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Local vs. National Adoption Agencies: 3 Factors to Consider

Once you’ve decided to grow your family through domestic infant adoption, one of the first — and most important — decisions you’ll make is choosing a professional to help you through the process.

Most prospective adoptive parents know that they want the support of an agency through the adoption process. But they may find themselves debating between a local professional and a national agency like American Adoptions.

There are a lot of factors that could influence your decision. Below, we’ve outlined three of the big ones you should consider as you make your choice.

1. Costs

Naturally, the costs of adoption is one of the factors many prospective adoptive parents take into account when choosing an adoption professional. While adoption can be expensive regardless of the professional you choose, different agencies have different fees — largely because they offer different levels and qualities of services.

National Agencies:

National agencies tend to have higher agency fees. This is because they tend to have higher overhead costs — they typically employ larger staffs, provide more adoption services and do more extensive advertising to reach prospective birth parents across the country. However, they may also be more likely to offer financial protection in the case of an adoption disruption.

Local Agencies:

Because local or regional agencies typically have small staffs and work in a more limited geographical area, they tend to have slightly lower overhead costs. In some cases, this means they may charge less for their adoption services.

The Takeaway:

When examining agency fees, it’s important to carefully compare not only the costs of each organization but also the services they offer in exchange for those costs. Remember that every expense in the adoption process has a purpose; an agency that doesn’t charge as much for advertising, for example, may reach fewer prospective birth mothers, leading to a longer adoption wait times. Similarly, an agency that spends more on birth parent support services may be more responsive to an expectant mother’s needs, thereby decreasing the risks of an adoption disruption.

2. Services

If you are looking for a professional to guide you through the adoption process from start to finish, an agency — whether local or national — is typically the best choice. But while most agencies generally can complete the entire adoption process, some do provide more expansive services than others.

National Agencies:

While local and national agencies often offer many of the same adoption services, national agencies have several advantages when it comes to the quality of those services, including:

  • More established advertising networks and marketing capabilities, which means greater outreach to prospective birth mothers and national exposure for waiting adoptive families
  • Large, qualified social services departments, which means better screening and support for prospective birth mothers and adoptive families
  • More precise matching services that connect prospective birth mothers and waiting families based on common adoption goals and preferences
  • 24/7 counselor availability for prospective birth parents, which leads to lower disruption rates and more successful adoption placements

In addition to the other services necessary for a successful adoption — adoption planning, coordination of legal services and contact mediation — larger national agencies may offer additional services that smaller local agencies cannot, including financial protection, profile design, post-adoption services and more.

Local Agencies:

Local agencies offer many of the same services as larger, national ones, but often on a smaller (and less effective) scale. For example:

  • Advertising reach may be limited to prospective birth mothers in a particular state or region, leading to a smaller pool of potential adoption opportunities and potentially longer adoption wait times
  • Local agencies usually do not have the established networking platforms, marketing teams or advertising budgets used by national agencies, which means their advertising efforts may be less effective
  • Because they tend to work with fewer prospective birth mothers, adoptive families may need to be more flexible and willing to accept an adoption opportunity that doesn’t perfectly match their preferences

Like national agencies, most local agencies can also provide the adoption planning and case management services necessary for a smooth adoption process. However, some services — like creating an adoption profile — may need to be completed independently or outsourced to another professional.

The Takeaway:

Local and national agencies can both provide the necessary services to complete an adoption, though some may be more “full-service” than others. Ultimately, it is up to each adoptive family to decide which services are most important to them and to choose an adoption professional who can meet those needs.

3. Process

Whether you work with a national adoption agency or a local one, the process to adopt a baby will largely be the same. However, there are a few ways in which the process may differ depending on the professional you choose to work with.

National Agencies:

With a national agency, your adoption process will likely involve:

  • Working with one professional. Nearly all services will be completed in-house or coordinated by your adoption specialist.
  • A shorter wait time. Because they work with a larger pool of prospective birth mothers, your adoption process may be completed more quickly.
  • Because your baby could be born in any state, you will likely have to travel outside of your state and stay there for a few weeks to satisfy the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
  • More requirements. You may need to meet additional requirements to ensure you’re approved to adopt anywhere in the U.S.
  • More responsiveness. With a larger staff, most agencies are able to respond to adoptive families’ questions and concerns in a quick, effective manner.

