Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What is a Home Study? Do We Have to Have a Home Study to Adopt?

You make the decision to adopt or become a foster parent and with all the excitement and enthusiasm in the world you call an agency to tell them the good news! The first question you are confronted with is, "do you have an active home study?"  Confused and a little frustrated, you think to yourself, "do I have a home, what study?" The agency explains that in order to be eligible to adopt or foster you first must obtain an approved home study. At this point, you may feel a little set back and overwhelmed. To make matters worse you ask "what is a home study?" The agency probably gives you a quick rundown of the home study process along with the fee structure.  You end this call feeling a large pit in your stomach and a little less enthusiastic. Many random thoughts and worries start to run through your mind.
The phrase "home study" has set many potential adoptive and foster parents into a stressful frenzy. It's time to put those worries to rest. I will explain to you what a home study is, why you need it and what to expect. At the end of this article you may feel empowered with information but maybe still a little overwhelmed by the process. My advice, don't look at the whole picture for now, just take it one step at a time and you will be done before you know it!
A Home Study:
Anyone who wishes to adopt or foster a child must have an approved home study in the State they reside. A home study is the second step in the adoption process after choosing an agency and completing the agencies application. Basically, a home study is performed by an accredited State adoption agency to ensure that you would be capable and appropriate parents to an adopted child. Yeks, that already sounds scary, right?  Before you panic, let me explain the home study requirements. Every State is different so I am going to only explain the home study process and requirements for Colorado.
After, you send in your application to the adoption agency you should be notified that you are approved to move forward with the adoption process with this agency. All agencies work slightly differently but most the time you will be sent a welcome packet after your application is approved. This welcome packet will be full of lots of fun paper work for you to fill out and a list of documentation required. (Okay, you got me there, not so fun but also not difficult to complete)

1. Criminal background investigation be performed, this includes fingerprints. If you have a past history, it does not necessarily mean that you will be unable to qualify for adoption. Typically, additional documentation and statements can be provided to satisfy any necessary requirements. If you have anyone over the age of 18 living in your home, they will also need to do a criminal background check.
2. Financial Information, Colorado further requires that each prospective adoptive family provide financial information and background. Again, this has nothing to do with being "rich or wealthy" The State wants to ensure that you have financial security and ability to be fiscally stable. Tax returns, financial statements, pay stubs and income verification are a few of the documents that may be requested during the home study process.
3.Medical histories, both physical and mental will also be required. Often this will require a current physical and medical statement from the family doctor to be provided by both potential adoptees. If you have existing health conditions this does not mean you are ineligible to adopt. The health condition will need to be noted by your physician with a statement that the condition is treatable under a doctor’s supervision. This is the same for many mental health conditions, so if you are taking prozac, don't panic you can still adopt. If you have children living in your home, they will also need a medical history and health assessment completed, this is just a well check.
4. References, you will be required to have three character references that are not related to you. Usually these references are sent a reference form to fill out and send back to the agency.
5. Sex Offender Registry -As part of the home study process, you will be required to submit to a sex offender registry search. This will also be required of anyone living in your home over the age of 18.
6. Agency Documents- There will also be agency documents for you to sign such as agency policies and procedures, fee sheets, non-refundable and more. Make sure you read through these carefully so you understand your agencies process.
Some agencies will require you to get all of these documents completed before your interviews are conducted and some will let you complete them while the interviews are being conducted. I personally recommend getting them completed before your interviews are conducted because the completion time of many of these documents are not controlled by your agency which could cause your home study approval to be delayed.  Once everything is completed and compiled, the home study provider will include all these documents and information in your final home study report.

Many families are terrified of the home study interview. I was extremely sacred and nervous for my own. I was expecting an angry and bitter old lady with a bun in her hair and glasses at the tip of her noise to show up at my door. I was terrified that she would judge my home and my past with complete discord. While I cannot guarantee what your case worker's appearance, I can tell you that most case workers are not there to make personal judgments on your home or lifestyle. Case workers are often very friendly and helpful throughout your adoption process.
Interviews typically take place in your home. At least one interview must be conducted in your home. Usually, for your first visit the case worker will meet and greet you and your family and give you an over view of the interview process. At some point, they will conduct a safety check walk through of your home. No, this does not mean they go through every corner and every drawer in your home. They simply have a safety check list and will ask you to show them certain areas of your home.
The check list will include;
1. Where you store your cleaning products and medication (this should be up high away from children with child locks
2. Fire arms, you can have fire arms but they must be stored correctly. This means a safety lock box for the fire arm and a separate safety lock box for ammunition. I know what you’re thinking about now, but just do it anyway!
3. Fire Extinguisher - You must have a fire extinguisher under your kitchen sink that is easy to access in an emergency
4. Child proofing- self- explanatory but if you need tips here is a website.
5. Family emergency escape plan posted in your kitchen
6. Access to a phone and emergency numbers posted near the phone or on your refrigerator. You may be thinking if I am adopting a newborn why does this matter? Again, just do it.
7. Water heater temperature set at 120 or below.
8. Child safety measures set up around any water features or fireplaces
9. Appropriate Fire alarms
10. Necessary exits in case of an emergency

