Posts Tagged ‘ genetic testing ’

Actress Katherine Heigl and Husband Adopt Daughter # 2

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Is it always easier the second time around?

Adopting your first child is always the most frustrating, enthralling, surprising and emotional experience of most parents lives. Adoptive number two is only less so by a smidge, but most adoption experts tell me over and over again: Once you do it right the first time, the second time is a charm and much easier. You have already proven yourself a respectable and worthwhile parent; you can afford adoption and you did a great job the first time. You are probably safe to do it all over again, from an agency’s perspective.

But is it like getting tattoos? Once you get one for good, are you always temped to get more? Well, just ask actress Katherine Heigl and her hot musician husband Josh Kelley who first adopted a special needs daughter a couple years back. Like many internationally adopted kids, their first adopted daughter Naleigh was adopted from South Korea in 2009. The adoption world went wild because the tyke was considered a special needs child, which she outgrew once she had proper medical care and a full-time mom and dad (with $$$) who could supply her with all the love, devotion and medical care they could afford.

Back then, Heigl said, ““I don’t think it’s for everybody, and I don’t think everybody should adopt,” she added. “I’m not some crazy idealist. It’s not about the cause for me. But I do think no one should ever rule it out.”

Do celebrities get special attention and special rights when they adopt children — either internationally or nationally?

No other details about the latest adoption were available except the new daughter’s name is Adalaide Marie Hope … probably because the pretty couple caught so much attention for adopting their special needs daughter the first time around. Heigl opened up about her personal connection to adoption. 

”We started talking about adoption even before we were engaged because it’s really important to me,” Heigl said. “It’s been a big part of my life and my family. My sister is Korean and my parents adopted her back in the seventies, and so I just always knew that this is something I always wanted to do.”

Bravo to the new parents all over again.

Are you on your first or second adoption? Tell me here!

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Older Mom Chooses Open Adoption – Twice!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

I’ve been talking to Diane from North Carolina about her choice to use open adoption, where her newborn daughter has always been in touch with her biological family.

Diane recently said, “My husband Pat and I adopted when we were in our early forties after two miscarriages. There was no known reason for the miscarriages, the typical unexplained infertility, so we moved rapidly into adoption.” They wasted no time and finished home study within a year.

After doing their adoption research, choosing between international and national adoption, they selected a domestic agency that specialized in open adoption.

She said, “Picture a deer in the headlights! In 1994, we signed up for open adoption, went through one failed adoption and finally brought home our darling beautiful daughter in 1995. Katie is now a 17-year old gem.”

Katie has always known her entire extended biological family but also realizes their lifestyle and their life choices (drug addiction, teen pregnancy) are not her choices.  Because they had such a wonderful experience with open adoption, Diane and Pat returned to the same agency three years later when Katie was a toddler. And they went through another failed adoption… more heartbreak.

Diane keenly remembered, “Three weeks after a sad failed adoption, we finally adopted a newborn boy named Kevin. Kevin was born to a married couple with four biological siblings and, oddly, he was the only child the family placed up for adoption. Today, Kevin also knows his clan and has communication with them but it’s been much harder since our son has special needs.”

Diane and Pat did not realize during their placement of Kevin that he would be a high-functioning autistic with a mood disorder and learning disabilities. At 14, Kevin now functions well at his special school and participates in Boy Scouts. Diane fully admits this has been a tough road.

“But Pat and I both love being older parents to both children. Thanks to Kevin, I’m a staunch advocate for special needs kids, autism, and mental health issues during adoption,” she said. “He is a charming boy with gorgeous black hair and radiant blue eyes, and full of charisma!”

Diane has progressed to being an advocate into adoption education, especially for special needs kids. She said,  “I realized I wanted to be more of an hands-on mom, so ultimately I repackaged my skill set into adoption education. Diane also has launched an adoption site that reflects her remarkable know-how and education background.

As always, we thank Thea Ramirez for making the adoptive mom introductions, thanks to Diane and Thea for making adoption easier for the rest of us. Tell me your story here!

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Widespread Abuse in the Foster Care System

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

I admit it: I troll news sites and websites for the most up-to-the-minute breaking mom news. Mom blogger news up the kazoo. Both having my own child and following the missing children websites, including the frenzy over the Jaycee Duggard story, I feel an obligation to keep up with the flow of scary child information.

Funny story:  About three years ago, my husband and I agreed that Los Angeles was too crime-filled and smog-polluted and we decided to move to Colorado after I personally witnessed the arrest of a child molester who lived down the street.

We’re outta there.

Here’s the punch line:  A week after moving to white-collar, homogenous bike-lovin’ Boulder, Colorado, I check a familiar Sex Offender website and find several yucky old men in a 4-mile radius. I sat on my new, snow-covered lawn and shivered.

