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What You Should Know About Adoption “Business Cards”

Finding an adoption opportunity is a tricky business. Thousands of families around the U.S. hope to adopt, and making your family stand out from others can be overwhelming. You want to reduce your wait time, so you look into all the adoption advertising possibilities available to you. In your research, you may have run across “adoption business cards.” Some adoptive families swear by this marketing technique — but is it the right one for your family? Before you start designing your cards, there are a few things you should know about this advertising method.

What are Adoption Business Cards?

Adoption business cards look different for every hopeful adoptive family. However, in general, they’re easily shared cards expressing a family’s desire to adopt. These cards usually include information about the family and their hopes for adoption, as well as a way for prospective birth mothers to contact them, if they are considering adoption. Typically, adoptive parents pass out these cards to family and friends — to get the word out and in hopes of getting their family profile in front of a woman thinking about adoption. While this method works for some people, it may not pay off for everyone. And, if you’re considering this marketing avenue, think long and hard about the ethics and disadvantages of doing so — not just the rose-colored advantages.

Why are Adoption Business Cards Risky?

There’s a reason why adoption professionals encourage adoptive parents to be smart and safe about adoption advertising. Yes, these professionals are looking for clients — but it’s also because ethical adoption professionals have the best interest of prospective adoptive parents and prospective birth parents in mind. Adoption business cards were extremely popular in the early 2000s, when the internet was still a new beast for hopeful adoptive parents. But, today, there are a few better options. While adoption business cards may seem a cheap way to get your names and faces out into the world, many involved in adoption criticize this path, because:
  • Business cards can cross boundaries. Most hopeful adoptive parents leave their “business cards” on local bulletin boards and listings, where anyone can place their personal information. But some adoptive parents take it too far — they leave business cards at doctor’s offices (especially OBGYNS) or on the store shelf next to pregnancy tests, in the hopes that some pregnant woman will pick them up and choose adoption. This is insensitive at best and coercive at worst; for example, a woman going to the doctor expects privacy and the right to make her own decision, not to be pressured with adoption information.
  • You can’t control what family and friends do. Adoption business cards are often shared among family and friends, with the hope that the right person will see them. However, even if you are taking appropriate steps to ethically distribute your business cards, you can’t be sure your family and friends will. You run the risk of a loved one unethically approaching pregnant women with the card or leaving the cards in a doctor’s office or abortion clinic. These are rude, invasive steps — and, even though they were taken by your loved ones, they will reflect badly on you.
  • You risk your privacy. Many adoptive parents who use business cards are pursuing independent adoptions, searching for a match without professional assistance. So, rather than include the name of an agency or lawyer, they include their own personal information on the business card. This may seem “transparent,” but it actually puts adoptive parents at risk, opening them up to adoption scams and other concerns.
  • It could be illegal. Many states have specific laws about who can and can’t advertise for adoption — and what rules may need to be followed to do so legally. Adoption business cards may be illegal in your state, so moving forward with this advertising method would put your family-building journey in jeopardy.

A Better Alternative: Professional Adoption Advertising

Hopeful adoptive parents always have the right to decide what kind advertising they use while searching for an adoption opportunity. But, if you are searching for a safe and ethical way to find a prospective birth mother, the best path will often be working with a licensed adoption agency. Licensed agencies have to meet standards set by their state. This ensures they complete ethical, safe and legal adoptions. Adoption agencies often have an extensive network of adoption professionals to aid in adoption advertising, and many agencies have developed their own successful methods of advertising families in a safe and equitable way (like through video profiles). When you work with an agency, you can know the woman who’s chosen your family has received no-obligation, objective unplanned pregnancy counseling — that she’s choosing adoption without any pressure. Agencies can also provide shorter wait estimates than independent adoptions, as well as the knowledge that your opportunity will be truly right for you. Your adoption agency will also support you and the prospective birth mother through the journey ahead, step by step. It’s no wonder so many adoptive parents choose to work with agencies when starting out. Don’t want to work with a matching professional? You can achieve the same effect as adoption business cards with an adoption website or social media account. Know that the same concerns with privacy exist this way, but it is a more ethical (and often more effective) way of finding an adoption opportunity in today’s digitally connected world. Make sure you educate yourself on the right way to use this method before putting your family online. Want to talk with an adoption professional about advertising services? Get connected with one here.

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