Why would you, an adopting parent who is paying an agency or attorney thousands of dollars to adopt a baby, simultaneously go through all of the effort to locate a potential birth family on your own? Isn’t that what you are paying the professionals to do?
Sure it is part of what you are paying them to do, but hoping that works is not sufficient. Why? Quite simply it is because there are more people hoping to adopt than there are women making adoption plans for their children. The more people keeping their eyes and ears open for you, the better. That is why adoption outreach is so important.
For those of you hoping to adopt domestically, regardless of whether or not your agency or attorney does outreach, there are 5 primary reasons why you should do your own outreach.
1. Outside Forces are Affecting Domestic Adoption
The rules are changing (really, they’ve already changed). Three important facts are affecting domestic adoption. Some of the effects are subtle, but we expect the speed at which change is occurring to increase, not decrease. In any case, these three facts are causing many adopting parents to take a more active role in their adoption through personal adoption outreach.
- First, international adoptions are down dramatically. Americans adopted around 5,370 children from other countries in fiscal year 2016 – 77% fewer than the peak in 2004. Longer wait times for older children are causing some adopting parents to consider or reconsider domestic adoption.
- Second, fewer women are making adoption plans. This slightly downward trend continues from previous years and the reasons for it–the availability of contraception, the opportunity to choose abortion, and the general societal acceptance of single parenting–are not expected to change in the near term. There are simply fewer pregnancies, as well.
- Finally and perhaps most interestingly, many women who choose to make an adoption plan are turning the traditional adoption process upside down. Traditionally, women with unplanned pregnancies had sought counseling and adoption education from social workers affiliated with an adoption agency. If an expectant woman chose to make an adoption plan, her social worker would typically share profiles of adopting parents who are already working with the agency. It is becoming more common, however, that today’s expectant women are learning about adoption outside of the agency process and finding their child’s adoptive family BEFORE turning to an adoption professional. Those adopting parents who are waiting for their adoption professional to find them a prospective birth mother may be waiting even longer.
2. Adoption Outreach Is Empowering
Adoption outreach is empowering. Adopting parents feel good doing it. Why? Because what they do might result in a baby. Many adopting parents come to adoption through infertility. Many couples that suffer through infertility learn through experience that what they do has little or no impact on the outcome. The doctors decide the type and amount of drugs, the timing of everything, and the number of embryos that get transferred, and God or luck seems to determine everything else. Even for those who come to adoption without experiencing infertility, the adoption home study and “waiting to be chosen” parts of the adoption process may cause adopting parents to feel like they have no control over any outcomes. The fact is, however, that adoption outreach is completely in your control and it works for adopting parents every single day.
3. You May Adopt More Quickly
Everyone has a unique personal network. Agencies and attorneys may do a great job networking with pregnancy counselors and doctors and nurses, but that will not reach all of the people in your network. If your college roommate does not know that you are hoping to adopt, then he’ll be unable to connect you with his neighbor’s daughter when he finds out she is pregnant and planning to make an adoption plan for her child.
Are the odds low that each contact you make will be able to help you? Of course they are. But if you tell 100 or 200 or 300 people that you hope to adopt, the sum of those low odds can start to add up. In fact, some agencies report that up to 50% of their placements occur as a result of a personal networking connection. It only takes one.
4. Finding a Birth Family Eliminates “Competition” with Other Families
When an expectant parent visits an agency or attorney’s office to make an adoption plan for her child, she may review dozens of profiles before deciding which family to meet first. When you find an expectant parent on your own and begin to build a relationship with her, you are typically the only person she considers. If you harbor any anxiety about why someone would choose you over other available adopting parents, adoption outreach provides a way to take more control over the process.
5. Adopting Parents Can Save $1,000s on Adoption Fees
Many agencies will discount their fees considerably, even up to $10,000, when the adopting parents locate the expectant parents on their own. Why do they do this? Because they do not have to pay for advertising for that family and because even after these types of placements, there will still be plenty of adopting parents hoping to adopt for every woman who makes an adoption plan for her child.
Would you look for a new job by ONLY posting your resume on Monster.com or some other Internet job site? Of course not. You would tell anyone who would listen to you the type of position you are seeking and why you are qualified. You would ask them to keep their ears open. You would work hard at it even if at first you were not completely comfortable doing it. Leveraging your network in this way increases your chances of making the one contact that will help you find the job of your dreams. Why not take the same approach and work even harder to find the son or daughter of your dreams?
Do you have a plan for connecting with your future child’s birth parents? If not, take our Adoption Advertising & Networking course and learn about more than 30 outreach ideas.