Adoption: Understanding the Dynamic between Birth Parents, Adoptive Parents, and the Child

August 2, 2023
real talk with susan and kristina podcast

In this episode of Real Talk, KJK Student Defense Attorneys Susan Stone and Kristina Supler are joined by Becca Gruenspan of RG Adoption Consulting.  In this episode, topics include the myths around adoption, how adoptive parents can improve their chances of a successful adoption, and the competing emotions between birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child.

3 Main Points:

  • Myths around the adoption process
  • How Adoptive Parents can improve their chances of successful adoption
  • Competing emotions around birth parents, adoptive parents and the adopted child


Show Notes:

  • (02:40)  How One Adoption Lead to a Purpose-Filled Mission
  • (06:39)  Why Becca focuses on domestic adoptions
  • (08:47)  Greatest Fear: Will the Birth Mother Show Up Again?
  • (11:03)  Adoption Roadmap: the Proprietary Process to Help Adopting Parents
  • (13:54)  Details Matter:  What is Important to the Birth Mother
  • (15:16)  How RG Adoptive Consulting Helps Improve the Chances of Success
  • (17:36)  What Some of the Difficult Obstacles are for Adoptive Parents
  • (19:31)  Addiction:  How Babies Fare When Born Addicted to Drugs
  • (21:26)  Competing Emotions:  What Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents Feel
  • (24:43)  What Adoptive Children Struggle with Emotionally



Susan Stone: We’re gonna talk about adoption today. And the reason we’re gonna talk about adoption is that in our special education practice, we’ve represented a number of families of adopted kids, and the unique issues that children or students who are adopted had such as, attachment issues. 

Kristina Supler: I’m really excited about today’s episode. Because Susan Adoption’s something that, you and I have no direct personal experience with. But it’s an issue that comes up so often in our cases. And we regularly see the issues that adopted children’s often experience in schools. And then the issues that the PA parents and families navigate through as well.

Susan Stone: I agree. And at this point I think I’ve worked on close to 50 to a hundred cases where there has been a student with an issue that is direct, directly related to the fact of the adoption status. But again, by the time you come to our office, it’s because there is a need or a crisis or an issue that needs to be worked out.

I hate the fact that I never get to hear the success stories. 

Kristina Supler: I know. I’m excited for today’s guests to, to learn more about the adoption process, some of the challenges, but then also the good things and the success. Because you’re right, Susan, we don’t often hear about that so 

Susan Stone: We never, I just wanna remind you, remember I always say we only get to see the dark side of life sometimes.

It’s great to see when things go swimmingly well. 

Kristina Supler: With that, let’s welcome our guest today. We are joined by Rebecca Gruenspan. And Becky is a single mom who herself has gone through open adoption. She founded RG Adoption Consulting shortly after adopting her son in 2011. And we’re so happy to have you with us today.

Susan Stone: And do you go by Becky, Rebecca. 

Becca Gruenspan: Becca. 

Susan Stone: Thank you. Okay, 

Kristina Supler: Becca, tell us a little bit about your role as the Founder and CEO of RG Adoption Consulting.

Becca Gruenspan: Thanks for having me today. I started my business, we’re about to be celebrating our 10 year anniversary. Um, wow. 

Susan Stone: A decade. 

Becca Gruenspan: Yes, we’re very excited.

I started it two years after I adopted my son as a single woman, at the time who had gone through years of infertility and just really knew I was meant to be a mom. And I really wanted to be a mom. So I sought out first on the fertility path. And after that I failed, for lack of a better word.

I thought about adoption. But it really scared me probably for all the reasons you said you don’t hear the good side. I was scared ’cause that was all I knew to, as well as all the stories I put into my head about what it meant to have to, to adopt. And then I was put in touch with, and it was also very overwhelming having gone through so much loss already. And long story short, I was put in touch with an adoption consultant. And I was told that this consultant was gonna hold my hand, tell me what to do, and how to do it and where to go and what to read and what not to read. And I was like, okay, I could use an easy button I’m around about now. And nine months to the day that I first called my consultant, I had my son in my arms. 

Susan Stone: So it was a great experience using a consultant. Correct? 

Becca Gruenspan: It was. Interestingly, I was told because I was in my forties and single and Jewish, that it was gonna be really hard for me. But voila, nine months later, I adopted.

