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Annaleece Merrill
September 11, 2017
I'm a birthmother, but I'm not irresponsible I'm a birthmother, but I'm not a dropout I'm a birthmother, but I'm not on drugs I'm a birthmother, but I don't 'get around' I'm a birthmother, but I'm not a bad mom I'm a birthmother, but I'm not crazy I'm a birthmother, but I didn't abandon my baby I'm a birthmother, but I'm not a surrogate I'm a birthmother, but I'm not lazy I'm a birthmother, but I'm not unstable I'm a birthmother, and I am intelligent I'm a birthmother, and I am a mom I'm a birthmother, and I love my birth child I'm a birthmother, and a good example I'm a birthmother, and I grieve daily I'm a birthmother, and I am proud I'm a birthmother, and I am human I'm a birthmother, and I am strong.

Hugger
February 14, 2017
I waited nine months to meet my daughter for the first time, and forty four years and nine months to see her again. On February 19, 1970, in the state of confusion, er, New Jersey, I gave birth to a girl. Though unmarried and unable to care for her, I actually wasn’t confused at all. I knew from the beginning that the only option for me was to give her to others to raise in a way I couldn’t at the time. Had I said ‘state of depression’, well, that would have been closer to the mark. Although I did what I felt I had to do, I lived with the consequences, day after year after decade. My heart was with her every day. I wished her happy birthday every year – I prayed she be happy and healthy. When she turned 18, I stopped thinking of her literally every day. I registered with the state and every organization I could find so that in the event she wanted to find me, the means were there. In 2004 I found and registered with Adoption.com, a website offering a host of services, including a forum for adoptees and birth families to reach out and connect. Every year that passed brought a decreasing sense of conviction that I would hold my daughter once more before my final breath. Then on July 4th, 2014, I received an email from another member of the forum who said, “Your birth daughter is looking for you but she is having trouble with her post. Please contact her . . . ” I logged onto Adoption.com right away, found her post and replied. She wrote back, “I think I’m your daughter – if you’re my other mother, please contact me. If not, just wish me luck . . .” She left an email address along with her phone numbers. As much as I wanted to grab the phone and call, I didn’t want to do so at a bad time so I emailed her first. Then came the phone call. We connected, and shared, and over four hours later, we ended the call. To paraphrase Kahlil Gibran, the gates of my heart were flung open and my heart flew. I even asked Rick if it was really happening. He said it was. But I thought, it feels so surreal. So unreal. Dreamlike. Like it’s happening to someone else. Like I’m not even in my body anymore. But it was real. We will meet, face-to-face, for the first time in forty four years and nine months, on Thanksgiving Day at my sister Laurie’s in St. Louis. Wish us well, and may the healing continue. (To be updated in December . . .) THE REST OF THE STORY (Added in December 2014) A message board friend wrote, “. . . I am happy to see you made it back safely from your once-in-a-life-time Thanksgiving trip.” I had just returned from St. Louis where I met my daughter for the first time since surrendering her for adoption over 44 years ago, and the term kept bouncing around in my head . . . “once-in-a-lifetime”. In the preceding weeks I couldn’t imagine what would happen when we would meet at last. What did happen in that magical (for me) moment? (Pregnant pause for effect) I took hold of Sandi and began to sob, holding my precious daughter and releasing years of fears and tears. We spent the next few days asking and revealing, listening and learning. Part of me was awed by this remarkably strong, compassionate woman and although I felt proud, I had no right to be. Her life and accomplishments are testimonials to the two loving spirits who nurtured and guided her, her mom and dad. Any doubts I’d harbored that I’d made the best decision for Sandi those many years ago, evaporated as she spoke. And then, I was amazed by what we had in common. We’d both been married four times, our third husbands being the really problematic ones. We both: – had a daughter, followed by two sons – enjoy rural life – have a strong dislike of shopping – don’t wear make up – like to travel and will go anywhere at the drop of a hat. Sandi has already realized two of my bucket-list dreams by visiting Ireland and Machu Picchu. Maybe I’ll follow in my daughter’s footsteps – had a son become an Eagle Scout – are strong proponents of organic gardening and are avidly against genetically altered foods – were hospice volunteers We’re both “wordies”, which I define as taking delight in the use of words; we are writers, pleased to share our published pieces. Even though Sandi is a Registered Nurse and my highest level was a Certified Nursing Assistant and Medical Aide, we have common fields/interests that have included in-home care, pediatrics, work with developmentally disabled and rehabilitation of those suffering from brain trauma. The old question of nature verses nurture arises and it would seem that we do possess a natural inclination toward some things, physical traits being only the tip of the iceberg. As far as nurture, well, I think it trumps nature and it turns out that my concern for Sandi’s well-being in the home in which she was placed was unnecessary. Her parents are two incredibly awesome individuals who did a magnificent job in raising Sandi. They have my eternal gratitude for the loving, supportive environment they provided for her. Special thanks to my sister Laurie for opening her heart and home to Sandi, me, Sandi’s husband John, and their friend Pat, who helped with the driving. We’re grateful for Laurie’s overwhelming hospitality. Well, we just wanted to share the rest of our story, our once-in-a-lifetime meeting and hopefully help bring together others in similar situations. Our message to you . . . When all seems lost, when something appears impossible, when there is no hope left, don’t give up!

