Tag Archives: parents

When Adopting Is It Better To Use An Attorney Or An Agency?

As an adoption consultant, I am frequently asked which is better, an agency or an attorney? My answer is always the same; it depends on the client, the agency and the attorney. If the goal is to adopt a child from a Hague approved country, one generally needs to work with a Hague approved agency. If one wants to adopt quickly and domestically, an attorney is generally the preferred option.

There are benefits to working with both. Couple with Chinese babyThere are other adoption agencies that are licensed, accredited and Hague approved but they may not, for example, have social workers to write home studies or educational programs for the prospective parents. These types of agencies are the most common but I generally do not refer clients to them unless they partner with a full service agency. It would be too complicated otherwise.

Just as there are many different kinds of adoption agencies, there are many different kinds of adoption attorneys. Since the Hague Treaty on Adoption, most adoption attorneys do not assist with international adoptions but they do help to facilitate domestic Adoptedadoptions. Adoption attorneys are experts in the intricacies of adoption laws that vary from state to state and even county to county. Their goal is to make sure that everything is legal and seamless for their clients. Many are able to complete an adoption faster than an agency because they are paid to represent a smaller case load- therefore, they can be more expensive than an agency. Their services generally do not include the home study, which is always a requirement. Most do not offer emotional support or education services around becoming a family through adoption.

There are many options when choosing to adopt via an agency or an attorney.adopt tee The most important thing is to learn as much as you can. The web is filled with a great deal of information. A lot of it is helpful, a lot is not. It’s also advantageous to speak with people who have adopted. Finally, try to find a confidant; someone with whom you feel comfortable discussing the ups and downs of the adoption process. This person can be a therapist, an independent adoption consultant, a friend, a parent, someone within the adoption community or a co-worker. If you can, find someone who can be objective and willing to listen and make suggestions. A lot will come up for you during every stage of the process. Try to find someone, in addition to your partner (if you are adopting as a couple), with whom you can explore all that comes up for you so that you can feel supported and confident.

If you would like to discuss adoption or have any questions about it, please feel free to contact me. I would like to help you better understand what you need to know in order to have a successful adoption.

Adoption Language

questions about adoptionWords are powerful. Consider the following: Giving up a baby, put up for adoption, real family, natural children, own child, to keep, foreign adoption, natural parents or where is s/he from, how much did s/he cost?

20 Things...It is important to be aware of our language. It is particularly useful as a teaching tool for professionals in the field to be sensitive to the words that they choose. Prospective adoptive parents are looking to the professionals for guidance. A wonderful book that explores the power of language is called; 20 Things Adopted Kids Wished their Adoptive Parents Knew, by Sherrie Eldridge.

Years ago I ran a workshop for prospective adoptive parents. One day a mother and her daughter joined our group to talk about some of their challenges and what they learned being a visibly adoptive family. The mother and her then-21-year-old daughter, who was adopted from Korea as an infant, told a story about an incident that occurred at a supermarket when the daughter was three or four years old. Although the daughter did not understand what the stranger was really asking, she did not like the way it made her feel. The conversation went something like this:

“Is she yours? Where is she from?”  images-2

“Excuse me?”

“That girl, is she Chinese?”

The mom bent down and asked her daughter if she wanted to answer the man’s questions. The daughter thought about it and said, “No.”

The mother said to the stranger, “We don’t feel like answering your questions. Have a nice day.”

The prospective parents at the workshop were shocked. They wondered how strangers could think that they had the right to ask such invasive questions. The mother said that she and her family lived in area where adoption, especially international adoption, was very uncommon. She also said that most of the time she sensed that people were just curious and were not judging. She added that sometimes, as in the example above, it was hard to tell.

Eventually the mother decided that her daughter’s story was her own and therefore, when she was old enough to express herself, she could decide whether or not a stranger’s question would be answered. The mother also said that it took many tries before finding the response that felt right to them.

Sometimes they responded with, “mind your own business” or “none of your business.” Other times the mother sensed, because she had been a curious images-1prospective adoptive parents, that maybe the stranger was asking because he or she was interested in adopting and wanted to connect with an adoptive family. The mother told the workshop participants that they should be prepared that there would be questions. Some were judgmental but most were asked because the stranger was trying to decide if adoption was the best way for them to expand their family. In either case, the mother wanted the prospective adoptive parents to know how powerful words can be and that what people say can have an effect on their children. She said that it was not fair and it was exhausting but adoptive parents were bequeathed the role of educating the public. In her own situations and if she had the energy and felt like it, she did share the information with strangers that her daughter allowed. It wasn’t the daughter’s entire story, just a part of it.