Every adoption agency is different, of course, but here’s a starter pack of what adoption agencies should tell you, if you’re considering adoption.

Adoption is wonderful. And complicated. And not right for everyone.

Whenever parents-to-be are willing to set aside their own needs to put a child first, that’s wonderful. But whenever a child must leave one family in order to have their needs met by another, that’s complicated. And no matter how carefully or lovingly it is done, adoption is not always the best choice for everyone. Adoption is rarely (ever) the only option. Adults need to have all the information they need upfront, in order to make fully-informed decisions. And adoptees need to have lifelong access to their own truth and post-adoption support services, in order to make sense of their own adoption stories.

Not all adoption agencies are created equal.

Adoption agencies must agree to follow state laws and guidelines to get licensed. Beyond that, however, agencies can set their own standards and policies, too. So adoption agencies vary greatly, depending on their ethics and motives. Just as all adoption attorneys are not necessarily ethical, the same is true of adoption agencies. Don’t just rely on websites, reviews or glossy brochures. Know personally who you’re dealing with and check out their bar license or licensing records before you commit to working with anyone. Transparency and truth matter in adoption… shouldn’t it?

Money should never fuel any adoption decision.

It’s been said that money is the root of all evil, and this is certainly true in adoptions. No birthparents should ever have to place a child only because of money problems. No couple should have to forfeit their dream of adopting nor go bankrupt due to adoption fees. Abrazo prides itself on having some of the lowest agency fees in South Texas, but that’s no reflection on the quality of our services. Adoption can be a lucrative business if done improperly, and those are the sorts of “adoption resources” you most need to avoid, no matter how appealing their enticing promises may sound.

Babies are not blank slates. They have needs all their own.

We all love babies. (But they’re never mere toys.) Babies are born with their own needs and traits. They need plenty of access to their birthmothers, for starters. Their schedules don’t cater to the adults around them. Babies don’t always bond with the parents we attach to them. They won’t appreciate everything that’s done for (or with) them. And babies don’t stay little, so keep this in mind when making lifetime choices involving babies. Begin with the end in mind, and remember, a baby is not the end, only a beginning.

Adoption doesn’t solve parental problems. It expands them.

If you’re adopting because you think it will cure you of infertility, think again. Adoption isn’t a consolation prize for the barren, and it’s not an alternative to abortion for the hyperfertile, either. Whether you place or adopt, the adoption experience will change you, and it will try you, too. There’s no such thing as a “perfect kid” (nor is there ever a perfect parent.) Being a birthparent or an adoptive parent is to commit to a lifelong role, and one that continues to challenge and shape you, throughout the years that follow.

Every adopted child has special needs– because adoption.

Adoptees tend to be especially susceptible to abandonment, rejection and loss issues.This is normal, since every adoption is starts with loss. (Read up on the primal wound, if this is all news to you.) No adoptee ever “signed up for this,” so it stands to reason that they may not appreciate the choices made on their behalf. When you place or adopt, your child will have been traumatized on some level, no matter how lovingly the adoption is done. So, please: prepare for this reality and its after-effects. This doesn’t mean children should never be placed or adopted. It means that honoring the “best interests of children” requires us to be honest about how adoption affects kids– during and afterwards.

Open adoption isn’t easy. And it’s not legally-protected.

Doing an open adoption may be better for everyone involved (and we think so!) but it certainly takes extra effort to make it work. And open adoption is not legally-enforceable in states like Texas, so it’s got to be built on trust. It’s been said you can’t legislate relationships, and perhaps this is true? Still, if open adoption is about honoring the needs of children, remember that (1) adoptees always need to know their own truth, and (2) all relationships take ongoing effort over the years. Just as adoption is a lifetime commitment, so are open adoption relationships, whether the adoptee chooses to participate or not.

There’s way more that you’re going to need to know, of course. Plenty of it may be stuff you’d rather not hear, or think about, yet. That’s understandable, because the adoption process can seem overwhelming at first. So naturally, it’s tempting to choose an agency that will just tell you what you want to hear. The adoption agency that deserves your trust, however, is more likely to be the one that reveals what adoption agencies should tell you, even when it’s not all sugarcoated.

Because when you know what adoption agencies should tell you, it makes your adoption decisions that much well-informed, and makes your adoption that much better.

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