You’ll make a lot of big decisions during your adoption process.
On the one hand, this is a very good thing. The adoption process used to give very little authority (or respect) to prospective birth mothers. Most decisions were made for them, and they had no choice but to go along. Today, the private adoption process puts prospective birth mothers in the driver’s seat.
This means control for you, but it can also mean pressure. And there’s perhaps no choice that brings more pressure than picking an adoptive family.
Every prospective birth mother wants to find the perfect adoptive parents for her baby. She wants a life full of happiness, safety and opportunity for her child. Typically, a prospective birth mother will work with an adoption agency that will present her with adoptive family profiles.
However, as technologies have progressed, it has become increasingly easy to find adoptive family profiles online. You might be looking around and stumble across a family that jumps out of the screen at you. “That’s it,” you might think. “They’re the right family!”
Now what? Should you reach out directly to the family or enlist the help of an adoption professional? We’ve seen prospective birth mothers take both paths. Here are some things to consider about this choice.
Have You Spoken with a Professional?
The adoption process is complicated. Each step has its own rules and requirements. Laws are different in every state, so this also changes depending on where you live. Each adoption requirement must be met at every part of the process in order for a judge to issue a final decree of adoption.
Additionally, as a prospective birth mother, you are entitled to things like adoption financial assistance, free legal counsel, 24/7 support and counseling and more if you are working with the right adoption professional.
One potential pitfall of reaching out to a family online is that you could miss out on these benefits or accidentally fail to meet a requirement along the way. Either of these things puts you in a riskier situation. That’s why you should consider speaking with an adoption professional even if you reach out to adoptive parents on your own.
Do You Understand Your Rights During Adoption?
Along with adoption benefits like adoption financial assistance, you also have inherent rights during the adoption process.
You have the ability to make your own adoption plan and medical decisions. You can establish the amount (and frequency) of contact you would like with the adoptive family pre- and post-placement.
These are only a couple examples of powers you have during the adoption process. A specialist with an adoption agency will keep you informed of these rights and help protect them. Unfortunately, it can be easier to give some of these away when working directly with an adoptive family you found online.
If you do reach out to an adoptive family online, we recommend still working with an adoption professional in order to have the best understanding and protection of your rights.
Has the Family Been Approved for an Adoption Placement?
Every family pursuing adoption is required to complete an adoption home study. This is a review of their life by a licensed social worker. A home study is intended to ensure that a family is ready for placement with a child — that their home will be a safe, loving environment for your baby to grow and thrive.
Families working through licensed adoption agencies have already been approved through a home study when you see their profile. A legitimate agency will never show you a profile of a family who has not yet passed the home study.
There is no guarantee that a family you find through social media or a blog has been approved. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t a great family, or that the home study process won’t approve them in the future. But it does, again, create a higher risk.
If you reach out to a family online, make sure to ask whether or not they have completed the home study for adoption.
Can the Family Refer You to Helpful Professionals?
Ask any families who you speak to online about which adoption professionals they are connected with and if there are services they would recommend for prospective birth mothers. This question is a good gauge for how much research a family has put into adoption.
Responsible families attempting to adopt will have identified the necessary adoption professionals to legally complete the process. If it seems like the family is trying to “DIY” adoption, then that is a red flag.
What Is Best for You?
Your adoption should benefit your life. Is reaching out to a family online best for you? Will it be best to work directly with a family or have the experience of an adoption specialist working for you? Will you be able to experience the same level of control in the adoption process? Do you know how to secure all of the potential benefits of the adoption process?
These are personal questions, and only you know the answer. Ultimately, you should take the option that offers you the most protection and puts you in the best position to experience a successful adoption.
Contact us at any time if you would like to speak with a helpful adoption professional about finding an adoptive family.