Local Agencies:

Depending on the local agency you choose, your adoption process might involve:

  • Coordinating some services on your own. Your adoption agency can likely provide most of the services you need, but you may need to complete some steps of the process on your own or with another professional.
  • In-person meetings. Because of your physical proximity, you may be able to meet with your adoption professional in person.
  • A longer wait time. Because they work with a smaller pool of prospective birth mothers, it may take longer for you to be chosen and to complete the adoption process.
  • Adopting close to home. Because your baby will be born in your state or region, you will likely not have to travel out of your geographic area or meet ICPC requirements.
  • Increased risk. Because many local agencies cannot match the quality of counseling and support offered by national agencies, you may be more likely to experience a disruption.

The Takeaway:

While the overall adoption process will be similar whether you work with a local or national agency, your choice of professional can make a significant difference in your overall adoption experience. It’s important to do careful research and compare the adoption process, costs and services of each professional you are considering before moving forward.

If you would like to learn more about working with a national agency like American Adoptions, request free information online or contact an adoption specialist now at 1-800-ADOPTION.


Why Adopting a Child Has So Many Steps and Requirements

When you’re considering growing your family through adoption, the process can seem overwhelming at the beginning. There’s a lot you need to learn about adoption before starting the process and, fortunately, our adoption specialists are available at 1-800-ADOPTION to answer whatever questions you may have.

However, many people ask, “Why do adoption agencies have such an intensive list of requirements before someone is cleared to adopt?”

We understand that the process to become active with an agency can be a long and involved one. But American Adoptions and all adoption agencies require all of these processes for a reason — they protect everyone involved (especially the children at the center of the adoption) from physical, mental and emotional harm before and after an adoption is complete.

At American Adoptions, our priority is making sure that all members of the adoption triad are protected throughout the adoption process. Therefore, we require certain standards to be met in order to reach this goal. While these requirements can sometimes lead to a lengthy process for prospective adoptive families, our adoption specialists will help them through every step of the adoption clearance process so they have the support and guidance they need.

Here’s why prospective adoptive parents have to take certain steps before they can adopt a child:

Home Studies:

Home studies are not just an American Adoptions requirement; state laws require that all prospective adoptive families go through this same process. While the home study process can be lengthy, it’s because there are so many aspects that a social worker must explore before deeming a prospective family fit to adopt. Not only will a social worker need to confirm prospective parents’ basic mental, physical and emotional ability to raise a child, she also must confirm adoption-specific parenting requirements (like addressing adoption as a child grows up, preparation for a transracial placement, etc.).

Pregnant women who consider adoption want to make sure that the home they’re placing their baby with is safe and supportive — and the rigorous requirements of a home study help ensure them of that. But a home study isn’t just an investigation; it’s also an opportunity for prospective parents to ask questions and learn how they can continue to prepare for bringing an adopted child home.

A Minimum Adoption Budget:

One of the questions those who are unfamiliar with adoption frequently ask is, “Why is adoption so expensive?”

Although the total cost of adoption may seem extensive when it’s first presented, minimum budget requirements are important to creating an adoption process that’s completed safely and efficiently. By setting a minimum adoption budget, we can provide prospective adoptive parents the emotional and practical support they need. Rather than completing complicated bureaucratic requirements on their own, adoptive parents can trust their adoption specialists to take care of these instead.

Another reason why adoption can be expensive is because of the needs of the prospective birth mother. When a woman chooses adoption for her unborn baby, we want to make the process as easy as possible for her so she feels confident in her adoption decision. This means providing her financial assistance with living expenses, 24/7 counseling and more. The more safe and supported a prospective birth mother feels, the less likely she will be to change her mind about adoption — and the more likely you’ll be placed with the perfect baby for you.

Adoption Planning Questionnaire:

To make sure that your adoption process is completed smoothly and we meet your adoption goals, we require you to fill out an Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ). This form details your adoption preferences, including cultural background of the child you adopt, the amount of contact you want to share with birth parents and more. By determining these preferences ahead of time, we can reduce your wait time and only present to you adoption opportunities that meet your desires. This is an important step to protecting everyone’s rights in the adoption process and ensuring all members of the adoption triad end up in an adoption situation they’re comfortable with.

The more open and flexible your APQ is, the shorter your adoption wait typically lasts.