So it was a very, great experience. Also scary. And I knew that, after I adopted my son, I wanted to help other people and I became this magnet to people who wanted to adopt. And I was very, passionate about the fact that they really needed help going through this. Because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Sure. Long short, two years later, I became an a consultant myself. And I thought, gosh, I’m putting all this money into my consultant that I use Pocket. I think I can do this now. I. and so that’s when I started my business. 

Susan Stone: Kristina. I had the privilege of actually going to yoga and having dinner with Becca. And I learned that Becca’s not alone in this venture.

How many people work for your business? 

Becca Gruenspan: Yeah, I think there, my team is seven or eight people right now. And we are all across the country. And we only work with the hopeful adoptive parent. We do not work with the birth mom or expectant mom. So that’s really a distinct, a distinction between an adoption consultant and other entities such as a facilitator or an adoption agency.

We are not. 

Susan Stone: So you are hired by the potential parents. And I just for clarification purposes, you only work on domestic, not international adoptions. Am I Correct? 

Becca Gruenspan: You are correct. 

Kristina Supler: Tell us why. But what’s the difference between the two. Or why did you choose to just focus on domestic? 

Becca Gruenspan: I can’t even talk to you that much about the difference between the two because there is a big difference.

And so it’s like you go down one path or the other, as well as like foster to adopt. That’s a whole nother path as well. Each path has its own nuances, its own clearances, its own licensing. And it’s done. Each is done very differently and is its own separate path, even though the end result is being an adoptive parent.

So I didn’t know anything much about, international. I know just enough about all three routes that I just mentioned to talk about the pros and cons of each. But not enough to really guide someone through those, those paths. 

Susan Stone: Certainly if you chose domestic and that’s what your business is focused on.

Can you tell us what the benefits are of a domestic adoption? 

Becca Gruenspan: Sure. I think the biggest benefit is the fact that most domestic adoptions now are open on some level. Now that automatically scares people. And people have all sorts of questions about, is that a good thing? Aren’t you scared that your child is gonna want to go back?

Is, aren’t you scared that someone’s gonna show up at your doorstep? And the fact of the matter is 20 years ago, most adoptions were closed. And what that does is create a sense of fantasy in a child’s mind about where they came from and who they are instead of a reality and an openness about. Everybody wants to know who they are and where they came from, right?

Your identity is such a huge part. It’s everything, of who you are. And so by able, by being able to have an open adoption, you can know health history, you can have a relationship with the first mom or the birth mom and the birth dad. You can see what kind of life they have. 

So a child is no longer needing to live in this fantasy world of where they came from, who they are, what other people look like them. There’s so much good about a healthy, open adoption relationship. And that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with some complications. Sometimes it does. And healthy boundaries need to be put in place.

It’s Cousins, right? Having, you don’t, you’re not best friends with all of your cousins in your extended family. But you learn how to live together and navigate the relationship. And some are great and super, super close. And some are a little bit more difficult and you have to, manage that.

Kristina Supler: Well, it’s interesting to hear you talk about the benefits of open adoption, but also the importance of boundaries. Because I know that sometimes, there’s a fear. if we do an adult, an open adoption, the birth mom’s gonna come back and haunt us or try to take the child back. Is 

Susan Stone: Well Becca just mentioned it.

People think they’re gonna show up at the door. 

Kristina Supler: How realistic, of course there’s always extremes. But in general, is that. Just a myth that’s taken hold? Or is it something that rarely happens or can you talk a little more about that? 

Becca Gruenspan: It is absolutely a myth. It really, I don’t.

I don’t even think I know one situation where that’s happened. The laws 

Kristina Supler: that’s really a powerful piece of information there. Yeah. That you just shared with us. 

Becca Gruenspan: The laws are in place to protect everyone really. And every state, and this is the confusing part, every state has its own set of laws around when a mother can terminate her rights, like at what point after birth can a mom

terminate her rights as a parent. And at what point It’s irrevocable. So every state has different laws. So for instance, we tend to work in states where an expectant mom can sign her rights away can terminate her parental rights between 24 to 72 hours and then it’s irrevocable. You cannot change your mind by law. Unless you can prove that it, they were made to sign under duress or fraud.