Time to talk:
Next, the case worker will sit down with you and get to know you and everyone living in your home. (snacks are not necessary but very much appreciated) The interviews can be a lengthy process, to make the process easier on everyone they are usually split into three separate meetings, each meeting being 2 to 3 hours.  Many agencies will ask you to submit a bio before the interview which really helps the case worker learn about you and your life before these meetings. If asked to write a bio the agency should give you an outline to follow. You can be creative or just keep it simple and answer what is asked in the outline. The case worker may go through your bio with you and ask If questions pertaining to certain times or circumstances in your life including your childhood, family relationships and marriage.  This is nothing to be afraid of, all these questions are normal and they are not meant to be invasive.Remember the case worker is not their to judge you but to gather information. If your married, the case worker will ask you and your spouse questions about each other and your relationship, this part can be fun.
Also, if you have children or anyone else living in your home the case worker will conduct a short interview with them. The interview with children is very simple, usually the case worker with ask to play a game with them and during that time will ask them about their life, home and family. They will also ask how they feel about their parents adopting. Children usually love the attention during the interview and case workers are careful not to cause the child and worry or stress.
Other topics the case worker may  cover will include; how you were raised, religion, where you grew up, childhood experiences, hobbies, and numerous other questions focused on assessing each individuals history and lifestyle. Some of the discussion will focus on your adoption goals, specifically; the race, age, gender, etc. of the child you are hoping to adopt. If you are open to a child requiring special needs — you and your family’s abilities to raise a child requiring these needs will be assessed as well. (It's important to be completely honest, case workers are not asking this information to judge you but to note your preferences for your adoption). Your final home study will specifically state the characteristics of a child you are qualified to adopt. If you want to change these traits after your home study has been completed, you will be required to update your home study to verify that you are qualified.
If you have negative experiences from your past or present, don’t be afraid to discuss this with your case worker. They’re not looking for the "perfect" family because perfect families do not exist, in fact if your family appeared to be perfect this would set off huge red flags for your case worker. Your case worker is looking for you to explain these situations or circumstances and how you received or are receiving help or support. Yes, this will be written in your report but should not disqualify you for adoption.
Your home study interviews should be completed within 3 visits, some agencies take up to 6 months to complete the entire process and others only 2 months depending on the completion of needed documentation. There are also urgent circumstances when a home study can be expedited and completed within a week. Make sure you ask your agency how long they estimate the home study process to take.

This is always everyone's least favorite but it must be done. The State of Colorado required families to attend 16 hours of face to face CORE training with a State agency. This training is usually completed over a weekend. The training covers many areas of adoption, laws and parenting. If you are adopting international you will be required to have any additional 8 hours of international adoption training. Foster families must acquire 24 hours of CORE training. CORE must be complete to have an approved home study.

The End:
You made it! Once these elements have been compiled and completed your case worker will wright a final home study report for the agency to approve. Once the agency approves the final home study it’s sent in for State approval. This process does not take long and before you know it you will receive a letter stating that you are now a home study approved family! This means that you are eligible to adopt and can be matched with a birth mother or a waiting child. Your home study is good for 12 months. If your adoption is not final within a year you can have your home study updated. I recommend that you tell your agency you want your home study updated before it expires. An update is very simple and costs less than the initial home study. Additionally, if you think you will adopt again in the future I recommend that you keep your home study updated saving costs and time.
I am an adoptive mother and a case worker. I have experienced the home study on both the personal and professional point of view. I strongly advice not to worry about the home study process just proceed forward, meet your deadlines, get your paperwork complete and look at your case worker as someone who is there to support you through and after this process. Don’t  let yourself be overwhelmed with the process, just take it a step at a time. Before you know it, you will be ready to bring home your child. If you have any more questions, which I am sure most of you do, please post in comment section and I will answer them the best I can!

Side Note: There are many adoption grants and loans that are worth applying for but they will require you to have a home study approval letter. As soon as your home study is approved apply for grants and loans. There is a  good chance you will receive some form of assistance, it is so worth it!

Written by,
Julie Butterfield

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Because I love her" A Birth Mother's Story Through her Adoption Journey

                                "Because I love her" 

     A Birth Mother's Journey Through Adoption

    My name is April. I found out I was pregnant on March 15, 2012. My boyfriend had just left for Afghanistan, and it was also his birthday. I think I took about 10 tests before I believed it. I was shocked and so was everyone involved. Jacob was my boyfriend and the birth father. Jacob is in the military and had left for Afghanistan the day I found out I was pregnant.  I wasn't able to tell him for about 5 weeks that I was pregnant.

