This guest post is by Amanda Grant, founder of USAdopt.
One of the most frequent mistakes people make when they are in the early days of their adoption journey is to choose the wrong agency or attorney – one that is not a match for their personal adoption objectives.
This mistake can cost you precious time, money (usually not refundable) and unnecessary stress. The good news is that it’s one of the easiest problems to avoid.
Choosing the right agency or attorney the first time will pave the way for the most positive and successful adoption experience you can have.
I’ve divided the initial part of the process to find the right agency or attorney into three steps.
Step 1: Stop
The key to getting it right the first time is to make five of the key adoption decisions BEFORE you select your adoption professional. In fact, your choices regarding the following five items should combine to determine which professional you will work with.
Each of these five key considerations are complex and there are many questions that you need to think through for each of them in order to come to the decision that is right for you. Also, and very importantly, many of these decisions are dependent upon each other.
Here are five key decisions and just a few of the questions you can use to make your decisions:
What is your adoption budget? It’s more than just a number or a dollar range. It also includes how long you are willing to wait for a child, if you plan to advertise and for how long, what if any additional financial assistance you are willing to offer a birth family, and if you will work with more than one agency and/or attorney. Equally important to analyze is how you will afford supporting a child.
2) Number of children
How many children would you like to adopt? Would you consider adopting siblings (twins or a newborn and older sibling)? Do you already have one or more children? How would the adoption of one or more children impact your existing child(ren)?
3) Ethnicity and race
Do you have a preference for the race and/or ethnicity of the child you adopt? Why? If you adopt a child with skin color or ethnic traditions/beliefs different from yours how will you help that child embrace who they are while being different from your existing family? Are you comfortable taking a hard look at your own prejudices? How will your child be received by your friends, family and community?
4) Geographic location
Are you able or willing to adopt a child from a state other than where you reside? Will you be able to travel for your child’s birth and to remain in state until the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is approved (several days to several weeks)? Will you be able to travel to the child’s birth family’s state of residence for future visits if you are engaging in an open adoption? Can your budget afford the potential travel costs?
5) Level of communication with birth family
Do you understand the differences between open, semi-open and closed adoptions? How would your family feel about open or closed adoption? Have you learned about the impact of this decision on your child’s identity and his or her birth family?
Step 2: Pause
If you haven’t answered each of these questions then it is premature for you to sign a contract with an agency or an attorney. Not only that, but by doing so you risk losing money, time and a very significant emotional investment if you choose the wrong organization or individual.
Step 3: Go!
Once you know where you stand on each of these five key considerations you can think through whether an attorney, agency or a combination of both would be the best fit for your adoption — another important decision and one that requires you to compare how each of these professionals work and your own expectations.
Knowing whether and attorney or agency will be a better fit for you, you can begin researching specific professionals and interviewing them to evaluate their services, fees and style of working with clients.
Now you’ve made five of your key decisions, decided if an attorney or agency is right for your adoption and selected the agency or attorney, you’re ready to sign a contract and begin your official adoption process!
Amanda Grant founded USAdopt to help people achieve their dreams of adopting children. Based on years of research and her personal experience as an adoptive parent, Amanda developed adoption education tools to guide people through the process more quickly and confidently while reducing risk and cost. The organization combines Amanda’s life-long commitment to serving others with the management expertise gained during her 20+ year career as a senior officer in the institutional investment business.