Defining Your “Why”


Not long ago, my four-year old son began asking questions about the color of his skin. Like his older sisters, he is a beautiful Amerasian combination of Caucasian and Korean. His curiosity started with simple statements about his skin being “brown” and mine being “white.” As his understanding of the topic seemed to grow, I thought I’d mix things up by telling him that he’s actually brown and white, although I knew in advance this may be too much for his young mind to comprehend. Sure enough, his nose crinkled up, he looked at my legs and arms, then at his, and confidently declared “No I’m not! I’m brown!!” Who could argue with him?

I share this story to illustrate a point: Oftentimes society feels the need to pigeon hole adopted families by asking things like “Who are your real parents?” or “Why did you adopt?” or “Where did you get her from? Did she cost a lot?” (Yes, these are real questions posed to adoptive parents and adoptees alike.) While adoption books and trainings do their best to prepare individuals for these insensitive inquiries, there really isn’t much that can prepare you for the staring, incredulous customer standing behind you and your adopted child in the grocery store.

Since these sorts of questions and other challenges that come with adoption can be unpredictable, it’s important to define your motivation for adopting before you begin the process. By solidifying your goals for adopting in advance, you will hopefully be better prepared to handle the challenges that will inevitably come.

You can begin this process by asking yourself, “What is my motivation for adopting?” While the answer to this may appear obvious, it isn’t the same for everyone. Some couples choose to adopt because it is a viable option for expanding their family when infertility has occurred. For others, the motive to adopt is to provide a sibling to an existing child in the family. Sometimes adoptive parents have religious or altruistic motives for adopting, possessing not only the financial ability to raise an adopted child(ren), but also the emotional capacity to love and nurture a child that may not otherwise have a permanent home.

Once you have identified your motive or “why” for adopting, it’s also a good idea to evaluate the resources available to you. Not only is it important to work within your budget in planning for the initial adoption expenses, but it is also critical that you understand the costs connected to raising a special needs child, for example. If you have a heart to adopt older children who have been in foster care or who come from abusive and/or neglectful homes, do you have the emotional wherewithal to provide consistent boundaries, insight, structure, and love?

Most adoptive children are proud of their stories and enjoy hearing the details of their birth and placement. Once they reach age seven or eight, however, they often begin asking more detailed questions about their adoption story. Being confident in your “why” for adopting will become crucial in explaining to your adopted child his/her story and affirming your choice to be their parent. In other words, you will not only be responsible for addressing the questions of family, friends, co-workers, and the occasional random stranger (if you choose to do so), but most importantly you will be responsible for building your child’s sense of self-esteem and value as you educate them about their adoption story.

At Adoption Matters, Inc. we are committed to assisting our adoptive families for the life of their adoption and we welcome the opportunity to be of assistance in providing counseling or connecting you with other appropriate adoption resources.

Adoption: Purpose in the Problem

Adoption: Purpose in the Problem

Most readers don’t automatically think of the word “problem” when contemplating adoption. On the contrary, the majority of people I speak with about my work as an adoption counselor tend to lean towards the warm and fuzzy…telling me what “great work” I’m doing or how they admire people who adopt. While these statements are backed by a degree of truth and good intentions, they do not take into consideration this idea of adoption being a problem. Bear with me for a moment while I attempt to explain myself further…

Many years ago, I worked with an adoptive family who should really be the poster child for all things good and admirable in our world. They truly epitomized what some may refer to as a “calling” to be adoptive parents. They heartily said yes to a pregnant woman who had had zero prenatal care throughout her pregnancy, was routinely homeless and was also a heroin addict. (She did manage to stay clean during her pregnancy, however.) This family exuded compassion, strength and genuine hospitality throughout the entire match and placement process. Even as their adopted daughter grew older and her birthmother remained aloof, they continuously prayed for her, said kind things about her to their daughter and never once passed judgement on her lifestyle. In their minds, this birthmother gave them the greatest gift of all: the gift of being parents.

During one particularly memorable post-placement visit with this family, I remember asking the adoptive parents about their unusual perspective. Their explanation was simple: There was a woman who was pregnant. Her baby needed permanent, stable parents. They were a couple who had experienced difficulty conceiving and possessed a large capacity to give and love. They saw this situation as a problem that presented an opportunity for all involved. In other words, everyone’s pain and loss were actually the portal for healing and joy. A birthmother’s sacrifice to remain clean just long enough to give birth was the window through which a beautiful little girl came into the world. A couple’s infertility was the gateway through which adoption became possible. I have always loved this couple’s perspective on adoption because it recognized the grief involved, while choosing to believe that very grief was the mechanism for birthing their greatest blessing.

