Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Domestic Adoption... Behind the Scenes

So I wrote this blog for work... but also wanted to share it with my personal blog followers. Please read it, as it sheds some light on the aspects of domestic adoption which are often not understood or comprehended. If you ever have any questions... I'd be more than happy to answer them!

Dan Rather recently filmed a news story on unethical practices within domestic adoption. It will be airing on May 1st on HDNet as an episode of "Dan Rather Reports." The story speaks of adoptions completed 20-50 years ago in which the birthmother was not able to see or touch her baby.  She was not allowed to know anything about the adoptive family or the baby after the adoption. The story sheds a strongly negative light on domestic adoption. So now I must get on my soapbox! I would like to publicly shed some light on practices within domestic adoption, and the true beauty of domestic adoption when it is done ethically and holistically. 
As most of you know, Illini Christian Ministries is just that… a Christian ministry. In everything that we say and do, we try our best to make it Christ-centered. As I look back over the history of ICM, I am amazed at the wonderful work our agency has done with our clients… especially our birthmothers, all through Christ’s love and grace. In working with birthmothers, we have always desired that they know they are valued and loved. Making an adoption plan for a child can be one of the most selfless, loving things a woman can do for her child. 
From the moment a young pregnant woman calls me to inquire about making an adoption plan for her child, my goal is to help her know that she is valued and loved, and every decision she makes is absolutely and completely hers to make. While I am here to assist her in any way she needs, the decisions in the adoption process are all up to her. She can change her mind at any point during the adoption process up until the time that her rights are terminated. This scares most adoptive families… the thought that a birthmother can change her mind. However, in my experience, discussing this with a young woman helps her feel confident in whatever decision she chooses to make. And that is our goal… for her to make a loving decision that she feels confident is the best choice for both her and her baby. 
We meet with the young woman several times during her pregnancy and build a relationship with her. During these visits, we discuss the adoption process, ensuring that all of the women’s questions concerning the adoption process and the legalities are answered. During these visits, we also show the birthmother profiles of potential adoptive families. We answer any questions that she has about the family, while protecting their confidentiality. She is able to choose the family herself, and often looks at such factors as if they have children or not, their careers, their family life, etc. 
After choosing a family, the birthmother has the option of meeting the adoptive family or not. Again, the decision is completely hers to make. I have worked with some amazing open adoptions, where the family and the young lady have contact with one another, and a lasting relationship is built. I recently worked with a case where myself, the adoptive mother, and the birthmother all had lunch together. It was a great experience, and so emotionally beneficial for both women. The adoptive mother was able to ask the birthmother, “What things would you like me to tell your son about you, his mother?” How wonderful that this little boy will be able to hear stories about his mommy, and how much she loved him?!
In the hospital, the birthmother again makes all of the decisions. It is up to her whether or not she sees and holds the baby. Each woman finds closure in a different way, but most women do prefer to at least see and hold their baby. While this is an emotionally difficult time for the young lady, I am there for her if she needs me, not with an agenda that she make an adoption plan… but as a loving sister in Christ who wants to hold her hand and be there for her.
The birthmother also has the opportunity to name the child if she would like to. This name can always be changed at a later time if the adoptive family chooses to do so. But I have also seen adoptive families want to keep that aspect of their child’s heritage, even if they only keep the name as a middle name.
It is also the birthmother’s decision if she would like the adoptive family to be at the hospital or not. Some women have already built a relationship with the adoptive family, and I have even experienced the adoptive mom being in the delivery room with the birthmom, and they are there to support one another. The birthmother is able to spend as much time in the hospital with her baby as she would like. 
Each state has different adoption laws regarding when the birthmother’s rights are terminated. In Illinois the birthmother can sign the paperwork 72 hours after the child is born. Again, I am there to not only explain the paperwork and the process to her, but I am there as an emotional support for her as this can be emotionally draining. 
After she has signed the paperwork, ICM’s role is not done.The most important time has just begun. We remain in contact with the birthmother, seeing if she has any needs, physically or emotionally, that we can assist with. We encourage the woman to speak with a therapist and assist her in finding a good therapist. ICM also assists in facilitating ongoing contact with the birthmother and the adoptive family. The two families are able to remain in contact with one another (while still maintaining confidentiality) by sending letters and pictures to our agency, which we then forward on to the other party. This can last for a couple months, or years. We have a family that has remained in contact with their child’s birthmother through the last 17 years. They are now in the process of arranging a meeting with their family and their birthmother. It has blossomed into a beautiful relationship and this young person is blessed with both an adoptive family and a biological family who love him deeply.
Are there agencies and individuals who might conduct adoptions in an unethical manner… unfortunately yes. It is a sad and unfortunate thing. But I promise you that Illini Christian Ministries values and respects our birthmothers, and strives to show these women Christ’s love and compassion through this difficult time.  So, Dan Rather, please do not diminish the true beauty of adoption! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Our Big News...