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
August 23, 2017
My motto since I had baby R is "I am birth mom strong". Placing her was truly the hardest thing I have ever done, and likely the hardest thing I will ever do (knock on wood). That experience was, in a way, a crucible. It shattered me. And then it built me, refined me, made me the person I am today. Every time something hard comes up I remind myself that I am birth mom strong. Today I was about to take off on the long road trip back to college, and my car broke down. It's not going to recover. I have to be at school in a few days and I have no idea how I'm going to do it. There's no way I can pay for this right now. I stressed and I cried and I worried... but then I remembered that I am birth mom strong. The trials I am going through right now pale in comparison to what I've already been through. I was pregnant and young and I didn't know what to do but I figured it out. This doesn't hurt nearly as much as that did. It was hard and still is, but I managed. Because of that experience, I am a better woman. I am tough, and I always find a way. Being a birth mother gives me comfort. I am more secure in myself because I know I can do hard things. I hold myself to higher standards. I try to accept hardships head on with grace, because I want my birth daughter to know that she can do hard things, too. I hope that one day she wants to be like me. I won't let her down. I can't always be strong for myself, but I can be strong for her. It's amazing how much sunshine one little child can bring so many people. I know she motivates me to be strong, and I know she motivates her parents to be the very best they can be. Such a special little girl deserves all the love in the world, and she deserves people who try their very hardest to make her happy. Even on hard days like this, even when I haven't seen her, to know she is out there being well loved and cared for gives me strength. I will see her again soon. I will be birth mom strong. For her.

Lauren Madsen
May 2, 2017
I still can’t even believe everything that can happen in six months! My husband, Nate and I walked into an adoption agency in August of 2016 and began the process to become adoptive parents! We were so excited and we already felt so much love for the little one that is meant to be in our family. Some wondered how we came to the decision to adopt so quickly, but to be honest with you, this is something Nate and I have planned on doing since before we were even married. When Nate and I were dating and discussing what we wanted for our future, I told him I wanted to adopt. He eagerly jumped on board and that was the very first step to get to where we are!

May 3, 2017
[img]https://adoption.com/community/PF.Base/file/attachment/2017/05/a7d125982b7c8e74dee3e2e357790d6f_view.jpg[/img] I have a story to tell. It’s not a short one, but this is the beginning. I’m the inquisitive type. Stubborn. Both emotional and logical. At three days old I met my parents. My father wore a blue suit with a yellow tie. My mother laid me on her stomach in the hotel room and I smiled up at her when her tummy rumbled. She always said, “You may not have grown under my heart, but you grew in it.” I knew that I was loved. Always. A few times in elementary school I was teased about being adopted. “Your mom must not have loved you. That’s why she gave you up. That’s why nobody likes you.” It never bothered me. I laughed at them. My mom always made sure my brother and I knew that we were chosen. We were never mistakes. They prayed for us for years. That never stopped me from being curious. Where did I come from? What was my story? Did I look like someone out there? Do I have biological siblings? What’s the strength of nature vs. nurture? Did she care about me? Did she want to meet me? She’s like me, I know it. She’ll want to meet me. Prepare for the worst. Protect your heart. She might not be what you think. She may not want you. She might be a drug addict. She might be dead. She’s not your family. You have a family. Family doesn’t have to be blood. Family is a bond. Where does she live? I love you, daddy. I love you, mommy. You are my angels. Thank you for this life. Thank you for everything. Thank you for picking me. Thank you for loving me, even when I don’t deserve your pureness. I love you. Do you know how much I love you? Does she have my eyes? Does she want to meet me? Read More: https://sarahfittravels.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/adopted/?frame-nonce=d2d521d219

Michelle MadridBranch
December 22, 2017
“I was so afraid of being seen as imperfect. What happens to imperfect things? They get sent back…” The above words were my reference of thought for much of my childhood life: you better be perfect or you might get sent back to foster care. I can recall, as a little girl, the panic I felt each time my adoptive mother would leave the house. I was certain that my foster care giver, in England, would come to America to get me while mom was away. Mom would surely have learned what I already knew — that I wasn’t her perfect girl — and I’d be returned to the place from where I came. Adoption may seem like a simple equation: a child needs a family and a family longs for a child. The process of adoption serves as the cement that fills this gap between need and longing. Only, the cement that fills the gap in an adoptive parent’s life can be the very binder that leaves a gaping whole in the adoptee’s life. This contrast is difficult for many people to understand. I’m not every adoptee and my thoughts don’t represent the whole. However, I do want to offer what I believe are ten important needs that many adoptees have in common and, therefore, would want you to know about. You see, adoptees hold a wealth of wisdom on family, love, relationship, identity, pain and healing. We’re just beginning to allow this wisdom the light it deserves. Read about the 10 needs adoptees have, here: http://michellemadridbranch.com/10-needs-adoptees-want-you-to-know/ [img]https://adoption.com/community/PF.Base/file/attachment/2017/12/1d5c86231047db75c4cfef4f611c480b_view.jpg[/img]

