When a brand new human being is placed in your arms, it can feel a little scary. You may think what many of us think when we look at our newborn babies, “ok little stranger, now what do I do?”
Once the excitement of the birth and introducing the baby to your family is over, and your helpers are back at work, the real job begins. It can feel overwhelming, which is why we believe in giving our Adoptive Parents training and skills such as Baby Care Classes, CPR and First-Aid.
Please call us if you are struggling to adjust or feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Knowing your limitations and having the wherewithal to reach out for help is a sign of strength. In addition, when we meet with you to do Post Placement Supervision, this is the time to share any worries you may have. We can suggest resources to help you through any difficulties you may be experiencing.
If you do need us, please call 321-766-5683.
Our goal is to have successful, safe adoptions for all our families, which is why we have compiled a list of useful information. We hope you will find it helpful, but we urge you to pick up the phone and call us if you feel worried or overwhelmed. Don’t think this will make you a bad parent. In our eyes, it will prove you know your limitations and when to reach out and ask for help.
Florida Adoption Center (FAC) aims to provide services to all members of the Adoption Triad to enable them to live their best life. Living their best life means access to healthcare (physical and mental), healthy nutrition, education on making healthy choices for the benefit of the child and themselves, substance abuse education and treatment, and ways to reduce family stress. The ultimate aim is health for the expectant/birth parents, adoptive parents, and child(ren). The resources on this page are not intended to be all-encompassing but to provide information on essential topics that may be overlooked.
Support For The Adoptive Parents & Birth Parents Who Choose to Parent
The staff of FAC is available to all adoption triad members as they discuss and process decisions, thoughts, and feelings before and after the adoption. We are committed to supporting adoptive parents as they adjust to their new parenting roles and birth parents who chose to parent.
No one is born knowing how to be a great parent. We learn from our parents, family, and friends if we are lucky. If we are not fortunate enough to have been brought up with great role models, it is still possible to learn to be a good parent. We are committed to helping all parents be the best parents they can be. We believe parenting education is a great start. Here are a few examples:
How & When To Tell A Child They Are Adopted
At FAC, we believe in exploring how and when to tell a child they are adopted. For this reason, we include this topic in our pre-adoption training classes. It is vital that a child is told in an age-appropriate way and should grow up knowing the truth about themselves. Many excellent children’s books are available on the market that can help explain. “I wished for you: An adoption story,” by Marianne Richmond, and “Tell me again about the night I was born,” by Jamie Lee Curtis are a few examples.
Coping with Baby’s Crying and Frustration
Babies cry. A Lot! Sometimes it is easy to see what is wrong, wet diapers, too hot, too cold, hungry, etc. Sometimes, it is not easy to tell why. A baby’s cry is their survival mechanism. The survival mechanism would be ineffective if a baby’s crying were easy to ignore. The cry is designed to be impossible to ignore, but constant crying can be very distressing and sometimes frustrating for the parent or caregiver. During times of frustration, parents should have coping skills ready to handle the situation. Parents feeling high levels of frustration could put the baby gently in their crib, shut the bedroom door (checking on the baby every 5 or 10 minutes or so), and go and do something else in another room until they feel calmer. Sometimes calling a friend to come and watch the child so the parent can take a break is helpful. Putting the baby in the stroller and taking a walk together can also work. Calling a friend to come and watch the child for an hour or two while the parent takes a break are all helpful and healthy coping responses.
Parenting can be frustrating at times. Every parent can think of a time when their frustration level was high, and all parents can sympathize with that frustration. Parenting is challenging when there is little or no family support. We have all heard of cases when parents or caregivers have acted out their frustration and caused the child harm, or worse, the child’s death. Shaking a baby or young child is one example of this abuse. NCT is a non-profit out of the UK, but they have some great resources. You can read their articles on their website at https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/crying.
Shaken Baby Syndrome – What? Why? How?
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a serious brain injury resulting from forcefully shaking an infant or toddler. SBS describes what occurs when a baby or young child is shaken, usually in frustration or anger. In these cases, the infant is shaken so violently that brain or spinal cord damage occurs. This damage may result in injuries so severe the child never fully recovers or, worse, dies.
An infant’s head is enormous compared to its body, and its neck muscles are fragile. In addition, the baby’s brain has not yet filled all the space in the child’s skull. Add all these factors together, and it is easy to see why vigorously shaking a baby will result in the brain moving within the skull when the baby’s head flops backward and forwards with the shaking force. When a baby is shaken in such a way, it causes bruising of the brain, which can result in bleeding within the skull, swelling of the brain, brain damage, and possible death. The baby’s delicate spinal cord can also suffer significant damage resulting in spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and possible death.
It is difficult to accurately quantify the number of deaths resulting from Shaken Baby Syndrome. Still, estimates by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggest that 1,500 infants are victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome every year, and of those babies, 150 – 200 die due to their injuries.
