that first meeting. Try not to have expectations or to make predictions.
What Are Your Goals for the Relationship?
The reunion itself takes so much planning and emotional preparation that not everyone considers in detail how the relationship should be moving forward.
Even when you do plan, those plans may change entirely. You may not feel as maternal as you expected to, or conversely, you might have a surge of emotion and a need to connect and stay in contact that takes you by surprise.
Consider whether you are ready to introduce the adoptee to other family members (are they on board?) and how that integration with others might work.
How busy is your life? If you do decide to have regular contact, do you have time and space for that? Is there anyone else that will be jealous or uncomfortable?
Are you a phone person? Text? Email? Lunch or coffee?
Remember, there may be a honeymoon period, a phase of time when you both want constant contact. Don’t panic if this is more than you feel you can sustain in the long-term, or if the adoptee’s life becomes too busy to sustain that same level of connectedness.
What Does the Adoptee Want?
Without pouncing on the adoptee, or making demands, try to find out what he or she is comfortable with and has time for. Are there other children or grandchildren involved? Will adoptive parents or grandparents be jealous or hurt? Do the children know their parent was adopted? Is a spouse on board?
If these issues have not been addressed before the reunion, they will need to be at some point. Again, remain open minded and let time take its course. It’s possible that there will be some problems. But if you take it slow and remember not to overwhelm yourself or the adoptee, any initial problems may dissipate completely.
Enjoy the process
Try not to obsess. Try to self-talk and self-soothe so that you don’t let fear and worries take over. Give yourself and the adoptee time to reflect and adjust. Need someone to talk to? We’ve been there and we can help.