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How to choose the right adoption agency for you – Special Guest Post from Maxine Chalker of Adoptions From The Heart

Posted on 07. Apr, 2016 by .

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The following is a guest post from our friend, Maxine Chalker, who is an adoptee and the Executive Director of Adoptions From The Heart, which is an adoption agency that she founded over 30 years ago. Maxine shares her insight and experience on how to choose the right adoption agency to work with on your journey to adopt. Enjoy!

Choosing the right adoption agency to work with is one of the most important things prospective adoptive parents can do. Here are some tips to help you think about making this decision.How to choose the right adoption agency for you with Maxine Chalker

Opportunities To Learn The Unexpected

Education should be a core aspect of what adoption agencies do. Many agencies offer courses for prospective adoptive parents and adoptive parents, but usually the classes are confined to the basic topics you’d expect: parenting an infant, transitioning into the school years, things like that.

Obviously, those are important subjects, and you’ll want to learn everything you can on competing theories of parenting and the particular challenges that face many families built through adoption.

But in your research, look for classes that you wouldn’t expect to find. Estate planning? That knowledge could come in handy. Try to find an agency that can be a true resource for your family, one you’ll keep going back to when you need support or guidance.

That’s another important point. Make sure your adoption agency’s services will be available to your family well after placement.

Be sure the adoption agency you choose also offers opportunities to meet and learn from other families who chose adoption, along with expectant parents who chose to place their children for adoption.

Learning how different types of adoption, and different degrees of “openness” in the case of open adoption, from real parents can go a long way in helping you consider your own options.

At Adoptions From The Heart, we find that our expectant parent panels are extremely helpful, because they give prospective adoptive parents insights on how real expectant parents consider adoption profiles, and thus, how to effectively and truthfully craft their own.

Individualized Attention Is Best

Check on the agency’s staff levels. Many small agencies won’t employ enough qualified social workers to assign one to each prospective adoptive family. Be wary of entering a situation in which the person meant to advocate for your best interests is being pulled in multiple directions.

Tim’s written before about one of the biggest fears that prospective adoptive parents often come into the process with, that an expectant parent will change their mind about their adoption plan at the last moment.

It’s true. This is a big fear, and it’s not unfounded, so look for agencies that offer a “disruption policy.” Adoption disruptions, when a child’s biological parents choose to parent after relinquishing their parental rights but before their “revocation” period (which varies according to state law) ends, are painful.

But they happen, and can be extremely costly for adoptive parents. Make sure your agency will credit your placement fees toward a future placement, just in case, and will offer you counseling during what can be a very difficult period.

In essence, try to find an agency that goes out of its way to protect and help you through this journey, while always putting the health and well being of children as its first priority.

My biggest tip, though, is that once you’ve found an adoption agency that you want to work with, relax. You’ve been through a lot, and now you’ve found professionals who want to help.

Maxine Chalker is the founder and executive director of Adoptions From The Heart. While AFTH is now one of the East Coast’s largest private placement agencies, Maxine started it herself, out of her home, in 1985. Maxine embraced Open Adoption early, and is now devoted to promoting the philosophy in any way she can.

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Book review: “Dear Adoptive Parents: Things You Need to Know Right Now – from an Adoptee” by Madeleine Melcher

Posted on 19. Feb, 2016 by .

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Adoption is how you came to be a family- not a parenting style. Be the parent you are meant to be- the parent your child needs you to be, today. — Author, Madeleine Melcher

As a parent through infant adoption, the title of this book really struck me. So, naturally I needed to read it and write up a review for you.IAG BOOK REVIEW dear adoptive parents by Madeleine Melcher

Adoptee, author, speaker, blogger and mommy, Madeleine Melcher’s brand new book “Dear Adoptive Parents: Things You Need to Know Right Now – from an Adoptee” is a honest message, that is truly written from the heart. You may surprised by what you read.

She has a very unique perspective of being adopted AND being a mom of children that her and her husband have adopted. She writes about the realities of adoption, what it means to have been adopted, and what it means to parent children that you’ve adopted.

Madeleine is so refreshing in her words that tell the story of how positive adoption can be.

The book is so easy to read – not just because she writes in a conversational way – but it is broken down into short letters. Every chapter begins with “Dear Parents…” because she is writing directly to parents who have adopted.