We were back in Los Angeles in 10 months for a host of reasons.

Do you ever follow shocking kidnapping horror stories like this out of curiosity or a sense of vengeance, or maybe the horrific circumstances of others makes us feel just a tiny bit safer? I do, I troll websites for stories that keep my son safer.

Here’s one about gross accusations of a foster care organization in Vienna, Austria:

Lawyer Thomas Oelboeck represents two sisters claiming they and 18 other girls were raped for years in the early 1970s in the institution run by the city of Vienna. He said the third woman asserts that children at the Schloss Wilhelminenberg home were also regularly raped during her time there in the late 1940s and 1950s.

Oelboeck spoke of “anatomical changes due to the abuse,” adding medical reports he had seen related to the claims show that “these bodies are maltreated.” He said he could not divulge further details for now. One victim, now 69, was cited as saying that she saw a female teacher stomp a child to death.

“The women are totally believable and authentic,” he told reporters. “A story of this kind cannot be made up.” Authorities say that — even if crimes can be proven and perpetrators tracked down — the statute of limitations mean the cases cannot be pursued.”

PS: Welcome to new mommy blogger at I don’t have a middle name, and neither does my son, Sam, and I like it that way!

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How Age Affects Your Adoption Chances

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Since I’m over 40 now, my age not only factors into making it harder to adopt internationally, but makes it more difficult to get pregnant if adoption does not work out. The risks of something going wrong in your pregnancy, including genetic disorders and miscarriage, rise as you age. I get it! After the age of 35, you are considered to be “advanced maternal age” and your pregnancy is categorized “high risk.” Mine was when I gave birth to Sam almost six years ago.

Once you’re 40 +, the major genetic risk is Down’s syndrome, and there are increased risks of gestational diabetes, preclampsia, and cesarean section. What’s more, research shows that your chances of having a low-birth weight baby or premature one (less than 5 1/2 pounds) also increases.

So how does getting older affect your odds of adoption? Quite a bit, actually.

Age greatly affects your ability to adopt, as I am slowly finding out. Some countries will not even allow applications for potential families if both parents are over 40 (which we are).

And some other countries, such as Haiti, will not allow your adoption application if you are over 45 and also have biological children of your own (we have son Sam, 5).

While that dampens my personal take on adoption, there is great news afoot for older parents: In the year 2000, the rate of birth among women 35 to 39 years old was up 30 percent from 1990. In women ages 40 to 45, the increase was 47 percent, and for those ages 45 to 49, the rate of getting pregnant was an astounding 190 percent higher.

So if more women over 40 are getting pregnant, I hope I can extrapolate to say that many more parents will soon be able to go through the international adoption process too! You have to hold onto hope when you’re considering adoption, there are so many things that can go wrong…

Tell me what went right on your adoption journey, especially if you’re 40+.

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Celebrate International Adoption Month with Heroes

Monday, November 7th, 2011

As a journalist, I have my fair share of heroes, from those brazen well-written female journalists who came before me (such as Sally Lee, one of my written-word mentors who is now a Senior VP and editor-in-chief of Ladies Home Journal. She is one of a few full-fledged award-winning journalists who weaned me here on the pages of Parents Magazine.) She taught me — still does — that women like me have a social and emotional responsibility to help other women.

As I moved through my thirties and became ultra-aware of the world around me, and began to write about international travel and citizens of our world, my heroes began to include pioneers of a healthier more woman-friendly world, such as Madelyn Albright and Hillary Clinton. Whatever your personal politics, my environmental and political heroes add up!

Then when I gave birth and became a mom a few years back, I had a major paradigm shift. Suddenly, I birthed a healthy baby boy who was perfect in every way — Sam was at the top of his height and weight charts. Sam hit every milestone exactly right, he crawled when he was supposed to, slept through the night right on time and was easy to potty train (but my husband totally did it).

Having Sam in my life every day makes my life’s meaning powerful, passionate, and resolute.

So reading this NY Times story from a mom who gave birth to a very sick baby boy who is going to die before his third birthday, hits me in the gut like a ton of bricks. This mom did all her genetic testing like I did, both of them came back negative. But hers was wrong! My  good God, she had no warning and now her perfect angel will die from Tay-Sachs disease.

My heart breaks.

And as I sit here weeping my guts out for her and her beautiful boy, I must place myself in her shoes for only five minutes and I can barely take it! So my own heart grows bigger in my chest cavity and to make meaning of this, I must help a child, another child. Who by luck of the genetic draw needs my help. I have been so lucky with Sam.

I think my family — and especially me — might have the strength to adopt a child from the foster care system, an older kid who will be loved and schooled and supported throughout her life. We’re going for it.

But moms who have chronically sick children are now my heroes.

Tell me your adoption story here and I will write and report to help!


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