Spring 2008 Newsletter - A Full Circle Adoptions-ag

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Spring 2008 Newsletter - A Full Circle Adoptions-ag Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                                             Spring 2008

  Full Circle
   496 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA 02446
                                                                              800-452-3678 (P) 413-584-1624 (F)
   39 Main Street, Northampton, MA 01060                                            www.fullcircleadoptions.com
                                                                                       skype: full.circle.adoptions

               The Team at Full Circle
Marla Ruth Allisan JD, LICSW, founder and direc-          history interviews with birthparents, gathers birthmoth-
tor of Full Circle Adoptions, named the agency “Full      ers’ medical records and provides on-call support for
                          Circle” because she believes    the agency’s toll-free birthparent line in the evenings
                          that giving expectant parents   and on weekends. In her spare time, Meredith enjoys
                          and adoptive parents consci-    cycling, genealogy and photographing pre-1800 New
                          entious and loving care will    England gravestones. Meredith has been with Full Cir-
                          help bring love “full circle”                             cle since November, 1999.
                          to the child. She takes spe-
                          cial pleasure helping fami-                               Molly Reynolds, M.Ed.,
                          lies through clinical and le-                             LICSW graduated from Smith
                          gal complexities in adoption                               College in 1988 (BA), UMass
                          cases. Her interest in chil-                               School of Education in 1990
                          dren’s issues grew from her                                (M.Ed.) and Springfield Col-
education in several disciplines (Mount Holyoke (BA,                                 lege in 1997 (MSW). She is
1978), Northeastern Univ. School of Law (JD, 1981)                                   a trained Montessori teacher
and Smith College School for Social Work (MSW,                                       (New England Montessori
1989)). She takes time with both expectant parents and                               Teacher Education Center,
adoptive parents, helping them feel supported along       1979) and has been the director of several Montessori
their individual paths. In her “spare” time, Marla is a   schools. Molly has been associated with Full Circle
published essayist and avid dancer; she enjoys spend-     Adoptions since 1997, doing homestudies, post-place-
ing time with her family and “hanging” with her won-      ment meetings, and providing birthparent counseling.
derful teenage daughter.                                  Molly is an adopted person and an adoptive parent, as
                                                          well as a biological parent and all of these roles inform
Meredith Davies, JD, LSW                                  her work with Full Circle.
holds a B.A. in Greek and                                 Molly enjoys listening to mu-
Latin from Mount Holyoke                                  sic in small venues, walks in
College, and a J.D. from Ver-                             nature and traveling to islands
mont Law School, where she                                such as Grand Manan, Nova
completed their general prac-                             Scotia, Peaks Island and the
tice program. She became a                                Hawaiian Islands.
Massachusetts Licensed So-
cial Worker in 2003. As the                               Meg Buckley, Full Circle’s
Adoption Case Manager at Full Circle, Meredith is         Office Manager graduated
primarily responsible for assisting with pre- and post-   from the University of Massa-
adoptive placement legal procedures and documents.        chusetts, Amherst in the Spring of 2007 with a B.A. in
Among other things, she conducts social and medical                                               continued on page 2

English, along with a certificate in Professional Writ-    documentation, support to the social workers with re-
ing and Technical Communication. She spent her sum-        search and assistance for both prospective adoptive
mers from 2002 to 2007 working as an office assistant      families and expectant parents. She is the loving moth-
at the Mount Holyoke College, Department of Public         er of two adult daughters, two grand children and two
Safety working with Full Circle’s Board Member, Bar-       irascible Boston Terriers.
bara Arrighi. Upon graduating from college, Ms. Ar-
righi recommended that Meg apply to Full Circle. In        Chaia Wolf, MSW, LICSW is currently licensed as
the role of Office Manager, her excellent office skills    a clinical social worker in
and ability to manage a thousand streams of activity at    the state of Massachusetts.
                        once are put to excellent use.     She is a graduate of Smith
                        Meg is a master surfer of the      College School for Social
                        internet and, in her spare time,   Work (MSW, 1997). She has
                        she enjoys movies, music and       worked as an adoption con-
                        being an adoring aunt.             sultant in various capacities
                                                           since 1997. She currently
                                                           completes homestudies, post
                        Sheri Cone, Support Staff,         placement supervision and
                        “does whatever is needed when      provides birthparent coun-
                        it’s needed,” which downplays      seling for Full Circle Adop-
                        her over 25 years of experi-       tions. Chaia also has a private psychotherapy practice
                        ence running offices having to     where she sees individuals, couples and families. She
do with all aspects of the life span. She has worked       also is a mediator for divorcing/separating couples.
for the Diocese of Springfield, Hospice, Williamsburg      In Chaia’s spare time, she enjoys spending time with
Elementary School and the VA Hospital. Sheri works         her family, being outdoors on foot, sled or bicycle and
three days a week for the agency, helping with filing,     throwing on the potter’s wheel.