She even writes directly to those who have yet to adopt. The words of wisdom she shares are invaluable because it offers parents (and parents-to-be) the support, inspiration, and encouragement they need to be the best parents to their children.

Madeleine shares so much of her story – which is compelling and touches your heart.

My favorite chapters include:

  • What REAL (good) Parents Do
  • Don’t Assume We Are All Wounded
  • No One – No Voice is More Important Than This One
  • Adoption Days

This book talks about what parents need to do TODAY. It talks about what their children need. As Madeleine says in the book – the most important voice that parents need to pay attention to is the voice of their child.

One more really cool thing I love about this book is at the very end, where she encourages you to write your own letters. She says “you could write letters to yourself, encouraging the parent you hope to be, or to your child about the joys of being their parent.” Awesome, and a great idea.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has yet to adopt, or is thinking about adopting, or is already parenting a child by adoption. You can pick it up on Amazon right here: Dear Adoptive Parents: Things You Need to Know Right Now – from an Adoptee by Madeleine Melcher.

Here are more books written by Madeleine Melcher:

If you like how Madeleine writes, then you’ll LOVE listening to her. She’s been a guest on the Infant Adoption Guide Podcast! Check it out…

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3 things I learned at the Adoptive Parents Committee Conference (and why it matters to you) by Anthony Zurica

Posted on 08. Feb, 2016 by .

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The following is a guest post from Anthony Zurica, an adoption attorney in New York City. He was guest on the IAG podcast, episode 28. He shares his experience with attending a recent adoption conference held in New York – including why attending adoptive parents conferences are a great thing to do. Enjoy!

Did you know the Adoptive Parents Committee, Inc (APC) is the oldest adoptive parent group in North America?IAG post 3 things I learned at the Adoptive Parents Committee conference by Anthony Zurica

Founded in 1955, APC is a non-profit parent support group dedicated to improving all aspects of adoption. It offers adoption information, support, and education from the time people first consider adoption until their children are grown and starting families of their own.

At monthly meetings, workshops, and social events, APC members support and educate one another. Members can take advantage of the experience and expertise of adoption professionals and other members who have experienced the joy of adoption.

The 35th Annual APC Adoption Conference was held on Sunday, November 22, 2015 at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, NY.

The APC conference consists of numerous workshops on a variety of topics including things such as international adoption and extending all the way to topics such as ADHD: what can parents do. 

I attended the APC conference this year because I truly feel that you can never stop learning. Furthermore, its just great meeting all the other adoption professionals that attend the conference year after year. 

On to the 3 things I learned at the conference.

1. Is print advertising effective?

The short answer is, yes. While you need a varied advertising plan, print advertising is just one area that you must try to attack when searching for a birthmother or getting your info out there so a birth mother can find you.

In this specific workshop regarding advertising, we learned about the numerous ways and costs associated with advertising in today’s digital world.

The main takeaway from this workshop was that there is no magic wand you can wave that gives you the perfect advertising plan. Each family is different and learning as much as you can about what is out there and how it matches up with your needs is essential when starting out on your adoption journey.

2. The kids are all right.

This was a great eye opening panel that dealt with the children of LGBT families. Many LGBT prospective adoptive parents are very concerned with how their children will be treated out in the world when people start to look at the makeup of their family.

They have concerns about discrimination and since children are so innocent, they want to make sure they help inform their children to deal with any situation that may arise. The panel that sat and talked during the hour consisted of a few LGBT families and their adopted children.

All the children were so well adjusted it brought a smile to my face that their family and society as a whole was able to help navigate them on what could have been a very tough journey for a child.

3. EVERYONE has concerns and needs a support system to help them though this journey.

I sat in on a panel with adoptive parents who discussed their own personal journeys and the theme that tied all of them together was that not a day went by where they weren’t worried about a hundred different things.

Will the birthmother change her mind? Will the child love me? What will others think?

These are all normal and natural thoughts and the most important thing is to have people by your side throughout it all that you can look to for guidance and support, whether that be your attorney, your family, your adoption professionals or anyone you trust to have a time to give you their attention and love.

