Category Archives: Networking

Rolling Up Your Sleeves

When we first began researching the steps we needed to take to start the adoption process, we consulted with an attorney.  She was very professional, candid and well-versed on all aspects of adoption and we were grateful for what we learned from our meeting. We decided to hold off on committing to an attorney for fear they wouldn’t have many avenues for direct contact with birth mothers.

We then met with a local non-profit adoption agency to hear what they had to say. We ultimately knew we needed to get our home study done by an agency, and we really liked the people we met with there, so we sent in the modest application fee and also began our home study process. Approved back in July 2010, we had hopes for a quick match – that has yet to present itself.

Back in the fall, we were told, along with several other hopeful families, that we could potentially improve our wait time by networking to find a birth mother ourselves.  Now, many people I have mentioned this to have said, “Why do you need to do all of this stuff yourselves?!” The thing is, we don’t have an agency that we are committed to financially. We’d be happy to  work with the agency that did our home study, if that is what the birth mother is comfortable with, as they are super caring and trustworthy.

While this can be great if you like being a free-agent, as we are discovering, the drawback is that they don’t have a huge budget for advertising and marketing, so throngs of birth mothers aren’t knocking on their doors. So, what they do is offer you advice that can hopefully help to shorten your wait.  They recommended tactics that included creating and posting flyers, emailing friends and family, telling neighbors, doctors, dentists, hairdressers that you’re adopting. They even went so far as to recommend other agencies or attorneys willing to, without a retainer, show your profile to the birth mothers they’re working with. The idea is that you never know who will hear about an adoption situation during the course of their day. And if and when they do, they will think of you and share your info with the birth mom!  So, we rolled up our sleeves and took lots of action. Here’s a list of what we’ve done so far…not for the faint-hearted…

  • Created and sent out our profile books
  • Created our Website/blog
  • Created and placed adoption flyers in various locations
  • Created and shared Pass along cards ( business cards for hopeful adoptive families)
  • Created and activated our online Parent Profile
  • Emailed friends, family and acquaintances
  • Included notes in our Christmas cards
  • Sent stacks of our profile books to an attorney and other agencies
  • Written Facebook posts, built a Facebook page, and purchased Facebook ads
  • Began Google AdWords campaign
  • Joined online adoption forums and became part of the community, making connections, helping others, and giving and receiving advice
  • Told everyone and anyone we’d who’d listen

Clearly, trying to find a birth mother and hoping she chooses you as adoptive parents requires great fortitude, dedication, perseverance, thoughtful planning and attention to detail, and boatloads of patience. But, most importantly it requires a deep seated faith that the baby meant to be with you will find their way into your heart and home very soon.

We would love to hear if any of you have tried any of the above, if things worked well or didn’t, and whether you would do things differently if you could. Any and all recommendations are welcome!

Assessing risk when considering an adoption situation

You never know when your first adoption situation will present itself and what form it might take. We all dream of an ideal situation – and that ideal can certainly take a variety of shapes, depending on who’s doing the dreaming.

This week, we received our first call from an adoption attorney we’d contacted recently. A birth mother needed substantial financial help right now, and significant monthly financial assistance for the length of her pregnancy (she was only 9 weeks along), came to the attorney’s office seeking an adoptive couple without a child. While the attorney’s office had a list of waiting families, none of them were childless, and while we were not yet on their waiting family list, they remembered our networking call and immediately contacted us. Tag – we were it. I guess networking really does have a tendency to work. We called back immediately – all excitement, hope and nerves — and a healthy dose of self-protective skepticism.

But every adoption situation is different, from what a birth mother might be going through that brings her to consider such an important and life-changing decision, to the level of risk a prospective adoptive couple is willing to accept. There are a number of risk factors adoptive parents must consider, you need to sit with them to determine what you are truly ready and able to withstand during the roller-coaster ride.

Risks could involve drug and/or alcohol exposure, health problems associated with age or genetics, the length of time remaining in the pregnancy, the amount of financial assistance required and the ever present worry — the likelihood of a failed adoption plan.

Adoption expenses are a fact of life in most adoption situations. The funds are not payment for a baby, no matter what some opponents might say. There is significant work and time involved for agencies and attorneys to help ensure all parties are protected in an adoption situation. And the combination of legal expenses, counseling fees, agency fees and birth mother expenses can potentially add up to a large sum, indeed. That said, as adoptive parents, you need to be able to know what you can handle financially, and weigh that commitment with the risks you are comfortable taking in the birth situation presented to you. How much money do you have, and, if this adoption falls through, will you have funds left when the next adoption situation presents itself?

The adoption situation we were presented with involved an older birth mother with a history of problems that prevented her from being able to work – and thus required significant financial assistance for the remaining 7 months of her pregnancy, as well as a previous failed adoption – she changed her mind – two years earlier.

Ultimately, we decided the risks in this situation were too much for us and let this situation go to another family that might be more comfortable with the situation. It was a hard decision, because you worry about when and if the next situation will present itself, and if you turned down “the one.”

Have you been in this situation before and if so, how do you personally deal with the decision? Do you have any other advice concerning acceptance of an adoption situation? Please feel free to share!

We’re adopting, but how do we get the word out?