When I first found out that I was pregnant, I cried for a long time. Honestly, my first thought was to have an abortion but deep down I knew I could never go through with it. I was very afraid because I didn't have support from my family and I was not with Jacob's family. I also knew that I would be the one who had to tell the news to Jacobs mother. The day after I found out I was pregnant was my birthday. On my birthday I went to the pregnancy clinic for yet another test. They told me the test was positive and that I was further along than I thought. I remember saying “no", Jacob was only home March 1st through 10th; there’s no way I could be further along unless I conceived on Thanksgiving! The nurse asked me multiple times if i could be pregnant by someone else. I was very frustrated at that point because not only had the person I loved just left to war; but I had just confirmed I was pregnant.  The nurse insisted that I had to have conceived before march! 

A million thoughts rushed through my mind. Eventually I went to another doctor and got an ultrasound scheduled for about 3 weeks later. I felt relieved that I had a little more time to  take it all in and think about what I was going to do. I finally went to the ultra-sound and sure enough, I saw a small white ball on the screen. The gestation was only about 6 weeks. At that point I had told Jacobs mother Cheryl, about the pregnancy and she was with me at the ultrasound. Cheryl and I both saw the heartbeat on the doctors screen. There was no way we could get rid of this precious little thing. I remember just staring at the ultrasound pictures for hours.

A few days after the ultra sound my mind was just blank, I didn't know what to do or think. I felt frozen.Cheryl and I talked about it, and decided we would look into adoption because I knew I was not ready for the poopy diapers, screaming newborn, and the other slobbers of motherhood. So a couple days later we called Adopt Triad. Linda and Amanda came to my house and we sat down and talked.It really helped to have there support and get all my questions answered.  

The next day I called the adoption agency to inform them that we want to make an adoption plan. During this time I was able to tell Jacob I was pregnant. The first call to him ended quickly, I was only able to the words out. We went a couple days before we got to talk again. We both took that time to think. We decided that adoption was right, although Jacob was a little apprehensive at first.

April and Cheryl
Everything moved quickly from that point. I filled out a lot of paper work that explained who we are and what we are looking for in an adoptive family. We also got the legal paperwork out of the way. I remember requesting a couple with no children. I really had no other requests.I knew I would know which family was right when I looked at the family profiles. I went to adoption counseling at Adopt Triad with Linda. Every time I went to counseling reality would set in. Pregnancy hormones, trying to keep up in classes and missing Jacob made me an emotional mess. 

In May, Jacobs’s grandparents came to visit. It was scary enough to tell his parents but telling his Grandma scared me even more. I scared myself with all the possible ways she may react and non of the scenarios where positive. I prepared myself for the worst. Surprisingly, she did not react the way I pictured in my head. Jacob's Grandma was very supportive and loving. I thought it was funny that the day after I told her I had a noticeable baby belly. 

A week after the grandparents left, Linda handed me family profiles. I started balling. It was hard for me to have to let down a hopeful family. Believe it or not the first profile I looked at was the family I wanted, I just had a strong feeling. They were perfect. I called Linda and we set up a dinner to meet the family. In June, we meet our adoptive family; Larry, Amy and their little girl Ashley. We walked into Three Margaritas and there they stood with my favorite flowers. We ate and had a great time. We were there for a little over 2 hours and Ashley was an angel. We talked about baby names, family history, pretty much everything under the sun. I was sad to say goodbye.
April with Adoptive family

The next day, Fathers day, we called the agency and told the agency that they were the family for us! The agency director called and told the family and they were so happy. After we made that decision it felt like everything went by even faster. We had doctor's visits, lunches and even an ultrasound to find out the baby's gender. The ultrasound room was full; Cheryl, Amanda, Amy, Julie (Agency staff) and myself where all there to hear the big news. We all cried when we found we were having a beautiful baby girl. The nurse asked me if I had thought of any names, I looked at Amy and told the nurse to ask her. Amy said Ella Marie.Amy chose this name because she remembered at dinner I told her that Jacob and I would have named her Erin Marie, and they wanted an Ella. It was a beautiful combination.

After the ultrasound we gave Amy girl colored baby blankets, hoping that our baby would be a girl as we expected. Amy and I went shopping for the baby. We bought her first outfits and they were so cute. When shopping, Amy told that she was decorating the room with a monkey theme. I was so excited because monkeys are my favorite animal! Moneys was also what I said I wanted at our first dinner. It was all meant to be.

In September, Jacob came back from Afghanistan. I traveled with Cheryl, Jacobs best friend to an airport outside of California to welcome him home. It was amazing to have him back on US soil. I could not stop crying and hanging onto him. He loved touching my belly it was just precious. At this point, I was starting to have doubts about the adoption. It was probably because of the emotions I had from seeing Jacob again. Once Jacob left 4 days later those doubts went away.  I remember worrying that Jacob would not be with me during the baby's birth. I was scared to not have him with me. 