                    Ongoing Events for Adoptive Families
   Orientation to
    Full Circle’s                    Full Circle has ongoing activities for connection
 Adoption Programs!                  and community building.

                                     Please contact us if you’d like to join us for:

                                     This year’s picnic, which will be held just outside Boston on
                                     June 21, 2008, with a rain date of June 22nd, Noon-4 pm.

 496 Harvard Street,                 “Talking With Our Children About Adoption” Discussion for
Brookline, MA 02446                  Adoptive Parents, Saturday, September 20th, 2008, 1-3 pm,
                                     496 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA 02446.
 Saturdays, 10-noon,
                                     Thanks for RSVP’s: 1-800-452-3678.
   See our website
      for dates.

    Toll Free: 1-800-45-ADOPT         Phone: 413-587-0007      e-mail: adoption@fullcircleadoptions.com
                      Genuine Willingness
                    to Ask Tough Questions
                           (Excerpt from Article) By Marla Ruth Allisan JD, LICSW

When adoptive parents are trying to decide which             negative reactions, we’re less susceptible to reacting
adoption professionals with whom to work, they fre-          with justifications and reasons to avoid as opposed to
                    quently make a choice based upon         determination to identify the relevant truths.
                    the cost of services, the placement
                    record and sometimes how close           When a professional is not “noticing” their reactions,
                    the agency’s office is to their home.    how does avoidance of negative information play out
                    These are fine factors to consider.      in an adoption case? When an expectant mother in-
                    This essay is about one other fac-       dicates that the birthfather is “not involved”, “is not
                    tor also worthy of consideration:        interested” or was a one-night-stand, some profession-
                    the adoption professional’s ability      als are secretly relieved not to have a second decision
                    and willingness to ask tough ques-       maker. They don’t ask further questions. Some adop-
                    tions, questions that might draw         tion professionals may tell the expectant mother, don’t
out “negative” information. This essay is intended for       worry, we will prepare an affidavit where you can say
prospective adoptive parents and also for colleagues as      that and we can just place a “notice by publication” or
we reflect on our “internal” processes in response to        legal notice in the paper.
more challenging adoption cases.
                                                             What is not said is that “due diligence” requires there
There are understandable reasons why adoption pro-           first be efforts to give “actual” notice to a putative
fessionals may not want to know “negative” informa-          birthfather before simply putting a notice in the fine
tion. If we learn, for example, that an expectant mother     print part of a newspaper. I recommend this stance for
drank heavily during the pregnancy, we may experi-           due diligence – assume that, “but for” a blood transfu-
ence some worry or sadness for the fetus. We may also        sion from the birthfather to the child, the child will die.
wonder whether it will be more difficult to identify an      This may sound grim, but the point is that, if one truly
adoptive family open to that child’s potential difficul-     has motivation to find the birthfather, quite a few pos-
ties. If we learn that there are two possible birthfathers   sible avenues come to mind. Suddenly, one learns that
and neither of them knows about the pregnancy (and           the friend who hosted “the” party may actually know
she’s due next week), there may be more work to do.          how to reach him. The birthmother may remember his
This is “negative” information in that these facts or un-    “facebook” page. His current girlfriend is actually a
certainties may make the adoption situation more com-        second cousin and so there is a way to find him. He
plex from every angle.                                       works at the tire shop in town. Looked at through the
                                                             lens of determination, suddenly, there’s a way.
What do adoption professionals do when we suspect
that there’s negative information? The first thing we        How might one get to this information in a clinically
do is notice our own reactions. We notice our disap-         sensitive way? One can ask a paradoxical question.
pointment, concern, and worry. Our feelings for the          “Let’s talk about all the reasons you might not want
child are primary. We notice the thoughts that have to       to involve him,” is a helpful way to begin. Going with
do with discouragement over how complex the case             the “resistance” helps draw out the challenging truth.
has become. We notice any judgments floating through         “Well he’s with Juanita now, so he should have nothing
our minds, any wishes that the expectant parents might       to do with decisions about this baby,” might be one an-
have handled things differently for the sake of the ex-      swer. “Well, he said he’s always wanted to be a father,”
pected child. In taking a few moments to notice the          might be another. Suddenly, the faceless fellow at the
                                                                                continued on next page
anonymous party for which there was no address, has         logical father need to be recognized for what they are.
not only a name and a place, but feelings and motiva-       At times, it is not respect for the biological parents, but
tions all his own.                                          rather it is fear of alienating them and losing a potential
                                                            adoption situation, that may lead adoption profession-
It is important to tell expectant parents the truth. Give   als to go “lite” on the questions. There are, however,
them access to an adoption attorney who can explain         ways to be respectful and still ask the tough questions
that they can’t place “half” a child; that the biologi-     so that the child and the adoption, itself, are kept safe.
cal father does have rights. It can be effective to use
a little humor. “Taking the approach of avoiding him,       Adoption professionals need to be willing to keep their
might feel good right now, but it could mean we all         eye on those factors that will most likely result in an
meet up on Oprah when it blows up.” Their reasons           adoption plan that will meet the long-range needs of
are compelling, understandable, important and mean-         the child, the birth family and the adoptive family. Ide-
ingful. Nonetheless, one helps expectant parents to ac-     ally, best practice would involve obtaining a thorough
knowledge their blind spots and move to a place where       medical history of the birth mother and birth father,
the “best interests of the child” and the rights of both    genetic testing to confirm that the alleged father is the
expectant parents have a chance to be respected.            child’s actual biological father, a health history that
                                                            fully discloses any exposure for the fetus to any harm-
Some lawyers or social workers tell themselves that not     ful drugs or other substances and any familial predis-
asking more questions of the expectant mother is part       position to a medical or psychological problems. The
of being polite or considerate. They say that it would      best practice would encourage the kind of honest com-
be disrespectful to question her or his story. Some look    munication between birth and adoptive parents that
at the more challenging parts of the expectant mother’s     could open the door for the kind of extended family
life and make an internal judgment that the child will      feeling that can contribute to the child growing whole
be better off with adoptive parents and the biological      and strong. This starts with our willingness to notice
father doesn’t seem to have taken steps forward, so         our reticence to learn painful truths and our courage to,
perhaps a stance of “enough said” is enough. The vari-      nonetheless, ask the tough questions.
ous rationalizations for not asking more about the bio-

