The world of domestic infant adoption can be overwhelming! Which agency do we choose? How do I create our profile book? What about transracial adoption or open adoption? Who should we hire to do our home study? These are just a handful of questions hopeful adoptive parents ask themselves. Adoption consultants are part of this.
Many families are turning to an adoption consultant for guidance along their journey. Could this be the right fit for you? Here are some things you need to know.
What is an adoption consultant?
An adoption consultant is a professional who guides through the adoption process. They recommend home study agencies, give advice on (or even create) your adoption profile, provide tools for funding your adoption and network with various agencies and attorneys in several states.
An adoption consultant is not the same as a facilitator—something that some states prohibit the use of. Facilitators work directly with expectant/birth mothers, and consultants do not.
Why use an adoption consultant?
In 2011 when my husband and I decided to pursue private infant adoption, a friend connected us with a local adoption consultant. After waiting so long and being unable to conceive, we were anxious to become parents. The advertised shorter-than-average wait time (under one year!) was much more appealing than the national average of one to two or more! This was a large factor in our decision, along with the education and guidance a consultant provided.
Because adoption consultants network with agencies and attorneys in various states, they can expose waiting for families to more potential “situations” (which is lingo for an expectant mother making an adoption plan). Having the opportunity to apply to multiple agencies at once can increase the likelihood of an adoption placement happening in a shorter amount of time.
Out of curiosity, I conducted an extremely informal and unofficial poll in several adoptions Facebook groups, asking what influenced one’s decision to hire a consultant. Nearly everyone chose one of two answers (with votes split evenly between the two): the advice and guidance a consultant provides, and a shorter wait time.
After signing a twelve-month contract with a consultant in 2012, we immediately began researching to apply to a handful of the agencies recommended by them. I was naïve and surprised to discover that every single agency had fees that far exceeded our budget—including many that were clearly varied based on the race of the baby. Unwilling to compromise on the budget we had in mind, we chose to instead stick with a couple of small, local agencies. In the end, we met our new daughter’s birth mother through a mutual friend, so an agency was not involved—in which case our consultant’s guidance was invaluable, even though we had taken a slightly less conventional route with their services. The entire process with our first adoption, start to finish, took nine months.
Here are some important things to consider about using an adoption consultant:
1. The meaning of “adoption friendly states.”
Adoption consultants advertise that they help families adopt in “adoption friendly states.” Adoption laws vary greatly state by state, and what is generally considered “friendly” are states where expectant mothers can execute a consent to the adoption within 48-72 hours after birth and are not allowed a revocation period (i.e. a time frame to change their mind). Realistically, then, what it means is that the states are adoptive parent-friendly.
I am greatly in favor of adopting from states with clear adoption laws and of being aware of what you can handle emotionally. As long as everyone involved (agency, attorneys, and hopeful adoptive parents) is wholeheartedly committed to an ethical process and giving a mother as much time as she needs to make a confident and informed decision, then I personally have little issue with such states.
2. Faster isn’t always better.
There are many great reasons to use an adoption consultant, but if the promise of a shorter wait time (I have seen some advertise about families matched in a matter of weeks!) is your primary motivation, please reconsider.
An ethical process where the best interest of all parties is honored is most important. Not how quickly you bring a baby into your home. It is worthwhile to ask questions of anyone completing a very high number of adoptive placements. Are they simply making good connections, providing excellent care and services, and effectively matching expectant mothers with the right fit? Or are they using questionable advertising tactics, targeting vulnerable women, or financially incentivizing the decision to surrender their children? Do your research. Adoption is about finding families for babies, not finding babies for families.
3. Do your own research.
Many families work with an adoption consultant because they need someone to advise and guide them along the process. A consultant can be an excellent resource in this regard, but do not make the mistake of believing this means you are off the hook. Hopeful adoptive parents still need to put time and effort into educating themselves on relevant topics and on the situations and professionals (agencies and attorneys) who are recommended to them. Accept advice and guidance from your consultant, and do your research. Read and listen to adoptee voices. Listen to the experiences of mothers who have placed their children—both positive and negative experiences.
No matter what route you decide is right for your personal adoption journey, it will be worth it to find someone you can trust to guide you in the right direction. Best wishes, wherever that might lead you!
Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98. Are you considering adoption and want to give your child the best life possible? Let us help you find an adoptive family that you love. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.