Adoption Profiles:

American Adoptions also requires that prospective adoptive parents complete a paper and video adoptive family profile. This can seem like an extensive process, but it’s instrumental in helping prospective birth mothers find your family. By seeing photos and videos of you, a woman considering adoption can determine whether you might be the right fit. These profiles make it more likely that you will be selected by a prospective birth mother quicker than through an agency without these profile requirements. In the end, it’s a requirement we have that directly benefits you.

Even after a placement is made with an adoptive family, there are still some additional requirements to be met. Like with your pre-adoption requirements, your adoption specialist will help guide you through these processes so you can focus on what’s important — bonding with your new baby.

There are very good reasons that these post-adoption requirements exist.


The Interstate Compact on the Adoption of Children is another requirement that is set by the government, not just American Adoptions. Babies and children are more frequently than ever adopted across state lines but, because each state has different adoption requirements and laws, ICPC is the legal process that makes sure the laws of both states involved are met. ICPC can be one of the more frustrating parts of the adoption process because it requires adoptive parents to remain within the birth mother’s home state for up to several weeks post-placement, but it’s immensely important in protecting the safety of the baby involved. This way, adoption professionals can be sure that an adoption process has been completed with all the safety requirements met, reducing the chance that an adoption will not be approved after a child has already been placed.


The last requirement before your adoption can be completed is the legal process known as finalization. While it may seem extraneous to go through another legal requirement about six months after your baby has been placed with you, the finalization process is another step to making sure the completed adoption is in the best interest of all involved. A judge will ask you questions about the legal steps you took to adopt your baby, as well as how you are all adjusting to your new life together. (You may also need to complete post-placement visits, depending on your adoption situation.) Finalization is the last step to ensuring that an adoption was completed safely and legally to protect the interests of you, your child and your child’s birth mother.

We understand that the process to becoming an active prospective adoptive family can seem extensive, but it’s important to understand that these requirements are in place for a reason — to create a safe and smooth adoption process for all involved. Adding a child to your family is not a decision to be made lightly, and we know how much hope you set in this process. That’s why we take these extra steps to make sure that your adoption process is not only tailored to you but is handled efficiently and comes with the happy ending you’ve been dreaming of.

For more information about our requirements and why we’ve set these standards, please contact our adoption specialists today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

Share this to help explain why adoptive parents often have to jump through so many hoops!


Study Reveals Transracial Adoption is More Popular Than Ever

For many adoptive parents, adoption has never been about finding a child who looks like them. Instead, it’s a family-building process that adds a child in need of a home to a family who will love and support them, no matter what they look like.

Today, this is truer than ever. A recent study from the Institute of Family Studies reveals that transracial adoptions have increased by 50 percent over the last decade. Specifically, the proportion of adopted kindergartners being raised by a mother of a different race or ethnic group has increased 50 percent between 1999 and 2011 — a great step in the right direction for U.S. adoptions.

Here’s the study’s breakdown of how many adopted children are raised by a parent of a different race:

  • 90 percent of Asian adoptees
  • 64 percent of multiracial adoptees
  • 62 percent of Hispanic adoptees
  • 55 percent of black adoptees

In total, about 44 percent of adopted kindergartners were being raised by adoptive parents of a different race or ethnicity — a number that many expect to continue growing as the United States becomes more multicultural than ever.

Why These Results are Important

Transracial adoption has always had a complicated history. When adoption was less common back in the middle of the 20th century, prospective adoptive parents were much less likely to adopt a child of a different race, due to stigma and inaccurate understandings of what it takes to raise a child of a different race. In fact, the first recorded transracial adoption didn’t even occur until 1948.

For many years afterward, adoption agencies only recommended “race-matching” with adoptive parents — that is, same-race placement of adopted children. Those against transracial adoption argued that parents of a different race could not raise a child with a certain racial and cultural heritage, as it would lead to confusion and “unnatural” relationships.

Thankfully, popular opinion of transracial adoptions has changed dramatically since then. This new study highlights the modern view of transracial adoption today — as a beautiful way to build a family, no matter what races and cultures the family includes. With proper preparation, education and dedication, any adoptive parent can successfully raise a child of a different race with accurate knowledge of their cultural and racial heritage.