Adoption is one of the most important decisions you will make in your entire life, whether you are pregnant and thinking about making an adoption plan, or are going through the process to become an adoptive parent.  The decision to become an adoptive parent is also something that feels like it should be kept private.  But, from what we have learned, if you want to find a birth mom you’ve got to get out there and tell everyone you know (and hope they tell everyone they know, too. )  Even though this very public approach can feel awkward at times, it can only help shorten your wait. So, we are trying to think “outside the box” and come up with unconventional ways to get the word out.  One social worker told us about a waiting family that just recently took out a billboard near a busy outlet mall during the pre-Christmas rush – good timing, but pretty costly  – the verdict is still out as to whether it was successful or not – I sure hope  it was.

There’s also the thought and research that must go in to the creation of a flier and a classified ad:  what should the flier say and what pictures should we use? do we provide out number, a toll-free number or the agency number? where are the best places to put up our flier?  what should our ad say? how do we determine the circulation for the papers figure out whether the ad cost is a worthwhile investment? will the right people see our ad? will the paper even allow an adoption classified ad?

Then there are other ideas, like including a note in your holiday card in the hopes of reminding your family and  friends that you are adopting and trying to find a birth mom.  How about taking an unconventional approach, like using social networks Facebook and Twitter, and joining forums and message boards?  There are quite a few subscription-based services where you can place your adoption profile, one of the big ones is Parent Profiles, but these services can also be quite costly. Whatever approaches you decide on, take the time to think about what you’re personally comfortable with and what you can afford to do. Sadly, there are alot of people out there trying to take advantage and make a buck off of waiting adoptive families, so do your research and choose wisely and thoughtfully – and then jump on in.

If you have heard of other unconventional ways to network, please feel free to share them here.

Domestic Adoption Networking – Marketing Yourself

We have completed all three of our adoption training sessions – the final session dealt with networking in attempts to shorten our wait for a match with a birth family. This session provided lots of interesting information and recommendations for attorneys and agencies who are generally willing to take a waiting family’s profile into their pool without a retainer, or, in certain cases,  for a small administrative fee.  What’s confusing from the waiting family standpoint, is not knowing how all the adoption fees and expenses will pan out in the long run – How will they be allocated between the agency, the networked agency and the attorneys?  A good question, to be sure, but one to keep on the back burner for now,  since every birth family situation will be different and the fee and expense amounts and allocations will likely follow suit.

We also learned about best practices for creating a classified ad and a fliers, where to post these, how to handle contact from prospective birth families, and also, things to look out for when contacted by a birth family to make sure things are on the level.

As part of this networking initiative, we have contacted other organizations and venues, like local Planned  Parenthood centers, churches, women’s centers, ob/gyns, maternity homes and the like, to find out what their policies were on accepting an adoptive family profile to keep on hand for occasions when a birth mother is thinking about adoption.  What was most  interesting – and surprising – to me was to see how drastic the differences are in how three different Planned Parenthood locations within the very same county handle these requests. They varied widely from “we don’t accept family profiles, but we refer them to agencies we work with” to “sure, send it over and we’ll keep it in the folder we show to women interested in pursuing adoption.”

If anyone has tried networking via the above methods (or through other, more creative and unconventional ways) to  locate a birth family, and you have experienced success or failure, please share!

Waiting to be matched

We purchased our 1-888 number in preparation for our next step in the networking process – creating and distributing fliers and placing our classified ad.  If you are looking for a toll-free number service, we chose Kall-8. The cost isn’t bad, about $2 a month and 7 cents a minute, lots of fine print, but so far no exorbitant  hidden charges that I can find. They offer voice mail retrievable via email,which is kind of cool.  I plan on going to the library this weekend to do recommended research concerning which newspapers are best for placement of our ad.

Regarding the wait, our agency sends out a monthly update to waiting adoptive parents, and their recent update mentioned they had a couple of birth moms looking at the photo books.  Since we had recently dropped our book off,  I emailed the agency to find out if we had made it in time to have our book shown to these birth moms.  Our book was indeed shown (YAAAYYY!),  I am sure along with all the other books.  This was exciting, but so far as I know, we weren’t picked…yet.  The trick/struggle is to not become anxious every time something positive happens.  I am sure a birth mom doesn’t flip through the books and make her decision there and then. It is likely the kind of decision she will mull over and think on for a while.  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in any of the above topics.

Have you found it difficult to restrain yourself from becoming excited about positive steps forward?  Do you find yourself reigning in your happiness and optimism?  Please share!

We are officially eligible to adopt!

Happy news! Our home study has been completed and approved and we are officially eligible to adopt a baby!  We are really excited, and now must focus our attention to creating our photo book so the agency can share it with prospective birth moms.

Also very important, we need to start “networking” in an attempt to locate birth moms on our own.  This is the part that feels most awkward, right now. Adoption is such a personal journey –  for adoptive parents, birth parents  and the adopted child.  To “network” with family, friends and colleagues and tell them you are hoping to adopt by saying, “Hey, if you hear of anything, please be sure to let us know” seems so strange and foreign – simply BECAUSE it is such an important and life-changing piece of information you are communicating. It’s a a birth mother and child we’re talking about here,  not a used car.

While we feel strange approaching the search for a birth mom in such an informal Web 2.0 way, we have been told by the agency that most birth parents are found by the adoptive parents through word of mouth and networking.  You, know how it is, “you’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on…”   So, that is what we need to do.

Coming from a marketing, communications and social media background, I  thought it would be a good idea to start this blog.  It’s a way we can journal the process and exchange info and ideas with other prospective adoptive parents going through the same thing. We can also share updates on our journey with friends and family, and maybe – just maybe – reach a birth mother.