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What is it like to locate your child's birthparents?

Adoptive parents share their experiences: Viewpoints, January/February 2001

Dear Adoptive Families:
My husband and I have decided to adopt a second child. Our first adoption was through an agency that matched us with our son's birthmom. For various reasons, we do not wish to use that agency again. Another agency in our city would handle all legal work, counseling, and the homestudy, but it requires us to identify a birthmother-or birthparents-ourselves. However, I do not relish the task of independently seeking a potential birthmother. Other than letting all of our friends and coworkers know we hope to adopt again, I cannot imagine how to proceed. My questions: how were you matched with a birthmother? Were you comfortable with the process?
An Adoptive Families subscriber

Editor's Note: Adoption laws differ significantly from state to state as to advertising for birthfamilies. It is important to have informed legal counsel in your state before pursuing a birthfamily search.

Reader Recommends Agency Assistance

When my husband and I decided to pursue adoption, we began advertising. We made up business cards with an 800 phone number and a brief description of ourselves and our desire to adopt. We sent it to every family member, friend, business associate, doctor, and acquaintance we thought would be willing to pass along our information.
It was only a couple of weeks before our first response. However, over the next year and a half, we experienced six "failed" adoptions. We flew out of state to meet birthparents, and yet for one reason or another, the adoptions fell through. Then as we were about to give up, we had another contact. Our family doctor called to say he had just delivered a baby to a young woman who intended to place her child for adoption. We met the following morning at the hospital and were told we could adopt the baby the following afternoon.
We have a precious daughter, Kelly Grace, now two-and-a-half years old. For our second adoption, we decided that it was too stressful to make contacts on our own. We are now in process of waiting for a birth parent to choose us from an adoption agency book. We believe that birth parents need the emotional support that an agency can provide during this difficult choice in their lives. Our adoption worker was truly helpful to us, and we greatly appreciate the services provided by the agency to us, the birthparents, and to their families.
Marjorie, Minnesota

Independent Adoption? Once Was Wonderful, But Enough

I advertised for a birthmother and made the connection myself. It was extremely difficult, yet I'm proud that I was able to manage it. It took us nearly three years to adopt. During that time, we had three false starts. Ultimately the outcome was glorious but, for me, it was an excruciating process. I don't think everybody can do this. You have to be resilient, somewhat entrepreneurial, have a solid marriage, and/or a strong support network. In those three years, I had 95 conversations with four prospective birthmothers-and others. If I were to adopt today, I would use an agency to advertise and handle the initial contacts for me.
A woman in the northeast, who adopted her son in June 1993, with her husband

Independent Adoption Is the Route We Would Choose Again

We adopted independently. We advertised, and told everyone that we hoped to adopt. At first, I found taking phone calls very stressful. Several leads did not work out, and I received one prank phone call that was terribly upsetting. Eventually, we were contacted by our daughter's birthmother, as she entered her second trimester. Early on I was nervous, then I became more comfortable as I got to know the woman over several months. As a result of our friendship, I have so much to tell our daughter about her birthmother when she is ready. When our daughter was born, I was in the delivery room.
We used a local attorney and a social worker, both of whom were tremendously helpful. Our birthmother had both an attorney and social worker, and was treated with great respect. We learned so much, and above all else, we know that most birthmothers seek the very best for their unborn babies.
A couple in the northeast, who adopted a daughter in October 1999

Russian Adoption Healed Our Broken Hearts

When we began our domestic adoption journey in late 1997, our attorney estimated that the process would take 12 to 18 months and would cost about $12,000. Two years and $25,000 later, we were heartbroken and broke. We had first spent more than $3,500 for advertising, but we received few responses. Next, we hired an adoption coordinator to advertise for us. With her assistance, we were very involved with three successive birthmothers. In each case, for different reasons, we were left childless. In the last case, after caring for the baby at the hospital at the birthmother's request for several days, we were completely devastated to learn from our lawyer that she had changed her mind and left the hospital with the baby. At that point, we were emotionally drained and unable to continue on a path laden with so much uncertainty and loss.
Two weeks later, we went to an adoption conference, and attended sessions of parents who had adopted from Russia. It was really difficult to listen, and we had to hold back tears. We decided right there to start, and on September 30, 2000, nine months after initiating the paperwork, we returned from Moscow with our precious little daughter. After three long years and a total cost of $50,000, we are finally home with our child. If we had to do it all over again-and we might-we would never even consider domestic adoption.
A couple in suburban New York, who adopted their daughter in September 2000

Independent Adoption-A Single Mom's Blessing

I wanted a newborn. Still, as a single woman, I wondered if domestic adoption was viable for me. In 1997, information gained at adoption meetings during the winter holiday season inspired me to try. By the end of January 1998, I had retained an attorney, completed my homestudy interview, and hired an adoption consultant to place my ads and screen calls. In April, at the end of the recommended two-week advertising blitz, I had three potential matches. Although two were not heard from again, one became my son's birthmother. We spoke often, and I flew out to meet her in June. We both hoped I would return for the delivery, but that was precluded by the baby's early arrival. My adoption consultant was terrific, and I attribute the ease of this process to her.
A single woman in the northeast, who adopted her son in August 1998

The Query's Author Found Her Answer

Dear Adoptive Families:
When I submitted my question, I was really struggling with how to locate a baby in an ethical manner. We had been matched so perfectly with our first child's birthfamily. I could not imagine this happening again. Ultimately, I created a list on the Internet for people of our religious faith who want to adopt. This resource offers networking opportunities and support to those who share our values and beliefs. It has filled a need for others-and us. In August, my husband and I were chosen by a woman due to give birth in November.
So, my advice to those in the same situation we were in just a few months ago: find a niche. Examine your life and see what makes you unique. Seek others who share your values. You all may just help each other fulfill your dreams. Our son Mason was born on November 12, 2000!
Melissa and Michael

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