August 12, 2017
I post on forums and in Facebook groups helping people search for family. I know to outsiders it must seem like I'm on autopilot. I send virtually the same message to everyone who has a search post. I'm not copying and pasting the same message to try to save time. I am sending everyone to the same places. I do that for a reason. People have widely varying amounts of information on the people they are looking for. Some people have only a date, or location, or name, but not all three. Others have tons of information, but have no idea what to do with it. I always send people to the adoption registries first. Yes, it only works if both sides are searching, but that's still a huge number of people. If every time someone started a search they were sent to the same place, there would be so many more matches. The top three adoption registries are registry.adoption.com, ISRR.org, and the State registry where the adoption was held. Memorize it, save, it share it! The next step in my opinion is DNA. Now there are some people who have a tremendous amount of information, and though cases can be solved by a really experienced searcher. Everyone else should take a DNA test. DNA tests are most helpful to adoptees. Adoptees can see who they match to and use that info to find their birth family. If a birth family can afford a DNA test though, they should consider taking one. I have seen many adoptees who took DNA tests and didn't have close enough matches to be useful. Also there are adoptees testing who don't know how to work the results, so the closer matches they can get, the better. Then EVERYONE who tests should upload their raw DNA to Gedmatch.com for free. They accept DNA from different companies, so they may provide additional matches. Even if you find who you are looking for from your original DNA test, please go on to upload to Gedmatch. You may help someone else find their family. Where do searchers go? adoption registries, DNA test, Gedmatch rinse, lather, repeat

Annaleece Merrill
August 4, 2017
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from new birth moms is "Will the grief ever end?" I would like to tell them yes, but it won't. Grief is the price you pay for love. As long as you love your birth child you will grieve. There will be anger, denial, depression, bargaining, and acceptance in phases for the rest of your life. The hurt in your grief will spread out and become more infrequent, but it will still come. Some days you won't expect it. I thought I was doing really well as far as coping with my adoption, and I hadn't hurt about it for a long time. I can see photos of her and smile because I'm so proud of her and the choice I made. I can visit her and love her and go home happy. But then yesterday I saw a photo of my birth daughter and the pain hit me like a brick again. I can't tell you why, but instantly I doubled over in pain because it hurt so much to not have her. She's two years old but she'll always be my baby. All I could do for a solid hour was cry and say "I want my baby.... I miss my baby". But it passed. I got through it. Today I am okay. I can push through the pain and refocus on the joy in my adoption. No, the grief will never end. But you learn to manage it. You learn to gain more joy than pain. You learn to soldier through because you're birth mom strong.

Annaleece Merrill
July 31, 2017
One of the tough things about being an expectant mother making an adoption plan is that people constantly recommend hopeful adoptive couples right and left. This was very overwhelming for me. I began looking at the parent profiles on adoption.com with very specific criteria- childless parents in their thirties, both with master's degrees, within two hours of where I lived, etc. etc. etc. I reached out to a few couples who fit those criteria, but none of them felt right to me. And then I got another annoying Facebook message from a girl in my church about her cousin and his wife who were looking to adopt. They didn't fit the mold I wanted- they already had a son who they had adopted three years previously. Neither of them had a master's. But they were the right age, religion, and location, so I shot them a message out of obligation so as not to offend my friend. I was still convinced that no family would ever be good enough for who I now knew was my baby girl. But they were sweet, and excited, and wonderful. I was so excited every time I got an email from them. They seemed genuine like they really cared about me, not just my baby. I pored over the emails with my Mom, trying to find red flags, but there were none. I read a recommendation from their sons' birth mother that brought me great comfort. I had heard so many horror stories of birth mothers having a great relationship with the hopeful adoptive couple during the pregnancy, and then getting cut out and rejected as soon as the adoption was finalized. But I saw that both Haley and Josh*, the birth parents of the Jensens' son, had a great, open relationship with the family three years down the road. So I knew my chances were good that they would be good to me, as well as great parents for baby girl. We emailed back and forth for about a week and came up with a crazy idea. What if they drove from Utah to California (where I was staying at the time) to meet me? We had only been talking for a few days, but they had a cabin nearby, so why not? I was overwhelmed,excited, and scared. But I didn't feel the same sense of dread about them as I did with the other couples, so why not? *names have been changed

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.