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Exciting News for LGBTQ Families

Forever Families Through Adoption would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of our same-sex families regarding the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold same-sex marriage today. The long anticipated decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case has now officially legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, and requires all states to recognize these unions. President Obama took to Twitter in support of the decision, saying “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins.”

FFTA is a recipient of the Human Rights Campaign All Children-All Families Seal of Recognition since 2011 for our continued support of LGBTQ+ rights. We are proud to work with so many loving and deserving same-sex adoptive families and look forward to working toward helping them create their forever families.

To read more about this monumental decision, see here.

Open Adoption: A Reference Guide for Families

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We often discover wonderful adoption resources and feel inspired to share them. “Open Adoption: A Reference Guide” was recently featured in The Adoptive Families Magazine (Making Open Adoption Work) and is one of those resources.

The article, written by our friend Joni Mantell, discusses the benefits and unique challenges of openness and helps families who desire to make it work navigate through addressing these challenges with flexibility, sensitivity to the birth family, and confidence in themselves as parents.

Our very own, Joy S. Goldstein, LCSW, ACSW, Executive Director and co-founder of Forever Families Through Adoption contributed to the article which can be found here:

http://www.adoptivefamilies-digital.com/adoptivefamilies/spring_2015#pg1

Please feel free to share the article and comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts!

New ICWA Proposal

 

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Hello Friends,

We wanted to share the following article with you all. Michael S. Goldstein, Esq, LCSW, adoption attorney and co- founder of FFTA, has given his words of wisdom to this article and we think it is an important read for all in the adoption community. 

Bureau of Indian Affairs Purposes New ICWA Rule: www.claremoreprogress.com/news/bureau-of-indian-affairs-purposes-new-icwa-rule/article_045db1b4-fbe2-11e4-bb33-1b61d4f18918.html

Please feel free to share the article and comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Mother’s Day

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In celebration of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, FFTA wanted to share with you a favorite article of ours. We believe it will resonate with many of you on different levels. Whether you have struggled to conceive a child and find yourself on a different path to parenthood than anticipated or have become a parent only to find the experience entirely different than you imagined, you will likely relate to the thoughts expressed. Enjoy and please feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts! Happy Mother’s Day!

WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

Adoption Myths and Misconceptions

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Many prospective adoptive parents reach out to Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. (FFTA) thinking they will not be able to adopt. Therefore, we have put pen to paper and hope you find this reassuring as you move ahead with your family building.

Myth #1: Domestic Adoption is a Difficult and Time-Consuming Process.

For many individuals and couples who find themselves considering adoption, this misconception is a particularly discouraging one, yet another daunting hurdle in the quest to create or expand their family. However, the truth is that more than 20,000 American families successfully adopt babies born in the U.S. each year, according to the National Council on Adoption, and most of them successfully adopt within two years of beginning the adoption process.

Myth #2: Domestic Adoption is too Expensive

This misconception has led many to believe that domestic adoption is simply too expensive an option for their family, when in reality domestic adoptions can cost considerably less than international placements. For those seeking financial assistance, there are loans and grants specifically designed to help families afford the adoption process. The IRS also allows eligible taxpayers a tax credit to offset the expense.

Myth #3: Domestic Adoption is a Risky Process

While the fear that domestic adoptions are risky remains widespread, it had been said that less than 1% of domestic adoptions today are legally contested after the relinquishments of parental rights, and revocations are extremely rare. Additionally, domestic adoption has become more transparent in recent years. According to the Donaldson Institute, as of 2012, 95% of adoptions are open or semi-open adoptions. Increased openness in the adoption process between adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoption professionals has numerous benefits. Although not required, adoptive parents and birth parents, with the assistance of adoption professionals, often decide together the nature and frequency of the contact that will take place after the adoption. Information about the medical and social background of the child is often also shared. Openness provides birth parents the necessary reassurance that their child will be loved and provided for by his/her adoptive parents, thus significantly limiting any issues that may arise after the adoption takes place, and helps provide the adoptive child with additional contact and information as they mature.

