“Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does.
So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's
when you find out who you are." - Joss Whedon

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bridge to Adoption

Hello fellow adoption families!

We want to invite you all to a great advocacy opportunity.  We (Andrew and Janetta) are hosting a race on Saturday, August 11th to raise funds for our second adoption through LDSFS, and also to really focus on getting the word out about adoption. We hope both adoptive families and birth parents will be interested in attending.  Please invite your friends, family and birth parents, if possible.  We are very excited about this!  

There are at least 3 ways adoptive families can be involved with our race.

1. Sign up to race with us on Saturday, August 11, 2012.
2. We are inviting each fellow-adoptive family that would like to, to please submit an 8x10 family photo.  We will be posting them along the race route.  No names will be posted on the photos.  Please email us a high res file, or mail an 8x10 to us directly at:
Bridge #3 on the race course.
Bridge to Adoption 5K
P.O. Box 5783
Lynnwood, WA 98046

3. Consider volunteering on race day.  Volunteers would distribute participant race bags, help direct runners/walkers along the route, hand out water/Gatorade, help at the finish line, etc.

And a last way to be involved would be to help us spread the word.  We would love our event to be well-attended.  If you would consider handing out printed flyers to your ward, family, and friends, please let us know and we will get a stack to you.  If you would consider blogging or Facebooking about our race, that would be great!  Please visit and include the link to our site when spreading the word. bridgetoadoption.blogspot.com

We really appreciate you helping us get the word out.  We have special wrist bands for adoptive families participating in our event.  We hope to get as many adoptive families involved as we can, whether you come race with us, or send us a photo, or BOTH!!
If you have any questions feel free to contact us (Andrew and Janetta) directly at: bridgetoadoption@gmail.com

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Adoption Tax Credit Tidbits

Adoptive Applicants often wonder about the "Adoption Tax Credit".  Families Supporting Adoption has been wondering about it as well.  A forum was held a few weeks back and one of the attendees wanted you all to know the basics.  Hopefully as advocates of adoption you are all aware of the important role you can have in advocating for adoption in regard to legal matters in your own area.  Get involved with adoption related issues whenever possible to advocate for legislation that supports adoption. Hopefully you will find these tidbits interesting!

Some highlights from the forum:

Form 8839 with Qualified Adoption Expenses must be included with the return.

The return must be submitted in paper form by mail. Electronic filings are not accepted and will slow down the process.  It is quite common for those who take advantage of the Adoption Tax Credit to be audited. 

For Tax year 2011 Adoption Tax Credits:
·         $13,170 credit limit
·         Are Refundable
·         All adoption types are eligible

Starting in with tax year 2012 the Adoption Tax Credits:
·         Are Non-refundable
·         Decrease to $12,650 credit limit
·         All adoption types are eligible

For Tax year 2013 the Adoption Tax Credits:
·         Are Non-refundable
·         Decrease to $6,000 credit limit
·         Are For Special Needs adoptions only

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Profile Ideas for Current Adoptive Applicants

Tawnia and Tara recently had the opportunity to sit down with two expectant parents who were viewing adoptive couple profiles on itsaboutlove.org. It was such a valuable experience because they “had the chance to witness firsthand what the expectant parents enjoyed and disliked.” Below are the tips they have to share:

1.       Pictures are so important. They spent much more time viewing photos as opposed to reading the letter. It’s not that the letter isn’t important but the photos were very impactful and really helped give them a “sense” of the adoptive couple.

2.       They really do read the photo captions. The more descriptive the caption the greater impact a photo can have.

3.       They enjoyed seeing pictures of the adoptive couple’s children. I think it positively impacted them to see children having a good time. It really helps give a sense of what life would be like for their child with a particular adoptive couple.

4.       Please don’t use old pictures. Part of the problem with old pictures is it really dates you. An expectant parent might see an out of style outfit and assume you are much older than you are.  This is especially true with teenagers. Although 2004 may seem like just yesterday to you a 16 year old was only about 8, so to them 2004 was “when I was little.” It’s important for expectant parents to be able to relate to where you are in your life right now.

5.       I know for many of you it is important to include pictures of your extended families. Some couples have several pictures of extended family on both sides. The expectant parents were not as interested in these types of pictures. They are trying to get to know you and are not quite yet interested in the extended family. You are better off using pictures that help an expectant parent get to know more about you.