Life is certainly fraught with hardship and I will be the first to admit I do not always understand why; however, when it comes to adoption, at least, perhaps we could all benefit from this family’s lesson of hope and joy in the midst of what could have been their biggest problem. (By the way, this couple went on to adopt two more children—three total—who had special needs.)

S. Groff

Hague Adoption Convention 101

Hague Adoption Convention 101

Many folks are familiar with the concept of international adoption, but the regulations and laws governing this practice are often less familiar to those of you who may be embarking on this journey for the first time. If you are in the early stages of researching adoption and talking to adoption agencies, you may have heard certain phrases thrown around like “Hague accredited” or “Hague Convention.” But what do these terms mean?

To begin with, The Hague Adoption Convention is an international agreement safeguarding the intercountry adoption of children. In layman’s terms, it is a set of laws regulating the transfer of children across international borders for the purpose of adoption. At its heart, The Hague Adoption Convention was designed to ensure children are not being trafficked in the name of adoption and that agencies overseeing the placement of children are conducting ethical business with the utmost level of care and practice. In addition, the Convention strives to ensure that intercountry adoption is indeed in a child’s best interest, especially after determining there are no viable options within his/her country of origin. In sum, the Convention recognizes that intercountry adoption offers the advantage of a permanent home for a child who may not otherwise have one.

The Hague Adoption Convention applies to all adoptions by U.S. citizens. In many ways, adopting a child from a country not party to the Convention is similar to adopting a child who is coming from a Convention country. There are some key differences, however, particularly in that those seeking to adopt may receive a higher level of protection when adopting from a Convention country.

Each participating country in The Hague Adoption Convention must designate a Central Authority to oversee intercountry adoptions. In the U.S., this entity is the Department of State. Only agencies that have been Hague accredited or approved on a federal level are allowed to offer specific services for Convention countries. It should also be mentioned that not all U.S. adoption agencies have gone through the rigorous process of becoming Hague accredited, so this is a question you will want to ask when conducting your research on international adoption.

Finally, whether you pursue international adoption with a Hague Convention country or not, there are two basic criteria to be determined: 1) Is the child in question legally eligible for adoption and 2) Is the prospective adoptive family suitable to adopt this child, something that is determined through the home study process.

If you are researching adoption, be it domestic or international, Adoption Matters, Inc. welcomes the opportunity to speak with you and answer any questions about the different types of adoption, the requirements involved, the home study process, fees, what to expect when adopting, and so on. Adoption Matters, Inc. is Hague accredited and is also licensed in North and South Carolina.

We wish you and your family all the best in the New Year

S. Groff

Christmas Wish

Christmas Wish

As we enter the Christmas season, many of us are caught up in the hustle and bustle of wish lists, shopping, baking, attending parties or family gatherings, wrapping presents, and shoveling snow (depending on where you live!). Some of you reading this blog may already have a house full of children while others are eagerly awaiting the adoption of your first child and look forward to celebrating your first Christmas together.

I find that the older I get I really can’t come up with a tangible item that I “want” for Christmas; instead, I just want my family together around me and I look forward to experiencing the magic of Christmas through my own children’s eyes. The fact that I can’t articulate a physical item on my wish list, however, drives my kids bananas. They have begged me to please come up with at least one thing. While I’d be just as happy with a hand-made card, I understand and want to respect their desire to reciprocate. So, as I was thinking about my wish list this year I began to ponder all the things that adoptive families often wish for, as well.

For example, you may be wishing for a chubby baby to cuddle and kiss, or you may be wishing for the last Invitro treatment to end. You may be wishing and praying for the child you’re already been matched with but haven’t yet adopted, or you could be wishing for the moment when you get to see your adopted child’s face for the very first time and hold his/her hand. You may be wishing thoughts of hope and compassion for a birthmother who is struggling and you may be wishing for your adoption social worker to stop asking you so many questions!! Truthfully, you are probably wishing for the waiting to end and for your life with kids to just begin. I think we all wish that children everywhere would find loving homes where they will be nourished, nurtured and held every day of the year.

Whatever your wish this holiday season, I suggest you write it down, pray about it, tell your close friends and family about it, guard it in your heart until it comes to pass. Someday you will share that story with your adopted child and he or she will know they are the beautiful result of your Christmas wish.

Adoption Matters wishes you and yours all the best this Christmas season and we look forward to another exciting year of working together. Merry Christmas!


