1. Do your homework.
Research everything about adoption. Sign up for adoption forums, newsletters, and community boards that are specific to your desired adoption. Online groups offer supportive places to raise questions, express uncertainty, vent frustration, share your successes, and rejoice with others.
2. Develop an online adoption profile that reflects your family.
Mardie Caldwell, author of the book Adoptingonline.com, advises you to describe in detail the qualities that make your family special. Make sure that family photos are close up enough to see your eyes! View other family resumes online before preparing your own. Which photos are most appealing? What colors, designs and layouts draw you?
3. Find a good adoption Website.
“Post your family’s resume with a reputable posting site,” says Caldwell. “Individual postings get much less traffic and are not regularly picked up by the search engines.” Caldwell advises potential adopters to find out exactly which services adoption sites provide and how much they cost. Fees for a basic Internet posting should range between $50 and $100 per month. For a few hundred dollars, you should be able to create a full Web page. Be wary of guarantees that you’ll find a birth mother within a certain amount of time.
4. Hire an experienced adoption lawyer or agency.
Professionals can alert you to potential problems or scams, says Allan Hazlett, former president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. Screen professionals carefully making sure to check references and ask if the lawyer or agency is licensed. When contacting adoption professionals online, request written materials by mail, obtain phone numbers and addresses, and check complaint records with the Better Business Bureau and other agencies. Use an adoption professional to screen birth mother inquiries. Be wary of those who send a number of emails but no way to reach them other than by email. Know that while it is legal is some states to help a birth mother with expenses, demands for payment or a quick decision are a red flag. You and the birth mother should have separate legal representation.
5. Learn about interstate adoption.
Dale Gwilliam, an Arizona attorney with adoption.com, points out that using the Internet broadens exposure to potential birth parents, so it is more likely that an adoption located through the Internet will be an interstate adoption. Although this may increase the overall expense of adoption, it can also decrease waiting times and increase the excitement and adventure that accompanies the adoption experience. States have different adoption laws as far as advertising and other aspects of adoption. Be sure to research individual state adoption requirements online at government sites and to retain an attorney or agency experienced in interstate adoption.
6. Protect your privacy.
Don’t list your employer, salary, home or work phone numbers, or your address online. Do list your occupation, hobbies, pets, and photos. Caldwell advises using either your lawyer’s or agency’s telephone number rather than your own. Do not reveal personal information to anyone too quickly.