Your adoption agency is your lifeline throughout the adoption process. A good adoption professional will offer support, protection, guidance and encouragement when you need it most. And you’ll need it, because this process is unlike anything else.
For the same reason, you may feel confused as to how your interactions with your adoption agency should go and how frequent they should be. This is, like we said, unlike any other process you’ve been through. How can you set expectations for communication so that everyone is satisfied?
Every agency, and every adoption process, is unique. Some professionals are going to communicate more than others. It’s never a bad idea to simply ask this question at the beginning and let your adoption specialist give you a clear, personal picture.
What they are likely going to tell you is that frequency of communication depends on the part of the process you are in. For instance, you’re going to be talking with your agency on a regular basis while completing the home study, but this will change once you become an active waiting family.
Here, broken down by steps along the way during the process, is how often you can expect to hear from your adoption agency.
At first, it’s actually the adoption agency who will be hearing a lot from you. One of the most important decisions you’ll make at the beginning of the process is choosing an agency to work with. This should involve a lot of questions and several phone calls until you feel confident in your choice.
Pay attention to which agencies reach back out to you and are always welcoming when you want to talk. This is an indicator for future communication. If you feel rushed off the phone or begrudgingly answered during this time, you’re likely to feel frustrated later on when the pressure is turned up. Your initial contact with an agency should leave you feeling safe, encouraged and listened to.
Becoming an Active Waiting Family
This is typically the stage of the process with the most communication. Once you have chosen an adoption agency to work with, you’ll dive into the process of becoming an active waiting family — which is the term for families whose adoption profiles are being shown to prospective birth mothers. Before you get there, you need to complete several important requirements.
You’ll fill out your Adoption Planning Questionnaire, or APQ, which is your guideline for the adoption. In your APQ, you’ll lay out what you are hoping for during the process. This includes the level of openness you feel comfortable with, the medical history you are prepared to accept and more. You will be in communication with your agency throughout this time.
This stage of the process also involves the home study for adoption. During the home study, a social worker will conduct a review of your living situation and home life to ensure that a placement with your family will be in the best interests of a child. If you’re like most families, you’ll have a lot of questions during this time. And if you’re working with a good agency, they’ll have a lot of answers.
The third big part of becoming an active waiting family is creating an adoptive family profile. This is a chance to put your best self on display, as the profile is what prospective birth mothers will see when deciding whether or not to choose you to adopt their baby. At American Adoptions, our media specialists work closely with families to create the print and photo portion of the profile. We also partner with Show Pro Media, a group of excellent visual storytellers who help each of our families to create a video profile. During this time, you can expect a good amount of communication.
Then comes the hard part. Once your APQ is filled out, the home study completed and the profile finished, your adoption specialist will begin showing your profile to prospective birth mothers. At this point, most families experience a drop-off in communication. This isn’t bad — there’s just not as much to say. All that’s left to do is wait until a prospective birth mother chooses you.
Of course, it’s okay to follow up with questions. Your adoption specialist may also contact you occasionally with updates. However, you should expect to rarely hear from your adoption specialist at this time. They are hard at work trying to find the perfect adoption opportunity for you.
From the Adoption Opportunity to the Hospital
The amount of time you wait will vary. American Adoptions takes many proactive steps to decrease the average wait times for our families. On average, hopeful parents with American Adoptions receive an adoption opportunity within a year; some adoptive parents will obviously have to wait longer, while others will be placed quickly.
When you do hear from your adoption specialist with an adoption opportunity, it will likely be the best phone call of your life. Your adoption specialist will present you with the opportunity and it will be up to you to accept it. At this point, communication with the agency ramps back up.
What happens next will be completely unique to your adoption journey. Depending on the level of openness and how far along she is in her pregnancy, you may get to know the prospective birth mother or you may not. Since most adoptions are at least semi-open, you will likely be in contact with the adoption agency as you set up conference calls involving the agency and the prospective birth mother.
During this time, you’ll begin preparing for the day your baby comes home. At some point, you’ll get another amazing phone call, this time telling you that it is time to travel to the hospital. Before traveling, you will be presented with a hospital plan. This was created by the birth mother, with the help of the adoption agency, and it is your guide for how the hospital stay will go. You will likely be in consistent contact with your agency during this time.
You’ll be placed with your baby at the hospital after the birth mother gives her official consent to adoption. This indescribable moment is truly life-changing, and you’ll realize as you hold your child that all of the work and the long wait were worth it.
From Placement to Finalization
There are a few steps left in the adoption process after you are placed with your baby at the hospital. A social worker, often the same one who was present for your initial home study, will conduct a series of post-placement visits to verify that everyone is adjusting well. Then, typically six months after placement, you will visit your county courthouse to receive a final decree of adoption, which is the legal end of the adoption process.
From placement to finalization, you will still be in contact with your adoption specialist, although not as frequently. You have plenty of other things to focus on during this time, first and foremost being a parent and enjoying the precious first months of your time as a family.
All along the way, your adoption agency will be there to help. You can call 1-800-ADOPTION or request more free information about adoption at any time to learn more.