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Families who’ve waited so long for a child are eager to share the news. But some may have to wait. by Julie Michaels

When Sarah Jackson announced the adoption of her daughter, Amy, she sent a card declaring, “I finally found out where babies come from…”

Inside there was one word: “China,” followed by the details of her daughter’s adoption.

Celebrating a new member of the family by mailing adoption announcements has become so commonplace that a whole niche market has sprouted up around the practice. Search the Internet, and you’ll find several sites specializing in cards to fit various family circumstances.

But for some families, especially those who adopt domestically, this simple act isn’t all that simple.

“With international adoption, once you bring that baby home, he’s yours,” explains social worker Linda Alexandre. “But if you’re adopting domestically, that’s not always the case.”

Announcements on Hold

States generally grant biological parents 30 to 60 days in which to reconsider the relinquishment of a child. Some families wait to announce the adoption until they are out of “legal limbo.”

Depending on their nature, says Alexandre, who works for Spence-Chapin Services in New York, families handle this “honeymoon period” differently. “Some don’t worry at all and just enjoy their baby. Others hang a calendar on the refrigerator and cross off every day that goes by.” Statistically, post-placement revocations are rare: Only one to two percent of biological parents actually reclaim a child.

Still, says Alexandre, her agency cautions parents to wait before sending out announcements. Those on the receiving end won’t notice the delay, since it’s only the most organized parents who get it done much earlier anyway.

Express Yourself

The rule of thumb for adoption announcements is the same as for birth announcements: send them to anyone you think might want to know. Such a card does not require a gift in reply, says etiquette expert Letitia Baldrige. “You're simply sharing your joy; people can respond with a call or a note.”

Traditional parents favor the classic beribboned announcement. But many adopting parents are a bit less formal. Since each family’s circumstances are different, many like to make their own cards. Often, international adopters take the opportunity to present themselves as a multicultural family by using symbols of their child’s birth country.

Adopters with children from China might use their child’s name in Mandarin with an English translation. Russian adopters might use a picture of Russian nesting dolls or their child’s name in the Cyrillic alphabet. Whatever the format, your joy in welcoming this child should shine through.

Julie Michaels is editor of Growing Up Adopted.

©2003 Adoptive Families. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

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