When looking into adoption, you may have read or been told to share your desire to adopt with any and every one you come in contact with. Sharing your adoption profile with everyone you know may help you find your match. Networking is a powerful tool in adoption, but when does networking become invasive and rude? Adoption is a delicate subject and should be treated with respect. There are inappropriate or even illegal avenues for marketing yourself as a hopeful adoptive family, so be sure to do your homework before posting your adoption profile. You want to start your potential match on the right foot and never be ashamed of how your match formed. Your desire to adopt and have the perfect family comes as a result of the pain and loss of another person or multiple people, so here are some guidelines to help you make sure you are not offending people in the process.
1) Online Support Groups and Adoption Pages
In the excitement of building your family through adoption, you may be inclined to join support groups online that focus on adoption. Many of these groups will be a melting pot of all members of the triad in all phases of their journey. If a woman posts that she is pregnant and considering adoption, many hopeful adoptive parents may feel they should immediately bombard her with their profile or willingness to adopt her unborn child. This is not the place to share your profile unless she directly asks you for it. Remember it is a support group and she is looking for support and guidance. The same goes for visiting adoption-themed websites or pages and commenting on their posts with a link to your profile. Unless they are asking hopeful adoptive parents to share their profile, don’t blanket share it. It’s predatory and tacky.
2) Pregnant Women
You may believe that a pregnant woman who is very young, living in poverty, and/or struggling with addiction or some other difficult circumstances needs to place her child for adoption, but that is not your decision to make. So don’t stand outside the high school, homeless shelter, or halfway house passing out adoption networking cards. It’s a good rule of thumb to not seek out a pregnant woman and plant the seed of adoption in her head. If a woman wants to consider adoption, it should be on her own accord.
3) Doctor’s Offices
Many doctor’s offices will allow hopeful adoptive parents to drop off a copy of their profile to keep on hand in case they have a patient come in who is seeking help pursuing adoption. But leaving a copy with your doctor to have on hand for a possible situation is far different than directly handing your profile to a pregnant woman or leaving a stack by the waiting room magazines. In every instance, there can be a good and bad way to go about getting exposure. Some states have laws on whether hopeful adoptive parents can advertise; other states have laws on unlicensed individuals helping facilitate adoption matches. You’ll want to check those laws before asking others to share your desire to adopt.
4) Craigslist, Newspapers, Billboards, and More
By first checking your state laws and guidelines, you may find out it is illegal to advertise your desire to adopt. When it is not illegal, specific formats may have their own guidelines as to what is allowable. Many advertising venues don’t allow adoption ads due to the possibility of scams, illegal adoptions, or human trafficking. It is in your best interest to check the laws and guidelines before wasting your money or realizing down the road that you procured a match illegally or unethically.
Many people lean on their church congregation in their time of need. Infertility and adoption are no exception to this. While one family’s woes may be not being able to biologically have children, another woman may be faced with a difficult choice during a pregnancy that was either unplanned or has come into unexpected, unfavorable circumstances. Generally speaking, networking your desire to adopt should be done in a way that doesn’t come across predatory to anyone. So a woman in crisis should never be approached by a hopeful adoptive family. Selling yourself to someone who is in need of support and guidance is not helpful, it is coercive.
Better safe than sorry. In order to find out the laws of your state, you should first contact your agency and/or adoption lawyer. As laws change frequently, researching on your own may be beneficial. For an up-to-date list of the adoption laws in your state or any state you are considering advertising in, contact a legal representative or the state capitol for more information. Make sure you fully understand all adoption advertising laws before sharing your adoption profile in places that could be inappropriate or illegal.