                               There to Help Us Through
                            Oh, how our lives changed       drew. Every smile, every babble, and every hug has
                            on a cold Sunday in Feb-        brought great joy into our lives.
                            ruary. And what a won-
                            derful welcome change           Through it all, we have been very happy to have Full
                            it was. At 2PM the two          Circle involved with us. We felt they were all very
                            of us left our house for a      supportive of us. At the beginning, we were a bit over-
                            drive to western Massa-         whelmed by the process and they were always avail-
                            chusetts and we returned        able to help us understand everything we were doing
                            around midnight with the        and everything we needed to do. At one point we
                            most adorable precious          were very discouraged and they were there to help us
                            bundle named Andrew             through. At the end, they were available to us as much
                            Michael. As we look at          as we needed, even giving up the better part of that
him today, a sturdy, independent, even more adorable        Sunday to be with us and come with us to the hospital
14 month old, it is almost hard to remember the tiny        to pick up Andrew. They even followed up during the
delicate infant dwarfed in size by a car seat he has        first week the to see how we were doing.
since outgrown.
                                                            More importantly, Full Circle helped us to really appre-
We can’t imagine being happier than we are with An-         ciate adoption. When we first started the process, we
                                                                              continued on next page
were more focused on what we wanted and ourselves.        put in us to raise Andrew. We hope that as he grows
Over time we really came to appreciate the issues fac-    up, he will be thankful that we all love him, that we
ing birthmothers and fathers. We are very happy that      all are trying to do what’s best for him, and that we all
we have communications with Andrew’s birth parents.       respect each other. Anita
We are grateful to them and humbled by the trust they

