3 Things I learned at the Nebraska Adoption Conference

Posted on 16. Aug, 2012 by in Archives, Domestic Adoption, Open Adoption

The 2012 Nebraska Adoption Conference was held on August 9th and 10th in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The key-note speakers were Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and Maris Blechner, Director of Family Focus Adoption Services, an adoption agency based in New York.  There was a lot of information given during the conference – I retained some of it 🙂 but I’m thankful they gave us the powerpoint slides that were presented.  Here are 3 things that I got out the conference:

#1 – Adoption statistics.

When it comes to providing adoption statistics, there are none better at it than the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.  Adam Pertman is the Executive Director and he gave us a lot of stats during the conference.  Here are the ones that stood out to me: Continue reading

Of the 135,000 adoptions that take place every year in the U.S., about 15,000 are infant adoptions and less than 10,000 are international.  

Of the 15,000 infant adoptions, most were placed with white couples by mostly single mothers or mothers that were not young.  

Fewer than 1% of single women voluntarily place their children for adoption – most become their parents.   

#2 – We all need to learn more about open adoptions, and what ‘openness’ actually means.

In the report by the Adoption Institute called “Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections” they found:

  • “Closed” infant adoptions have shrunk to a tiny minority (about 5 percent), with 40 percent “mediated” and 55 percent “open.” In addition, 95 percent of agencies now offer some form of open adoptions.
  • In the overwhelming majority of infant adoptions, adoptive parents and expectant parents considering adoption – actually get to meet each other, and the expectant parents pick the new family for their baby.
  • Adoptive parents, like most participants in open adoptions, report positive experiences; more openness is also associated with greater satisfaction with the adoption process.
  • Women who have placed their infants for adoption – and then have ongoing contact with their children – report less grief, regret and worry, as well as more peace of mind.
  • The primary beneficiaries of openness are the adopted persons – as children and later in life – because of access to birth relatives, as well as to their medical histories.
  • Open adoptions vary in how “open” they are – and they often change.  Studies show, particularly during the first few years of an adoption, that some contact is made between birthmothers and adoptive families even though it didn’t start off as “open”.  Also, some open relationships trailed off or ended even though an the initial plan had been for ongoing contact.

 #3 – The ‘invisible realities’ of successful adoptions.  

There are realities in adoption that we understand and wish the rest of the world would too.  

–Adoption is an emotional ‘claim’ decision that an adult makes in one instant and it is forever.  We claim our children every bit the same as a birth claim.  We do not have a ‘consumer’ mentality when it comes to adoption – we don’t return children – they are forever part of our family.  

–Adoption is:  Permanent, Irrevocable, and Unconditional (like ALL parenthood).  Adoptive families are the most successful when they know from the inside that they are forever families.  

–There is a central irony in adoption:  we wouldn’t have the happiness from our family if there wasn’t some sorrow first, whether it be from infertility, from failed matches or adoptions, etc.

–We all must understand that the psychological presence of the birthparents always exists in the adopted child.  Potential adoptive parents must educate themselves about open adoption, what it means and how to navigate open relationships over time.   

–The world (including our families and friends) just don’t understand adoption.  We will have to continually educate our families about adoption for the rest of our lives.  Educate them on positive adoption language, on openness in adoption, on the fact that our adopted children are “real” and they are forever part of our family.

What do you think?  Enter your comments below.

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