The very first step in the adoption process will be to find an adoption professional to help facilitate the adoption journey. Whether you are placing a child for adoption or are a prospective adoptive parent, you will need an adoption professional to guide you through the process. Choosing an adoption professional may seem like an easy task, but it should not be a decision that is taken lightly. There is a lot to consider when choosing an adoption professional. You want to pick an adoption professional who will best represent you and your interests. You also want an adoption professional who knows the law well and has proven herself through other adoptions.
If you are placing your child for adoption, your questions will likely center around what the adoption process will look like. You may ask questions about your rights or what the process will mean moving forward. Your questions may have a lot to do with how a family will be chosen for your child and what sort of access you might have to your child going forward.
If you are a prospective adoptive parent, your questions might lean more towards what the adoption process will look like and how long an adoption process can typically take for new families. While there are many different adoption agencies and professionals, some are taking on more clients at a given time than others. While they will not typically be able to tell you how long the adoption will take exactly, they may have an average match time from which to draw. A match time is typically how much time would be the time between a family signing up with their agency and being matched with an expectant mother. If you already have been matched privately, your questions may center around the cost of adoption and what fees would pertain to you in general.
As an expectant mother, one of the first questions you might ask is what your responsibility is in the adoption process. While there will not be any fees that you need to pay, you will want to know what expenses are covered during your pregnancy. This will vary state-to-state and agency to agency. However, most expectant mothers are entitled to have their pregnancy expenses paid during the adoption process. These may include but are not limited to any medical care related to the pregnancy, food, and living expenses. Typically, once you are matched with prospective adoptive parents, these prospective adoptive parents will pay these expenses. However, while you are waiting to be matched, the adoption agency should be able to point you in the direction of some assistance until a match occurs.
Another question you will want to ask upfront is what sort of legal representation an adoption professional will provide you. While your hope is that this adoption professional will have your best interests at heart, it is important to note that they are also representing the best interest of the prospective adoptive family. This does not mean that they will be malicious or anything of the sort (hopefully), but you will want your own outside representation to be provided. You’ll want to make sure that you understand your rights completely and that you are represented by legal counsel. In some states, it is a legal requirement that you be represented, so it may be a given. However, it is advisable to go with an adoption professional who will provide you outside counsel at no cost to you.
Adoption does not look the same for any two families. This is especially true when it comes to the openness of an adoption. If you hope for a closed adoption, it is important to ask questions about your identification during the process of finding an adoption professional. If it is your choice that you do not want to be identified, then it will be up to the adoption professional to provide you with a closed adoption experience. If you are hoping for openness in adoption, you can advocate for what you want. Open adoption is becoming more popular, and there are different levels of openness. While many open adoption agreements are not legally enforceable, it is important to work with an agency that will try their best to honor and facilitate your level of openness that you hope for. This can mean visits or simply just updates about your child. It will also help to ask these questions upfront as your adoption professional can try to match you with a family who has the same desire for openness. This may seem like a far-fetched desire; however, there are many families who are okay and even hope for openness in adoption. For my family, we wanted an open adoption because we wanted adoption to be normal for our children. We want them to know that they are adopted and know where they came from. For us, open adoption was incredibly important.
As an expectant mother, you may have general questions about the adoption process and what that might look like. You may have questions about your rights as a birth parent or the birth father’s rights. You may just simply want to know what the whole process is going to look like for you and if there is any room for you to change your mind once your child is born. That may not seem important now, but minds can change as your pregnancy goes on. It is important to know where you stand and what the process will look like moving forward. Asking all these questions will help you make a better decision when choosing an adoption professional. Even asking questions, in general, will give you a feel for the honesty and forthcomingness of an adoption professional. Speaking with someone directly and having him be willing to answer your questions will say a lot about his character and compassion. Take the time to read reviews and ask other people questions about using this adoption professional. You can even go so far as to ask the adoption professional to give you some references to speak with from other birth parents who have used his or her services in the past. That can be incredibly helpful moving forward.
