I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being able to help guide others to resources which assist them in deciding whether foster care or adoption is right for their family.
The main reason I want to help others is because I believe this is the best way to research adoption. When I was first starting out and looking into the various aspects of adoption, I found that the advice from current adoptive families was the biggest source of encouragement and education for our family as we decided on where to adopt from and how we were going to do it.
And for those of you newcomers who have recently stumbled upon Waiting on a Word, you can check out our family story here. It will give you a little insight into how our family was formed and how it's possible to be married for less than four years and have an 18 year old son and two little boys eight months apart.
If you are thinking that adoption or foster care may be in your future one day, I want to share with you how I researched and what I think really allowed me to learn the most.
When we first started thinking about adoption, I headed straight for the internet. I'm a researcher by nature, and when I'm excited about something, I love finding out as much as I can about it.
Nerd alert and proud of it.
Brian and I had already decided which continent we were going to adopt from, (Africa), so I started out by googling adoption and which countries in Africa were open to adoption. That led to specific agencies working in those countries. Each agency website had their own adoption timeline, costs, and qualifications needed to adopt from a specific country.
While it helped me narrow down our adoption options, it also led to being overwhelmed with information overload. The time frames and seemingly daunting costs to adopt all started running together and I ended up just being frustrated and confused.
Plus, all these adoption websites looked very professional and ethical. How would I know which one to choose?
I started reading adoption agency reviews online, but found that I didn't really even know how to trust the people writing the reviews because they were strangers to me. Some of them were anonymous opinions, so how did I know it wasn't the agency writing a great review about itself?
That led me to blogs. Prior to researching adoption, I had never been much of a blog reader. But as I was looking up adoption, I found that there were MANY people who had lots to say about their adoption journeys.
I found that families who shared their adoption journeys ended up being the most helpful to me as we decided on a country and path for our adoption. I was able to see their faces and follow along on their personal timeline to complete their adoption. When I located families who were using a specific agency that I was interested in learning more about, I would email them and ask for their personal opinion and whether they would recommend them. Though I was happy to talk to anyone in the process, I found it was better to talk with families who had completed their adoptions, as they would have the most insight into the entire process.
If you followed our story from the beginning, you know our adoption had some bumps along the way and a couple of detours. (I would NOT recommend the route we took, but we are very happy with where we ended up!).
It was because we had connected personally with so many families from our agency that we found how unethical it was after we were already in the process. We quickly severed our ties with them. Being connected to other families saved us a lot of money and heartache in the end. (If you want to see our adoption timeline, head over here.)
"Things I Wish I Had Known From the Start of the Adoption Process"
*It's easy to be swayed by an agency's "quick" timelines. In most cases, the timelines given RARELY are accurate. We were promised a 9-12 month process, start to finish with our first agency. Twelve months later, we did not even have a referral, yet they were still promising that same timeline.
*Many agencies claim to be "Christian" agencies. That can be very appealing to prospective adoptive parents who would associate the word, "Christian," with ethical and honest. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.
*You have the right to know exactly where your money is going. The agency should be able to tell you a break-down of the fees, not just a generic explanation for thousands of dollars.
*If you find an agency you like, google blogs and families using that agency. Talk to as many people as you can and listen to what they are really saying. If you can't find any families using an agency or willing to talk to you, head in the other direction. Quickly.
*Ask lots of questions to the agency. If they are vague are aren't giving you answers, that is a red flag. If they aren't great on communication before you sign with them, it isn't going to get any better once you do.
Hopefully, this isn't scaring the stink out of you. Just being real, peeps, based on our experience. It's easy to go into adoption with rose-colored glasses and assume that everyone has the child's best interest in mind and will be completely ethical and above board. I learned a lot, and going back, we would have asked way more questions and made different choices!
The more educated you are, the more the ethical your process will be! Connect with others and learn as much as you can!
And since I've just scared you to death about adopting, you need to watch this video. It will remind you why you were thinking about adoption in the first place. THIS is why ADOPTION IS NEEDED! It's two minutes long. WELL worth your time. Please, please watch.
If you'd like a little more information on how to start researching the adoption process, please email me at leslieharris77 (at) gmail (dot) com.
I'd love to hear from you!