However, despite the positive view of transracial adoption among many, there are still challenges that will occur in any kind of multiracial or transracial adoption. We’re in a new age of complicated race relations, and not all Americans are comfortable with the idea of transracial adoptions and multiracial families. One only has to look at the violence in Charlottesville to see that racism still exists in the U.S. The challenges of adopting children of African-American or other multiracial descent and raising them in this kind of society likely have turned certain prospective adoptive parents away from this path.

But, as this study shows, there are still plenty of prospective adoptive parents who are embracing the opportunity to adopt a child of a different race, as well as all any unique challenges this process may bring.

American Adoptions is proud to have helped many adoptive parents adopt children of a different race, preparing them with the proper training and knowledge to successfully incorporate their child’s racial identity into their own life. If you think transracial adoption might be right for you, please don’t hesitate to contact our adoption specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more and start the process whenever you’re ready.


13 Meaningful Ideas for Birth Parent Gifts

Having a prospective birth mother choose you to raise her child is a priceless gift that you can never repay. Even so, many adoptive parents choose to express their feelings for a birth parent by giving them a meaningful gift at the hospital when the baby is born.

While there are many different possibilities when it comes to gifts for birth parents, most adoptive parents choose something small and personal — something a birth parent can treasure for the rest of their life.

Because giving birth parents gifts can be a sensitive topic, it’s important that you talk to your adoption specialist about what gift is appropriate in your situation. They will be able to give you advice on which kind of gift is best for the birth parent’s emotions at that time, as well as legal advice based on your state’s living expenses laws. When in doubt, always consult your adoption specialist when it comes to birth parent gifts.

Each birth parent is different, so you’ll want to decide on a gift based on their personality and your relationship with them. That being said, here are some ideas for birth mothers and birth fathers, whether for the hospital meeting, the adoption finalization or another important time in the adoption process:

Birth Mothers

  1. A commemorative piece of jewelry: Many adoptive parents choose to give their child’s birth mother a piece of jewelry she can wear as a reminder of the child she placed for adoption. It may be engraved with her baby’s initials or feature the baby’s gemstone. Whatever personalization you choose to give it, make sure it’s subtle, so a birth mother is not constantly asked about what it means and won’t feel uncomfortable about explaining it.
  2. A postpartum recovery basket: Recovering from giving birth can be a long process, especially for a birth mother who is also dealing with the emotions of placing her child for adoption. You can make that process easier by creating a spa, self-care basket (lotions, bath items, etc.) so she can pamper herself during this time. You may wish to look at
  3. Flowers: Flowers are always a cheery sight for birth mothers, whether it’s in their hospital room or when they arrive back home post-partum. While it is a simple gift, it’s one that can go a long way when they are dealing with complicated emotions of grief and loss.
  4. Stuffed Animals: Birth mothers will likely be looking for comfort after placing their child for adoption. You may choose to get a stuffed animal that matches one your child will grow up with — as a reminder of her child and as something that she can embrace when she’s feeling alone.

Birth Fathers

  1. An engraved watch: Like jewelry for birth mothers, an engraved watch is a great way for a birth father to carry around the memory of his child and your relationship with him. As you would with jewelry, make sure the engraving is subtle (perhaps on the inside of the wrist) so he doesn’t have to answer unwelcome questions about what it means.
  2. A matching keychain: Similarly, you may choose to engrave a keychain or purchase a keychain that matches a piece of jewelry you’ve given to the birth mother. That way, they can both feel connected to your baby, even if they end up going their separate ways after the adoption.
  3. A meaningful book: If you know the birth father has a particular interest in something, consider buying him a book about that subject. Like a birth mother, a birth father will go through some difficult emotions post-adoption, and a book can provide an escape and distraction, should he need it.
  4. Photo frame: A birth father may appreciate a memorable, engraved frame and a photo of his child, especially if he and the birth mother are not in a relationship together and can’t share a photo gift. This way, he can switch out photos he receives from you or the agency over the years as his baby grows up.