 

Prospective adoptive families gain so much by attending this conference that I almost implore all my clients to attend. There is just so much information to discover, learn and soak in that there is no way attending something like this can’t be beneficial to someone no matter what stage of the adoption process they are in.

From pre adoption info all the way to dealing with teenagers, there are different workshops for everyone and its just a great place to meet people that are going through the same journey. To learn more about the APC and their annual conference, click here:  www.adoptiveparents.org.

My name is Anthony Zurica and I am an Adoption Attorney with an office in New York City. Anthony Zurica attorneyTo get more info regarding the adoption conference, adoption in general and my law firm, check out www.nycadoptionlawyer.com and reach out via email at [email protected].

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IAG 038: How to build your adoption team (and why you need to) with Rebecca Gruenspan

Posted on 29. Sep, 2015 by .

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“You can be the strongest person on your team by staying positive, leading with an open mind and an open heart, and putting trust in your team and in the process. Without it, you will get in your own way. With it, magic will happen.”
–Rebecca Gruenspan

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision or goal. When it comes to adoption, we know the “common goal” is reach the dream of becoming parents. On your journey to adopt, building your adoption team is an important part of your success. IAG 038 Building your adoption team with Rebecca Gruenspan

You may already know about adoption agencies and attorneys. You probably know that you’ll need to hire someone to complete the required homestudy before a baby can be placed with you.

What you may not know is there are many others you need on your adoption team. Some of them you may not have thought about before. 

So, how do you build your adoption team? Who should be on your team? And why do you need one?

To get the answers to these questions, we talk with Rebecca (aka Becca) Gruenspan, an adoptive mom and the Founder of RG Adoption Consulting. She works with hopeful adoptive parents to educate, guide and be a hand to hold through the domestic adoption process. She also has years of experience as a therapist, fundraiser, event planner, presenter and mentor.

You can learn more about Becca and her consulting services at www.rgadoptionconsulting.com.

My hope is this episode will inspire you to build your adoption team so you can quickly reach your dream of building a family through domestic infant adoption.

What you will learn about in this episode:

  • Who you should have on your adoption team.
  • Why you should have a team in the first place.
  • What is an adoption consultant and what can they do for you.
  • Find out what the #1 answer adoption agencies give when Becca asks them ‘what makes the best adoptive families?’
  • Learn the 4 modules (education, adoption profile, adoption sources, and support) that Becca teaches all of her clients about adoption.
  • Find out how Becca will give you a 10% discount on her services just by mentioning the IAG podcast!
    AND MUCH MORE!

Links we talk about in this episode:

  • RGadoptionconsulting.com – this is Becca’s consulting business where she can help hold your hand throughout the domestic infant adoption journey. She will do a free phone consultation as well.
  • Becca’s Facebook Page – where she shares even more great adoption resources, inspiration, quotes, ideas, thoughts, etc.
  • Becca’s Blog – read her adoption story and get great advice for your journey to adopt.
  • InfantAdoptionGuide.com/iTunes – If you like the show, I would love it if you would leave a review on iTunes. Thanks! 
  • InfantAdoptionGuide.com/welcome – get my 4 FREE adoption ebooks to help you on the adoption journey!

Join Facebook support groups: 

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The 3 Most Important Elements of a Great Adoption Profile

Posted on 09. Sep, 2015 by .

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The following is a guest post from our friend Deb Slater at AdoptionProfilesByDesign.com. She graciously shares with us the 3 most important elements of a great adoption profile. Be sure to check out her site and see the profile services she offers. Enjoy!

I’ve been a graphic designer for more than 25 years now, but I’ve never enjoyed anything as much as helping adoptive families develop their profiles. It might be that I’m also an adoptive parent, but I think it’s really that I get to facilitate, on a daily basis, acts of pure love.IAG blog 3 Most important elements of a great adoption profile

This is what I know so far: Whenever a profile accurately captures the appeal of your family and the love you have for the birthparents and their child, it is the best that it can be. Toward that end, these are the three most important elements of a great adoption profile:

• Your words (as opposed to someone else’s)
• Your pictures (a great mix of posed and candids — mostly candids)
• Your style (the graphic elements that express who you are)

Your Words
At Adoption Profiles by Design, we do not write copy. We’ll assist in correcting grammatical errors, but a great profile requires your spontaneous words. Simply describe who you are and how you live.

