Adoption Puzzle

Missing Pieces

by Lisa Ritter Starr

A Surprising Story
Some people like surprises, while others just can't stomach them. The funny thing about surprises is that, whatever your feelings, you can't force them to happen or not happen.

Besides knowing someone in the adoption triad, popular stories are the main way we get information about adoption.

Finally, the two of you make the announcement to friends and family, but not quite the announcement you had always dreamed...

When I was faced with an unplanned pregnancy, my mind became flooded with past images and associations of adoption.

The Price of Process
Recently I had dinner with friends, and our after-dinner discussion turned to adoption.

"Stepmom:" A Family's Picture
The movie "Stepmom" stars Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon as two moms in the same family. It also happens to tell a story that relates in many ways to open adoption.

Simply Put
Over a decade has passed since my daughter, and open adoption, have come into my life.

Preparations for a Family
Part 3: The "Dear Birthmother" Letter
This letter is like an extended form of a newspaper ad that some couples submit when seeking a child.

Part 2: Your Life in Hardcopy
A brief overview of the application process for those who have chosen to use agency adoption services.

Part 1: The Beginning of the Process
I cannot imagine how difficult it is for many prospective adoptive parents these days.

Lifegivers: Framing the Birthparent Experience in Open Adoption
Jim Gritter's book is a must-read for all who have a birth parent in their lives.

Barbara Walters Does Open Adoption
When I watched the program, I was impressed by the show's fairly objective stance and yet positive view of openness.

Adoption Awareness
Although healthy, publicly declared adoptions have been happening to some degree for decades, adoption awareness literature began to appear only fairly recently, around the late 1980s.

And Then I Found It
I had almost given up believing that there are any fictional novels out there mainly about adoption -- let alone good, engaging ones -- when, perusing the stacks at the public library one day, a title jumped out at me.

Your Own Judge
There are lots of ways to think about judgment, and there are even more ways to use it. How does judgment affect family life? Who is judged, and against what standard? Who does the judging, and why? Is it necessary and right?

Public Private Life
In theory, the difference between private and public is such that the two are almost polar opposites. Adoption is an area in which private and public interests not only overlap, but often collide.

Two Ways About It
Adoption may seem complex, and the motivations of birth parents difficult to understand, but they are not such foreign concepts.

A Perspective, But Not the Only One
Sometimes you learn the most when you step outside your comfort zone and pay attention to people or things to which it is somewhat difficult to relate.

A Good Read
The Story of David: How We Created a Family Through Open Adoption, was written by adoptive parent Dion Howells, with Karen Wilson Pritchard

Eight Years of Open Adoption
One year has passed since I moved away from my daughter's hometown, where I lived from her birth until she turned eight years old.

Adoption Aloud
When you are part of the adoption triad, it is easy to let your adoption story fall out of your daily life.

Elf: More than a Christmas Comedy
It also contains a surprisingly touching tale of adoption search and reunion.

One of a Kind
The phrase 'one of a kind' takes on special meaning in adoption as there are many ways to look at it.

Is There Really Room for Everyone?
It must seem strange, maybe even illogical, to say that there is room for everyone in a family that includes both adoptive and birth relatives

"DO NOT ANNOUNCE" (Part I) (Part II) (Part III)
A three-part series exploring the legal and emotional origin of American domestic adoptions, and the ongoing lobby for legal and emotional change in how adoption is dealt with today.

Search Basics
Many adopted adults report that their need to know more increases with age. Whatever age you are, and whatever your reasons for starting to search, you will need a lot of patience, courage, and information to begin.

Good Cause
Ninety nine point nine percent of the average adopted person's life occurs post-adoption.

During Pregnancy
An unplanned pregnancy is something few women want to face. When it does, you should at least face the fact that it must be dealt with both in a timely manner and in the healthiest way possible.

Problems and Questions of Open Adoption (Part I) & (Part II)
Closed adoptions seem to have simplicity on their side. A baby is born, placed, and continues her life with one family.

One Question I CAN Answer
Personal stories about adoption are fascinating to me; I treat them as others' experiential learning that I, too, can learn from.

I'd Like You to Meet my Moms
Everyone has an adoptive mother. If she doesn't occur to you right away, all you have to do is think back a little.

Face and Grace
Whether it is by an adopted adult or a member of the birth family, this search could be compared, in a way, to a race.

Creating a Lifebook
Adopted adults who search out their roots may not get very far if the records of their birth family contain a lot of holes.

The Search Is Over ... ?
Because open adoption as a legal option is relatively new, there are thousands of people out there actively seeking their biological families long lost through closed adoptions.

The Father's Right to Know
A new Florida law, passed in August without Governor Jeb Bush's signature, requires an unprecedented effort on the part of birth mothers pursuing private adoption for their children to locate and inform the birth fathers.

The After-Adoption Life
I can't speak for all birthmothers, but I can try to shed some light on a side of the adoption triad not often seen by adoptive parents and adopted adults.

Adoption Out of the Bag
The secret is out: Adoption happens. U.S. families last year adopted about 120,000 children in the United States and from around the world.

The Best Mother
I was surprised to find a homemade bookmark I first discovered last season as I leafed through novels at the bookstore one day.

The Lifegiver's Festival
A divine little weekend that takes place in a quiet corner of the United States each year.

So Do You Have Kids?
When you're involved in any adoption and you aren't parenting another child, a personal question like this often triggers a lot of thought.

Filling in Blanks One Space at a Time
Nowhere in adoption do children face more missing pieces about their lives as they do in international adoptions.

The "Secret" of Adoption
There are thousands of adult adoptees today, most of whom have in some way voiced a desire sooner or later to find their birthfamilies.

Opening Adoption
Families these days are shifting and changing - that includes the family of adoption.



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Missing Pieces by Lisa Ritter Starr

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A Message From Lisa

Open adoption is a valid choice for many women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy, and it is a respectful, caring alternative for the child. It is also a valuable concept that is by and large missing from the general social consciousness.

The purpose of this column is to inform, relate personal experiences, and generate ideas about open adoption - all from the perspective of the birthmother. Openness is necessary because the closed aspects of adoption have proven detrimental on the healthy development of children.

As children or adults, those who are adopted almost always want to know not only that they are loved, but also where that love, and where their lives, originated.

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