The Secret of Success in Open Adoption

This guest post is by Michelle Erich at Michelle Erich Law.

To find success in open adoption, you have to spread the word about your dream to adopt and communicate effectively. In my experience as an adoption attorney over the past two decades, I’ve found that successful adoption efforts are more about open communication than
anything else.

Hopeful adoptive parents frequently ask me if wealth, religion, ethnicity or age are factors that may aid or hinder adoption efforts.  I can tell you that I have had parents chosen who were all colors and ethnicities from early twenties to mid sixties, strongly religious to atheistic, owning multiple high end homes in select locales or renting a double wide in a mobile home park.

These differences don’t matter as much as good communication does.  There is likely someone who will relate to you, if they just get a chance to meet you. Be visible and able to verbalize your desire to grow a family through adoption. The more you talk about it, the better you’ll be able to convey your reasons to a birthmother.

Share your adoption goals

Be willing to share your adoption goals with your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances. Talk to people at your gym, your church, temple, or synagogue, the bowling alley, golf course or softball field.

Tell your doctor, your postman/woman, your pharmacist, your auto repairman, the guy who installs your cable, and the shopper behind you in line. You don’t have to force it, but if you keep your adoption agenda firmly in the forefront of your thinking, it will find a way naturally into conversations.

I had a client, Anne, call me in a state of both disbelief and joy. She was carrying a small bag of groceries and noticed a very pregnant young woman struggling with a full cart and toddler. Stowing her things in her car, Anne walked over and offered to help. While the young mother buckled her child into the car seat, Anne loaded the groceries into the back seat and offered some friendly small talk.

The mother thanked her and my client inquired about her due date. The response was, “I’m due in two weeks. I’m not married, my boy friend left, and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I can’t handle two kids on my own.” Anne asked, “Have you considered adoption?” The reply was, “Yeah, I thought about that, but I don’t know where to begin, and I’d want to stay in contact, you know?”

You can guess the rest. Two weeks later my client became a mom, the desperate young mom had a new friend and was happy to have an open adoption and baby sitter for her toddler on occasion! Another client heard a co-worker on the phone with her sister who had just learned her 16-year-old was pregnant. My client passed a Post-it note: “Remember, I want to ADOPT!” She went on to become the mother of that baby!

When you find a match, arrange an adoption plan

Internet communication is a subject into itself.  Cautionary tales are many and should not be ignored. Do not reveal too much private information, do not give money, goods, or services to an internet stranger.

If it looks like you have found an adoption match, you need a representative to arrange the terms of the adoption plan, including any financial assistance that you might provide as allowed by the laws of your state. Consult an attorney, an adoption facilitator if your state allows them, or an agency to assist you and protect your pocket book, your emotions, and your legal rights.

To the extent that your finances allow, spread your net with several adoption attorneys or facilitators.  Most agencies have a clause in their contracts that say when you get a child (regardless of the source), they have met all obligations, meaning the fees you have paid are gone, and a second adoption means starting over.

Get a cost breakdown from your adoption professionals

This can make it too costly to list with more than one agency, but many attorneys and facilitators charge only a relatively minimal amount to be listed, can assist you in obtaining an home study, and can explain independent, open adoptions.

Do your homework before deciding. In my county the cost to be included on the list can run $2,500 to $10,000, with additional fees due upon introduction to a birthmother. Agencies are generally much higher whether you ever get an introduction or not.

But don’t worry about these generalities, make some calls and get current facts and figures. Consultations are generally free. Just be sure you have the entire cost breakdown, before you decide.

If you are active, healthy, and free of any criminal background, your odds of success rise the more you reach out! Good luck adopting!

Michelle Erich is an open adoption attorney in Ventura, California with more than 20 years of experience working with expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents. You can find out more about her and her services at Michelle Erich Law.

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Photo: Nisha A