For Both Birth Parents

Sometimes, both birth parents are involved and supportive in the adoption process. In these cases, you may choose to give them a mutual (or separate if they’re not in a relationship), non-gender-specific keepsake. These can include:

  1. A photo album: A leather-bound photo album can be a beautiful gift. You may choose to include a few photos from the hospital stay in the front pages, leaving empty spots for the photos and letters they will receive over the years from you.
  2. An adoption memory book: Similarly, you may create a more involved memory book. In addition to photos, it can also include mementos from the adoption process, like your original adoptive family profile, emails and texts sent back and forth and things from the hospital stay. Like a photo album, you can leave blank pages for the memories still to come.
  3. A recovery gift basket: Recovering from giving birth is not solely a physical act; some birth parents may have needed to take time off work and may need some extra help getting back on their feet after the adoption process. If approved by your lawyer and adoption specialist, you may wish to send a gift basket of meal preparation, gift cards and other practical help.
  4. A quilt or a blanket: If you’re crafty, you may make a personalized quilt or blanket representing the child they placed for adoption and the appreciation you have for their selfless sacrifice.
  5. Professional photos: If the birth parents are comfortable doing so, you all might choose to take professional photos during the hospital stay, shortly after or during the finalization hearing. These photos can be invaluable to birth parents and will likely be something they treasure forever. This should be discussed prior to the hospital stay with the birth parents and your adoption specialist.

Remember, each adoption relationship is different, and it may not always be the right thing to give a gift to the birth parents. If you’re ever in doubt of what’s appropriate, consult with your adoption specialist. However, if you do choose to give your child’s birth parents a meaningful gift, it can be an important step in solidifying a strong relationship between you all for many years to come.


25 Helpful Resources for Transracial Adoptive Families

When hopeful parents decide on adoption, many of them are ready to add to their family regardless of race or physical similarities. It’s true that, in many ways, adopting a child of another race is no different than raising a child who shares your ethnic and cultural background. However, while the color of your child’s skin won’t change your family bond, it will have an impact on his or her life.

It’s important to be culturally aware and prepared for the realities of transracial adoption. With the right preparation, transracial adoption can be an immensely rewarding experience. Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best resources to help prospective and current adoptive parents successfully navigate transracial adoption and parenting.

Transracial Adoption Blogs & Websites

Many transracial families document their adoption and parenting journeys through personal blogs and websites. These blogs offer honest, detailed, first-person accounts of transracial adoption and can be a wonderful way for adoptive families and those considering adoption to learn more about the joys and challenges of adopting transracially.

  • The Adopted Life: Angela Tucker is a nationally-recognized thought leader on transracial adoption and an advocate for adoptee rights. In 2013, Angela’s own story of adoption and search for her birth parents was featured in the documentary “Closure.”
  • Rage Against the Minivan: Kristen is the mom of four children, biological and adoptive (foster care and international), all within four years of age. She has been blogging at Rage Against the Minivan since 2006.
  • Jen Hatmaker: Jen Hatmaker is a New York Times bestselling author, blogger, speaker and podcast host who is a mom by birth and international adoption.
  • White Sugar Brown Sugar: Rachel is a four-time adoptive mom, book author, freelance writer and speaker. All of her family’s adoptions are domestic, transracial and open.
  • My Real Kid: Allie Ferguson is a white adoptive mother to an African-American son named Miles. She started her blog in 2013 when she and her husband started the adoption process.
  • The Full Plate: Full Plate Mom (FPM) is mom to 11 kids through private domestic (transracial) adoption and international adoption.
  • Foster Moms: Two moms who adopted a sibling group through foster care blog about transracial adoption, foster care, LGBT parenting and much more.
  • Natalie Brenner Writes: Natalie is a mom to virtual twins not quite five months apart, one through transracial adoption.
  • Confessions of an Adoptive Parent: Mike and Kristen Berry are the parents of eight children, all of whom were adopted. They are also speakers, podcasts hosts and authors of “The Adoptive Parent Toolbox.”

Books about Transracial Adoption

Many new parents stock their bookshelves with resources about what to expect when they bring their child home. Here are a few to add to your collection if you are adopting a child of another race:

If you are adopting transracially, it’s also important to equip your child with plenty of books that celebrate diversity and adoption. These children’s books on adoption can help normalize your child’s adoption story from the start. You can also find more books for transracial adoptive parents and transracially adopted children here.

Transracial Adoption Facebook Groups

There are many online groups for families of transracial adoption. These online forums and support groups can help you connect with other transracial adoptive families, share your personal experiences and participate in discussions about adoption and race. Here are a few commonly recommended Facebook groups to get started:

Before joining a social media group, however, note that not all online forums and discussions are well-monitored. Anyone — even those who aren’t very educated about adoption or have inaccurate information — can jump in and comment, so keep that in mind.