My life went back to normal and seemed as though it was moving so quickly. In October, we hosted a baby shower for Amy. I remember Linda asking me multiple times if I was feeling sure about our decision to make an adoption plan. She explained that if I was not sure than planning a baby shower for Amy may not be a good idea but if I was positive it would be amazing. I had no doubt in my mind at that point. The day of the baby shower came and we were all so happy. It was one of the best days that I have ever had. I enjoyed sharing this happy moment with Amy. 

A couple weeks later, Cheryl had to travel out of state for about a week. I remember being so scared that baby Ella would make her appearance and I would have no one! That was the longest week ever! I was glad I had class to keep my mind busy. I was also so thankful to have Amy, Amanda, Julie and Jenn to all keep me company. 

Thanksgiving was here before we knew it! Thanksgiving I wasn't feeling well, and really didn't want to go anywhere, but Cheryl insisted we go be with family. Somehow, they all distracted  me and as I sat down to eat, Jacob walked through the door! I could not have been happier! Yes, he had shown up for Ella’s birth. That night I started having contractions. I couldn't stop crying, I was so scared and so was Jacob. We got to the hospital. It was me, Cheryl, Jacob, Amanda, Kyle(Jacobs best friend), Amy and Larry. We were at the hospital for a while but we got sent home. I was so upset and ready to be done. I remember I was hurting and not feeling well, not only was I still having contractions and not dilating, the nurse was rude and had man hands!! It was not a fun night. 

 I spent the next day in bed. I couldn't keep anything down. That night we had gone to Apple-bees with the family and friends, I was so cranky. That poor waiter,Lol.  The next day was Sunday I was feeling worse. We called the DR and she told us to go into the hospital. We went in and my body was all out of whack. They decided to induce labor because they thought I had pre-eclampsia. I was very scared. They induced my labor and then the pain started. It was awful! Once they gave me pain medication I slept the whole day with all my supports just hanging out in the room. I was so thankful to have them there. At midnight, I got the epidural. The whole night the nurse kept coming in and moving me into different positions because the baby was in distress. I was scared, and just wanted her to come out. The next thing I knew, I was almost fully dilated. I was freaking out because everyone had left my room, I was crying because I thought I was all alone! They had all just gone out to give me resting time. Then it was time to push! Cheryl, Amy and Jacob were there for me the entire birth.

 At 12:03 pm Ella Marie was born weighing in at 7 lbs 6 oz at 20 ¼ inches long. She was beautiful. Everything from her birth til we got into the maternity room is a blur. I think I was in shock. I couldn't believe she was here. This precious child I had just carried for 9 months was here, and I was 
April with Family and Baby
about to hand her over. It seemed so hard and impossible. The hospital was very understanding from from the very beginning.  Amy and Larry had their own room, and that is where Ella stayed most of the visit. I felt numb at the hospital. The day came for us all to leave. We went down to the Chapel where they had set up an entrustment ceremony for us. That was the hardest part of it all. Handing my child over. The ceremony was beautiful, but I could not stop balling as I left the hospital with empty arms, belly and heart.

I cried for two days straight. 

Thankfully we had a visit with Amy and Ella set up. Jacob and I had the first visit at Linda's house when she was 4 days old. I couldn't stop staring at this beautiful little girl, when we left the crying started again, my heart felt crushed. I kept telling myself that was where she needed to be. We had visits every week. After a couple weeks it got easier, seeing how good Amy was with her.

After a couple months of seeing her every week was like
punishment. I dreaded going to see her every week and not leave with her. It was extremely hard. We decided to visit once a month, and that was so much easier. With every day I got stronger, and accepted it more. All also improved in handling judgement from people in the community. I am proud to tell everyone my little girl was adopted and how wonderful of a family she has.

I recently graduated college in August 6, 2013. Everyone was there for me even the adoption agency staff. I made it through college and graduated with honors, a 3.68 GPA giving me a Cum Loude. I was covered with praise and was so happy to be able to say I did it!
I graduated college with honors, after giving birth, placing my child for adoption, suffering from severe post-postpartum depression and having the person I love deployed to a war zone. I did it through all of that, I was proud of myself. 
April with Adoptive mom Amy
and Ella at graduation!

My life is looking up every day. I would not be here without the decision I made. A few months ago Jacob and I broke up. If I had not placed my beautiful little girl, I would be a single mom. I would not have finished school. I could not have done accomplished any of my goals. I would be struggling to provide anything for Ella. I am so glad I chose adoption, and chose the best life for my daughter. I am so thankful for the staff at the adoption agency and everything they did for me. It’s been a very crazy journey this past year an a half, but it had a happy and beautiful ending.

