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adoption Archives • Upbring

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Linka & Ilona: Two preteens with hopes of adoption

Linka and Ilona are doing well in separate foster homes in Bulgaria, but would love to find permanency and forever homes in the United States. They are unrelated and would be adopted separately – let’s meet the girls.

Linka

 

Linka2Linka, age 12, attends the sixth grade in a local public school where she receives additional special education support because she is somewhat behind academically. Linka has difficulty concentrating and staying on task, and her teachers report that she is not a motivated student – likely the result of lacking a stable home. In addition, she needs support to enrich her vocabulary, as it is limited, and the ability to express herself. Linka has a temper and has some difficulty regulating her emotions, but is easily consoled or calmed, and seeks help from caregivers when she has difficulties. She demonstrates empathy for others, but can also be mischievous!

Linka is not a shy girl and is said to have good self-esteem. She presents as a neat, well-dressed child who cares about her appearance – insisting that her clothes are color coordinated and likes to accessorize her outfits when not in her school uniform.

Ilona

Ilona, age 11, currently resides with a foster family in Bulgaria. Described as “empathetic and helpful,” Ilona is interested in music, dance and likes to read. She is said to “communicate easily with classmates and children from the school, and is respectful toward teaching staff – seeking their guidance and advice.” Ilona is a team player and doesn’t have conflicts with other students. She happily and actively participates in games at school, and is more of a follower than a leader.

Ilona’s school reports she has an overall positive attitude about learning and school. Her favorite subjects are social studies and nature, along with, math and music. She participates moderately during class, and if she learns better time management, is expected to achieve greater success.

Ilona is well coordinated with well-developed gross and fine motor skills – she is right on track across physically, psychologically and socially – and is described across the board as “calm and happy.” Doesn’t Ilona sound like a great kid? [Note: New photos of Ilona are on the way.]

If you would like to learn more about Linka or Ilona — or other waiting children in Bulgaria —please contact Upbring International Adoption staff. You can email [email protected] or [email protected]. You may also call 800-396-4611 and ask to speak to the International Adoption team.

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Watch “A Home for the Holidays” Friday, Dec. 18

“A Home for the Holidays” is a powerful annual CBS network primetime special that will air Friday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. (CST). It shares stories of foster care adoption and features performances from some of America’s most popular musical artists.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption® – a proud partner in the production since 1999 – is a wonderful organization and partner of Upbring in the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids™ program, whose mission is placing foster children in permanent adoptive homes.

This year LL COOL J is set to host, and musical performances will include Christina Aguilera, Jason Derulo, Rascal Flatts and Ed Sheeran. In addition, the stories of five exceptional families, who have been touched by foster care adoption, will be featured along with a segment that gives a voice to children in foster care still waiting to find permanent and loving homes to call their own.

Each year, the special inspires thousands of families to consider adopting children in foster care, some of whom have been featured on the special—and this year will be no different.

We encourage everyone to tune in! http://bit.ly/1YXOYc8

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To learn more about the waiting children in our care, visit our website: Waiting Children – Texas and Waiting Children – Bulgaria.

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November – a BIG Adoption Month in Laredo

While November was National Adoption Month everywhere, Nov. 13 was particularly FITting for the Upbring Foster In Texas office in Laredo where they celebrated six adoptions with three happy families! Judge Oscar Hale presided over the adoption hearing as the children became legally adopted by their forever families.

Adriana Garcia, Shelby, Christopher and Honorable Judge Oscar Hale

Adriana Garcia, Shelby, Christopher and Honorable Judge Oscar Hale

Lorena Ramirez, Dayla, Manuel Ramirez and Honorable Judge Oscar Hale

Lorena Ramirez, Dayla, Manuel Ramirez and Honorable Judge Oscar Hale

The Mena Kinship Family and their adopted daughters Miriam and Sonia, with Honorable Judge Oscar Hale

The Mena Kinship Family and their adopted daughters Miriam and Sonia, with Honorable Judge Oscar Hale

Fabiola Erhard, Family Service Worker, Oscar Guerra, Area Director, Ms. Luz Divina Woods, Honorable Oscar Hale, Mr. Jorge Woods and Abel

Fabiola Erhard, Family Service Worker, Oscar Guerra, Area Director, Ms. Luz Divina Woods, Honorable Oscar Hale, Mr. Jorge Woods and Abel

Upbring Foster In Texas is always looking for loving, qualified foster parents like the Garcias, Ramirezes, Menas and Woods who bring permanency into the lives of foster children. We have 14 foster care and adoption offices throughout the state, committed to the mission of breaking the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Learn more about becoming a foster parent at Upbring.org.