Information for Non-White Parents Adopting Transracially

Most discussions about transracial adoption focus on white parents adopting African American, Hispanic, Asian or biracial children. But transracial adoption refers to any adoption in which parents of one race adopt a child of another — and not all transracial adoptive parents are white.

However, for non-white adoptive parents, resources on transracial adoption can be more difficult to come by. While many of the other resources on this list will be useful for families of any racial or cultural background, here are a few additional articles and resources offering insight for non-white parents:

Other Resources for Transracial Families

As transracial adoption becomes more common, the number of tools and resources available to transracial adoptive parents and adoptees continues to grow. Here are a few more trusted sources for transracial adoption information and support:

Your adoption specialist is another resource who is always available to answer your questions, offer support and provide additional recommendations. Get in touch now by calling 1-800-ADOPTION, or learn more about transracial adoption with our agency by requesting free information online.


3 Topics to Research Before You Adopt

Deciding to adopt is the first in a series of many decisions hopeful adoptive parents need to make. It’s often the first step in a long decision-making process to determine the type of adoption you’re interested in, the adoption professional you will work with, what you’d like to include in your adoption plan and more.

As you prepare to begin the adoption process, studying up on a few adoption topics can help you make some of those early decisions.

Here are three big issues to explore before you get started:

  1. Types of adoption. Adoptions come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the different types of adoption to know which one is right for you. If you want to work with an agency to find an adoption opportunity with an infant born in the United States, you may want to pursue a private or domestic adoption. If you want to adopt from someone you already know with the help of an attorney, that’s an independent adoption. International adoption, foster care adoption and stepparent or relative adoptions are all options as well — so do your homework to determine which type of adoption is right for you.
  2. As you begin the adoption process, you will need to consider your adoption budget. Research adoption costs, grants, taxes, fundraising options and financial assistance, and plan for the expense of adoption accordingly. Compare costs of the different types of adoption, adoption professionals and programs — it pays to know all of your options!
  3. The impact of adoption. Adoption can be powerful — in countless ways, it has a positive impact on the lives of adopted children, adoptive families and birth parents. But adoption is not without its challenges, from the sometimes long adoption process to the unique challenges of parenting adopted children. Talk with other adoptive families about their experiences, reach out to your adoption professional for support and read books or blogs from other members of the adoption community. Prepare yourself for the difficulties of adoption, as well as the joys you will experience with your new child.

There is no shortage of adoption information pertaining to these topics and more. As you begin your research, look for upcoming informational meetings and adoptive family events, join an online community or forum, and speak to adoption professionals or other families who have adopted — these are all great resources that can help make your important adoption decisions informed ones.


What You Need to Know About Finding Birth Mothers Online

You can find anything on the internet (literally anything), including a woman looking to place her child for adoption. But you probably shouldn’t try.

Don’t get us wrong, there have been many successful adoptions facilitated online. But you could be setting yourself up for a scam.

To help make sure your adoption journey is a successful one, we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts of searching for expectant mothers online.

Don’t do it on your own

Let’s just address this right now. Because of the complexity and legalities of adoption, it is best to have an adoption professional involved in the process. They will make sure the adoption is legally sound and that all requirements have been met.  An adoption professional can also talk to a potential birth mother to make sure she isn’t trying to scam you and ensure that she is emotionally prepared for the adoption process through counseling services. Expectant mothers can rest easy knowing that adoptive parents working with an adoption professional have met all the necessary requirements, rather than feeling she needs to trust a couple she met online.

Working with a professional is safest for the birth mother, safest for you and safest for the baby.

Do share your story across various social media platforms

The more you share your story, the more people will see it. The more people who see it, the higher your chances of finding a woman who wants to place her child for adoption.

When sharing your story, you should be honest about who you are, don’t sugar coat things or exaggerate things in the hopes of making yourself seem more “appealing.” Pregnant women considering adoption can often see through this façade. Show your true self and you will find the child who was meant to be in your arms.

Don’t seek out birth mothers using hashtags, forums or support groups

Many hopeful adoptive families will “stalk” various forums, support groups or hashtags, looking for a woman considering adoption. They may then bombard her with uninvited offers to adopt her child. Besides being insensitive, this method is just plain creepy.