Myth #4: Being Single or a Same-Sex Couple will Prohibit Me from Successfully Adopting

Many individuals and same sex couples successfully adopt in the U.S. each year. National trends continue to show an increase in acceptance toward the non-traditional family unit. In fact, some say that same sex couple adoptions have nearly tripled in the past decade. According to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law, 65,000 adopted children currently live in same sex households. Birth parents are increasingly involved in selecting the adoptive parents for their child and while some birth parents will express a preference to place their child within a traditional (two parent heterosexual) family, others will not.

Myth #5: Age will Prohibit Me/Us from Successfully Adopting

Statistics on the ages of adoptive parents are unavailable as there is not a federal agency or organization that maintains such information. However, what we do know is that over the past two decades age barriers that once prevented prospective parents from domestic adoptions have fallen steadily. The definition of what constitutes a suitable adoptive family is expanding as adoption professionals and birth parents are recognizing the benefit that comes with mature parents. The U.S. does not have a specific age maximum, and at Forever Families Through Adoption we have found birthparents open to 40 and 50 year olds with little hesitation.

We hope the myths and realities discussed above help alleviate some of your concerns and help you proceed with optimism.

 

*For more information on adoption contact Courtney Souza at adopt@foreverfamiliesthroughadoption.org  or call 914-939-1180

FFTA will be hosting a free Information Session on Monday, April 20, 2015 at the Port Chester-Rye Brook Public Library from 6:30-8:00pm.

FFTA welcomes Jenna M. Beirlein, Esq. as FFTA’s Agency General Counsel

Jenna graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Science in 2007, and she received her Juris Doctor from Pace University School of Law in 2010. Since being admitted to the New York and New Jersey Bars, Jenna has served Westchester County, NY families as a matrimonial and family law attorney in the private and public sectors. Not only does Jenna have the legal expertise to work in the adoption field, but she is also an adoptee who is pleased to share her adoption story.

Jenna shared that she was born in Bogotá, Colombia and lived in an orphanage until she was adopted by two amazing parents when she was six months old. When Jenna arrived in New York, she was greeted by lots of family, love, and an older sister who was also adopted from the same orphanage in Bogotá, Colombia about a year earlier! Jenna grew up in Rockland County, New York and has always been so proud to be an adoptee. In fact, Jenna attributes her successes and accomplishments to her family who provided her with endless love, support, and devotion.

Jenna hopes that all adoptees will have great adoption experiences. Jenna wishes to use her professional and personal experiences to help ensure that children in need of permanent, loving homes are adopted by forever families.

Using Positivity in Discipline

Even with the best-behaved children, parenthood requires a large amount of focus and effort. Between keeping children safe and healthy, arranging their leisure activities, helping them succeed in school, and an almost endless number of other responsibilities, children demand a lot of attention. Imagine, on top of those responsibilities, having a child who is exhibiting negative behaviors.

Disciplining a chil76763325d can be a stressful experience. However, if it is handled with a positive instead of a punitive attitude, it can become an easier task. Children should also be treated with respect. Although it can sometimes seem like a child is behaving irrationally, there may be a rational motivation for the behavior.

Children love being praised! Remember to give your children credit for improvements in their behavior; even small ones. If your child does not like to share, and you see him or her sharing, you might say, “You did a great job sharing your toys today! Can you keep doing that?” Children can be positively affected by praise, and will be more likely to remember to keep up the good behavior. Positive feelings stick!

To read more about positive discipline, we suggest reading “Positive Discipline” by Lisa Kelly: http://www.pactadopt.org/app/servlet/documentapp.DisplayDocument?DocID=218

 

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Waiting Families

The holidays are supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year” –filled with joy, laughter, love and family. You may be asking yourself, “How am I supposed to be happy watching relatives, neighbors, and friends celebrate such a ‘joyous’ holiday with their babies and children when I’m not?” We understand it’s normal to have these thoughts during the holidays and you may be thinking, “How many more New Year’s before I become a parent?”

New Year’s is a time to look at both the past and the future. Reflection can be difficult for those who have arduously waited all year for a child to brighten their lives. We remind you that hope can be revitalized in the New Year, and to continue to hope against hope for that light of a child to shine in your lives.

New is the year, New are the hopes, New is the resolution, and New are the spirits.