 A Full Circle of Continued Support
When we learned of our inability to have biological       life, it was hands-down the best opportunity and ex-
children, and decided to pursue adoption. We met          ceeded even my best dreams.
with Marla Allisan in her Brookline office. Marla took
all the time we needed to go over every part of the       There were times during our wait that we knew we had
handbook with us and to answer our questions, which       to be driving the staff crazy with our endless concerns
were never ending. In our attempts to have biological     and questioning, not because the staff became impa-
children, on our fertility voyage, we’d lost                            tient with us, because they never did, but
our hope. During this meeting, we both                                  because we knew we would have driven
felt hope again for the first time in many                              ourselves crazy! And during our most
years, that we’d actually become parents.                               uncertain and persistent times, Marla
In that Brookline office on that February                               and FCA rose above and lifted us up and
morning, we found it.                                                   helped us continue on our journey, always
                                                                        respectfully and compassionately.
We started right away with our applica-                                 After we came home with our daughter,
tion and home study. Every step of the                                  we started counting down our monthly
way we were treated respectfully and pro-                               post placement visits until finalization.
fessionally, when we did not understand                                 At one point, we had one particularly un-
something, Marla and all the workers at                                 settling conversation with our daughter’s
A Full Circle Adoptions took the time to                                birthmother. Immediately after ending the
explain things to us and to reassure us.                                call with our daughter’s birthmother, we
There were times during our wait that we                                called Marla for her professional opinion
fell back into the more familiar feeling of                             and some reassurance. She once again
wondering if we’ll ever be blessed with parenthood.       rose above and was able to successfully explain the
                                                          grieving process that some birthparents experience and
ITen months later, we began speaking with a young         relate that to us and this particular situation. That was
couple expecting a girl here in Massachusetts. Dur-       the moment that we knew we would really never want
ing our talks, there were times when we became over-      to end our contact with this agency. The continued
whelmed, and it was a Godsend to have Marla to            support that started during our orientation and contin-
bounce our feelings off of, it brought us great comfort   ues to this day, over a year after finalization, is the kind
to be able to share our concerns with Marla and the       of support that is rarely available in today’s world.
team at FCA.
                                                          We are very grateful for the work that Marla and the
When our daughter was born, we went through the           team at A Full Circle Adoptions does, and for the in-
gamut of emotions and experiences. I was fortunate        tegrity and respect they convey in their work. There
enough to have been asked by our daughter’s birth-        are no words good enough to describe the quality of
mother to room in with her in the hospital because she    care from this agency. It is the diamond in the rough.
wanted me to start caring for and bonding with our        They’ve given us so much more than our hope back,
daughter immediately, from birth. While it was one        they’ve given us our dream and our life as a family.
of the most difficult times and frightening times of my                                             Julie
                 A Rewarding Experience
“It’s Marla, I don’t know what you                                        were our parents (there is nothing in life
have planned for this weekend, but you                                    less subtle than a person who wants to
should cancel whatever it is - birthpar-                                  become a grandparent). I don’t think the
ents would like to meet you.” One phone                                   wedding reception was even over before
call changed our weekend plans and                                        we heard the first “grandbaby” com-
our lives. We began our adoption jour-                                    ment. We didn’t know what to do. We
ney after receiving a diagnosis of infer-                                 were upset, embarrassed and sad. But