If a pregnant woman is specifically asking for adoptive families to reach out to her, then, by all means, do so. But don’t contact a woman who isn’t asking to be contacted. Instead, ask the admin of the forum or support group if you can post your story to the group. This way a potential birth mother can come to you if she thinks you might be the right fit for her child.

Do offer support to pregnant women who may want you to adopt their child

If a pregnant woman reaches out to you, be kind and courteous. Offer her your support without being judgmental of her current circumstances. Maybe suggest a support group she can join or an unplanned pregnancy hotline where she can ask questions and get information on the adoption process.

Don’t send money or gifts to a woman whose child you wish to adopt

Besides being illegal in many states, sending money directly to a pregnant woman whose child you wish to adopt could be part of scam. Many adoption scammers will act as though they want to place their child with you in the hopes that you will send them money. After doing so, many hopeful adoptive families never hear from the woman again.

If a pregnant woman asks you to send a money order, check, cash or any other form of money, please contact an adoption professional before proceeding.

The adoption process can be long and stressful. The last thing you want to do is add the stress of an adoption scam. Doing your due diligence in the beginning can save you headache and heartache in the future.


Is Your Adoption Agency the Right Fit for You?

Like any other professional you seek out, the first adoption agency or professional you choose to work with may not be the right fit for your family. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine if you and your agency are a good fit for each other:

“Do our values align with the values of the agency?”

If your religious values are very important to you on this journey, you might want to consider using a religion-based adoption agency. If you are uncomfortable using an agency with no religious affiliation, there are many adoption agencies out there that cater specifically to Christian, Jewish, or Muslim adoptive families.

Maybe it isn’t the religious aspects that are important to you, but you do value the philanthropic aspects of an adoption agency. In this case you would want to find a non-profit agency or one that participates in other philanthropic endeavors like birth parent scholarships or 24-hour counseling services.  If your core values clash with those of the agency or professional, you may begin to lose faith in your agency, which can make the adoption journey that much more difficult.

“Are we willing to adjust our preferences to shorten our wait time?”

Every adoptive family that chooses to work with American Adoptions fills out an Adoption Planning Questionnaire, or APQ. The APQ lists all your preferences for your adoption from your budget to the desired race of your child. Those with less flexibility on their APQ tend to experience longer wait times while those with more flexibility tend to experience shorter wait times. We don’t want any of our families to wait any longer than necessary, so we encourage families to be more flexible in their APQ preferences.

Things that can shorten your wait time include: opening up to more races, expanding your medical history preferences, and increasing your overall adoption budget. If you are unwilling to make any changes to shorten your wait time, you may want to consider a different adoption professional or another type of adoption.

“What level of contact do we want to have with our agency?”

Depending on the size and location of your agency, it may not be feasible for you to have a sit-down meeting with your adoption specialist, so you may instead do your communicating via phone or email. Because American Adoptions is a national adoption agency that works with families across the country it is not often possible for our families to visit the office. Our adoption specialists communicate with families mainly via phone and email. If it is important for you to meet your adoption professional face-to-face, a smaller, local agency will probably be a better fit for you.

Are You Uncomfortable with Your Adoption Professional or Are You Uncomfortable with an Aspect of Adoption?

At the end of the day, you should feel as though you and your adoption professional “click.”

You should also feel comfortable with the aspects of the type of adoption that you’re pursuing, otherwise you might want to reconsider your family-building options. Prospective adoptive parents should feel comfortable with the idea of having a relationship with their child’s birth family if the expectant parents request an open adoption, as most do. Adoption requires adoptive parents to become comfortable with their child not looking like them, and to forego many of the traditional experiences of pregnancy and childbirth.

Is there something about the adoption professional that doesn’t feel right to you? Is there something about adoption that you haven’t quite been able to make peace with?

Deciding whether or not to pursue adoption or a particular adoption professional is a major decision and demands introspection and honesty.

Is adoption right for you?

Are you and this adoption professional a good fit for each other?


Adoption Shaming

With the power of social media, parents are able to share every aspect of their lives with the click of a button. You can share cute photos of your children, parenting hacks, or stories of your daily life. It’s a great way to keep family and friends up-to-date on your life, but it has also opened the door for a troubling new trend: parent shaming.

As peoples’ lives have become public via social media, other parents, friends, relatives and even strangers have taken to shaming parents for the choices they make in raising their kids. From breastfeeding vs. formula feeding to private vs. public school and everything in between.

