I'm often asked how adoptive parents and birth parents connect with each other. If they are not matched though a licensed agency, how do they meet and determine that they would like to proceed with a direct parental placement or independent adoption?
I have found the number one way that adoptive parents and birth parents connect is through word of mouth. A common example is that the adoptive parents had let it be known that they were interested in adopting and someone in their circle of friends or acquaintances learned of a birth mother who was exploring adoption.
Other tips include sending out your profile to adoption attorneys who connect directly with birth parents. If you do that, you could find the list of reputable adoption attorneys at www.adoptionattorneys.org. Narrow down your mailing to attorneys in the state where you live or where you have other ties. If the adoption occurs across state lines, you will be staying in the state where the child is born until the birth parent(s) have executed their consents and permission has been obtained for the adoption to occur across state lines through the ICPC clearance process. This might be where your relatives reside or a state you lived in previously where you still have a lot of connections.
It is good to send hard copies of your profile book which does not contain your identifying information (See our earlier blog post from 2013 on Creating an Adoption Profile) Along with the book, you should provide a cover letter which has your best contact information, the name of your attorney and their contact information. If you would like to be notified before your profile book is shown, you would also make that request in the letter.
Some additional tips can be found in this excellent article from Creating a Family:
Although the article uses the word “advertising” because that is how people search for this information, there is something inherently dehumanizing about using this word in relation to a woman in crisis. As you follow the tips, keep in mind that this is a human being we are talking about, and a person that may well be in your life for life. Proceed with respect and compassion.
· Notify your personal network of family and friends that you are interested in adopting and would appreciate them keeping you in mind if they hear of an opportunity to discuss adoption with an expectant parent. Ask them to spread the word to their circle of friends. We recommend sending a letter via old fashion mail. Letters are infrequent enough now to stand out as something important. You may want to follow up with an email to make it easier to include a link to your adoption website. See below.
· Think through in advance about the need to strike the balance between your need for privacy and your need to spread the word. In order to cast your net wide, you will need to share your adoption journey.
· Do not send out a mass mailing to people you do not know asking them about a potential match. It will likely just end up in the trash.
· You must talk with your adoption agency or adoption attorney about what type of adoption advertising your state allows. If you need help finding an adoption agency, check out the resources at the Creating a Family Choosing an Adoption Agency page. If you need help finding an adoption attorney, check out the American Academy of AdoptionAttorneys:
· Set up a website for your adoption journey. Keep it simple. Include photos and your adoption profile. Although certainly not necessary, you may want to include a blog, but you will want to be circumspect about how much of your impatience and frustration you want to share. Do not spend a lot of money on setting up this website. It need not be fancy. You likely will not get many hits, so this should not be where you spend the bulk of your money.
· Make up some inexpensive business style cards with your name, a photo, your situation (for example: “Longing to be parents through open adoption”), your website URL, and your contact information. Hand them out if you strike up a conversation with someone and this topic is mentioned and they seem interested.
· Use the internet and online social networks to spread the word that you are looking to adopt. Most people now use the internet as their primary way of gathering information. Endless possibilities including Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, YouTube, and parent profile type sites. See the Top Ten Tips for Using the Internet to Find Prospective Birth Mothers and our Do’s and Don’ts for Social Networking for Adoption.
· Print advertising is not dead. Post ads in rural shopping guides, Penny Pinchers, daily newspapers in college towns, give-away newspapers, etc. Get suggestions from your adoption agency or adoption attorney about what states you should focus on when advertising outside of your state.
· Place notices on bulletin boards where expectant moms may be. Keep in mind that many women consider adoption due to financial difficulties, so focus on places where poorer women may be, such as Laundromats, grocery stores, libraries, beauty parlors, and trailer parks. Always ask permission before posting.
What about using a facilitator? A facilitator is a non-licensed agency or individual that you pay a fee to for birth parent advertising. Payments to facilitators (non-licensed agencies) are illegal in many states and you may find yourself unable to finalize an adoption if you employ a facilitator. There are also higher rates of fall throughs for placements made through facilitators. This is because the birth parents have not received adequate in person counseling and are not truly prepared to make an adoption plan. For a longer discussion of this topic, see the NCFA article I co-authored, The Role of Facilitators in Adoptions, Adoption Advocate, Issue 70. https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/resources/adoption-advocate/2?
Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
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