Finding the right adoption opportunity is one of the most important and challenging steps of the adoption process.
The adoption opportunity you find can change the rest of your life. Adoption agencies and other professionals have established proven methods of finding these opportunities, which is why we encourage all hopeful parents to work with a licensed adoption agency.
The process of showing family profiles to prospective birth mothers is called “advertising.” This is not exactly like the typical things that come to your mind when you think of advertising. There are specific things you can and cannot do. In many states, only licensed professionals are allowed to advertise.
However, other states allow families to advertise themselves in search of an adoption opportunity. This can be appealing if you are a self-starter who prefers to do things on your own, or if it seems like the wait for an adoption opportunity is taking too long.
Advertising for yourself during adoption is a road littered with potential pitfalls. If you do decide to take things into your own hands, here are the major dos and don’ts of adoption advertising.
DO Follow the Law
This seems like a good place to start, doesn’t it? It seems simple, but it is very important that you look up your state’s adoption laws before you begin personally advertising your adoption plans. Depending on the state, it may not be legal for you to advertise your adoption without appropriate licensing. And in several states, advertising at all is illegal.
For instance, Alabama and Kentucky do not allow any advertising related to adoption. There are 11 other states that only allow advertising by state social service agencies. These are only a couple of the many state-specific requirements and restrictions on adoption advertising.
Learn the laws in your state before you begin advertising for adoption.
DON’T Compromise Your Privacy
There are many ways to look for an adoption opportunity on your own. These range from the simple — like emailing your church community and asking if they know anyone considering adoption — to the complicated and expensive — like placing ads online. Our advice, for more reason than one, is to keep it simple.
First off, you enter a whole new realm of law and regulation when engaging in things like online marketing. Placing targeted ads can become problematic quickly.
Second, adoption professionals have established procedures to protect the privacy of families while still getting their adoptive family profiles in front of many prospective birth mothers. When you are doing this on your own, you are at a much higher risk of compromising your privacy and exposing important personal information online.
DO Use the Language ‘Prospective Birth Mother’
A woman who is considering adoption is not a birth mother; she is a prospective birth mother or expectant mother. When you create advertisement featuring your family, and you place these ads in front of women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, you are advertising to prospective birth mothers, not birth mothers.
You cannot assume that a woman who is considering adoption will choose adoption. An unplanned pregnancy is a very difficult situation. A woman may be exploring all of her options, with adoption being one of them. She could still ultimately choose to parent her baby or look to another unplanned pregnancy option, like abortion. For this reason, it is important to never assume that a woman reading your advertisement will become a birth mother. Always respect her right to choose what is best for her.
DON’T Leave Pamphlets in Doctor’s Offices
As we said earlier, advertising on your own is safest when done in a personal way. Speaking with family members, friends and people in your community may be a good way to get the word out. However, many hopeful parents will create pamphlets featuring their family profile and leave them in places like a crisis pregnancy center or doctor’s office.
It is important for the adoption process to empower prospective birth mothers. This means, among other things, not baiting a woman into choosing adoption. Adoption agencies work with expectant mothers who reached out of their own volition in order to create an adoption plan. Then, once they have asked to see profiles, they are shown profiles. It is better this way than for a woman who has not seriously considered adoption, and is in a vulnerable situation, to be shown an adoptive family profile.
Additionally, advertising in medical facilities and other related professional buildings is illegal in many states.
DO Utilize Personal Blogs or Social Media Profiles for Outreach
If you do want to reach out to a wider audience than your friends and family, you can use your social media profiles or create a blog to share your story. This should be done with an understanding of how far things can spread online. If you are okay with this part of your story being out there, a personal blog can be a great way to keep people updated on your adoption journey and, potentially, put your family photo in front of the right person.
DON’T Attempt to Complete the Adoption on Your Own
Many families are able to locate an adoption opportunity through personal efforts. This can be amazing! However, toughing it out without professional assistance for the rest of the adoption process can cause problems, both personal and legal, that can endanger the success of the adoption placement.
It is always recommended to work with a professional — whether that is an adoption attorney, counselor or agency — in order to finalize an adoption.
If you have more questions about advertising for adoption, please reach out to a local attorney. They can answer your questions and explain what this process looks like in your state.