We make this even easier by providing sections that break your story into clearly readable parts. We also value highlighting certain parts of your story with “sidebars” — small areas of text that highlight important things about you — e.g., “strengths for parenting,” “why family matters,” or “our annual vacation.”

Your profile should include a “Dear Birth Family” letter to make the reader(s) feel cherished — including such things as a thank you for their consideration of you, appreciation for their loving/brave decision, your commitment to openness in the adoption, and your unconditional love for their child.

We also recommend a “Note to Our Child,” which allows you to speak from your heart to the child as if he/she were listening. Of course, it’s for the birth family now, but it’s also something wonderful to show your child when he/she is old enough.

Your Pictures
Choose your favorite photographs and make them a mix of posed and candid shots. Perfectly posed photos, one right after the other, can become boring. Adding some “caught off guard” moments will enhance realism. Non-people pictures, such as your home or nursery, are also helpful.

Use your captions not only to briefly describe the contents of the photos, but to reveal something about you as well. For example, “Camping in the Smokey Mountains. We love the outdoors” or “At the baseball stadium. We’ve followed the Reds for years.”

If taking new photos for the profile, take them at the highest possible resolution on your camera. If scanning photos, scan them to a size that is about 4X as large as you would envision them in the finished profile.

When selecting digital photos from your computer, remember that they will appear in print about 24% of the size that they appear on your computer.

Your Style
Select colors, fonts and text/photo arrangements that reflect your style. At Adoption Profiles by Design, we offer a number of suggestions, but the final choice should be what you think reflects your family best — from playful to sophisticated.

Covers should focus on the strongest elements of your story. You might have one great, large photo for a cover page, or focus on your “Dear Birth Family Letter,” etc.

To sum it up, when your heartfelt words, photos and graphic style come together in an easily readable format, you will not only have an effective means of reaching birthparents, but something your family will treasure forever.

Adoption Profiles by Design is here to help — and, we keep it affordable, offering great design along with beautiful, professional printing at no extra cost.

May all your adoption dreams come true.

Deb Slater has been in graphic design for over 25 years and her skills run the gamut — from print (magazines, newsletters, brochures, advertising, books and more) digital (websites, email marketing) to content (writing, editing, proofreading). Her clients have ranged from large universities and hospitals to individuals writing their first book. Her recent involvement with an adoption agency led to the formation of Adoption Profiles by Design — a venture that allows her to use her skills in an area near and dear to her heart.

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IAG 037: Answering transracial adoption questions with Rachel Garlinghouse

Posted on 30. Aug, 2015 by .

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Transracial adoption is such a huge topic to cover, so I wanted to bring Rachel Garlinghouse back on the show. She was our amazing guest back in episode 31.

Rachel is a gifted writer, a blogger, and most importantly – a mom of 3 from transracial, open adoptions. She is (in her own words) crazy passionate about transracial adoption. She has written several books, including:

Rachel has written for a ton of big names – including Essence Magazine, ABCNews.com, HuffingtonPost, and Adoptive Families Magazine. She also wrote an amazing guest post right here on the InfantAdoptionGuide blog called 5 Things to Consider Before Adopting Transracially.

You can learn more about Rachel and follow her blog at: WhiteSugarBrownSugar.comShe will open your eyes to what it’s like to adopt a child from a different race than yours.

This show is extra special, because we asked thousands of adoptive families on several Facebook support groups what they wanted to know about transracial adoption, especially from an adoptive parent’s point of view.

The responses from all over Facebook show us that we really need to keep talking about transracial adoption – and provide support for each other. By the way – if you are interested, I’ve added links to several domestic adoption support Facebook groups below.

So this episode is entirely devoted to answering questions from people who want to know more about transracial adoption – directly from a mom.

Our hope and prayer is that this episode will provide inspiration to those hopeful adoptive families who are pursuing their dream of building their family through infant adoption.

What you will learn about in this episode:

  • Hear the answer to the question “How do you deal with the stares & dumb questions when in public?”
  • Listen to Rachel answer the question “How are you teaching your child about racism?”
  • Find out what Rachel says is the BEST thing she has done for her children.
  • Rachel explains how (and from whom) she gets advice and help for raising her children.
  • Find out which books, blogs, and other resources Rachel recommends for transracial adoption information.
    AND MUCH MORE!