Susan Stone: You mean 22 to 72 hours? I wanna clarify after birth. 

Becca Gruenspan: I’m sorry, ask me that again. 

Susan Stone: You said 22 4 to 72 hours, but you, I just wanna clarify for our listeners. You mean after the birth of the child? 

Becca Gruenspan: After the birth of the child. Now that’s just some states. Every state has different laws about the length of time you have to wait.

Some they can sign right away. But then they have 30 days to change their mind. That’s scary for an expectant, for an adoptive parent. That’s also nerve wracking, I would think, for a birth mom who just gave birth, who had already kind of worked through all of this. Hopefully they were getting good options, counseling and went through all the things to make sure that the, this decision was the right decision for them. 

But again, every state has their own laws and we tend to work in the ones that are more compact. 

Susan Stone: So does your business focus on the potential parent that wants to adopt until what point? Do you take them through when the baby gets in their hands?

Or are you there to provide support and services throughout the life of the adoption, the childhood. 

Becca Gruenspan: Great question, and this is I think, what differentiates maybe RG Adoption Consulting from other consultants. So we have a four step proprietary process called the Adoption Roadmap. 

Kristina Supler: Very, tell us about the roadmap.

Becca Gruenspan: Yeah, take a second. The adoption roadmap has four different steps to it. So we work with to, to answer your question simply, we work with people from the very, very beginning. I wanna start the process and I don’t know how. All the way their contract ends once they bring their baby home. However, we work with our families for a lifetime.

So the four steps are this: one is we educate people about adoption. So we want people to understand what the process is going to look like before they start it. So that there’s not any real surprises as they’re going through the process and then we help them, find the right places to go to get what’s called a home study, which is the legal process that they have to go through to be approved to be able to adopt a baby.

So every person has to go through what’s called a home study. Somebody comes to your home, they interview the people in the family, they make sure you have the right finances, they do FBI clearances, all of that to be able to make sure that you are who you say you are. And that you are able and well to take care of a baby or a child in your home.

And then the second step is the storybook process where you put together what’s called an adoption profile. It’s a storybook of your life through pictures and letters. Think Shutterfly book. But we do even nicer ones ’cause we work with a designer. So we help them do that because that is the sole tool that’s used for an expectant mom to choose who she wants or who they want if dad’s involved too, to parent their child. 

Susan Stone: Wow. Is it like a dating app almost? a more detailed book. 

Kristina Supler: Pitch for your family, right? Yeah. Yeah. 

Becca Gruenspan: you’re really showing an expectant mom. What is your child gonna look like in our life? Let me try to give you a little bit of a picture, a little bit of peek into our window of life.

Susan Stone: Wow. Tell us what goes in that book. I’m so fascinated. 

Becca Gruenspan: Yeah, it’s really cool. And this is where I love working with families ’cause I get to know them on such a 

Kristina Supler: deeper, 

I’m sure that process personalizes everything for 

Susan Stone: like, you show the house, the family dog, the kitchen, what’s in the cupboard. 

Becca Gruenspan: You know what?

That might be a good thing. I’m gonna use that next time. What’s in the, what’s in your cupboards? But those, funny you should ask that, but sometimes it’s exactly those little details. Sure. Mom like, go, oh my god. I can relate to this. Or I love this about them. and sometimes people don’t realize how important those little details are in their life.

Who are their friends? What are the, what does their friend makeup look like? Is it diverse? is it not diverse? Does everybody look the same? Does anybody have tattoos? Do they not? Do you have dogs? What does your family look like? Where do you go on vacation? Where do you work?

All those things are really important. And so the pictures are important. The words are important. The stories are important to really relay and get the feeling of your personality across. So it’s, I hate to use the word marketing tool, but if you’re gonna if anything, it is a marketing tool on who your family is.

And a lot of people don’t understand either that in most cases, an expectant mom chooses the family. So it’s like they both choose each other. She first chooses them. But then they have to also say, yeah, I, after learning about her and her situation, we choose her too. And then a match is made.

Kristina Supler: Becca. I’m wondering,if a family, an individual or a family really want to adopt domestically, how likely is it for to be successful in the process? Are there instances, is it common for a family to maybe not, be chosen or be able to adopt? Or in the US is it generally if a family or individual wants to adopt, they’ll be able to?

