July 16, 2017
Whether you're an adoptive parent or not... whether you're a foster parent or not.. you can invest in the future of adoption and foster care by taking a few actions with your children today. Some of these are subtle, but can help create a generation of children who decide that they will be the last generation to know what an orphan is in the world. Open Door Policy - be the household on the block where all the kids come and hang. Create an atmosphere where children are welcome -- not just the popular kids, but all kids. Your Children Are Important - be sure they know that each and every day. Some parents dismiss kids in important conversations. Take the time to value what your children have to say and let them know that you don't discount their opinions just because of their age. Be a Global Parent - It's not easy for whole families to travel around the world, but travel (on any scale) broadens the mind. Expose your family to new ideas about the world. Plan family time once a month to watch a documentary (please... no reality shows) on a different culture. If you do get a chance to travel, take a look at a few cultural highlights on the way to Disney. Use these experiences to engage your children on what it's like to live in another culture or a different part of the world. Read - If you read, they read. It's a basic formula. Try picking up a book on a different culture and use it for discussions around the dinner table. Find books for your kids on different cultures - age appropriate of course. As a kid, one of my favorite books was "Island Boy" about a young boy growing up in Hawaii. I found the culture fascinating. Compassion - Be a parent of compassion for other children. Support a child or a program in a different part of the world. It could just be $10 a month! But imagine the difference it makes in the life of a child in another country. And over time, see what a difference it makes in the lives of your own children. Get them involved in learning about the culture or cultures your favorite charity represents. I'm biased, of course, but Orphan World Relief would be a great starting point! Regardless, involve your children in the decision and be sure that when you write the check each month, you talk about it as a family and engage with your own children about something they've learned about another culture. Involve Children in Supporting Causes - Find a cause locally or internationally you believe in and work with your children to make a difference. Do an annual garage sale and give the money to a charity of your children's choosing supporting kids (locally or globally). Have them come up with their own ideas of how they can support a cause. Learn a Language - Enroll the family in a language course where you can learn together (don't be too concerned if your kids do better than you). Connecting with another language helps connect you with a different culture. The younger your children are exposed to languages, the easier it will be for them to learn languages later in life when they need to in high school or college. Eat food from other Cultures - Even if it's just grabbing tacos, take the time to engage with the food of another culture. Try and find a local restaurant and not a chain with people working their from other cultures. It's probably easier than you may think! Research the food. Learn where it comes from and talk with your children about ways you can make it at home. Talk with Your Children - Every idea has one central theme: conversation. Engage your children in conversation... talk about other people groups. Help your kids talk about the differences and similarities of others. Try to help them become better world travelers by calling out things that don't make sense in our own culture as "different" rather than passing judgement by saying something is "stupid". Pose questions to your children to help them think through why something might be the way it is... and then research the truth! Volunteer with Others Less Fortunate - There will always be children who need a mentor. Sign up to be a big brother or a big sister. Spend time with your nieces and nephews. Help a single parent out at Church by befriending them and their children. Even if you do all of these things, there are no guarantees that your kids will decide to adopt or foster other children. They learn by what you do. Consider making room for one more child in your home through adoption. But even if you cannot adopt, you can help prepare your children to be better world citizens by following some of these simple ideas. It doesn't cost anything but time and a little creativity. Be a global hero to your children by making them global heroes in their own right. More blog posts about orphans, adoption and life: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dougriggle/detail/recent-activity/posts/

Annaleece Merrill
July 13, 2017
In June of 2015 my life changed- again. I was sitting in my counselor's office, crying about how I didn't know how my baby could ever be happy being raised in a split home with hardly any resources. My counselor gently asked me if I was still comfortable with parenting. I got angry, told her of course I was, and got out of the meeting as soon as I could. Then I sat in my car and cried and cried and texted my mom... "I think I'm going to start looking at adoptive couples". To this day I can't really explain why my mind changed. I was so dead set on parenting and then suddenly I wasn't. No weight was lifted from my shoulders, no feeling of incredible peace befell me. I just knew that I didn't want to, but that I couldn't deny that it would be better for my baby. I wasn't happy about it. I wasn't happy about all the people that acted so smug when I started being more open about my adoption plan, thinking they had been right about what I should do all along. But it wasn't, and still isn't, any of their business. This was my baby and my decision and no one could make that for me, not even Ryan. I let him know what I was planning on doing and he was not at all happy about it. However, he made no move to stop me so I began looking at families. But how could I choose a family that would be anywhere near good enough for my baby angel?