Links we talk about in this episode:

Join Facebook support groups: 

Listen and Subscribe to the IAG show on iTunes or Stitcher by clicking on the logos:

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IAG 036: Adoptive Dad panel Part 2 – a guy’s view on infant adoption

Posted on 29. Jun, 2015 by .

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This is is part 2 of the amazing adoptive dad panel where Jake Stewart, Dan Welz and I have a rare talk about infant adoption from a guy’s point of view.

If you haven’t listened to part 1 yet, I highly recommend you check it out first.

Jake told his adoption story in Episode 23. He and his wife have adopted two children – both as newborns. They have open adoptions with their children’s birthparents. Now they are excited as they are expecting their first biological child!

Dan and his wife adopted their son in 2011 and enjoy and open adoption with his birthparents. Now they are on the journey to adopt again!

I’m so excited to share part 2 of this adoptive dad panel discussion with you. We had a fun sharing our stories, tips, and resources.

There’s not a lot of support for the men who are on the adoption journey.

Our hope and prayer is that this episode will provide inspiration to those hopeful adoptive dads (and moms too) who are pursuing their dream of building their family through infant adoption.

What you will learn about in this episode:

  • Stories about open adoption from each guy’s personal experience (and you’ll hear why open adoption is so important to us).
  • How men can support their wives through the adoption process.
  • How women can support their husbands through the adoption process.
  • Tips and advice from each of the dads for any hopeful adoptive family.
    AND MUCH MORE!

Links we talk about in this episode:

InfantAdoptionGuide.com/35 – listen to part 1 of our adoptive dad discussion.
Answers in Abundance: A Miraculous Adoption Journey as Told from a Father’s Heart – great book that Dan suggested that any guy should read.
InfantAdoptionGuide.com/23 – hear Jake’s full adoption story.
InfantAdoptionGuide.com/Dads – a Facebook support group for adoptive dads and hopeful adoptive dads.
InfantAdoptionGuide.com/iTunes – If you like the show, I would love it if you would leave a review on iTunes. Thanks!

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher by clicking on the logos:

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IAG 035: Adoptive dad panel – infant adoption from a guy’s point of view – Part 1

Posted on 20. Jun, 2015 by .

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This episode is one that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It is very special to me because we have not one but two dads as guests on the show – Jake Stewart and Dan Welz.

These guys are here to have a very rare and unique roundtable discussion – a guy’s view on infant adoption.IAG 035 Adoptive Dad panel

You may remember Jake was a guest on the show back on Episode 23. He and his wife have adopted two children – both as newborns. They have open adoptions with their children’s birthparents. Some amazing and exciting news is that they are expecting their first biological child!

Dan and his wife adopted back in 2011 and enjoy and open adoption with their child’s birthparents. They have started the adoption process again – so they are waiting to bring home their second child!

I’m so excited to share this adoptive dad panel discussion with you. We had a blast talking with each other. In fact, we talked about so much that I’ve split the conversation into two episodes!

Today, you’ll hear part 1 and the next episode will be part 2, where we finish our amazing conversation about how guy’s view infant adoption.

What you will learn about in this episode:

  • What each of our adoptive dads felt like when they and their wives were first matched.
  • How much they were involved in the adoption process.
  • What it’s like to have an open adoption (from a guy’s point of view).
  • Tips and advice from the dads for any guy who is going through the adoption process.
    AND MUCH MORE!

Links we talk about in this episode:

Answers in Abundance: A Miraculous Adoption Journey as Told from a Father’s Heart – great book that Dan suggested that any guy should read.
InfantAdoptionGuide.com/23 – hear Jake’s full adoption story.
InfantAdoptionGuide.com/Dads – a Facebook support group for adoptive dads and hopeful adoptive dads.
InfantAdoptionGuide.com/iTunes – If you like the show, I would love it if you would leave a review on iTunes. Thanks!
InfantAdoptionGuide.com/36 – PART 2 of our adoptive dad panel! Listen to the rest of our amazing conversation.

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher by clicking on the logos:

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The Dreams that You Dare to Dream Really Do Come True…. Don’t They? Part 2

Posted on 04. Jun, 2015 by .

