This guest post is by Nicole.
It’s been three years since we first started down the path of open adoption and I’ve learned so much along the way. Here are 10 key lessons that I want to share with you.
1. The wait is harder than expected
When we went into our workshops we heard about the wait. We thought, “it can’t be any different or worse than all the waiting we’ve done already.”
WRONG. This is a different kind of waiting, one that I don’t think anyone going into an open adoption journey envisions. Some people are lucky to match quickly while others take much longer. We hope that ours will come soon but who can say when it will happen.
2. Getting contacted by an expectant mother is exciting (even if the lead doesn’t pan out)
There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with every call, email, or text. You think, “this could be it. This could be the lead we’ve been waiting for.” But most of the leads don’t pan out. And unfortunately, a lot of them turn out to be wrong numbers and scammers. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Watch out for the scammers!
We were warned about scammers, but it’s just awful when you hear from them. Even though you may have dealt with them before, you’ve got to go through the whole process all over again just in case they may be the real deal.
You realize that scam artists don’t only prey on hopeful adoptive parents for money. They also do it for emotional satisfaction. I’ve been very lucky to have noticed them fairly quickly, but others haven’t. I wish they could be prosecuted more often than they are. Adoption is hard enough without these sick people adding to it.
4. Just be yourself
This is a lesson I learned early in the process. It is easy to want to be that perfect image of the person you think an expectant mom might want to know.
We fell into the trap of creating a list of things we liked to do and believed in. But it wasn’t us so we ditched it. We know we’re not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s ok. We have to be who we are so that expectant moms can see what life would be like with us.
5. You need to be on social media
We were initially opposed to getting involved in social media because we were concerned about what could go wrong. I was especially worried about dealing with internet trolls or people I didn’t want to find me.
But what we’ve learned is that you can’t wait for someone to discover you through a website. You need to be on social media. But use your best judgment. If you really can’t do Facebook or Twitter then market yourself in other ways. Social media is just one way to do it. But the more marketing you can do the better.
6. Facilitators, advertising, and marketing are confusing
They’re confusing because the laws and rules vary by state. This is just one more thing you have to learn about when you’re waiting to adopt. Some states allow facilitators but not ads, while other states allow everything except classified ads or Craigslist.
It makes zero sense. This is an area of open adoption that needs to be changed. It isn’t fair to penalize people based on where they live. We should all have the same rights in marketing our adoption journey through websites, internet ads, and facilitators if that’s the path we choose.
7. Your website always needs to be visible
The placement of your website matters quite a bit when it comes to being seen by potential birth parents. Depending on the parameters used by the searcher, hundreds of profiles can come up, and it can be overwhelming to say the least. Keeping your profile updated with new pictures, journal entries, etc is just one way to keep it fresh.
8. Keeping a blog can help open up new possibilities
I used to keep my emotions inside my head, but not anymore. Although I’m not a writer by nature, I started jotting down random thoughts in notepads and started a blog because Facebook and Twitter weren’t enough to get my thoughts across.
My blog isn’t necessarily all adoption all the time but hopefully it gives a glimpse of where we have come from, where we are going, and will provide a record of the journey for our family, friends, and most importantly, our future child.
9. Last minute hospital lists are irritating
A last minute hospital list is a list that you can join through your agency after you’ve been waiting for a placement for at least a year. If a birth mother calls the agency from the hospital during labor or afterwards, it automatically becomes a last minute situation, and the only profiles she’ll be shown are those of waiting parents who live within a four-hour drive.
That’s fine if you live in a small state. But we live in Washington and our agency is in North California. So while we could be there in 5-6 hours, we can’t make the four-hour window, and so we’re not eligible. However, the national list (which we can join 18 months from now) allows you a 24-hour window, and you can be sure we’ll be on it if we haven’t been matched by then.
10. The adoption community is a great place to find support
When we first started looking at adoption it was difficult to find even the slightest bit of information. Now with the internet you can find whatever you’re looking for with the help of a few simple keywords.
Doing research is so much easier and there’s a real community for everyone in the triad. Adoption is no longer some secret thing that happens. It’s an everyday way of life, and we can all connect to each other no matter where we live in the world. I love that! It’s been an unexpected bonus to our journey.
In short, while we are happy with our journey so far and have learned so much, there has been room for improvement. My advice is be prepared, read everything you can and write down questions for your agency or lawyer if something troubles you. And that includes any contacts you get from interested parties along the way.
Nicole and her husband, Don, live in Washington State.
Are you waiting to adopt?
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