July 10, 2017
Hi, my name is Karissa, my husband and I are looking to adopt. We have been married for 9 years but trying to conceive for 5 years. If there is any mothers who are looking to put your baby or child up for adoption please contact me at karisanchez08@yahoo.com Thank you and God Bless (:

July 6, 2017
I have read that Texas changed their laws and that foster homes are now able to homeschool or enroll the children in online public school. However, I have yet to find a family that is actually doing this! My wife and I really want to foster and hopefully adopt boys near our sons age, so preteen boys. We travel frequently (for pleasure, not business) and enjoy not having to work around the school system.

June 27, 2017
Before I became a part of the adoption community, I had an interest in adoption. I loved to read blogs about adoption and sometimes I would even peruse adoptive parent profiles, just for fun. I remember reading a blog one time in which an adoptive mom remarked that now that she had adopted a Marshalese child, they had become a multicultural family. I remember thinking that was the weirdest thing. My thought was, "No you're not. She's a baby. She'll just adapt to your family's culture." I truly didn't understand what she was even really meant by that. I could see saying that they were a multiracial family - but multicultural? That didn't make sense. Along those lines, I always thought it was a little weird when adopted people looked for their birth parents. "You already have a family," I'd think to myself. "Why are you looking for more?" Fast forward several years later, however, and now these two ideas have come into sharp focus in my mind. As I have listened to adoptees talk about their adoption experiences, I have come to realize that biological connections and cultural roots are much more powerful than I'd ever given them credit for. Now when I interact with people at family gatherings - and extended family gatherings - I realize what a comfort it is to be surrounded by people who look like me, who have similar quirks to me, who share the same grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents. There is something very powerful and grounding about knowing WHERE you came from and WHO you came from. When a child is adopted into a family, they still carry their birth families in every cell of their bodies. This isn't to say that there isn't a power in the family that they were adopted into - the child will become a part of that family, integrated by love and shared experiences and the daily weaving of being together - but now I understand how important it is for adoptees to have access to and experiences with the biological roots that shape them just as powerfully.

June 19, 2017
I am new and don't really know about this and I am hoping to meet others involved in adoption, especially an adult adoption - the adult adoptive parent or the adult adoptee. I am 17 years old now. I have a really rough childhood. When I was young I was an outcast and a victim of bullying. My parent sends me to study abroad just to get out of their way and now they threatened to cut me off. I feel so scared because I don't know where to go if they cut me off. It took me years to finally see and realise that I needed to find a better way to live my life, that I deserved a better/safer life, and that I am not a bad person. One should never be obligated to have contact with people just because they raised them, it's all about respecting, honest, caring, empathy, and being open-minded, is what makes a family in my opinion. I have always struggled with my relationship with my biological parent and never really felt like I belonged anywhere and always wanted to know what it was like to have mothers and fathers to love. If I decided to follow my dream my biological parent are going to be very angry and hurt but I have spent my whole life trying to make them love me and gain their approval. I don't want to hurt anyone I just want to be happy, loved, accepted and allowed to just be myself. I hope one day that I can find a place to really call home and people that want me in their life.

Annaleece Merrill
June 18, 2017
Ever since I became a birth parent, my viewpoint on fathers' day has completely changed. It used to be just a day every year where I made a nice card and dinner for my dad to let him know I appreciate him. It's not so simple anymore. Fathers day makes my heart hurt. I hurt for the little family I could have had with Ryan* and baby R. There is a part of me that will always feel connected to baby R's biological father. I carried his child for the better part of a year, and as much as I sometimes want to, I can't deny that I will always feel bonded to him. I wonder what it could have been like if we had both been a little more mature. I feel angry and robbed and hurt. Sometimes I feel so abandoned and sad that he wasn't ready to become a father. But as hurt as I am, there will always be a part of my heart that is grateful. Without him, I wouldn't have had the experience of giving life to sweet little R. My birth daughter is the light of my life, and I wouldn't be the same without her. And, in a way, I am grateful that he wasn't ready to be a dad. Because I wasn't ready, either. The life little R would have had if he and I had stayed together wouldn't be nearly as wholesome as the life she has with her adoptive parents. Since Ryan left, I now have the chance to grow up a little, to find the true, lifelong, mature love that I deserve. I am also so, so grateful to little R's adoptive father. He gives me so much hope and faith for the family I hope to have someday. There are men out there that really want to be fathers. Men who would do anything for their children. Baby R has him completely wrapped around her finger, I have never seen a father so in love. He is such a hands on daddy, and I am so grateful that little R will never have to wonder even for a second if she is loved. She will have a very strong male role model in her life, and I will forever be grateful for that. I am also so grateful for how he treats his wife because she will learn that she deserves to be treated the same way. I am grateful for the way he treats me. He is so supportive of little R and I having a wonderful open relationship, and he is like an older brother to me. I am grateful for my own father. He shares so many traits with little R's adoptive father, and I am so blessed to have him in my life. He is a hard worker and a loving father. Fathers day is hard. But fathers day also reminds me not to take the good men in my life for granted. How have good men blessed your life, and how will you celebrate them this fathers day? *names have been changed