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The following is a guest post by hopeful adoptive mom, Josie Sowers. She and her husband Scott are currently waiting to adopt. She shares her heart and her faith as they get closer to the day when their dream of becoming parents comes true. You can read part 1. The following is part 2 by Josie.
Here you go…

We had our profile shown recently to a birth family.

They ended up going with another couple and I was heartbroken, of course, while at the same time thrilled that other couple received the answer to their prayers. I cringed inside as people said “God has the perfect child out there for you and will bring them to you in His perfect timing. This wasn’t the right one for you.”

As irritating as that was to hear at the time, they were so right. God will do what brings Him the most glory and what He knows will be for our greatest good in HIS timing, not mine.

His sovereign plan was for this sweet baby to go to their mama and daddy so they could accomplish things, have the life they wouldn’t have had with us. Who knows what will happen in their life now, how their life would have been different had they gone to any other family?

The same concept will apply when we get matched. Who knows what God will ultimately do with our child’s life when they join us or how He will use us in that process?

I do know we are to raise them in a godly way, teach them that they are sinners in need of a Savior, that God loves them, died for them, and has tasks for them to accomplish that He had prepared before time began. (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Beyond that, I’m not sure what God wants to do. I’m excited to see what happens, though.

Friend, as you are waiting, as another holiday passes without a child to share it with, as you’re crying out to God through your tears, angry and confused, remember this: you’re not alone.

I’m right there with you.

I’ve probably felt and thought everything you have. Sadness, hopelessness, anger, excitement, joy, hope.

Then it seems to cycle back around again. Blech. No fun at all.

Talk about an emotional roller coaster… did I mention I HATE roller coasters? I will not step foot in one. EVER.

I went on one of those kiddie spinner rides once and that was enough for me. So this just proves my theory that roller coasters of any sort are pure evil.

One of Satan’s favorite tricks is to make you feel isolated and hopeless. Don’t let him. Fight. Just know that if God truly has placed the desire in your heart to raise children, if it’s truly in His plans for your life, it’ll happen.

It may not be in the time frame you want, but it’ll happen. Take deep breaths. Pray. Breath again. Pray again.

Put one foot in front of the other and, when you feel like you can’t take one more breath or step, cling to Christ. That’s exactly where He wants us: in complete dependence on Him. God loves you, friend, and I do, too.

Hang in there, trust in His timing and enjoy growing closer to Him as He stretches you, grows you and draws you closer to Himself.
God Bless,
Josie

Josie Sowers is an adoption advocate, mommy in waiting, blogger and Food Network, History Channel and HGTV junkie. She has been married to the love of her life, Scott, since January 2011 and their fur baby, Ziva, joined their family in May 2014. She blogs at BlessedBeyondMeasure11.wordpress.com

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IAG 034: Coley Strickland of Birthmom Buds

Posted on 25. May, 2015 by .

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We have a very special guest on the show – Nicole “Coley” Strickland is here to share about her experience as a birthmom, and how she went on to co-found BirthmomBuds.com.Birthmom

Coley is the President and Executive Director of BirthMom Buds which provides support to birthmothers through its many programs including the buddy system, pregnant and placing program, and annual birthmother retreats.

In addition to the numerous articles she has written, she has also been featured on a number of radio programs, magazine and newspaper articles, as well as in books such as:

How to Create a Successful Adoption Portfolio by Madeleine Melcher
and
A Personal Touch on Adoption by Peter Berlin

Coley has been blessed to parent her special needs son Noah, who along with the son she placed, is the love of her life.

She has further given a voice to the bittersweet turmoil birthmothers go through, by becoming an active member of the adoption community, writing, speaking and sharing her story with others.

This is why I’m so excited about talking with Coley today!

What you will learn about in this episode:

  • Why Coley co-founded Birthmom Buds.
  • How Birthmom Buds provides amazing support for birthmoms, women considering adoption, and hopeful adoptive parents.
  • What makes them unique among adoption support groups.
  • Listen to what Coley hopes that all adoptive parents learn from Birthmom Buds.
  • Hear some success stories from women who have received support from Birthmom Buds.
  • Why you should set up an open adoption contact agreement.
  • AND MUCH MORE!

Links we talk about in this episode:

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher by clicking on the logos:

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