 

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Let us inspire you with 10 New Year’s Resolutions below:

1.  Stay Active: Keep busy with enjoyable and productive activities to ward off the “waiting-for-baby” blues. Plus, it can help you maintain a positive mental attitude and keep you from obsessing about all the “what ifs”

2.  Get Creative: Create something new by drawing, painting, building, or refinishing

3.  To Do List: Work on that home project or a personal one

4.  Volunteer: Volunteering is an active way to help your community, and you will definitely feel better doing so

5.  Take a Trip: Take some time away from work and travel. You will find yourself renewed

6.  Support: Get connected with a support group in person or online. Also, get in touch with family and friends during this time and allow them to support you

7.  Journal: Reflect on your thoughts and feelings toward the adoption process

8.  Live Your Life: Try not put your life on hold. If you are waiting to do something until you have a placement, then your wait will feel long and difficult.

9.  Spend time on yourself: Once your new child arrives, they will likely be the focus of your family life. Go to movies, go for walks, read books, get rest, and nurture yourself and your partner. Remember, your new child will demand the best of you, and you’ll want to be ready, rested, and waiting with open arms

10.  Contact: Keep in contact with all of us at FFTA. We are here for you!

Happy and Health Holidays from FFTA:
Joy, Debbie, Jenna, Amanda, Jackie, Sacha, and Devin.

Adoption Tax Credit FAQ

As National Adoption Month closes and the new year fast approaches, many prospective and successful adoptive parents have questions about the Adoption Tax Credit.  Anna Bahney, a contributor at Forbes, has broken down the most common questions regarding the credit:

Via Forbes:

What Is The Tax Credit?

The tax credit for adoptions finalized in 2014, is $13,190 per child.

It is not a refundable credit, meaning that taxpayers only receive the credit against a federal income tax liability and that tax payment may be reduced to, but not below, zero.

This credit is designed to offset what the IRS determines to be “qualified adoption expenses,” enabling families who might not otherwise be able to adopt to do so. These expenses  include reasonable and necessary adoption fees like court costs, attorney fees and traveling expenses (including food and lodging).

The expenses do not include payments for adopting a spouse’s child, paying for a surrogate parenting arrangement or expenses already paid or reimbursed by an employer. Expenses incurred during an international adoption can only be claimed when the adoption of the foreign child becomes final.

Who Can Claim The Credit?

Parents who are eligible must have adopted a child in 2014 who is under 18 or who is physically or mentally unable to take care of him- or herself.  The family also must be within the income guidelines.

Families with a modified adjusted gross income of:

  • Below $197,880…………..Full Credit
  • $197,880-$237,880…….Partial Credit
  • Above $237,880………….No Credit

When To Claim the Credit?

Parents adopting a child from the U.S. can claim qualified adoption expenses the year after they spent the funds. The families adopting a special needs child can claim the credit in the year the adoption is finalized. Those adopting a special needs child can claim the credit in the year the adoption is finalized.

Additionally, it is important to note that a family who has attempted to adopt a child who is a citizen or resident of the United States (or U.S. possessed territories) when the adoption process began may be able to claim the tax credit, even if the adoption does not become final. A family who adopts a child with special needs qualifies for the full Adoption Credit, even if there are little or no expenses, once the adoption becomes finalized.  A child is considered “special needs” if he or she fits the criteria outlined by the IRS, which can be found HERE

 

November is National Adoption Month!

Forever Families Through Adoption is proud to celebrate 2014 National Adoption Month (November) and National Adoption Day, which takes place on November 22nd. This annual, one-day event has made the dreams of thousands of children come true by working with policymakers, practitioners, and advocates to finalize adoptions, and create and celebrate adoptive families. National Adoption Day is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families.  A coalition of national partners – Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, The Alliance for Children’s Rights, and Children’s Action Network – sponsor National Adoption Day.  Communities across the country celebrate every Saturday before Thanksgiving.  

The theme of National Adoption Month 2014 this year is “Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections”

via childwelfare.gov . . . 

This year, National Adoption Month focuses on “Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections.” The theme pays tribute to the unique bond between siblings—it is the longest lasting relationship most people have, longer than the parent-child or spousal relationship. Over the last two decades, research has demonstrated the critical nature of sibling bonds and their importance for children’s development and emotional well-being. In fact, some research suggests that children and youth in foster care experience better outcomes when placed with their siblings.

To find a local Adoption Month event near you, make sure to check out www.nationaladoptionday.org