Becca Gruenspan: Yeah. So to help answer that question, I’m going to explain my step three in the process, which is where they put together their agency portfolio. So let me ask you guys a question, and this is a question I always pose to people wanting to find out about our process. When you go to a financial planner and you say, here’s a million dollars I wanna invest, wouldn’t that be nice? First of all.

Do you, will that financial planners say, great. We’re gonna put it all into this one stock. No, you diversify. Exactly. And that’s the strategy that I use with my family. So instead of putting all your eggs in one basket and signing up with one agency, say, we’re gonna pick the largest agency.

It’s $15,000 up front. And we’re gonna, they have great success. I say, why don’t we sign up with three or four agencies for $5,000? And that way you’re at way more places. Plus when agencies and attorneys are stuck and either don’t have the right family for what an expected mom is looking for. Or maybe they don’t even keep a list because sometimes that’s a pain for them. They’ll reach out to me and say, do you have any families for this particular situation? 

So now I have a family who’s at four agencies that they’ve signed up with. Plus I’m getting situations every month that I’m sending to them. Their chances of matching successfully are so much higher because their profiles in front of more people.

They’re seeing more situations. So to answer your question, it’s very high percentage of people who are successful. In fact, the people that I have worked with who have not been successful are really, truly only the people who give up. If you don’t give up, your chances are very high to adopt. 

Susan Stone: Are there certain adoptions that are more difficult, such as you mentioned that you were single Jewish female?

Are interracial differences a problem, same sex couples, like what is the most, is there, I’m just curious about the difference 

Kristina Supler: Profiles that are chosen more often or, less frequently. 

Becca Gruenspan: So the ones that are most difficult are families with multiple children already. I’d say if. If it’s a couple, if you’re both over 50, but, and if you’re single over 50, that’s gonna be more difficult.

I can see that. Yeah. Yeah. And then the more narrow your criteria is, the more difficult it’s gonna be. As open as you can be, the easier it’s gonna be. So sometimes people will come in and have a gender preference and have a preference on are very narrow on, they don’t want any drug exposure or they don’t want any mental health.

Yeah. And that’s gonna be much more difficult ’cause then we’re looking for more of a unicorn. And that’s, those people are not placing their babies. Yeah, those people aren’t the children. They cannot, handle because of their life situation to parent at that time. So you have to be wow open and you have to do a lot of education to understand who is an expectant mom.

And typically it’s a woman who has multiple children already. Who can’t hold down her job because she can’t afford childcare and parenting. Who can’t afford another child and maybe just lost her condo. So is going from family member to family member or friend to live with heart.

Heartbreaking. Yeah. And maybe,birth father isn’t involved. And he has five other children of his own that he doesn’t support either. This is just one scenario. There is no two scenarios that are the same. 

Susan Stone: How do the kiddos that have come from birth mothers who have used alcohol and or drugs fair? We deal with those, that population and it, the cases again, that we see, it’s a rough road 

Kristina Supler: Right. The, the impact of fetal alcohol syndrome is lifelong. 

Becca Gruenspan: Yeah. The good news is we do not see alcohol as an issue as much as drugs. And opioids, we all know about the opioid epidemic in the world. And that certainly translates into the expectant moms and the birth moms that we are seeing and that our clients are working with.

alcohol is, is rare. More rare 

Susan Stone: With the babies, how long do those babies go through withdrawal at 

Becca Gruenspan: birth? 

Yeah. What I have seen with through my client’s eyes is typically three to five days. Oh. Sometimes less, sometimes more. But the good news is these babies are so resilient. And we have had many a, an adoption medicine doctor speak to our community and the children fare very well.

They do well once they go through that with withdrawal. And I’m talking the drugs more than the alcohol. But opioids they tend to thrive really, and grow up just like any other, child as it pertains to those, that substance exposure. 

Kristina Supler: You’re listening to, you speak it, it’s really reminding me or making me think about what a complex process adoption is emotionally In terms of, for the parents or individual who are adopting the child. It’s an exciting and happy time. Maybe, some anxiety as well.