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Siblings! Sylvia and Sebastian

Siblings Sylvia and Sebastian (not their real names but these are their actual photos)  — 12 and 15 years old, respectively — are a smart and athletic pair with a range of talents and interests. Currently living in a group foster home in Bulgaria, they are ready for a permanent home with a loving American family.

SylviaSylvia has good coordination and motor development, loves fast-paced games and takes an active part on a group basketball team. Her fine motor skills are particularly well developed, she writes beautifully and enjoys making beaded necklaces. Sylvia’s vocabulary, analytical thinking and memory are all very good and she really enjoys computer and board games. She maintains good relationships with her peers and likes spending time with friends and coordinating her clothing.

At school, Sylvia does well on all her main subjects and seeks help from her teachers and foster parents as needed. Sylvia is described as “sociable, gregarious and strong-willed,” and has an occasional problem with school discipline and compliance with rules and regulations.  All-in-all, a pretty typical preteen girl!

SebastianSebastian is an excellent soccer player who maintains good friendships and loves interacting with his peers. He is described as “calm, with a good attention span and high-level social communication skills.” Along with having many friends, Sebastian is also able to build trusting relationships with adults. He has a well-established emotional relationship with his biological sister, Sylvia.

Sebastian has been doing very well academically, showing independence and a variety of interests, including sports and art. Along with his sister, Sebastian has participated in local and national group folk and pop song competitions and festivals. They also help in the home with household chores.

What’s not to love about these two? To learn more about Sylvia and Sebastian, or other waiting children in Bulgaria, please contact Upbring International Adoption staff.  You can email [email protected] or [email protected]. You may also call 800-396-4611 and ask to speak to the International Adoption team.

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Audrey: a very special five-year-old in Bulgaria

Audrey (not her real name but these are her actual photos) is a beautiful five-year old with special needs. She was placed in an orphanage one week after her birth, and since August 15, 2013, has been raised in a foster home.

Diagnosed with epilepsy at three years of age, Audrey is a healthy girl who is able to understand and carry out only elementary instructions. She walks independently, makes attempts to run and goes up and down stairs with assistance.

Audrey prefers to play alone, manipulating objects and toys by holding them but not carrying out meaningful play.  Even though she doesn’t have expressive speech yet, she pronounces sounds unconsciously.

Audrey deserves the best possible chance to develop and thrive, which is an unlikely outcome if she remains in Bulgaria. A video of Audrey is also available.

If you would like to learn more about her —or other waiting children in Bulgaria —please contact Upbring International Adoption staff.  You can email [email protected] or [email protected]. You may also call 800-396-4611 and ask to speak to the International Adoption team.

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Connections Across the World: Upbring International Adoption – Bulgaria

In 2009, Upbring, the new Lutheran Social Services of the South, entered into discussions relating to the exciting possibility of launching an international adoption program in Bulgaria. In 2010, Upbring established a partnership with New Beginning Association – a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) accredited by the Bulgarian government – to facilitate international adoption and work together to find loving homes for Bulgaria’s orphaned children. To date, nine adoptions have been finalized, with several other families in various stages of the process of adopting waiting Bulgarian children. It truly has been both a success, and a pleasure, to collaborate with New Beginning.

A Family Completed

This past spring, one of our adoptive families brought home their 14-year-old daughter from Bulgaria. These are the thoughts they shared about their experience:

From the moment we saw her in that first tentative meeting at the Social Services Office in Razgrad, Bulgaria, we knew: This is our daughter and we have to bring her home! And in May 2015, we did just that! We love our petite, beautiful Bulgarian daughter! In her own words she is a “teenager-ski.” She is a sincere, (overly) dramatic, passionate person who loves to laugh and be silly. She has a delightful personality that everybody loves. She really enjoys all of her new activities – swimming, walking the dogs, learning to ride a bike. And we draw closer daily, in our new family unit. It hasn’t all been easy by any means, but oh, so worth it. And it just keeps getting better every day.  

Bulgaria’s Orphaned Children

Did you know that more than 7,000 children reside in Bulgarian orphanages? Children available for adoption are generally older than four and many have a type of special need – ranging from mild to severe.

Additionally, sibling groups of all ages and medical status are in need of adoptive parents. In many cases, these children are simply developmentally delayed due to living in an orphanage where opportunities for growth and stimulation are limited. Most Bulgarian children available for international adoption are of Turkish or Roma descent and have olive skin with beautiful dark hair and eyes. Unfortunately, they are not likely to be adopted by Bulgarian citizens due to cultural bias against these backgrounds. The children who have found their forever families through Upbring, are thriving in their adoptive homes and are cherished members of their new families.