  1. Groff

National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month and we are so privileged to help celebrate this important month by giving a shout out to all of our clients: birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents alike. The purpose of this month is to draw attention to the thousands of children who are in foster care waiting to be adopted. For 2017, Child Welfare is placing particular emphasis on the teenagers who are often overlooked and forgotten in foster care. Please follow the link below to learn more about this program and to read about adoption, in general. As always, if Adoption Matters, Inc. can be of any assistance to you or your family during your adoption journey, we would love the opportunity to speak with you and serve you.

Things Adopted Children Wish Their Parents Knew…

Things Adopted Children Wish Their Parents Knew…

In this blog, we talk a lot about adoptive parents and birth parents, but I also believe it is important to understand adoption from the perspective of the individual it affects the most: the adoptee. Children growing up in an adoptive home from infancy or toddlerhood will most likely find their adoption situation very normal and may not question their story until they reach adolescence or young adulthood. It is often at that time, however, that adoptive parents feel bombarded with their child’s “sudden” curiosity, as if it awakened overnight and is now here to haunt them. As we know, the truth is rarely that black and white. Some children either hold off on asking certain questions because it never occurred to them to ask when they were younger, or they sensed some level of resistance or hesitation on the part of their adoptive parents in discussing these matters. (Children who were placed out of foster care or at an older age will certainly still have questions, but they are often more aware of the circumstances surrounding their relinquishment and placement.)

From young children to adult adoptees, there are many patterns in the issues raised regarding one’s adoption story. Many of the same questions regarding background, reasons for relinquishment, feelings of abandonment or rejection, and curiosity about appearance and ability can be heard across all types of adoption, regardless of the adoptee’s demographic.

In interviews with adoptees, there are some common threads that get expressed about not only the questions these individuals have, but also statements of things adopted children wish their adopted parents knew (or had known) when they were growing up. Below is a list of just a few of these sentiments:

  • Birthdays or “Gotcha Days” may be difficult for me.
  • I am afraid you, too, will abandon me.
  • I want you to initiate conversations about my birth parents, placement and adoption story.
  • Don’t overreact every time I act out…it isn’t always adoption related. Sometimes I’m just being a normal kid.
  • Please don’t act weird when I ask questions about my birth parents. I’m just curious.
  • Don’t introduce me as your “adopted child.” I’m just your child.
  • My curiosity about my birth parents or desire to search for them is not a rejection of you as my parents.
  • It’s normal for adoptees to struggle with issues of self-worth, identity, control, and shame.
  • Be my advocate. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for a lifelong commitment to me and my adoption.
  • Adoption is not a secret or something to be ashamed of.

At Adoption Matters, we are committed to our families for the life of your adoption. If we can ever help you get connected with counseling and other adoption related resources that would benefit your family, please let us know

S. Groff

Meeting In the Middle

Meeting in the Middle

Over the past several months, I have found myself having multiple conversations with folks about the perceived “conflict” between birthparents and adoptive parents. While I am not oblivious to this point of view, I am hoping to challenge it in today’s post. I think it’s unfortunate that society seems to pit these two groups against each other, when, in reality, they are two entities working towards the common goal of creating a permanent placement in a loving and stable home for a child.

I’ve heard adoptive parents sheepishly admit they don’t feel advocated for and have been made to feel ashamed by certain agencies whom they see as very “pro birthparent.” On the flip side, I’ve heard birthparents express concern that their needs will be trumped for those of the adoptive parents when it comes down to the details of matching and placement. This “us” versus “them” mentality is really not helpful and actually gets in the way of transitioning children from birthparents or foster homes to permanent adoptive homes. If you can remove yourself from the emotional context for just a few moments, I’d like to mention some factors that may help all of us to see this issue in a different light moving forward.

Traditionally, we’ve talked about the three parties involved in adoption as the adoption triad: birthparents, adoptive parents and adoptees. The problem with this analogy, however, is that it doesn’t fully address the interaction between each. It denotes a relationship, but a distant one without any overlapping. In a recent discussion of this matter with an adoptive father, we decided a Venn diagram more accurately describes the connection between each member of an adoption. In this diagram, each party comes with their own individual background but also connects around the center, which in adoption is the child.

The reason I mention this is because I think we often mistakenly think of adoptive parents and birthparents as opposing parties, with opposing interests and lifestyles, values or backgrounds. The truth is there are often more commonalities than at first meets the eye. And, even if no similarities can be found, the fact that both sets of parents love this child and want the best future for him/her should be enough to break down some of the barriers that are often put in place long before an expectant mother ever meets a potential adoptive parent.