Annaleece Merrill
June 14, 2017
For the first seven months of my pregnancy, I was dead set on parenting. Several acquaintances had brought up the idea of adoption, but I was not having it. I was not about to listen to anyone who implied that I wouldn't be a good mom. I would show them- I spent hours reading about labor and delivery, sleep training, forming healthy attachments, you name it. I put down a deposit on an apartment with my brother and sister in law, so I could continue attending college and get some help with childcare. I gathered baby supplies. I applied for grants. I did everything I possibly could to be a good mom. To this day, I stand by my belief that I would be a great single parent. I love children, I am patient, kind, and responsible. I love my baby. There is nothing about me that would make me incapable of parenting. Just because I could be a good mom didn't make me any less alone. It didn't take away my 50 hour work weeks just to pay the bills with no help from her father. It didn't change the lifestyle he lived. It didn't change the fact that he would have fought me for custody, and my poor baby would have been raised torn between two homes with very different values. It didn't change the sick feeling in my gut every time I thought about the kind of life she would have. I wanted her to have the same opportunities I had growing up, and there was no way I could do that for her at the time. But adoption? No. No way. I loved my baby too much. I wasn't going to shirk my responsibility. I wasn't going to just hand my child over to a stranger because I didn't want to deal with her. The idea disgusted me. But the feeling of panic I felt when I was scrambling to make plans for parenting disappeared when I thought about adoption. Would this be the right thing for my baby?

June 13, 2017
Last July our lives as foster parents were turned upside down. Well, you know, even more than usual for foster parents. We had two foster children at the time, Wheels and a baby boy we'd brought home from the hospital the October previous. So, we'd had him for just over 9 months at that point. We, and the GAL were convinced that the parents were a lost cause, but DHHS had decided they had removed the baby in error. I will spare you the details of why the child had been brought into care in the first place, but let's just say it hadn't been an error. But because this was the stand that DHHS had decided to take, the parents were not required to actually do any services, and they were going to return the baby. The plan was to slowly transition him to their care, since we'd had him his entire life. However, one evening at the end of July 2016, I received a phone call from the baby's caseworker. The judge had approved their request to return the baby home and she was coming to get him the next day. I called off from work the next day and spent the whole day with him. I packed up all of his things (except for a special baby blanket and his first rattle) and piled it all up in the hallway for the caseworker when she came. The kids and I played in the pool with him. I attempted to explain to Wheels that the baby was going home, but since we had brought him home from the hospital, he didn't really understand what other home he could be going to. That afternoon, my husband came home early and we played with the baby a little more, before the knock came at the door. DH helped the caseworker load all of his things into the car. I clung to the baby for all I was worth as I tried not to cry. The caseworker gave us her sweetest smile as she loaded the baby into his car seat. Wheels watched in dismay as she strapped him in to take him away. He looked up at me with big eyes and said, "I'm not going away, right?" I managed to keep it together as I explained that he wasn't going anywhere...that day. The caseworker gave us a big smile, thanked us for taking such good care of him, and walked out the door with my baby. The moment the door was closed, DH wrapped me in his arms and we both fell apart. The baby that we had brought home from the hospital, that we'd watched grow for the last 9 months, that I rocked for hours nearly every night for the first 6 months of his life (NAS), was gone. No sooner had the tears begun to fall, when another knock came at the door. I brushed away the tears and tried to pull myself together. I assumed the baby's caseworker had forgotten something. However, when I poked my head around the corner of the hallway door, I found Wheels' caseworker standing there with a look of horror and confusion on her face. First, let me say that Wheels' caseworker is awesome. We loved her from the moment we met her. She's a straight shooter and she makes it abundantly clear where she stands on an issue. She always let us know what was going on, and anyone who's done fostering can tell you, that's a rarity indeed. So, I went to the door, still swiping at stray tears, and opened it to let her in. She looked up at me and took in the tears, took in my husband who also was trying to hide the tears. She then turned to look down the driveway to the other caseworker taking the baby away. "Oh crap. What is going on?" she asked as she stepped into the house. I explained that the baby was going home. She looked at me with sad eyes, "Oh I don't have good news either. Maybe we should do this another time." Sighing I gestured her to have a seat at the dining room table, "You might as well get it over with. I can't imagine that this day could get much worse." For the record...I was wrong. Wheels' caseworker began her story by handing me a slip of paper with a name and a phone number on it. "Do you know who that is?" she asked me. I looked at the name, and no bells were ringing. "No. Should I?" I asked. "You're about to know that name very well. She's the woman who adopted Wheels' older brother. She has decided that now that the reunification isn't going to happen, she wants to adopt him. And my supervisor has advised me that I need to begin the transition to move him to her home as soon as possible."