Secrets to Your Successful Domestic Adoption: Insider Advice to Create Your Forever Family Faster

Secrets to Your Successful Domestic Adoption: Insider Advice to Create Your Forever Family Faster

by Jennifer Pedley

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780757393389
Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/13/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 971 KB

About the Author

Jennifer Joyce Pedley, MJ, is a birthmother and social worker who has been helping people build their families through adoption since 1995.  It was her own personal experience of placing her son in an open adoption, following his birth in 1990, which prompted her to become a social worker and make the field of adoption her primary professional focus.  
Pedley is a founding board member of the On Your Feet Foundation; the first of its kind, a not-for-profit organization established in 2001 to provide ongoing support to birthparents after making an adoption plan for their child.  Support is in the form of both monetary scholarships as well as in the establishment of a formal support network for women who previously would have kept their adoption choice a secret.  In 2003 she established and began co-facilitating therapeutic weekend retreats for birthmothers.  Today,  "On Your Feet For Life," retreats continue to be held biannually and, to date, have engaged hundreds of birthmothers from all over the United States.     Pedley lives in Michigan with her husband and two young sons.  She continues to maintain close ties to her birth son as well as with his adoptive family.

Read an Excerpt


When a former client remarked to me after completing his adoption, 'You know, there is a book to be written here,' I thought, Yeah, that's an understatement! Although I kept my response to myself, my reaction was due mostly to the fact that I had already been writing about this subject, almost constantly in some way, shape, or form, for nearly twenty years. Beginning with my own journal that I kept during my pregnancy and days following my son's adoption process right up to that very week of receiving his comment, I had gotten into the habit of writing down my many thoughts and feelings about adoption before they flew out of my brain, never to be seen again! What I had was not even close to a book, but a mishmash of often-ineloquent hyperbole.

Narrowing down which things 'needed to be said' was in many ways much harder than saying them. I have tried to gather all the things that, over the years, have been so obvious to me, but were always huge aha moments for all the clients I've worked with. Being both a birthmother and a social worker has enabled me to have a unique view of the adoption process that few others can see. Having helped so many courageous women (and men) go through the adoption process, and having been there myself, has taught me that this process never ever becomes routine and can never be treated as such. Every seemingly insignificant action causes a wave of reaction that extends far beyond the people on the front lines.

As you read the book, you'll probably realize that there are some things related to this topic that I don't talk about very much. For one, I don't discuss birthfathers specifically. This isn't because I don't think they are valuable and that there isn't a great deal that should be said about birthfathers, but honestly, that is the exact reason I chose to not dissect that topic in detail. There is too much that needs to be said, and to cover birthfathers too briefly would only do them a disservice.

I use the word 'birthmother' or 'birthparent' interchangeably in this book but occasionally have felt the need to add 'birthfather' to the list as well. Please don't take this as meaning birthfathers are only important in those instances or shouldn't be included in every other mention; I just didn't feel I could tackle that subject and do it justice.

I also refer to the people who adopt children as 'prospective adoptive families,' 'adoptive families,' or sometimes just 'families.' Where I feel it is important to refer to women who are still pregnant as 'expectant mothers' because they are not yet 'birthmothers,' I did not feel the same strong pull to differentiate between people who had not yet adopted and those who had, I guess partially because writing 'prospective adoptive parents' every time I referred to you would have quickly become maddening (both to write and to read!). I apologize to anyone who finds this discriminatory, as this was certainly not my intention.

Every story in this book is true. Most names have been changed and some periphery details of stories have been altered to make them less recognizable when appropriate, but all the major themes and lessons learned come from actual experiences I've had while working in the field of adoption or from the people I know personally.

Research has now proven that both birth and adoptive families benefit from sharing information and maintaining a personal connection throughout an adopted child's life. Most people in the adoption community see this approach as a welcome change. Less secrecy and more openness is always good, if you ask me. It must have been a wise person who first said, 'We are only as sick as our secrets'! If the goal is for adoption to be a decision that birthmothers can be proud of, and adoptive families can be completely at ease with, then I think we are moving in the right direction.

I am confident the steps I've outlined here will help you adopt more quickly and with less anxiety. I have a unique and advantageous perspective because I approach every step with both my professional training and education (in order to 'know better'), as well as relying on my personal experience as a birthmother (which certainly helps me to 'do better'). I have spent as much time in the delivery room as I have in the courtroom. I've become a pro at building a great 'Dear Birthmother' letter, primarily after empathizing with hundreds of expectant mothers agonizing over who should raise their baby. My hope is that by sharing these insights, you too will not only experience the adoption process without the usual anxiety and fear, but also gain the confidence you need to be an intelligent ambassador of adoption for your child.

Please don't consider my book to be the complete resource on adoption by any means, but rather just one 'specialty store' among a long list of others that you should visit. I would love to tell you that my book is the one and only 'magic bullet' you'll need to adopt and raise the perfect adopted child, but that may be a little pompous, even for me! I have many amazing colleagues in this field who I respect and admire, and it would be ridiculous for me to say that their work isn't valuable too. Although, without my book, your adoption journey will absolutely lack the efficiency and understanding it could otherwise have. Through reading this, you will learn that laughing and crying, often at the same time, is not only normal in adoption, it is also expected! I do hope that this book will help you experience more of the joys and less of the tears along your journey, wherever that journey may lead.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

Part I Second Choice/Second Best

1 The Case for Domestic Adoption 6

2 Choosing the Least Bad Choice 11

3 Fertility: Too Much or Too Little 14

4 Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable: Open Adoption 28

5 Why "Agency" Can Be a Four-letter Word 44

Part II "Simple Reproduction" Is an Oxymoron

6 The Many Roads to Adoption 56

7 A Great Excuse to Clean Your Closets: The Home Study 67

8 Being "Put Up" for Adoption: The ICPC 76

9 Finding Professionals Who Truly Are 84

Part III Using Your MBA (Marketing for Baby's Adoption)

10 Nice to Meet You, Ken and Barbie 100

11 Surf's Up-Making Friends with the Internet 119

12 Putting It on Paper: Print Ads 127

13 Putting Your Mouth Where Your Money Is 136

14 Intermatchment: The Steps in Betweeen 148

Part IV No, This Isn't Baseball (As You Can See from All the Crying)

15 Keep Your Head and Hands Inside the Car at All Times 156

16 Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, and Bar Mitzvahs-So Why Not Adoptions" 164

17 When She Becomes the Mom 172

Part V Unlike a Highway, a Pet, or a Tree, This Adoption Is Forever

18 Exhaustion: It's Nature and Nurture 184

19 My Parents, Your Parents, the Birthparents 191

20 The Brother from Another Mother: Siblings 200

21 "Hey, World, I'm A Dopted!" 208

22 Birthmothering 214

Selected References 220

Recommended Resources 222

Index 225

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