Adoptive Families, Questions you need to be asking.

As we were recently doing some spring cleaning around the office, we came across this book, Adopting in America: How to Adopt Within One Year. We also stumbled across Adopt the Baby You Want. Not sure any of us have read (or recently read) these books as they were written in 1993 and 1990, respectively. We can’t really speak to the content inside. But, the titles alone caught our eye! They screamed, especially the first one, “Adoptive parents, let’s talk about the fastest route to your baby!” And, “Find the professional that is quick, quick, quick! It’s all about speed!” And the end result, a baby.

Along with other recent blogs and posts we’ve read among the adoption community (we’re not the first to write about this), it got us thinking…what are prospective adoptive families looking for in an adoption professional? These are the people, the organization, tasked with helping you start/grow your family. It’s an incredibly important decision. Historically (as seen in above mentioned books ), it’s safe to assume the most common answer to this question is cost and wait time. It makes sense! Adoption is expensive. In many aspects of life it’s natural to do your research and pick the most cost effective route. In regards to wait time, families adopting are ready to be parents. They’ve likely been trying to start/grow their family for a good amount of time. How can we fault them for seeking the fastest path to their baby? And, we as adoption professionals easily fall into this mindset at times too.

As a larger adoption community across the United States, we’re starting to talk more about what adoptive families NEED to be looking for in an adoption professional.

Should families still be looking for information on cost and wait times? Absolutely. Adoptive families should expect upfront, honest information about cost and where specifically their money will be going and what it will be covering. It’s also reasonable for families to be given average expected wait times. This can help them prepare for the wait. However, if adoptive families are choosing an adoption agency solely on cost and wait times, likely we may be missing the bigger picture…

What if prospective adoptive families started asking different questions? Started looking for more then the quickest road to their baby? And, adoption professionals stopped “selling” it as such. What if we all looked at adoption as a lifelong journey? An often beautiful, yet also complex relationship between adoptive family, birth family, and adoptee. The adoption professional a family chooses will be a guide, teacher and support as they raise their child, specifically the part of their child that is an adoptee. We have to imagine their questions might start to look something like this…

How do you treat your expectant mothers? What kind of care do they get pre placement? Are they encouraged to explore options outside of adoption? Are you coercive in any way? Do you let her see her baby at the hospital? Do you make her pay back living expense money received if she doesn’t proceed with an adoption? Do expectant moms have access to their own attorney? What about birth fathers? What is your philosophy on open adoption? Do you help birth and adoptive families navigate their open adoption after placement? What support and education do you provide prospective adoptive families? What kind of language do you use when talking about adoption adoption? What post placement services and support do you provide for birth mothers? For adoptive families? FOR ADOPTEES?…

Wow, that’s a lot! Not quite as simple as asking, “how much does it cost?” and “when will we have our baby?” Adoptive families deserve more! They should expect answers to all of the above questions. They deserve to know who is guiding them as they start their family and will impact how it happens. They deserve to know how their future child’s birth family will be treated both pre and post placement. All of this becomes a part of their child’s story. It has lasting implications. For an adoptive family, their adoption journey doesn’t end the day their child is placed in their arms. It begins.

We hope to continue to answer these important questions for you. We strive to be as honest and transparent as possible. There’s a lot we do well. And, there are areas where we need to improve. Keep asking us the hard questions. And, keep expecting answers. Adoptive parents, birth parents, AND adoptees deserve this and so much more.