Amy (adoptive mom) with baby

Monday, May 20, 2013

Journey to Parenthood| A Families Adoption Story

                                             "Our Sweet Baby Boy"

   My husband and I have always had a strong desire to become parents.  As we set forth on our journey towards parenthood, we never could have imagined the path we were on would begin with such heartache.  While reading our story, you will find that fate was revealed in the most beautiful way. 

   After years of struggling with infertility, we decided that adoption was the best option for us.  We first contacted Diane, an adoption consultant/owner from A Step Ahead Adoption.  We learned all we needed to know about the process of adoption and Diane prepared us to become eligible candidates.  As a part of the preparation, we completed our home study through a Colorado Adoption agency, as recommended by Diane. 

   We were filled with excitement leading up to and throughout our home study  We had heard several different versions of experiences about the adoption process.  So far, our version would be, “this has not been difficult at all.”  Actually, we both found it refreshing to zero-in on ourselves as individuals and as a couple.  Jenn,our social worker, immediately put us at ease, helping us to fully embrace each step towards parenthood.  Towards the end of the home study, my husband and I went on a cruise and were away from our phones and email.  The night we returned home, I opened an email from Diane.  She asked us if we were interested in adopting twins that were due in a month and a half.  We were told that the twins were a boy/girl combo.  Also, the case was with the agency.  Needless to say, we did not get much sleep that night.  This was the first case we received and we were not expecting it to happen so quickly.  It didn't take us long to say, “yes, we are interested.”From that point on, it was “go time!”  We had not yet completed our profile for families to view and the birth mom wanted to view profiles in two days.  Of course, there was no time to have a professional profile created.  Ultimately, we got creative and put our heart and souls into creating a PowerPoint profile that we printed from the computer.  On the day of the deadline, I rushed our profile to the staff at the adoption agency.   I remember walking away thinking there was a slim chance we would be chosen, however, I was pleased that we gave it our best effort. 

   Three days later, we received a phone call from our social worker, Jenn.  I remember instantly hearing excitement in her voice.  My eyes immediately filled with tears of joy because I knew what was coming next.  She informed us that the birth mom had chosen us!  I found it difficult to speak through the tears, and Jenn understood.  She said, “go and tell your family and we will speak later.”   My husband was asleep, in preparation for working that night.  I paced the floors until he woke up.  Once he was up, I ran to the room and blurted out, “she chose us!”  Still groggy from sleep, he sat in silence and appeared stunned.  I giggled and wished I had captured his expression on video.  I repeated, “she chose us!”  We then called our families and began to share the news with all those around us.  Everyone shared in our joy.  Later that day, the agency called us with all of the details.  The birth mom was due in six weeks.  It was important to the birth mom to see that we were prepared to parent twins.  We quickly purchased two of everything necessary for the twins to come home with us.

   Next, we began decorating the baby room. There was no doubt as to the theme that we would choose.  Turtles have always held a special place in our hearts.  The peacefulness and calm that they exhibit is what drew both of us to them. It seems that we had accumulated more than a few turtle items during our travels.  Years later, my husband and I were married in Hawaii.  During our wedding ceremony on the beach,  a sea turtle even made it's way onto the shore. We took this as a wedding blessing.  The nursery would soon be filled with all things turtle.

   Prior to the birth of the twins, we met the birth mom.  We instantly fell in love with her and it was a good match.  My husband and I chose names for our future son and daughter.  Soon, personalized gifts came pouring in from loved ones.  It seemed the door bell rang daily with packages.  Everyone in our lives celebrated the long awaited joy.  Not soon enough, the time came for the twins to be born.  Jenn arranged for my husband and I to room next to the birth mom in the hospital.  It was a beautiful weekend.  We all bonded in the most wonderful way.  Several nurses at the hospital even commented on how natural and healthy this adoption was.  The discharge day was an emotional one.  Tears were shed by all.  There were so many different emotions going on for each of us.  We made prior arrangements for visitation and would all reunite very soon. 

   Bringing the twins home was even more magical that we could have imagined.  Our home now seemed complete.  Perhaps we even lost track that 96 hours had already elapsed.  We knew that this was the time allotment for birth parents to change their minds.  What we didn't know, was that the attorney's can use their discretion as to when they file the paperwork, up to one weeks' time.  In our case, since the birth mother had had a c-section, they had allowed her additional “recuperation time.” On a Friday morning, with Thursday marking our 96th hour, we received a phone call from Linda, stating that the birth mom had changed her mind and wanted to parent.  It took several moments for this information to sink in, and once it did, we felt pure shock and devastation  After gut-wrenching tears and confusion, we dressed the twins in our favorite outfits, secured them in their car seats and made our way back to the agency.  During the entire agonizing car ride, we couldn't believe that this was actually happening. Through our tears, we kept a glimmer of hope that she may change her mind.  Once we saw the birth mom with two car seats, we realized we would have to say our final goodbyes.