As prospective adoptive parents, if you find yourself feeling squeamish about birthparents and their role in your future child’s life, perhaps you need to take a step back and examine the underlying reasons behind those feelings. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll realize that by focusing on the adopted child as the center, you will feel more relaxed and rational about any sort of interaction or relationship with the birthparents. On the other hand, if you are an expectant mother trying to plan an adoption or a birthparent who has already placed a child for adoption, you may be having feelings of obligation or resentment, in addition to the grief that is certain to accompany your decision. I encourage you to learn as much as possible about your birthchild’s future family and to maintain some form of contact (even if it’s texts and pictures) so that you can be reassured of your child’s development as he/she grows older. Having this personal connection will help to lessen the fear that the adoptive parents are unfeeling or can’t relate to your situation.

I fully recognize the emotions involved in adoption cannot be worked out with just a few simple analogies or mental exercises; however, sometimes a perspective switch allows us to move forward in a more positive manner and to ultimately experience healthier interactions with others. I challenge all of us, therefore, to view the relationships in adoption as a “meeting in the middle” and let’s see how far we can go.

S. Groff

Making the Most of Your Wait

Making the Most of Your Wait

This is a post for all those adoptive parents who have waited. Maybe you waited to get pregnant or waited to hear the disappointing news that the last round of IVF didn’t take. Perhaps you waited to get your home study approved and now you find yourself waiting some more…waiting for a referral, anticipating that call from your placement agency, waiting to get on a plane and meet your sweet child for the very first time. Others of you who are past these initial stages of adoption may now be waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the day your adopted child asks the really “BIG” questions that you feel unprepared to answer or are scared to address. Wherever you find may yourself in this journey we call adoption, waiting is inevitable. There’s just no other way to slice it.

Waiting doesn’t have to be a negative thing though. In fact, it is often in the waiting that we become better prepared for the goal. For those of you who may have just signed the last piece of paperwork for your home study and for those families who have been waiting for over a year to receive a placement, I challenge you to hold onto hope in a time that can otherwise be filled with anxiety and impatience.

To begin with, the decision to grow your family through adoption is an exciting and hope-filled one in and of itself. While it may sometimes feel like an emotional roller coaster, try to remain focused on the goal, which is becoming parents. I have often talked with prospective adoptive parents who are experiencing the angst of waiting and question whether they made the right decision or have grown weary with not knowing when a child will join their family. I am certainly not negating the emotions of this difficult time, but I have noticed a pattern over the years in the approach of those waiting families who are able to make the most of their wait. Below is a list of some of the things that seem to help many adoptive families. Also keep in mind that Adoption Matters, Inc. is always available to answer questions and to connect you with resources that can empower you and your family along this adoption journey.

  • Start a children’s library with some adoption related books included
  • Write a blog (or follow an adoption blog—There are so many beautiful and personal adoption blogs out there to benefit from!)
  • Take the trips you’ve always wanted to go on
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Become a Big Sister or Big Brother
  • Go to church. Pray. Ask others to pray for you.
  • Join a waiting family support group
  • Host a group of other adoptive and waiting families in your home on a monthly basis—Building a community of friends who understand what you’re going through and who can provide encouragement, answer questions, etc. is a HUGE help!
  • Begin a life book for your future child, detailing your adoption journey up to this point, leaving plenty of space to include your child’s story and how he/she joined your family
  • Laugh. Journal.
  • Go on date nights
  • Get together with friends


  1. Groff

Capacity to Love

Capacity to Love

Last week I had the amazing privilege of going to Buenos Aires, Argentina as part of a mission’s trip with my church. The purpose of this trip was to visit an orphanage that we help to support there. We took 15 huge suitcases full of donations and supplies and spent the week playing and doing projects with the kids, interacting with the staff of women who have dedicated their lives to these children, and creating memories that will be carried with all of us for a lifetime. While many different types of service oriented groups like ours often carry out construction projects or set up health clinics to help meet the needs of the local population, our intent was to fill these kids up with love, affection, laughter, and lots of play. While the goal may not sound ambitious to some, I can honestly say it was the most important.

Now that I have returned home, I find myself pondering this experience and the things I’ve learned. Although I believe strongly in the value of international travel and exposure to other people, places, customs, and cultures, I also believe it is incumbent upon us to do something with these experiences once we come back home. While America may appear to be the “land of plenty” (and in many ways, it is), the truth remains that we have scores of children right here within our own borders who need love and attention, mentoring and compassion.

I realize we can’t all go on a trip like this one and not everyone has the desire to do so. If you are reading this blog right now, however, you obviously have some connection or interest in adoption. Whether your motives to adopt are based upon infertility or pure philanthropy, something within you is compelled to choose this unique alternative to building your family. As you continue to research adoption and figure out the best method for pursuing that option, please take a moment to reflect on all you have to offer a child who, for some reason, needs an adoptive home.

