Today I’m going to share with you what was perhaps the most important key to my adoption success. That may sound grandiose, but it might even be an understatement.
First, some background information: after over 30 years of working in and assisting adoptive parents and birth parents in their adoption needs, I have seen what successful families do and what the families that struggle and spend too much money have not done.
The successful, hopeful parents spend time learning about adoption, the process, and what it takes to be successful and then apply it to their own adoption. In my estimate, only 35% of prospective adoptive families have focused actively on learning about adoption.
These parents read adoption books, attend webinars about adoption, and attend adoption seminars and educational, informational meetings. They ask important questions of successful adoptive families, adoption professionals, adoption agencies, and adoption attorneys.
Their goal is to find new and better ways to improve their results and become more successful in a shorter time. They are focused on completely understanding what they are embarking on in their adoption.
Not surprisingly, this 35% are the parents who are more successful than other parents, who often just give up or don’t do anything. Since you’re reading this, chances are you’re either in that 35% or moving towards entering this successful group. Congratulations on a job well done, and a child depends on you to find them. The key is education and action. Here are 7 valuable adoption tips to help you find success:
1. Learn from those who are already successful in adoption.
Don’t take advice from people who haven’t “been there, done that.” Unfortunately, plenty of people who give advice are wrong. They have opinions but not in-the-trenches experience in adopting.
Often, if they have never adopted or have not adopted for several years, you will find that the methods, laws, and experiences of adoption have changed. Following the advice of these people can be frustrating and a waste of your time. Even worse, it can lead you down the wrong path.
Avoid taking advice from Aunt Polly, co-worker Charles, or your neighbor unless Polly, Charles, or your neighbor has been through a successful adoption recently. Often, people who haven’t adopted are naysayers and their (perhaps unintentional) goal is to discourage you from succeeding. Don’t let them!
My own mother wasn’t very positive about adoption until we had our son in our arms, and she could see how wonderful adoption can be. Some people are uneducated about adoption and learn what they know from negative media instead of reality. Most adoptions go very well and without problems. Unfortunately, the media knows fear and drama sell, even if it represents only a small portion of the adoption experience.
2. Read and listen, then take action and move forward.
As you read or listen, always ask yourself: “How can I apply this to my adoption journey?” Take notes. If you don’t take action and apply what you learn, “the knowledge in the book will stay in the book” — and you won’t benefit. Be sure to invest some time into reading books and websites about adoption and attending webinars. Head to AdoptionWebinar.com for webinars and interviews you can watch.
3. Spend time each week learning more about adoption.
As humans, we spend between three and eight hours each week learning new things. Make the time to learn about this important step in your life; it’s the key to your success. For instance, knowing the laws in your state and basic adoption terms can help prevent you from spending unnecessary money by asking an attorney to explain simple terms you can learn the meaning of and understand on your own.
Work on your adoption budget and determine how you will fund your adoption. To get ideas on how you can find funds and raise money, visit the Adoption Fundraising section of this blog.
4. Don’t let perfectionism stand in your way.
I tend to be a perfectionist, and adoption is one area where you can’t wait for the perfect time to start. You don’t have to learn everything at once.
Start with adoption terms, and then move on to adoption law in your state. (You can do a Google search for current law by entering into your browser “New York family law.”) When you find something you have questions about, write it down, research it and ask others.
Again, don’t try to be faultless. Just take it one step (or topic) at a time. When we were adopting, I took one hour a day and devoted it to learning about adoption. I did this by reading, speaking to others that had adopted, and seeking out adoption professionals.
5. Learn about the type of adoption you are interested in.
As you are doing this, you will find you are saving money. The money you put into reading books will more than save you in legal costs, errors in decision making, and spotting red flags in an adoption. At the end of your adoption, you will look at the total amount you spent learning about adoption and how much value you acquired for the money.
I have also noticed that the informed family makes better adoption decisions, is less stressed, and communicates better with birth parents. Overall, they have a much better experience in their adoption than those who did very little to understand the adoption process and what birth parents feel and would like in an adoption. It’s an amazing investment.
6. Hire the best and most qualified adoption professionals.
Judge the value, not the price. Often, the higher-priced, tried and true adoption professional with a proven track record of success will give you much more value and less heartache than someone less expensive, which, in fact, can be a comparative bargain.
Compare adoption services and successes, and take your time when doing your research. Just a few weeks of research can pay off tremendously. Always check an adoption professional’s rating on the Better Business Bureau and ask other adoptive parents for suggestions.
7. Enjoy the journey to your child through adoption.
Learning is fun — enjoy the process. Relax with this knowledge. Moving closer to your dream of a successful adoption and parenting is possible and attainable. Start today, you’ll never regret the experience.
Because life today requires us to work smarter, do things faster, and know more, we want information processed in a shorter time frame. It is easy to be caught up in the whirlwind of technology and become overwhelmed.
That is why having a road map and a simple guide is important. I wrote AdoptingOnline.com after repeated requests from hopeful parents. Then, I went on to write several more books about adoption, including Adoption: Your Step-by-Step Guide, Called to Adoption, and So I Was Thinking About Adoption.
These books are a wonderful resource for busy people that need adoption information and don’t have endless hours to research. I hear people comment on the help my books have brought them and encouragement to get started and succeed.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on April 30, 2008, and has since been updated.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”