   Immediately after, the agency staff sat with us and provided comfort and compassion.  We told them that there was no way we could put ourselves out there again.  They encouraged us to not allow this to shatter our dreams.  At that moment our dreams of parenthood were over and we were living one big nightmare.   Over the next several weeks, we cried, embraced, and talked about every emotion running through us.  We simply could not get those precious faces out of our minds.  Also, we could not understand how things could have taken such a drastic turn. The agency staff offered grief counseling and Jenn periodically called to check on us. We continued to briefly hold-out hope that the twins would return to us, even though Linda gently conveyed that this would not happen.  As time passed, we had healed enough to re-visit adoption once again.  After a meeting with Diane, we were once again hopeful that children would fill our home. 

   I am a true believer in that all things happen for a reason.  Throughout our healing, we felt certain that God had something beautiful in store for us.  My husband and I had countless conversations about 'keeping the faith' and told one another that one day the pain we had endured would all make sense.  This day would come when we were looking into the eyes of our child.  As fate would have it, a healthy baby boy was being born on December 8th.  A few hour later, we received a phone call from Diane.  Her voice was full of excitement and she told us that our son had arrived four hours earlier.  She filled us in on some of the details.  The birth mom was from Hawaii.  My jaw dropped.  Hawaii?!  Also, the child was Asian.  My husband is Asian.  Diane informed us that the birth mom opened up the phone book to the adoption page and randomly chose her name.  After speaking with the birth mom, Diane immediately called Linda to coordinate the adoption.  Linda rushed to the hospital to meet our birth mom.  Within a few hours of receiving the phone call from Diane,  I was holding our beautiful baby boy.  Upon arriving in the nursery, I remember seeing the back of his head while a nurse held him.  I observed a whole head of black hair sticking out from a red knit hat.  He wore a Christmas outfit and I have never felt such love.  Also, I experienced an overwhelming sense of peace and gratitude

   While I sat in the hospital room and held our precious child, I thanked God.  I wondered about the birth mom and she immediately became a living angel in our lives.  We were uncertain of whether we would ever have the chance to meet her.  Fortunately, we got that chance.  I thought about how God allowed not only my husband and I to heal, but also everyone involved at the adoption agency. We all walked together on this journey.  We thank God daily, and when we look into the eyes of our son, we can't imagine our lives any differently.  We feel blessed beyond belief.  Thank you the agency and Diane for not allowing us to give up on our dreams of parenthood.  Thank you to our beautiful birth mom for your strength and selflessness.  You have blessed our lives in the most beautiful way and have brought joy to, not only us, but all those around us.  We will forever be grateful and it will always reflect in our pure love for our “sweet baby boy.”   

Mary and George

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Words from Her Heart| A Birth Mothers Story

 Hi my name is Kawehi! On December 08, 2012 I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. He was amazing and the most amazing baby I have even seen. But due to the circumstances I knew that keeping him would mean that we both would have to live a hard life not only financially but mentally as well. Of course as a person growing up in that kind of life, I didn't want that for my child. Being that I was only 21 years old, no job, and no money to my name I made my very first grown up decision to put my baby boy up for adoption. It was a very hard choice to make but the best one not only for me but for him as well. Yet I went through a lot of emotions after of regret, worry, anger and fear. I know that it was going to make his life better of being taken care of, by a wonderful family that will show him and teach him everything he needs to know in life. After everything was said and done it seemed like everything was meant to be!
"Amazing He is"

By Kawehi


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Journey to my Family

By Henry Butterfield

 Hi ,I’m Henry I was adopted from Liberia, which is in west Africa.  It all started with me getting put in an orphanage when I was 6 years old because my birth mother was young and unable to take care of me. She did not have a lot of money and she wanted to go to school. Most of the time my grandmother would watch me but she moved away and was unable to help my birth mom. One day my birth mom took me in a cab and we went to an orphanage.  I can’t really remember if she hugged me and said bye or not. I think she was crying, I know I was crying. When I was in the orphanage I did not like it at all. I had to sleep on the floor with one of the ladies that worked there. We each had a bowl of rice a day that we ate half of for breakfast and we had the rest for diner. The older kids there weren't very nice to the younger kids like me, I was 6. After being in the orphanage for a little while I was told that I was going to be adopted by a family in America. I remember waiting in the orphanage wondering what my new mom was going to be like, I worried about her being nice or not. The next thing I remember is meeting my mom, Julie Butterfield. My mom knew she was going to adopt someday even when she was when 9 years old but she didn't know who or where from.