International Partnerships: Past & Present

Upbring has helped with international adoption since the 1940s, assisting in the placement of German war orphans. Since that time, we have collaborated with many international agencies, finding permanent families for orphaned children living in Asia, Eastern Europe, Central and South America and Africa. Upbring is the preferred Texas provider for many international agencies and continues to be an established and thriving program.

In keeping with regulations governing international adoption, Upbring achieved Hague accreditation through the Council of Accreditation in February of 2008; it was renewed in March of 2013. Hague requires that our agency meet certain standards of excellence in providing services to adoptive families.

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If you are interested in learning more about adoption from Bulgaria, or any of our international adoption programs, please email Konnie Gregg ([email protected]) or Erin Patterson ([email protected]) or call 512-454-4611. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you about our services and these amazing kids!

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“Will I love her?” Love & Attachment in Adoption – by Dr. Daniel Nehrbass

“Our baby was maybe two days old and as I sat with her alone in the hospital room I completely broke my promise that I wouldn’t fall in love too soon. I’ve since managed to forgive myself!” Paul, Upbring Adoptive Father 

The question “Will I love him/her?” is often top of mind for potential adoptive parents. Dr. Daniel Nehrbass did an excellent job of answering the question in his commentary below. The article is reprinted with permission from The Adoption Advocate, a publication created by the National Council for Adoption to educate policymakers, families, child welfare specialists, and others on today’s most relevant child welfare and adoption issues. 

The insights and issues the essay explores are especially appropriate for discussion during November, National Adoption Month. The author, Daniel Nehrbass, Ph.D., is a former pastor and professional counselor, and is executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions.

When my best friend heard that my wife and I were planning to adopt, he asked, “Do you think you will be able to love your child as much as you would if she were your own?”

Those of us who have adopted know that our adopted children are “our own.” Yet this question posed by my friend revealed a fear that lay within himself, and in the minds of many prospective adoptive parents.

My wife and I met when we were in the eighth grade. We married seven years later, at the age of twenty. We talked about adoption before we were married, but did not envision how large a role it would play in our life together. Three years into our marriage, we received a diagnosis that determined conception would be impossible for us.

Two years later, in the midst of the foster parent licensing process, we learned that we were pregnant. After our son’s birth, we adopted two children from foster care and had two more biological children as well, bringing us to a total of three girls and two boys in our home.

From experience I can say that it is possible to love adopted children just as much as those born to you. Yet I recognize that I cannot speak for others, nor can I tell them what is possible within their own families. If someone tells me, “I don’t think I could love an adopted child equally,” perhaps he and I should both trust his judgment. Perhaps he knows something about himself that I don’t know.

The Capacity of Love

When I used to give people the “Trust me…you can love adopted children equally” speech, I assumed that everyone was equally capable. I envisioned love primarily as an emotion. The primary change in this line of thinking occurred when I realized that love is better envisioned in terms of capacity, rather than emotion.

Think of love as a jar that holds water, or a room that holds people. Jars come in different sizes; rooms range from tiny to enormous. Capacities vary greatly. If we all have our own individual capacity for love, then I cannot speak for anyone else who wonders about their own capacity. Nor can I speak for you.

I can speak for myself, however, and I can speak of families I have counseled. Nearly all of these adoptive parents would say that they love their children with all their heart. Those who also have biological children in the home would add that they love their children equally. And most would say that they, too, have come to realize that they have great capacity for love; it is not merely a feeling, it is an ability. A choice.

Adoptive parents are not the only ones who know this, of course. Other parents know it, too. Many parents can remember a defining moment when they had to make a decision about how to think of love. For me it came almost immediately after our son, Thai, a seven-year-old Vietnamese boy from California, was placed with us. He spoke not more than fifty words of English, yet by the end of his first week, he had asked me: “Do you love me?”

No biological parent has ever been asked this question in the first week of parenthood. How was I to answer Thai? At the time I still knew very little about him. We were still getting to know one another. But when he asked me “Do you love me?” I was prepared with my answer. I gave him an immediate, confident, genuine “Yes!”

I was able to say this honestly because—long before he asked—I had come to the understanding that my love is a capacity, not merely an emotion. When I told Thai that I loved him, I expressed the following genuine commitments:

  • I am committed to you for life, no matter what.
  • I want what is best for you.
  • I will make great sacrifices for you.
  • I will forgive you when you misbehave.
  • I will demand nothing, but I will cherish even the smallest expression of love in return.