There is always an alternative to shaking a baby, but coping skills can be stretched to the limit in stressful times. We can refer to community partners who provide parenting classes to help build parents’ skill sets and promote safe parenting. You can learn more about soothing your baby, instead of shaking, in this FL Department of Health pamphlet and this CDC Pamphlet.
Teaching Parents to Manage their Stress
Teaching our families how to manage their stress is all part of providing services that benefit the child. Families in crisis have high-stress levels, which may impact their parenting abilities. Identifying stressors and learning to cope with stress in healthy ways can improve parenting abilities. You can lessen parental stress by learning positive coping skills and relaxation techniques and developing a social network of support.
Every state has a version of a “Safe Haven” law designed to save the lives of newborns. The Law in Florida allows a mother to relinquish her newborn, no questions asked, to the proper authority. The purpose of the Safe Haven Law is to prevent infanticide. Simply put, it is designed to give a mother an alternative to killing her infant. According to Florida Law, a mother “can leave your baby, up to seven days old, with an employee at any hospital, emergency medical services station or firefighter at any fire station in Florida.” As long as the baby is unharmed, the hospital staff, emergency medical service station, or firehouse staff are prohibited from asking the mother any questions regarding her identity. The law only applies to babies who are or appear to be no more than seven days old, according to the best judgment of a medical professional.
A licensed adoption agency is contacted whenever a newborn is relinquished under the Safe Haven Law. The agency will place the child with adoptive parents. FAC maintains a list of Adoptive Parents who willingly and happily provide loving homes to Safe Haven babies.
Identifying Risk and Protective Factors
Our programs may provide resources for strategies that promote family well-being and safety. Our program examines parental resilience, social support, nurturing and attachment, the family’s knowledge of child development and parenting skills, and the child’s emotional and social competence. Together, we identify a family’s risk and protective factors to identify any services which may be needed.
Bonding and Attachment
Attachment is the deep bond between child and caregiver (ideally parents). In ideal circumstances, bonding begins before a baby is born and continues earnestly during the baby’s first years. Bonding in adoption doesn’t start until after the birth of the child. Bonding does not always come naturally, especially if parents do not experience a secure bonding relationship with their parents. Bonding behaviors can be taught, and our team works with families to promote bonding and secure attachment.
Child Development and Milestones
It is important for parents to be educated on child development and what milestones to expect at each stage of a child’s life. We believe it is vital for parents to be aware of a child’s developmental behaviors and needs and the importance of knowing what to expect in the way of behaviors, physical development, social, emotional, and cognitive development. A milestone chart can be found on HelpMeGrowFL.org by clicking now, or you can download the Milestone Tracker App from the CDC.
Safe Sleeping Practices and Cribs for Kids
According to the CDC, about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among US infants occur annually. There are many more numbers about safe sleep, the common causes, and how to prevent them. To learn more about safe sleeping and view results from research studies, visit the CDC Safe Sleep for Babies. Safe sleep practices can help lower the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation, and deaths from unknown causes. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a great article on safe sleep that you can read here. CribsForKids.Org’s mission is to prevent infant sleep-related deaths by educating parents and caregivers on the importance of practicing safe sleep for their babies and by providing portable cribs to families who, otherwise, cannot afford a safe place for their babies to sleep. They also help families in need who are expecting or have children under one obtain a crib so their child has a safe sleeping place. Check out their site for more helpful information.
Safe Car Seats
Many of us remember driving with our parents in cars with no seat belts. We all know this is no longer appropriate. Unfortunately, car seats can be costly, especially when funds are limited. We can refer to community partners who will provide the car seat and education on how to use and install it safely. Did you know that 4 out of 5 car seats are being misused? Check your local area for Car Seat Safety programs. Click this link for resources about free car seats in all 50 states for families that qualify. Qualifiers vary based on the program.
Medical Insurance Options for Kids
Parents with private insurance can add an adoptive child to their health insurance policies, just as they would a biological child. Birth Parents, who choose to parent, may not have the means to pay for private health insurance. A mother whose Pregnancy Medicaid covers the birth of her baby will need to register the child for Medicaid within 72 hours of the baby’s birth by “adding a family member” to her “Access” account. The baby will be covered under Medicaid for one year. Children may continue to be covered under Medicaid through age 18 if the parents qualify. Many states have reduced insurance plans for children if they do not qualify for Medicaid. For example, in Florida, we have a program called Florida KidCare. Florid KidCare covers children from birth through age 18. Children may be covered under Florida KidCare even if both parents are working. Qualification for the Florida KidCare program is based on income. Premiums for Florida KidCare can be as low as $15-$20 a month. Learn more about Florida Kid Care here or search for similar resources in your home state.