As a prospective adoptive parent, there will be multiple questions that you will have for any adoption professional you hire. You may need multiple adoption professionals, and you may have to search for a while to find one who best suits you. You will want to pick an adoption professional whom you trust as she will be your lifeline throughout the adoption process. She will even be of assistance after the adoption process if she is a good adoption professional.
A lot of the questions that you will have as a prospective adoptive parent will be questions related to the process and also the type of adoption which you wish to pursue. If you are hoping to do an international adoption, you will want to find an adoption professional who is both licensed and experienced in international adoption. You will want to have references for that agency and also various reviews to make sure that he is ethical. You will want to find an ethical agency or adoption professional no matter what. However, international adoption has a complicated past when it comes to ethics in adoption, and it is even more important to do your due diligence.
If you are hoping to pursue an open adoption, it is important to ask an adoption professional if he has examples of what an open adoption has looked like in the past with his past clients. You could also ask the same of a closed adoption situation. Whichever you choose, it will be important to know what services or assistance your adoption professional will provide as you move forward once the adoption has been finalized. Some adoption professionals might not provide any services. However, many adoption agencies will provide themselves as an intermediary in negotiating open adoption agreements.
If you are seeking a closed adoption, it might be important to ask an adoption professional what sort of security she has in place in order to keep the privacy of your child, yourself, and the expectant mother protected. In general, whether you hope for an open or closed adoption, it is important to ask an adoption professional what guidelines she has in place to explore openness in adoption. Any adoption professional should have some idea on how to lead you through this or have resources for you to help you decide what openness you would like to pursue and be matched with an expectant mother who wants the same.
There will be a lot of statistical questions that you will want to ask an adoption professional as well. You would likely want to know how long it takes for a match to occur, the failure rate, and the percentage of prospective adoptive parents finalized each year with their agency or professional. This is essentially asking a success rate. It is important to remember that a lot of this is based on chance and may ebb and flow. Adoption is not a guaranteed thing, and an expectant mother can change her mind. That is not something an agency or adoption professional can control. However, statistics may give you a better idea on how many families the adoption professionals are working with and how many expectant mothers they typically work with within a given year.
As a prospective adoptive parent, many of your questions will also revolve around finances. No two adoption professionals will typically have the same fees. There will also be different fees that you will need to pay from adoption professional to adoption professional. Depending on what state you live in, you may be required to pay birth parents fees, and there may or may not be a cap on that amount. It is important to ask your adoption professional what fees you will be paying and what fees might arise that you do not think of initially. There may also be a fee to match with an expectant mother, and there may be additional fees for things such as the home study and finalization. It is important to get a fee schedule for multiple adoption professionals and also to find out if any of that money is recouped if an adoption fails.
It is important to know all of your options when it comes to finances and important to know other factors about an adoption professional. A cheap adoption professional does not always mean a good adoption professional and an expensive adoption professional does not always mean a good adoption professional. Do not judge an adoption professional just based on the money alone.
Whether you are an expectant mother or prospective adoptive parent, it is important to ask many questions throughout your search for an adoption professional. It is also important to know that it is okay to switch adoption professionals if need be. There may come a time where you feel uncomfortable or feel that you made the wrong choice. It is common for people to switch adoption professionals or adoption agencies if they do not feel that they are serving them best. However, this is why is it important to do your due diligence when picking an adoption professional so as to not run into a situation where you need to switch agencies or possibly lose money as a prospective adoptive parent.
Take the time to read reviews and to make a list of any questions you may have. Talk with your family and friends about questions they might ask if they were in the same situation. There may be many questions that you do not think of initially. Find an adoption professional who is happy to answer any questions at any time throughout the adoption process. While there is an expectation of being courteous of an adoption professional’s time, it is always okay to ask questions, and an adoption professional should be open to that. Spend some time writing down any questions and save them for when you have multiple questions that you could ask during a meeting or phone call. Do not hesitate to ask anything you hope to have answered. This is your journey, and you should go through it informed of your rights in the entire process.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on Facebook.