   She flew all the way from the United States to come pick me up. I remember being confused and not understanding why I was being adopted or why I was in the orphanage.   When my mom got to the orphanage she said hi to me and said that she was going to be my new mom, she also adopted a little girl named Johanna and my mom explained that she would be my sister. I felt better after my mom explained to me what was going on and I remember being worried about my new sister because I could tell she was very sick. When I first met my mom and Johanna I was shy and quiet but once I got to know my mom better I started to be myself. I remember being very excited because I felt like it was a new adventure and I really wanted to see America. We stayed at a guest house and then we took many plan rides and finally we got to the United States. I was excited to be on the airplane and loved all the food. On the airplane I had my first taste of ice cream and I didn’t like it cause I thought it was too cold, I remember my mom laughing at me when I would scream “ to cold Mommy” after taking a bite. It was a long plane ride and I remember being very happy and excited to see my new home. When I got off the plane I met my whole family for the first time. I felt overwhelmed when I first met everyone, because they all ran towards me and gave me hugs and I had no idea who they were. They were all so happy to meet me and that made me feel happy. At first I was shy and quiet my brother Jonah gave me a build a bear that he made and my sister Mekella gave my sister Jojo Build A Bear as well.

    The next day after I met my family I went to the hospital to see my sister Jojo who was sick and I got to eat Chinese food, which I thought was American. My dad Chris was amazed by how fast that I ate the food put in front of me. I thought the food was amazing and I wanted more. Pizza also became my favorite food really fast. Food was important to me because in Liberia there was many times we had no food. When I got my new home I would hide food under my bed because I was worried we would run out. My mom caught me hiding food and so she took me to Wal-Mart and told me that’s why we will never run out! I told her “this is heaven” I just couldn't believe how much food there was. At first know body could understand me because I still had the African accent. When ever I got hurt I would not cry in front of any body because in Africa you would get beaten for crying. Also, I had a terrible lying problem because that’s what everybody did in Africa. I even lied about my age to get in the orphanage, I said I was 4 so could get in to the orphanage, and so my mom brought me cloths that were size 4. I insisted on wearing them anyway because I never have ever gotten new close before and didn't care that the didn't fit .My mom tried to get my real age out of me by saying smaller kids get less presents for their birthday than bigger kids, she also told me I had to take naps because that’s what little kids do and I finally I cracked and told my parents my real age (apparently my mom new all along but wanted me to admit the truth).  My mom and I had to learn a lot about each other when she first adopted me. I remember my mom telling me that I had to go to the doctor to get a shot. I got scared and freaked out cause I thought she meant the doctor was going to shoot me with a gun. After going back and forth my mom figured out that we say vaccine in Liberia and that’s why I didn't understand what she was telling me. We had many funny moments like that.

    I quickly learned that my family members are my best friends. I always have someone to play, if I wasn't battling light sabers with my brother I would be pretending to be castaways on an island with my sisters Jojo and Mekella. At first it was a little strange for me to cuddle with my mom and dad because I wasn't sure why we were cuddling, in Africa I never really cuddled with anyone. If you’re wondering, I did get in fights with my brothers and sisters but we fight just like any other siblings. We always worked out our fights and moved on. I was independent because when I was in Africa I grew up with many cousins in a very small household. When I got to America the houses were so much bigger and less family living in the home, I got a lot more attention and it made me feel special. At school all the kids and teachers loved the story of my background and they thought it was amazing. There were other kids at the school I could relate with and we became friends almost immediately. Almost every day I felt like I was being spoiled and I was thankful. To tell you the honest truth I felt loved. My family supported me in everything I did from sports to other decisions. My family was and still always there. Throughout everything I did and now even at 13 my family supports me at my football games, school and so much more. My family loves me and I love them. Sometimes I am asked “do you feel like you don’t belong in your family because you were adopted?” My answer is no. I feel like I belong in this family because I am a part of this family. All the stories and memories my family has make us who we are, together. Sometimes I think to myself what my life would be like If I didn't get adopted. I probably would be hungry, working on the streets with no education. I thank God for the life he has given me. 
By Henry Butterfield

Monday, February 18, 2013

Oldest Brothers View on his Families Adoption

                                                 My Siblings

                                                By Jonah Butterfield

            Having a brother or sister is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me.  You see many people think that adoption and having a kid is totally different and adoption is dumb, well I know from experience that what people say is completely a lie. My brother, Henry, and I are closer together then a dog and a ham sandwich. I remember that our family took a butt load of time raising money for my mom to go and get my two siblings (Jojo and Henry). I would always try and help out, for I was so exited to be able to say I have a brother. Now to think of it, I also had a bunk bed for me and my brother, and every day I would make the bottom bed for him and never ever let any one touch it until he got there. I also use to help my mom look at pictures of orphans to find my sister; this was before we new who Jojo was going to be. I just love having my sister there with my other siblings. Just to let you know I was 6 almost 7 at the time, my sister Jojo was around 14 months and my brother was just turned 6, also Mekella my other sister was around 3.
                                My not so little Brother