6.       They didn’t enjoy seeing wedding photos but really enjoyed Halloween photos. They had a great time looking at the costumes people chose. I also think this helps them get to know your personality. Do you like sci-fi, horror or silly things?

7.       We have always encouraged you to give detailed answers on the getting to know us section. These particular expectant parents seemed to be more inclined to read those who gave short concise answers. So what should you do in the future? If you’re detail oriented and want to give longer answers continue to do that. If you’re a short answer type of person then give short answers. The lesson here is there is no hard and fast rule for any of this and the way you do things should be representative of who you are.

8.       Pay attention to the length of your letter. Unless you are heavily invested in having a very long letter it is probably better to keep it on the shorter side (although not too short). Whenever there was a long letter they would often lose interest and either move on to the photos or move to another couple’s profile.

What do you know about serrogacy??

I personally am very curious about surrogacy as an option. What do you know about surrogacy?  I'm sure there are very strong opinions on the topic.  It would be fun/interesting to share them via our FSA WA Chapter Blog or on our FSA Google Group.  I though I'd start by posting some information on the the topic.  Here is what the Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine has to say about Surrogacy in our area:

In order for a woman to carry a viable pregnancy, the uterus must be both normally developed and functioning properly. Women that have a damaged, or absent, uterus can experience the joy of creating a family by using a surrogate mother.
At the Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine, we have a very active third party parenting program including surrogacy and donor egg. We pride ourselves on offering an understanding and supportive environment for patients undergoing these treatments. We have successfully helped many women when conventional fertility treatments were not feasible.
Who is a candidate for surrogacy?
  1. A woman born without a functional uterus or vagina
  2. A woman who has undergone surgical removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) and has functioning ovaries
  3. A woman whose uterus is diseased and nonfunctional
  4. A woman who is incapable of bearing a child because of chronic ill health
Sometimes a woman may not be physically able to carry a pregnancy to term. Her uterus may be damaged and unable to support implantation and embryonic development. She might also have health problems, such as heart disease, that would place her at risk if she were pregnant. Surrogacy is an option for many of these women.
A surrogate is a woman who carries another couple's baby to term, and once delivered, gives it to the parenting couple. There are two types of surrogacy known as gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy.
  1. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is inseminated with the sperm of the father via intrauterine insemination. The resultant baby will have the genetic structure of the father and the surrogate.
  2. The second type of surrogacy is known as gestational surrogacy, which is where the surrogate carries the embryo (created in an IVF cycle) produced by the infertile couple. The infant will have the genetic makeup of the infertile couple. In gestational surgery, the mother undergoes an in vitro fertilization cycle where she receives medication to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. If the mother does not have viable eggs, an egg donor may be used.
The eggs are withdrawn through the vagina and combined with the male partner's sperm in a Petri dish. The dish is then placed in an incubator until ready for transfer, usually 3-5 days. The gestational surrogate receives hormones to synchronize her cycle with the mothers. The mature embryos are transferred to the surrogate mother using a small catheter.
Most women volunteer to be surrogates for altruistic reasons and many times may be related, such as a sister.

Surrogate Selection
The process of surrogacy is complex from both the physical and psychological standpoints. Selection of a suitable surrogate, who understands the process and its ramifications, and is supported by her family, is paramount to the success of the program. A surrogate is usually an extremely diligent and devoted person who wishes to endow a special gift to another woman, and many of these women have their own children.
Women who are willing to act as surrogates are often friends or are recruited through the media or surrogacy agencies. We have helped patients recruit suitable women to serve as surrogates. 
Once a suitable surrogate has been selected the following steps are mandatory:
  1. Medical evaluation, including evaluation of lifestyle and previous pregnancies.
  2. Psychological evaluation
  3. Blood testing and cultures to exclude STDs
Legal Issues
It is imperative that the intended parents and surrogate sign a legal contract outlining the responsibilities and obligations of each party. Surrogacy laws vary widely between states and a lawyer experienced in reproductive law must always be consulted. Surrogacy for financial gain is illegal in Washington State. 

The surrogacy process must be embarked upon carefully, as often two families with their own separate issues become intertwined. Our experience in dealing with surrogates over many years has been very positive. Wonderful human relationships have developed and all parties involved have experienced great joy. However, this is not a journey that should be embarked upon without great thought and care. 

Very interesting stuff.  Have you thought about surrogacy as an option?  What do you think about it?  Do you have any helpful information to share with the rest of us just beginning to explore it as an option? Do you know anyone who has built their family using surrogacy?