tility. After much soul searching (and                                    we kept it in. Whenever someone asked
telephone book searching and internet                                     if we were thinking of starting a family,
searching), we contacted Marla Allisan                                    we’d answer with some cheesy excuse.
at Full Circle Adoptions. We found Marla                                  “George is still in EMT school.” Or,
to be attentive and informative. She is a                                 “Jess is looking for a new job; it’s just
compassionate individual and a “straight                                  not the right time.” We played it off like
shooting” professional - qualities that                                   we hadn’t given having a family much
reassured us. From our first phone call,                                  thought, when in fact; it was the only
and to this very day, Marla has shown a                                   thing we thought about.
continued commitment to our family.                       We finally reached one year – the magic time when the
                                                          health insurance companies decide that you’ve tried
Marla’s knowledge and expertise are complemented          long enough and can start discussing infertility with
by her staff - especially Meredith. We have always        your doctors. We began blood work and testing, chart-
been impressed with Meredith’s attention to detail,       ing cycles and watching calendars. We owned stock
genuine concern, and even her ability to recognize our    in the ovulation kit
voices on the phone! Even through stressful times, our    companies and ran
process has been a positive one because of Meredith’s     out to buy a preg-
willingness to answer our (seemingly) thousands of        nancy test every time
questions.                                                my cycle was even
                                                          five minutes late. We
How did we come to the world of adoption? We were         still were not getting
“that” couple. We had it all figured out. We’d been       pregnant. All of my
married a year and decided it was time to get pregnant.   tests came back clear.
We’d talked about it long enough and cooed over ba-       George’s did not. We
bies so much that we realized we had a serious case of    didn’t care at that
“baby fever.” We had a brief (but sweet) bon voyage       point. It didn’t matter
service as we flushed the remaining birth control pills   who was the “prob-
down the drain and then got to business… if it had only   lem.” It was satisfy-
been that easy.                                           ing to finally have
                                                          someone give valid-
Months started to pass quickly and we were not getting    ity that there was a           George, Jess & Owen
pregnant. In fact, the only thing we were getting was     problem. We visited
frustrated and worried. We kept thinking, “How is it      the infertility doctor
that some people can just say the word ‘baby’ and end     and spoke about in-vitro fertilization. The appointment
up pregnant?” To make matters worse, all of our friends   was informative but horrifying. I cried the entire time.
were getting pregnant, co-workers were having babies,     Our insurance would only pay for one cycle – we only
and (it seemed) every other couple at the mall had a      had one chance to get it right. I’m a person that goes
little bundle of joy. We had… nothing. And then, there    with my gut instinct and my gut told me this was not
the way I was meant to become a mother.                        sound like horrible people?). You jump every time the
                                                               phone rings because there may be a birth mom that
Once we made the decision to become adoptive par-              wants to view your profile. Adoption is stressful. But it
ents, there was no turning back. We knew we were               is beautiful, too. We look back now, and can’t believe
making the right decision. I’m not going to lie, adop-         that we are the parents of an adorable and curious eigh-
tion is stressful. There is more paperwork to fill out         teen month old. It seems like forever ago that we first
than you can imagine. You think you can’t possibly get         met Marla. The excitement of our adoption process
the house clean enough for that first home visit (and          took away from the sadness of our infertility. We con-
you’re sure someone from the agency is going to check          sider our adoption process as our “pregnancy.” It was
for dust with a pair of white gloves!). You want to be         exciting and scary (and gave us heartburn sometimes)
sick at the thought of the individual sessions with the        but it was the most rewarding experience we have had
social worker (did I say something that will make us           as a couple.
                                                                                                        Jess & George

