Adoption has changed so much over the years. The great thing now for all members of the triad is the availability of stories, research, and education online ready for you to absorb. In the old days of secrecy, shame, and closed adoptions, there were no adoption websites. People went by word-of-mouth or found the closest agency in the phone book. What a wonderful thing that now we can try to understand all sides of the adoption triad by viewing their emotional stories online. Hopeful adoptive parents can research and select their favorite agency, no matter the location. Biological families can even begin searching for long-lost relatives online that were placed in closed adoptions years ago. Without a doubt, the Internet, in all its power and sometimes dark, negative qualities, has shined a light on adoption and made it better.
When we want to understand another perspective, word-of-mouth is good, an article is better, but a video with a real person to connect with? That’s the best way to share stories. Mind you, I’m not hating on reading, but today’s busy pace of life means people will watch a 3-minute YouTube video over reading a long article. I know I learned so much by watching birth mothers tell their stories. While not one of the actual “adoption websites” designated for adoption, it is one of the best places online to learn. I encourage all hopeful adoptive parents and current adoptees and birth mothers to visit Adoption.com’s YouTube channel and watch the videos with the four birth mothers telling their stories. Some adoption agencies also produce their own videos and put them on YouTube. Just search for an adoption agency’s name in the search bar.
Your adoption agency will have its own website as well. Oddly, some agencies seem stuck in the 90s and have bare minimum content. That doesn’t mean they don’t do great work, though. Some just run more off word-of-mouth and do little to fund their online presence. I’m sure in the next 5-10 years though, we will see everyone fully updating their sites to increase visibility. Agencies that have updated sites can offer more to help adoptive families be proactive in the process. They’ll have things like online profiles and a page where adoptive families can view birth mother situations and submit themselves to have their profiles presented to the birth moms. Just remember that no matter the quality of the website, your adoption journey can still be bumpy.
For more adoption education (remember, you don’t know what you don’t know) I highly recommend looking up Ashley Mitchell on Instagram (@bigtoughgirl) and her organization (@lifetimehealingllc). The website is lifetimehealingadoption.com. It is, in my opinion, one of the best adoption websites because it can educate hopeful adoptive parents and adoptive parents on the birth family side of things. This is of utmost importance for yourselves and your future adopted children. Her mission is to improve post-placement care for birth mothers. She does in-person training with adoption agencies, but you will find blogs and videos on her site as well.
Speaking of Instagram, you should be on it if you’re not. I have found and followed many other adoptive moms and birth moms. You can message each other and see photos, but furthermore, with Insta Stories, you can watch as they share their feelings and current adoption situations. They can do a live Q&A session. I’ve watched hour-long live videos from birth moms sharing their stories. I’ve even seen some birth moms and adoptive moms go live on Instagram together so that they can talk about their relationship and people can comment with their questions. This is so valuable because we are getting the story directly from them. We’re not relying on gossip or rumor anymore- we can go straight to the source and ask questions.
Birth mother care and ethical adoptions are big issues right now in the adoption world. This is important because about 95% of domestic infant adoptions today are open or semi-open adoptions.
At Adoption.com, you can search photo listings of children that need to be placed in loving homes. You would then contact your local foster care to become a licensed foster parent. Some children are only available to foster and then will be reunified with their birth family; however, some children are legally free for adoption. One plus side to adopting from foster care is it costs very little compared to domestic infant adoption.
For foster to adopt children or newborn adopted children, books will be an important tool to explain adoption. In addition to your personal conversations with your child about adoption and all it entails, you can read your child’s stories. This adoptive mom’s website has a page with links to all types of adoption books from foster care books to books written by birth mothers. One of my favorite books is Growing Grace by Erin Mason. It can be found on Amazon.
For those looking for adoptive parents or infertility support, Love Multiplies is a great new organization. They have a YouTube channel and blog as well and exist to provide community and support to those who need it. Funding adoptions can be difficult, so they have created grants for people hoping to adopt or doing IVF to grow their family.
