Are you new to adoption? We get it. Adoption is an option nobody usually plans to need, until they do, so nearly everyone starts out new to adoption.

There’s so much to learn about adoption before doing one, because it’s a permanent arrangement if it’s all done right. Whether someone wants to adopt or needs to place or wonders why their parents did, there’s plenty to know. We can’t cover everything here, but consider this a start, if you need a very basic beginner course.

Because however Beyonce puts it: this IS Texas, and Abrazo is proud to hold ’em babies for thirty years and counting, so let’s take a look at how it’s done.

Who Does What in Adoption

These days, it seems like everyone knows someone who adopted, who got adopted, or who “had to” give a baby up for adoption. If you’re really new to adoption (or if you just landed on this planet):

  • someone who is adopting is an adopting parent or hopeful adoptive parent
  • someone thinking of putting their child up for adoption, like an expectant mom considering if adoption is an option, is a prospective birthparent or a placing parent
  • someone who has adopted is an adoptive parent
  • someone who was adopted is an adoptee or an adopted person, &
  • someone who has placed a child for adoption is a first parent or a birthparent.

Not everyone appreciates labels. That’s why it’s the acts that are in bold print, above. (Remember: people should be defined by who they are, not just what they’ve done.)

Basics Anyone New to Adoption Must Know

There are 50 sets of laws governing adoption in the US,  since every state has its own adoption laws. The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children is federal law that must be followed anytime babies or children cross state lines for the purposes of foster care or adoption.

Some adoptions are known as public adoptions because the child being adopted is in the custody and legal possession of the State, so the taxpayers help fund those adoption services.

More commonly, there are private domestic (in-country) adoptions done through licensed agencies that provide pre-adoption support, counseling and casework and post-adoption care. The placing parents and adopting parents are matched through the licensed adoption agency. Most are non-profit, which should mean the private agency provides a community service while being supervised by the state’s child welfare authority. Nobody is buying or selling children, and no one owns stock or profits from this charity, even if a fee is charged for services (as allowed by law.)

Attorney-managed cases are called independent adoptions, because the placing parents and adopting parents both have their own lawyers to handle the paperwork without any agency services. (For example,  these may be kinship/”in-family” placements, or when arrangements in which hopeful adopters and prospective birthparents already found each each and there’s no need for maternity housing or financial support.) Because as with any other adoption: nobody can get paid for going through with an adoption.

Warning: in some states, there are unlicensed baby brokers, adoption facilitators, adoption consultants or adoption coaches who make money off arranging matches or adoptions. It is dangerous and often illegal to offer or use such “services” so please be safe and don’t go there. 

A Lifelong Process, All About the Child

Those who are new to adoption often contact adoption agencies and say “tell me everything I need to know about adoption?” That would be as overwhelming as staring into the sun during the solar eclipse. There’s way more that anyone needs to know than could be shared in one call or one visit, because adoption is a lifelong process– for the parents and for the people who get or have been adopted.

But start here: if adoption is an option, it has to be all about the kid(s). Every child who is ever placed for adoption or who ever gets adopted has to be the star of the show. Nobody should place or adopt because of what they want or need. Adoption must always be only about the best interests of the child, and the honesty and transparency of open adoption is the best way we know to build this foundation.

Call it open adoption or modern adoption or compassionate adoption: whatever it’s called, the best adoption is the one that enables adopted kids to grow up  always knowing their own (true) adoption story and those who made it possible.  That doesn’t mean birthparents won’t still grieve the loss of the child they placed. It doesn’t mean the adoptee won’t view their adoptive parents as “real parents.” Always remember: open adoption isn’t a joint custody or co-parenting arrangement.

Open adoption just honors every adopted person’s God-given right to know their truth from Day One, so those who were adopted can be “whole” (and not have to feel like anyone’s shameful secret.) No kid ever suffered from having too many people who love(d) them.

Where to Start Any Adoption Plan

Breathe in. Breathe out. Adoption is an option, but there are others, too. So learn all you can. Listen to your heart, yes. But proceed with wisdom. Be honest with yourself about your resources and your financial situation but never let money drive any adoption plan. Get counseling in advance, then continue it throughout the adoption process. Why? Because adoption can be a rollercoaster and you’ll need some support. Surround yourself with positivity and learn from others whose kids benefit from growing up in an open adoption.

Still breathing? Good! You’ve got this! You may be new to adoption now, but you won’t be for long, so enjoy the journey (and contact Abrazo for help, if you need us.)

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24-Hour Birthparent HelpLine
for New Placing Parents/Medical Emergencies

Placing parents calling from Texas or surrounding states:

Placing parents calling from outside Texas, please call collect:
210-342-LOVE (5683)

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Mailing address:

3123 Northwest Loop 410
San Antonio, TX 78230