Unfortunately, for those in the adoption community, it doesn’t stop there. Lately, we’ve heard from several of our adoptive families that have experienced adoption shaming. We’ve heard stories of families being criticized for not trying IVF or other fertility treatments. We’ve heard of families being shamed for adopting from foster care or internationally, or for adopting domestically. We’ve even heard from families who were criticized for adopting a child outside their race or ethnicity.

At American Adoptions, we believe there is no “right” way to build a family; and it’s time we stop shaming others for the way they become parents.

One of the most beautiful things about the human race is that no two beings are the same. We are all free to think different thoughts and make different decisions. And yes, we are also free to make judgements toward others. But where is the good in that? Who is it helping?

Dealing with the Haters

For those of you who have been a victim of adoption shaming here is our advice for handling the negativity.

  1. Think before you respond

Before you hit send on that ranting reply, take a minute to think about what you’re saying. It’s all too easy to respond to the haters by shaming them for their own parenting/adoption decisions. But this just turns into a vicious circle of shaming.  Instead, take a moment to calm down before responding. Take this opportunity to support their parenting decisions, even if you don’t entirely agree with them.

  1. Respond…with kindness

Thank them for their input/concern/advice. Tell him or her that you are glad that option worked for them, but that’s not what was best for your family.

  1. Educate

In some cases, adoption shaming stems from a lack of knowledge. Maybe your well-intentioned family doesn’t realize the high cost of the fertility treatments they are suggesting. Our best advice for these situations is to share the realities of fertility treatments. If possible, let them know that these treatments aren’t the best option for everyone.

  1. Tell them to butt out

In a nice way, of course. The truth of the matter is that the reasons you chose to grow your family the way you did is no one’s business but your own. If you’re not comfortable broaching the topic, or if they’re just being rude, it’s ok to tell them you’d rather not talk about it.

Stopping the Trend

To stop adoption shaming, you have to start with yourself. If you find yourself being critical of another parent, take a minute to remember that they are coming from a different place than you are. Their journey to adoption was different than yours. They may have different values, priorities or preferences than you.

Remember, there is no “right” way to become parents. And it is never your place to tell another adoptive family that they are doing it “wrong”. Instead, be supportive of other families and reassure them that they are doing the best they can. We’re all on a journey and we can use all the support we can get.

Share to help stop the hate within the adoption community, and promote supportive attitudes!


The 6 Most Annoying Things Waiting Adoptive Parents Hear

1. “I could never give up my child.”

Adopted children are not “given up,” they are placed with adoptive families in an act of unending love from their birth parents.
A birth mother may not have a safe environment to raise a child, or she may not be financially able to provide for her child in the way she would like. Whatever her reasoning, it is a decision that takes strength and courage. Unless you’ve been in her shoes, keep your judgements to yourself.

2. “Will you love a child that isn’t yours?”

Biology is the least of what makes someone a parent. Love is what makes someone a parent.
Once you adopt a child, he or she will be your own in every way. There is no distinguishing between the love of a biological parent and an adoptive parent, both are fierce and unending. To suggest that an adoptive parent’s love will be anything less is simply rude.

3. “What if the child has issues?”

This question is completely insensitive and downright hurtful.
It is wrong to assume that adopted children will be ill or cause problems. And the truth of the matter is that any child (biological or adopted) can face any number of issues in their life. Should the child have any sort of health issue, that will be for the parents to handle in their own way, just as you would handle your child’s illness.

4. “OMG it is taking forever!”

Waiting adoptive parents don’t need a reminder of how long they process is taking. If the process seems long to you, it seems 1,000 times longer to an adoptive parent.
Adoptive families have no control over the process, and they especially have no control over how long they wait. Most adoptive families will do anything to take their mind off of the waiting and the last thing they need is for you to bring it up.

5. “Why can’t you have your own baby?”

There are many reasons for choosing adoption and infertility is only one of those reasons. In fact, adoption may be the first choice for some couples.
Not only is it insensitive to assume a couple is having fertility issues, but for those experiencing it, infertility is generally a very sensitive topic. Adoption is not a consolation prize. Not to mention the implication of the phrase “your own.”

6. “Why don’t you just adopt from ~insert country here~”

International adoption isn’t for everyone. Maybe it’s due to finances, maybe it’s a personal preference. Either way, it’s not your place to question their choices.

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