Open adoption is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time — some would say, a lifetime — to fully understand. Most people have a vague idea about what’s involved in the process. But without a doubt the ones who understand it best are those who have adopted or are trying to adopt now.
That’s why we’ve been asking hopeful adoptive parents from our Find A Family Parent Registry to share their open adoption experiences, stories and advice. Here are some of the people and topics we’ve tapped over the past month:
- Don and Preetha: The Challenges A South Asian Couple Is Facing In Open Adoption
- Andrea and Scott: Online Adoption Networking: What We’ve Done
- Tracy and Micah: How Our Adoption Outreach Plan Got 500+ Facebook Likes
Today, I want to continue our discussion with an interview with another couple from our registry, Susan and Mitch. Together 15+ years, they live in Tustin, California — about 15 minutes away from Disneyland! Susan is a manager at a family business, and Mitch is a manager at a national retailer. Susan enjoys reading and craft projects, especially making beaded jewelry, while Mitch likes to build models and is a fan of baseball and books. When they adopt, they’re hoping to have an ongoing relationship with their child’s birthparents based on trust, honesty, and respect.
Recently I asked them to look back on their journey to date and how they’ve reached out to prospective birthparents.
What are some of the tools you’ve used to reach out to expectant parents considering adoption?
Our outreach efforts are primarily online. We are working with the Independent Adoption Center and have an online profile and printed adoption letters through them. We also have an online profile with America Adopts. Our other online efforts include our own website and blog as well as a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram. We’ve also tried to spread the word with printed contact cards and writing about our adoption plans in our annual Christmas letter.
What kind of response have you had?
The support we received from friends and family has been wonderful. We are grateful for this support and it has kept us going, but beyond that it is taking a lot of time to get our message out to expectant parents who might be considering adoption. So far we have not had any viable contacts and this is frustrating sometimes given that we have put so much time, energy, and information out there.
Which adoption networking tools do you like — or don’t like?
Most of our supporters look to our Facebook page for updates, probably because it was the first tool we tried after creating our IAC profile and letter. We like Facebook for this reason and because we’ve learned more about how to use it effectively as we’ve gone forward. Pinterest is Susan’s favorite because it’s visual. She’s always been interested in art and crafts and was an art history major so pinning images is very natural for her. We also like our blog because it’s a great place to explore topics and feelings in depth. Twitter and Instagram are our least favorite of the online tools, primarily because it doesn’t seem like we’ve learned how to use them effectively yet. We also have mixed feelings about contact cards. They are very helpful when we run into an acquaintance or start talking with someone about our plans, but we find it awkward to distribute them beyond that.
How have your networking efforts helped you cope with the waiting process?
Our efforts definitely keep us busy and this helps to keep our mind off the wait. However, our efforts also make us feel more proactive. It’s easier to accept the wait knowing that we’re doing everything we can to find our match. While we’ve had to come to terms with the fact that our efforts don’t translate into immediate results, it feels much better to be doing something towards our adoption plans every day. We also find that social media channels help to keep us inspired and engaged with the broader adoption community and the world around us. We’re constantly learning new things about adoption, our local area, and our interests with the channels we follow online.
What’s the hardest thing about waiting to adopt?
One of the hardest things about waiting is the anxiety that we should have said or done something differently, and that if we had, we would have matched by now. It’s easy to let that anxiety undermine the hopefulness we, like other prospective adoptive parents, need to keep going.
Besides networking, what else are you doing to stay busy?
We’re letting our jobs keep us pretty busy during the wait, but we’ve also made an effort to try new things and visit new places. We got season passes to the Orange County Fair and memberships to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the San Diego Zoo. We drove up to Las Vegas in July, and in September we did a couple of weekend trips around Southern California. This fall, we’re getting Disneyland annual passes. Right now we’re trying to figure out if we can take in both the live production of “Where the Wild Things Are” at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Miramar Air Show in San Diego, which are both happening on the same weekend.
What have you learned from your adoption journey so far?
We’ve learned that while we have a lot of people supporting us, we have to be our own best advocates. There is a lot involved in finding a match, and if we don’t do it, it won’t get done. Our knowledge of social media, digital photography, and online advertising has grown. We’ve also had the opportunity to learn more about adoption and have come to a greater understanding of the many facets and points of view involved.
What words of advice do you have for other hopeful parents about staying positive and proactive?
Our advice is to hope for the best, a short wait, but be prepared for the long haul if the wait is longer than expected. When we started out, we were sure we would find a match within six months. We just crossed the 17-month mark since we “went live” with IAC. It’s also important to support each other and try new things, both in outreach efforts and having fun. It helps if you try to keep work, life, and networking efforts in balance as much as possible.
Do you have an adoption story?
Share it with us any time. If you’re a hopeful adoptive parent, adoptive parent, birthparent or adoptee with a connection to open adoption, we’d love to hear your story. Submit it here or learn more by checking out our Guidelines For Guest Posts at America Adopts!