Why Finding A Baby On Craigslist Isn’t As Crazy As It Sounds–And Other Domestic Adoption Networking Lessons

I haven’t checked Craigslist today. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a sudden spike in the number of ads by waiting adoptive parents over the weekend.

Why? Because of a Minnesota couple named Tracey and Dan Citron. To most people, their names won’t ring a bell. But for couples and singles hoping to adopt, the Citrons are the luckiest people in the world.

As you may have read on Friday, not only were they matched with a baby. The match came through Craigslist.

Craigslist? You mean that place where you buy used furniture and CDs? Yep, that one.

When people think of adoption matches, Craigslist probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind. In fact, when one adoption service heard the news about the Citrons, it asked, “How and why did the birthmother even think to look for adoptive parents on Craigslist?”

But think about it for a moment: If you wanted to reach out to someone, wouldn’t you do it at a place where you know that person hangs out? And today, more and more people are hanging out online. According to the latest survey, 72 percent of all Americans are on the Internet. People live their lives there. It’s where they find jobs, love–so, why not a baby?

Prospective birth parents are online

Prospective birth parents, in particular, have grown up in the digital age. When they have a question, where do they go? To the the Web. So it only makes sense that when they’re looking for adoptive parents, they would go there, too.

If you’re trying to build your family through open adoption, your first stop should always be an agency. It can prepare your home study and provide all of the much-needed pre- and post-adoption education and support. And it can make sure that everything about your placement is above board, regardless of where it comes from.

But not every agency does outreach. And many charge extra for it. And yet even even if your agency does online networking with prospective birth mothers, what’s to say you can’t do your own?

First of all, when it comes to connecting with expectant parents, there’s no such thing as too much exposure. Second, it’s like anything else: if you want something to happen, you have to do it yourself. Yes, the Citrons were lucky. But as we’ve written before, in open adoption you make your own luck.

Hopeful adoptive parents need to market themselves

And don’t forget: as great as many agencies are, not every expectant mother is ready to work with one–or wants to. Sometimes, she may want to take things into her own hands and look for adoptive parents on her own, in the comfort and privacy of her home.

Judging by the number of waiting adoptive parents who are creating their own personal sites, that message seems to be catching on. To be sure, there are still many waiting parents who are uncomfortable with the idea of marketing themselves online. And that’s fine.

Like so much about open adoption, it’s a personal choice. But more and more couples and singles are taking control of their adoption searches by spreading the word through Facebook, Twitter or online meeting places like ours–and finding success.

“Crazy!” said one of our Twitter followers when we told them about the Citrons. But is it? Hundreds of hopeful adoptive parents who are going through the domestic adoption process already have links to their parent profile on their Facebook page. Is adding one to Craigslist any different?

Get your adoption agency involved

Craigslist lacks Facebook’s reach and level of engagement. But ugly graphics aside, its free, local, highly-targeted ads are nothing to sniff at. Still, it’s not without its risks. Craigslist, as we all know, is a hotbed for scams, including adoption scams. Proceed with caution and if you have any questions, get your adoption worker involved right away.

And keep in mind: just because you reach out to expectant mothers doesn’t mean they’ll find you. As great as Craigslist or Facebook are, most expectant mothers who are looking to connect with adoptive parents will visit an adoption website first. And thanks to IP screening services like ours, the odds of you getting scammed are significantly less.

But at the end of the day, whether you build your family through an adoption networking website, an adoption agency site or one that sells used furniture and CDs, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you’ve built your family.

So while Craigslist and other alternative websites may not be the first places you may consider in your networking efforts, an increasing number of prospective birth mothers are flocking there. Just ask the Citrons. As Tracey told a reporter: “Everything happens for a reason. If we were to do it again, and I don’t think we will at this point, I wouldn’t do anything differently.”

(Photo credit: Theogeo)