Michelle MadridBranch
March 29, 2018
I’m an international adoptee. I’m also the parent of two children delivered into my life via adoption from Russia and Ethiopia. We’re an international family created through adoption. We love each other and we have so much fun together. We are also Americans; immigrants to the U.S. and citizens by naturalization. We contribute and we serve this nation, our community, our family, and our friends. Recently, I read a staggering statistic: International adoption by Americans has declined by 81% since 2004. And, crippling new policies and practices are projected to completely end international adoption within the next five years. (How to Solve the U.S. International Adoption Crisis, by Nathan Gwilliam, Ron Stoddart, Robin Sizemore, and Tom Velie, adoption.com, March 19, 2018) I couldn’t believe my eyes! Is international adoption really in danger of ending for Americans by 2022? If so, how have we arrived at this dark hour? Furthermore, who are we as a country if we are willing to risk the possibility that orphaned children around the world might not have a place to call home, in America? UNICEF estimates that 15.1 million orphans around the world have lost both of their parents. According to the adoption.com article that I noted above, “International adoptions by U.S. adoptive parents decreased from 22,989 in 2004 to 5,370 in 2016. We believe international adoptions dropped to about 4,600 in 2017 (although the 2017 total has not yet been publicly released). The director of IAAME, the new Accrediting Entity, stated they are working under an assumption of only 4,200 intercountry adoptions in 2018. This is an 81% decline in international adoptions by Americans. If this trend line continues, international adoptions will completely end by 2022.” Why is this happening? Let me quote another leading voice in the adoption community, Former United States Senator and former Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Mary Landrieu, who recently said, “Congress passed the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption believing that this action would pave the way for a more ethical, transparent and streamlined process for inter-country adoption… Sadly, several years later, it is clear that this decision was a tragic mistake. Instead of shoring up the process and providing support for sending countries, the State Department has twisted the intent of the treaty to close one country after another. The process has become far more cumbersome and far less transparent. American parents who want to help and lovingly raise a child are often made to feel like criminals. As a result, intercountry adoptions have fallen to an historic low, and they continue to decrease each year as the need of desperate, abandoned, and orphaned children increases. Major change is required now before it’s too late.” The Office of Children’s Issues (OCI) says that they are implementing a “re-interpretation of adoption regulations” in order to protect children from child trafficking. Yet, within this push to re-interpret policies and practices, is the OCI ignoring the negative impact on the children who were not able to be adopted into loving and permanent families? Read the full article: http://michellemadridbranch.com/saving-international-adoption/ [img]https://adoption.com/community/PF.Base/file/attachment/2018/03/f6e0910d1c4d8894a760db50aa9c348f_view.jpg[/img]

January 29, 2021
My name is Annabelle Wadsworth Duncan I was born December 24, 2000 in Primorsky Krai, Vladivostok Russia. I was adopted in 2003 by my parents Doug and Elizabeth Duncan. I think my birth name was Valaria. Please help me find them if or If anyone knows who could be my birth parents please contact me. I have been trying to look up adoption places in Vladivostok and see if any of them look like the ones in the back of some of my photos. I do not know their names. Please help. [img]https://adoption.com/community/PF.Base/file/attachment/2021/01/f81d062286a1577aa7f7be7cbc20da04_view.jpeg[/img]pictures. *The first photo is of me a my mom(one who adopted me) at the orphanage in Vladivostok. I do not know what orphanage this is so if someone can tell from the background please contact me. Here are 2 photos of me as a baby [img]https://adoption.com/community/PF.Base/file/attachment/2021/01/1a5af176fcea2acbc214f60d358ff052_view.jpeg[/img] [img]https://adoption.com/community/PF.Base/file/attachment/2021/01/1772893fed9908e260c58ee011c988bd_view.jpeg[/img] And here is a photo of me now [img]https://adoption.com/community/PF.Base/file/attachment/2021/01/2bc91d3989ad0298e57fe99c6e3db8ae_view.jpeg[/img]

Jerome Fatzinger
January 12, 2016
Please help us. Long story short, we adopted our son last April. We fostered him since he was 7 weeks old when we got the call that he was in the hospital with sbs. They didn't think he would make it. Since we adopted his older sister that's why they called us. Honestly, he is a miracle baby. He does have delays, ex: not walking and will be two in feb, didnt crawl till he was about 15 months old and he actually still doesn't crawl he hops like a frog. He's not had any seizures and had a shunt in until about 5 months ago. His sister does have some delays. My question is, have you had any experience with a child or heard of a child with a TBI caused by sbs having anger issues. He throws a fit and or cries about 85% of the day.