So I know that I said last week I would be posting Steve and I's most recent big adoption news, and I haven't gotten around to actually doing it! I guess the key to a great blog is holding your readers in suspense, right?!
Taiwan is going through a great deal of changes to their adoption laws.  Due to the changes, Steve and I are feeling God leading us to adopt domestically, rather than adopting internationally. When we first began discussing this, my heart was crushed at the thought that I would not be able to adopt a baby from Taiwan.  However, I soon began thinking about all of the great things that come with a domestic adoption:

  • We will get to make our family profile for the birthmother to look at.
  • We will be able to possibly meet and get to know my child's biological family.
  • We will actually be able to bring my baby home from the hospital.  
  • We won't have to travel overseas, so I will be able to use my maternity leave to actually stay home with my baby.
So the more that I thought about it, the more excited I became about the new transition.  The cost will be pretty much the same, so that was good news for my fiscally intelligent husband. Fortunately, our home study agency has a placement program as well, so we will just be using them.  We won't have to transfer any paperwork or have any difficult added steps to the process. This also means that we might possibly get a placement more quickly... that would just depend upon when a birthmother chooses us and how far along she is in her pregnancy.  I am just very excited about this! 

God has also been providing for us financially!  I have sold over $300 in jars of Mamaria's pasta sauce. We have also been getting donations from family and friends.  This weekend we received an anonymous gift from someone. It was such a blessing, and I must say I got a little choked up! God is so good and I know that He is leading Steve and I every step of the way.  He already knows who our baby will be and is preparing us for our child. 

Thank you everyone for your continued support and prayers for Baby Gocke!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Depraved Indifference

For those of you who are not familiar with Eric Ludy, he and his wife Leslie are just amazing!  Their book "When God Writes Your Love Story" is a wonderful book that I would lend to any young single person. They now have four children, two of whom are adopted.  To say that Eric is passionate about God's love for the orphan is the biggest understatement of the century. So when you have eight minutes, view this video. View it once a week... view it everyday for that matter.  It will completely shift your worldview to be more focused outwardly rather than inwardly, something we all need.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mamaria's Italian Kitchen

Culture and heritage are important aspects of a person's life. It is important to hold onto the traditions, holidays, and aspects of your culture which make you unique.  I have the distinct privilege of being Italian.  Being Italian is so great.  It means good food, fun fellowship, and a couple of crazy aunts! My beautiful grandmother, Rosetta Marie Pisano, has passed down so much of our Italian heritage, and I am grateful for it. She is in the center of the included picture, surrounded by some of her family (yes... Steve is the only blonde in the family).

Growing up in an Italian household, pretty much every Saturday morning I would wake up to the wonderful smell of garlic, onion, tomato, basil, and oregano as my mother was making sauce.  She would simmer the sauce all day, and then put it in tuperware.  Every Sunday we would have spaghetti for lunch... literally every Sunday! It's these traditions that I hope to share with my children! I loved growing up in an Italian household (however loud and chaotic it might have been)!

In order to raise money for our adoption, Steve and I have decided to sell my homemade sauce, for which I have now perfected the art of canning. So if you would like to get a little taste of true Italian culture (and help us raise money to bring home our baby), please order some of Mamaria's homemade sauce!  You can call Maria (217) 898-1158, email her at mariagocke@yahoo.com, or order through facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MamariasItalianKitchen

Thank you for your help!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Paperwork Paperwork Paperwork... and Paperwork

Steve and I had the fortunate blessing of spending last weekend with our new niece, Evelyn Kate.  I just really needed to share this picture.  Steve is going to be such an amazing father, and my heart is just warmed looking at this picture. We enjoyed spending time with Phil, Emily, and little Evie!  She is such a joy and we are so happy for their family.  They will be such amazing parents, and we are ready to give Evie another cousin to play with!

On another note, we have started our home study paperwork.  I think my husband is seeing the unattractive side of my career.  He sat down the other night and spent three hours doing paperwork.  By the end of it, his sentences weren't even making sense anymore.  I now have a much greater sense of sympathy for my clients!  The paperwork is very exhausting. But we also have enjoyed reading each other's answers to the home study questions.  Especially the ones regarding "your spouses' strengths and weaknesses."  Apparently, I am a somewhat messy spouse! Haha!! I already knew that though.  But he also said I am a great cook, and that I am a hard worker. We still have to write our autobiographies.  Can I just write for my social worker to watch "Everybody Loves Raymond," and our caseworker will completely understand my family?! So we have knocked a lot off of our list of things to do for our home study!  Just get 'er done!!!!