“I’m looking for adoption help nearby, can you help me?”
She was pregnant and due soon. She’d left an abusive relationship out-of-state and moved to Texas with her small kids in a car that was barely held together with prayers and duct tape.
Along the way, she’d gained a new boyfriend, but he’d already abandoned her for someone they met at a truck stop who promised him a free ride to California.
Her story was like that of so many other birthmothers we’ve known over the years. Born to a teenage mother, she was unprotected and overwhelmed. She dropped out of ninth grade when her first child was born and never went back.
A string of bad romances and more unplanned pregnancies followed. She started using meth and nearly lost her kids for a time. Then she got them back, only to get involved with a violent lover who broke her jaw, knocked her up and stole her food stamps. By the time she hit Texas, she was low on gas, lower on options, and nearly out of hope.
“I know I don’t need another kid. I know another kid don’t need me. But if I can find someone who does adoption help nearby, I might could start over here,” she said.
She could, and she did. But it was a stroke of good luck (or maybe divine intervention) that she found Abrazo when and how she did, and it made all the difference for her and the child she placed here.
Adoption Help Isn’t Always Close By
These days, prospective birthparents find no shortage of adoption ads online offering “help.” Notorious West Coast baby-brokers regularly advertise in Texas, falsely representing local services without ever disclosing they aren’t licensed nor located here. Hopeful adoptive parents from the East Coast place Google Ads with glossy adoption profiles that introduce them without ever even revealing a last name or hometown. Even Texas adoption agencies compete for an ever-shrinking supply of cases with thinly-veiled financial offers. (This, despite the fact that Texas law prohibits gifts of value or payments in exchange for placement of a child for adoption.)
Anyone considering adoption in Texas who searches for adoption help should ask whether the service they contact is actually a licensed Texas nonprofit adoption agency– and if not, disconnect ASAP. (Adoption advertisers or adoption facilitators are unlicensed intermediaries. They get paid despite having no authority to actually perform adoption services. This should spell “danger” to anyone who gets drawn into such contacts. Even if they make referrals to professionals who likewise pay and get paid for that referral, they are unqualified.)
Take note: Texas adoption attorneys are prohibited by law from providing adoption services that only licensed agencies can offer. (This includes services like matching birthparents and adoptive parents, or paying maternity expenses like rent or groceries or clothing– anything beyond legal bills and medical care.)
How to Check Out Your Options
The bottom line is this: all potential adoption consumers deserve ethical, trained and licensed adoption professionals who can be trusted before and after any decisions are made. (Take note: not everyone who is trained or licensed is necessarily ethical.)
Here are some questions to help evaluate any adoption professionals you consider using:
*Are they a registered 501c3 nonprofit entity? Does their 990 demonstrate fiscal responsibility as a nonprofit?
*Is free, unbiased options counseling onsite or offsite provided by bonafide counselors?
*How do they honestly prepare all parents for the painful truths of the adoption process, such as loss, post-adoption depression, grief and trauma?
*Are prospective birthparents genuinely supported, regardless if adoption is the ultimate outcome?
*Do all placing parents get advised of their right to seek independent legal counsel?
*Are adopting parents offered or encouraged to seek counseling, as well?
*Does the professional discourage intrusive practices (like allowing adopting parents to “room in” with a baby at a hospital prior to a placement being completed)?
*Does the professional advocate for open adoption terms to always be documented in writing?
*Is it made clear to all that Texas is not a state that enforces the terms of voluntary open adoption contact agreements? Are clients firmly guided to keep all their promises regardless?
*What is their commitment to providing continued post-adoption services as needed?
*Do they have a proven track record of supporting adoptee rights legislation?
Abrazo does these things because it’s all part of providing the best services we can. And because the people who most need us can trust we always do the right thing on behalf of them and their children.
Adoption Help Can Vary, so Choose Wisely!
For those who are adopting, like for those thinking of placing, adoption help is rarely confined by state borders anymore. That can be an advantage– or not.
Adopting parents are often drawn to the idea of adopting in Texas because it’s a big, largely conservative state known for limited unplanned pregnancy alternatives and laws that favor those who seek to adopt. In Texas, the relinquishment of parental rights to a Texas adoption agency is irrevocable, meaning birthparents have no “grace period” to reclaim custody after placing. This, and the standards that permit licensed Texas agencies to provide living expenses for approved maternity needs during and after placement, give our state the reputation of being “adoption-friendly” (even though Texas laws denying adoptees the right to access their original birth records and the state’s refusal to enforce open adoption agreements is anything but!?)
Those who are placing or adopting should always take advantage of the opportunity to meet with the personnel of any Texas adoption agency in person. Check out any private Texas agency’s public licensing record, at txchildcaresearch.org. (Everyone has both positive and negative reviews online (at least they should? Remember: any place with a perfect rating is likely skewing their own results, of course.) Get to know what the agency truly stands for before deciding if you can trust them with the most important choices of your life.
If you care enough to seek out adoption help nearby, be sure that whatever resource you choose has a proven track record of truly caring– not just about them that place or those who adopt, but most of all, about the adoptees at the center of each story.