But at the same time, how do you reconcile that with the idea that perhaps a beautiful thing in your life is beginning on the heels of a heartbreak or a tragedy in someone else’s life. Whether it’s substance abuse or whatever the circumstances are for why the child is being put into the adoption system. 

And so how do you, how do you talk to parents about that or prepare them to work through all those competing emotions? 

Becca Gruenspan: Well, you hit the nail on the head. Because every adoption starts with trauma. It starts with loss. And it is. Imagine being in a hospital. And on one side, and I have the chills talking about it on one side.

Susan Stone: Oh my gosh. Me too. I’m just thinking about it. 

Becca Gruenspan: Are so excited that their dream is coming true. 

On the other side, you have a woman who is doing the most difficult thing that she could ever do in her life. And probably is really suffering because of this decision that she had to make for whatever reason.

And in the middle. You have a child that is feeling maybe not consciously yet, both sides of that. So this child is growing up having experienced loss for the very first breaths of their lives. And that stays with them.

We try to do another thing that really differentiates RG Adoption Consulting is that is the education component.

So education and community, I believe, are two things that you cannot go through this process without. You need education, which never ends. I am almost 12 years in and I learned something all the time about what my child is experiencing and the different developmental stages and what, how they process identity issues at different stages.

And if I didn’t commit to continually learning, I. from adoption professionals and trauma specialists, I wouldn’t understand how to be the best parent for my child. So when when you choose adoption, you really have to know that it’s at least an 18 year commitment. And that you have to commit yourself to continuing to learn about your child. Because if you don’t, your child is going to, No, it’s gonna affect your child.

And ultimately, everybody wants to be a good parent to their child, right? And if you’re not doing the work, that’s only going to get in between your relationship with you and your child. 

And so there are so many layers. So education and community, just being around people who have, who understand this in a way that nobody else does, you know as well-meaning as our friends and families are.

They don’t know. 

Susan Stone: I just wanna interrupt. I remember when we had dinner. Yeah. And I made the comment that children who get to land in wonderful homes are so lucky. And you really corrected me rightly so that is not a great way to frame adoption. Because there are aspects that are unlucky. 

And we all have visions of Daddy Warbucks and Orphan Nanny, and everybody’s dancing off the stage. But we have to remember that as wonderful as your adoptive parents are, children are conflicted.

When does that conflict get integrated? Or does it ever, if ever, yeah. 

Becca Gruenspan: You know that term lucky, right? Everybody can feel lucky. Individually at different stages throughout this process, right? From all different, we call it the adoption triad or the adoption constellation. So it’s the adoptive parent, the birth parent, and the, adoptee.

If somebody says to my child, wow, you’re so lucky. You guys are so lucky you have each other. That doesn’t give my child who may be struggling internally, because of the adoption, that doesn’t give him room to have those feelings of, wow, why does, struggle of all the feels. Because that puts so much pressure on him to have to feel like, oh, I’m supposed to be really grateful to my grateful.

Yeah. And that’s a lot of pressure for someone to go through life feeling I can’t ever talk about what I’m experiencing as an adoptee. I don’t look the same as anyone else in my family. But I’m supposed to be this one way because everybody tells me how lucky I am. 

Kristina Supler: That is really powerful food for thought, Susan.

I would’ve made the same, gaff that you did. And I, it’s just, a different perspective that I’d never thought about and, I hear you, Becca. That’s really, thank you for sharing that. Because I hadn’t really thought about, the alternative considerations. 

Susan Stone: And when I made the comment and you responded in such a poignant way, it’s obviously stuck with me. And I probably will stick with me for life because I was like, wow, not that all children. I know I have the talk with my kids. You don’t appreciate me. I think all parents that feel that way. Have you ever said that 

Kristina Supler: to your kids? 

Never. I feel appreciated and valued every day. Yeah. 

Susan Stone: yeah. I’m still working on it and my oldest is 25. But and I do say that to my kids. Show a little gratitude.

But, we have to remember the circumstances. Becca, I could talk to you forever and in fact, this is my second time talking to you and I still have more. So we might have to do a part two with you. Okay. I would love that. And it’s just great having you as 

Kristina Supler: it’s been wonderful talking. Yeah. And a lot of good information, for our listeners out there.

And we are really appreciative of your time today. So thank you. 

Becca Gruenspan: Thank you. Thank you.