Love is not some external force that comes out of nowhere: it is your own capacity, which grows with time and work and commitment. If you have this capacity, you will love your child.

Love is Commitment

When my wife and I put our firstborn child in the car and drove away from the hospital, I thought, “I can’t believe they’re letting us do this! Why are they letting us take this child?” I knew that no one from the hospital was ever going to call to see if we were okay. They were done with us. It was up to us to care for our baby’s every need.

I can say with complete honesty that my love for our son during his first week of his life was no more or less than the love I just described for our adopted seven-year-old during his first week in our home. I loved holding him, and felt overwhelmed with positive emotions—feelings of joy, tenderness, and delight. But my love for our newborn son was primarily felt in terms of commitment—just like my commitment to our adopted son. My love for him meant that I was committed to him for life, prepared to make sacrifices for him, determined to do whatever was best for him, and always ready to forgive him unconditionally.

So how will you answer your adopted child when she asks, early on, “Do you love me?” I define love in terms of commitment, and action. Love is acting lovingly. Love is commitment. If you can truly commit to loving your child, then you will.

[Dr. Nehrbass made further observations that are excerpted below in the interest of space.]

 Additionally:

  • If you understand love as your child’s unique way of reaching out to you, then you will recognize his love for you.
  • As you share your life together, and prove trustworthy in meeting your child’s needs, she will love you.
  • If you can love unconditionally, then you will love your child. 
  • Love is sometimes much easier to see and understand in retrospect than in the moment. If you understand this about love, you will see your child’s love for you.
  • If you are patient, you will see your child’s love for you.
  • Empathy is another essential part of love. If you can see yourself in the face of your adopted child, then you will love her.
  • The love of a parent is always focused outward. It demands nothing; it only gives. If you take this approach to your child, then you will love him.
  • Conclusion: Love is focused on others.

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Upbring Adoption has counseled individuals about making adoption plans for more than 60 years and was one of the first agencies to offer open adoption. We believe that adoption is a lifelong process and offer  adoption services that include:

  • Unplanned Pregnancy Services. Confidential options counseling, support and resources to help you explore your choices – anywhere in Texas.
  • Open Adoption. Allows birth parents and adoptive parents the opportunity to stay connected.
  • Adoption Planning. Work closely with an adoption specialists to create the best life possible for your baby. YOU are in control throughout the entire process.
  • Financial Assistance. Upbring helps with medical, living and other expenses directly related to your pregnancy as allowed by Texas law.
  • Finding a Family. Choose the life your child will have. Select from a group of families trained, screened and approved to provide a safe and secure forever home for your baby.
  • Legal Help. We help you facilitate all legal documents necessary to finalize the adoption placement.
  • Free Services. ALL services we provide are FREE to our birth parents.
  • Post Adoption Services. Adoption is a lifelong process and it’s common for birth families and adoptive families to need support down the road. We are always here to help and offer a variety of services to meet your needs.

Please contact us if you have a referral or questions regarding our services – 512.781.4275; [email protected].   To learn more about our adoption programs, please visit Upbring.org.

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It takes TWO: Stan & Elijah

Twins! Eleven-year-old twins Stan and Elijah (not their real names, but these are their photos) live together in an orphanage in Bulgaria, where they have resided for the past two years. The brothers – who share a strong bond and are a lot of fun – are available to be adopted together through the Upbring International Adoption.

Truly a “dynamic duo,” the boys are very healthy and without medical or emotional problems. They both have been assessed as intelligent, with only a few minor delays due to growing up in a marginal home environment coupled with orphanage life. Both Stan and Elijah have completed second grade and their assessments show they are “good eaters and sleepers who demonstrate good personal hygiene.” Here’s a little about each of them:

  • Stan likes to play ball and watch movies. His academic skills and verbal fluency are slightly more advanced than Elijah’s.
  • Elijah likes to work puzzles, has a creative streak and likes to paint.

Stan & Elijah

Upbring International Adoption – the primary provider facilitating adoptions from Bulgaria – partners with New Beginning Association, a foundation accredited by the Bulgarian government, to find adoptive families for children living in Bulgarian orphanages.

If you would like to find out more about twins Stan and Elijah, or other children available for adoption in Bulgaria, contact the Upbring International Adoption: email [email protected] or [email protected]. You may also call 800-396-4611 and ask to speak to the International Adoption team.

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