The reasons for making an adoption plan are as varied as the children and families who find themselves linked together; however, the needs of these kiddos, whether here in the United States or abroad, are pretty much the same: At the core of every one is a need for security, affirmation, love, affection, and kindness. Those of us who possess the capacity to provide these critical elements of nurturing may find ourselves volunteering as mentors, providing respite foster care, applying to become foster parents, or even adopting. Whatever path you may choose, please keep Adoption Matters, Inc. in mind as a wonderful adoption resource. We would love to answer any adoption-related questions you may have and to serve you in this exciting journey.


  1. Groff



Adoption 101

Adoption 101

For many of you reading this blog, this may be the first adoption related website you’ve ever visited. You may find yourselves in the very beginning stages of adoption research and trying to make heads or tails of the plethora of information available on-line. While this is an exciting part of the process, the “information gathering” stage can also be an overwhelming one. The internet has made adoption information accessible to everyone, but has propagated a good deal of conflicting (or misinformation), as well. Some of the most common questions people have when making an initial inquiry is about the type of agency they should use. They also want to know the difference between using an adoption attorney, facilitator or an adoption agency. Wading through all of these details can be tedious and confusing, so in this blog I will do my best to define three of the most common adoption entities that exist, as well as to offer guidance as to how you can best know what you are getting into and ultimately, what is the best choice for your family.

  • Adoption Agency

Let’s begin with perhaps the most common adoption resource: the adoption agency. Whether large or small, there are many similar traits to be found across the board when working with an adoption agency. First of all, this is the primary place for getting your adoption home study completed. Without a home study, you cannot adopt a child. Once this important step is finished, many adoption agencies will then attempt to match you with a birthparent from their existing pool of pregnant birthmothers or they will work on your behalf to find a placement from an outside resource, perhaps a national or out-of-state agency, depending on the situation. An adoption agency will be responsible for walking you through placement, completing necessary adoption paperwork, helping you to negotiate the terms of an open adoption, performing post-placement duties, and ultimately submitting reports leading to finalization of your adoption. Some of the advantages to working with an agency include greater representation, someone holding your hand throughout the entire process, available counseling to birthparents regarding their adoption decision, and the assurance that an accredited, licensed agency is being held accountable to certain laws and standards governing adoption.

  • Adoption Attorney

First of all, you will always need to retain an attorney in order to finalize your adoption. Whether or not you speak to an attorney before that point depends on the state you live in and the particulars of the adoption situation you are involved in. Some folks engage in what we call a private adoption, which in its simplest form means that the adoptive parents have been matched with the birthparents privately, outside of an agency, and desire to complete an adoption by mutual consent. Sometimes the attorney will refer the birthmother to an agency for a minimum number of counseling sessions or at the least, an assessment prior to signing relinquishments. Oftentimes, the case will be referred to an adoption agency for post-placement supervision and finalization. These types of adoptions occur frequently and are successful; however, a few things to be aware of are that not all attorneys, even a family law attorney, is familiar with and understanding of the unique nuances of adoption. We recommend using an attorney who is a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. Additionally, not all attorneys or adoptive families are taking into consideration the best interests of birthparents, so they do not always advocate for a birthmother receiving counseling prior to her adoption decision.

  • Adoption Facilitator

Technically, an adoption facilitator is a person who assists with, or “facilitates,” the matching of a birthmother with an adoptive family. Unlike a licensed child placing agency or even a licensed attorney, however, adoption facilitators are not licensed. In fact, if they accept payment for their services it is illegal in some states, including North Carolina. If a person is voluntarily acting as a facilitator, without compensation, then most states accept their role. Some examples include nurses, ministers, family members, and friends. Most states prohibit the compensation of an adoption facilitator and in states like California or Ohio where it is allowed, there are strict laws governing payment to these individuals.

While the potential dangers of this scenario may appear obvious, unfortunately it is not always obvious to the prospective client that this person or entity is indeed a facilitator. Many facilitators have sophisticated websites and brochures that give the impression of being an agency, when in fact, they are not. The improper use of a facilitator can cause a multitude of problems and could negatively impact the finalization of your adoption. As an adoptive parent, therefore, be sure to do your homework and know what kinds of questions to ask.

In closing, it is important to do your research and to ask a lot of questions as you gather information about the best adoption route for your family. Adoption Matters, Inc. would love to answer any questions you may have and to assist you in your adoption journey.

S. Groff