For those that want to give some extra support to birth mothers in general (who they may not even be matched with), you can visit Brave Love. “BraveLove creates pro-adoption media campaigns, broadcasts hopeful adoption stories, and distributes adoption resources to pregnancy centers and maternity service providers nationwide. Uniquely, BraveLove is not a direct service provider, but rather partners with individuals and organizations, like you, who provide services to those in unplanned pregnancies.” What I love about this organization is that they do in-person events for birth mothers like hosting dinners. They also have a shop with apparel, or you can simply donate.
It may seem like birth mother donations and birth mother support isn’t a topic for you if you’re a hopeful adoptive parent, but I know that will change for you once you do adopt. Once you are matched, your love for this woman will grow more than you ever expected. She will become very important in your life, your child’s life, and that will get you thinking about all other birth mothers like her. You will feel a softening of your heart; I know I did. I always want to help the birth family side of the triad however possible. Even though the excitement is usually on the adoptive parent side, you should not forget where your child came from. She is to be celebrated as well.
One thing I’d recommend hopeful adoptive parents do for planning purposes is to make boards on Pinterest. You can have an adoption board where you have links to all the adoption sites you like all in one place. You can make a baby gear board with ideas for strollers and car seats. Have another board for nursery ideas. This makes it easier once the baby is home to have all your ideas in one place. You can even make a board with “Sip and See” ideas. A “Sip and See” is something adoptive couples can do instead of a baby shower. You have a party once the baby is already home where everyone can sip drinks and see the baby. It makes much more sense than a shower because you don’t always know when the baby will arrive or if the match will fall through.
If you’re hoping for a private adoption or “self match,” there are many adoption websites to consider for your family’s online profile. These will be accessible to expectant mothers so they can find parents for their children. The adoption process can be done through an agency or lawyer. Parent Profiles on Adoption.com is a big one. Another option is adoptmatch.com. Some people make their own public Facebook page to reach potential birth mothers. Please be aware of possible scams and read this article about them. One of the positives about using an agency is you have more support and less chance of a scam happening to your family.
For more information about the legal aspects of adoption, the National Council for Adoption website is a good place to visit. “We are a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization that helps create and support sound ethical adoption policies and services. As part of our education efforts, we work to increase public understanding of adoption and present a positive image of adoption as a loving way to build nurturing, permanent families. Over the course of our 32-year history, we have been repeatedly called on by policymakers to help craft adoption policies that benefit children and families. We support efforts that encourage and facilitate adoption, monitor federal and state legislation, and address policies and laws that form barriers to children finding the nurturing, permanent families they deserve.” For example, this article discusses the differences between agencies and facilitators. It can be a daunting task to learn all the adoption vocabulary when you’re starting your journey, but it really is necessary to take that time. Facilitators can be a very confusing topic, so I’d recommend starting with that article. On this website, you will also see a link at the top to their YouTube channel. Go to the videos tab once there to see all their adoption-related content.
Overall, Adoption.com has the most information I’ve seen in one place; it’s my go-to site. There are thousands of articles and forum topics. There’s also content about the more nitty-gritty side of adoption like lawyers, grants, fundraising, etc. Once your adoption is final, be sure to visit their “gifts” tab and check out all the cute adoption gifts you can buy. You can get an onesie for your baby or an adoption necklace for your baby’s birth mother. This is one of my favorite shirts that have the adoption symbol (a triangle representing adoptive family, birth family, and child, interwoven with a heart).
Everything has its own online presence these days, no different with adoption. Just remember the general Internet etiquette rules (like playing nice in forums) and you’ll be okay. Just like any other topic, you won’t like what some people have to say about adoption. Unfollow them. Don’t go to their site. Or, do some self-reflection and figure out what is bothering you about what they’re saying. Lean in. Be open to other perspectives and remember that everyone’s adoption journey is of different circumstances. Support sites that do good work. Share quality articles on your own social media about adoption. To change the narrative from a time of shameful and closed adoptions, we need to educate anyone we can about today’s open adoption climate.