Now after many of days raising money my mom and her friend had flown away and were headed to Liberia in Africa. It took a week for them to get back and I got less and less sleep as time went by.
Finally it was time to head to the airport. I ran to the car way before we were ready to leave. I wanted to get there as soon as possible. It took forever for the plane to arrive, in fact, I believe it was around 10 or 11pm when they stepped out in to the open were I saw them.
            My brother use to be really shy you see. Once I saw him I dashed to him and gave him a hug. He looked at me strangely; I did not know that he did not know I was his brother. On the ride home I sat right next to him, even though I had a felling he was too uncomfortable since we had never met. He fell a sleep right away!
               My Sister “The awesome Second”

Now my sister is one tough cookie. You see she was very sick and we were told her sickness should have killed her. In fact, the only reason why she is alive is because of God. My Aunt and my mom prayed all night when the doctors said she was going to die. Don’t worry; she is ten times as stronger today and she is a funny little sister who always makes me laugh.
            She is very cute these days she just got glasses and I think she looks awesome. Sometimes we fight, like all brothers and sisters do but we always get through it.
            The first time I saw her, I can’t really remember much, I believe this was because she was so sick. I don’t do well with that stuff and I can throw up if it gets to bad, not to mention I was so tired. In fact, the only reason why I remember my brother is because of the face he gave me when I hugged him, it was really goofy. I remember my sister Jojo mainly at the hospital. She was so tiny and well she looked so horridly sick and malnourished. My sister Mekella and Jojo get along well probably because they are girls. I like being the big brother that watches over them (Tells them what to do).
Now let me get this straight, no one said adoption is easy, or the road after is smooth either. Being the oldest brother is not always easy, but the moments we have together make it all worth it. So for all you out there who say that adoption does not make sense, get you head out of the clouds and look at the what I am saying, Children need to be loved. Adoption or Birth, we are all just kids who want to have a happy family. We all need love and attention.
            I tell you this, the Lord says He loves all the children in the world and so should we. Adoption is a way for us to show Gods love to the world. I tell you if you feel a tug on your heart to adopt, do it. That is what happened to my mom, and not only did it make us a better family, it saved my sisters life. You get what I’m saying?

Written by Jonah Butterfield

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Adoption from a Birth Child's Point Of View (Butterfield Adoption)

  " The previous blog was about "why I chose adoption" but there is much more to this story. I asked my children to write about the adoption from their point of view. Starting from the Birth child's experience to the adopted child's experience  I thought it would be interesting to share their part of the story (without my influence). This first story was written by my birth daughter Mekella who was 3 years old at the time of the adoption and is now 10 years old. She wanted to share her thoughts and experience with you all!"

                    MY ADOPTED FAMILY

Adoption is wonderful for my family. I have one beautiful little sister which I love. I also have a great big BROTHER. I wrote this blog to tell you all I remember from the great experience.

                     The First Memory 

   The thing I remember MOST IS walking in new life church with my mom looking around my mom told me to listen close, she said THAT SOON I will  have a brother and sister and they will be different than YOU. I  thought that I would have a big sister but I am happy I have a little sister and big brother. I remember my mom leaving to Africa. I  knew I was going to miss her but I was very happy.

           In the hospital
   When my mom got back she went straight to the HOSPITAL. I was so WORRIED. when I was at the hospital I REMEMBER SEEING all my family there that made me more nervous. I also was kind of freaked out by my brothers and sisters being brown.  in jojo`s hospital ROOM I remember there was a small crib holding her she had many tubes on her. she looked like an alien to me. I gave her stuffed bunny that I had made for her at build a bear that said “I love you when you hug it.” sometimes I was allowed to feed jojo I would get her food and her little spoon I would climb in her crib and feed her, I also would lay with her. Eventually she got better and we got to bring her home even though she had to be on oxygen for a while. I first it was kind of hard to learn about my new brother and sister. it was hard to understand my brother and I have to say I was a little jealous of my baby sister. At first they didn’t feel like family because we didn’t know each other. AS time went on we got very close and i got to know them. my sister and I became best friends and I enjoyed taking care of her. my brother and i love to play games and stuff together and we get along well. we have a very happy family. now i also don’t even realize that they are brown and I am white, i like that we are different and i just see them as my brother and sister!

                         The Best End
             It has been 7 years since the hospital and getting a new and better family. my life has changed in the best way possible and I am so happy to have a healthy 8 year old sister Jojo and 13 year old brother HENRY. when I see my brother and sitter I can’t believe they came from Africa I always say their my family from the same BLOOD because that’s how I think of them. when people tell me that they are not my family because they are adopted I tell them that even though they are adopted they are the best brother and sister ever and are family, families come in all different shapes sizes and colors and this is my family.


By Mekella Butterfield