                  Alex Brings Us JOY Everyday
We adopted our son, Alex, after a rel-                                          cle was because of the thoroughness
atively short time in the waiting pro-                                          of the agency when working with the
cess. Our adoption process actually                                             birthparents. Full Circle really makes
happened very quickly. We started                                               sure that both birthparents are mak-
our process in October, finished our                                            ing the decision to place a child for
home study in December and took                                                 adoption and that everything is done
home our son in March. Throughout                                               so that both birth parents are comfort-
the whole process we worked closely                                             able with the process. We were really
with Marla and her staff at Full Circle                                         pleased with how our adoption was
to be sure everything was all set. It                                           handled with Alex’s birthfather (his
can be a difficult process with many                                            birthmother, too).
ups and downs. The staff at Full
Circle was great at being completely                                            We were very pleased with our choice
honest about each situation and what to expect - even          of using Full Circle as our adoption agency. We got
if it was a difficult thing to hear as the adoptive parents.   to know everyone in the agency very well while we
It can be overwhelming at times, but they were great           were going through the adoption process. Whenever
about really making sense of different situations.             we emailed or called with anything - big or small - we
                                                               got a response almost immediately.
One of the main reasons that we chose to work with
Full Circle was because of Marla Allisan’s qualifica-          Needless to say, adopting our son has been the most
tions. We liked that she has both a law and social work        rewarding and amazing experience of our lives. We
degree and could see things from both perspectives.            are grateful everyday for our son and the joy he brings
Another key reason that we chose to work with Full Cir-        to our lives.
                                                                                                         Kelli & Kara

                      Thank you to our many donors to the Adoption Assistance Fund and
                   Full Circle Adoptions: Developer Finance, Marguerite and Dom (and family and
                  friends in honor of Marguerite’s Birthday!), Barbara Fell Johnson, and delightful
                      happy families who contributed Anonymously in honor of “our children”.
Full Circle Earns Hague Accreditation
FULL CIRCLE ADOPTIONS is pleased to report that the agency has earned two year tempo-
rary Hague Accreditation from the Council on Accreditation. Hague Accreditation authorizes Full
Circle to provide intercountry adoption services. Licensed by the Commonwealth since 1996,
Full Circle provides both domestic and intercountry adoption services. If you would like more
information about this topic or to schedule an orientation with the agency’s director Marla Allisan
JD, LICSW, at either the agency’s Brookline or Northampton, MA locations, please contact the
agency by telephone - 413-587-0007, or e-mail - adoption@fullcircleadoptions.com.

We meet with clients at either: 496 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA 02446 or
                                     39 Main Street, Northampton, MA 01060

                                     TOLL FREE:                   Phone:
                                     800-45-ADOPT                 413-587-0007


                         Welcome, Baby Kyra!
Full Circle is one of the few                                                  Kyra and her parents will return
agencies in the United States ap-                                              on a regular basis so that she’ll
proved by the Netherlands gov-                                                 grow up knowing her biological
ernment for placement of chil-                                                 parents and her siblings. Around
dren with families there. The                                                  the time of placement, the social
Netherlands is the most racially                                               worker who helped with expect-
integrated country in all of Eu-                                               ant parent counseling and who
rope. Children growing up in the                                               arranged for foster care for Kyra,
Netherlands learn both English                                                 enjoyed a celebration arranged by
and Dutch. They have wonder-                                                   Full Circle and attended by other
ful opportunities for education                                                families who had been blessed
and grow up in a society that is                                               with children as part of the excel-
considered to have far less racism                                             lent casework of Danita Holliday
than elsewhere in the world. Kyra’s biological parents   MSW and Full Circle Adoptions. We want to share our
are a young, but mature African American couple in       respect for Kyra’s birthparents, our gratitude to Danita
the rural south who had three children under the age     for many years of loving assistance to expectant par-
of two (one set of twins!). They wanted their daughter   ents and our appreciation for Morach and Janneke,
to have greater opportunities for education, attention   who’ve done a marvelous job of staying in touch with
and love. They chose Morach and Janneke, a Dutch         her birth-family and with the foster family (who got a
family, to be her parents. While growing up abroad,      bit attached !) as well.

    Toll Free: 1-800-45-ADOPT        Phone: 413-587-0007      e-mail: adoption@fullcircleadoptions.com

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