Today I'm going to share with you what was perhaps the most important key to my adoption success. That may sound grandiose, but it might even be an understatement.
First, some background information: after over 21 years of working in and assisting adoptive parents and birthparents in their adoption needs, I have seen what successful families do and what the families that struggle and spend too much money have not done.
The successful hopeful parents spend time in learning about adoption, the process and what it takes to be successful and then apply it to their own adoption.
In my estimate, only 35% of prospective adoptive families are focused actively on learning about adoption. These parents read adoption books, listen to audio interviews about adoption. They ask important questions of successful adoptive families, adoption professionals, adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, adoption facilitators and attend adoption seminars and educational informational meetings.
Their goal is to find new and better ways to improve their results and become more successful in a shorter time. They are focused on understanding completely what they are embarking on in their adoption.
Not surprisingly, these 35% are the parents who are more successful than other parents that often just give up or don't do anything. Since you're reading this, chances are you're either in that 35% or moving towards entering this successful group. Congratulations on a job well done, and there is a child that is depending on you to find them. The key is education and action.
Here are 7 easy adoption tips:
1. Learn from people who are already successful in adoption
Don't take advice from people who haven't "been there, done that". Plenty of people who give advice are wrong. They have opinions, but not in-the-trenches experience in adopting. Often, if they have never adopted, or have not adopted for several years, you will find that the methods, laws and experiences of adoption have changed. Following the advice of these people can be frustrating and a waste of your time. Even worse, it can lead you down the wrong path.
This also means you shouldn't take advice from Aunt Polly, co-worker Charles, or your neighbor, unless Polly, Charles, or your neighbor has been through a successful adoption recently.
Often, people who haven't adopted are naysayer's and their (perhaps unintentional) goal is to discourage you from succeeding. Don't let them! My own mother wasn't very positive about adoption until we had our son in our arms and she could see how wonderful adoption can be. Some people are just uneducated about adoption and learn what they know from negative media instead of reality. Most adoptions go very well and without problems. The media knows fear and drama sell, even if it represents only a small portion of the adoption experience.
2. Read and listen, then take action and move forward.
As you read or listen, always ask yourself: "How can I apply this to my adoption journey?" Take notes. If you don't take action and apply what you learn, "the knowledge in the book will stay in the book" -- and you won't benefit. Be sure to visit Let's Talk Adoption Radio for interviews you can listen to about adoption.
3. Spend time each week learning more about adoption.
As humans, we spend between three and eight hours each week learning new things. Make the time to learn about this important step in your life; it's the key to your success. For instance, knowing the laws in your state and basic adoption terms can help prevent you from spending unnecessary money by asking an attorney to explain simple terms you can learn the meaning of and understand on your own. Work on your adoption budget and determine how you will fund your adoption. There are many ways to find funds and raise money, visit: Adoption Financing Information.
4. Don't let perfectionism stand in your way.
I tend to be a perfectionist and adoption is one area in which you can't wait for the perfect time to get started. You don't have to learn everything at once. Start with adoption terms, and then move on to adoption law in your state. (You can do a search for current law by entering into your browser “New York family law.") When you find something you have questions about, write it down, research it and ask others. Again, don't try to be faultless. Just take it one step (or topic) at a time. When we were adopting, I took one hour a day and devoted it to learning about adoption. I did this by reading, speaking to others that had adopted, and seeking out adoption professionals.
5. Educate yourself about the type of adoption you are interested in.
As you are doing this, you will find you are saving money. The money you put into reading books will more than save you in legal costs, errors in decision making, spotting red flags in an adoption, and save you at least four times what you might spend on tapes and seminars. At the end of your adoption, you will look at the total amount you spent on learning about adoption and how much value you acquired for the money.
I have also noticed that the informed family makes better adoption decisions, are less stressed, and communicate better with birth parents. Overall, they have a much better experience in their adoption than those that did very little to understand the adoption process and what birth parents are feeling and would like in an adoption. It's an amazing investment. You can find a great deal of helpful information in my books Adopting Online and Adoption: Your Step-by-Step Guide.
6. Select the best and most qualified adoption professionals to help you.
Judge the value, not the price. Often, the higher priced, tried and true adoption professional with a proven track record of success will give you much more value and less heartache than someone less expensive, which, in fact, can be a comparative bargain. Compare adoption services and successes and take your time when doing your research. Just a few weeks of research can pay off tremendously. Always check with the
Better Business Bureau for referrals and ask other adoptive parents for their suggestions.
7. Remember to enjoy the journey to your child through adoption.
Learning is fun -- enjoy the process. Relax with this knowledge. Moving closer to your dream of a successful adoption and parenting is possible and attainable. Start today, you'll never regret the experience.
Because life today requires we work smarter, do things faster and know more, we want information processed in a shorter time frame. It is easy to be caught up in the whirlwind of technology, and become overwhelmed. That is why having a road map, a simple guide is important. I wrote AdoptingOnline.com after repeated requests from hopeful parents. It is a resource for busy people that need adoption information and don't have endless hours to research. I hear people comment on the help this book has brought them and encouragement to get started and succeed.
Here are some additional resources to help you:
Adoption Answer List
African American Adoptions Online
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P. is a Certified Open Adoption Practitioner, an award winning author of 2 adoption books AdoptingOnline.com and Adoption: Your Step-by-Step Guide. Mardie is also the talk show host of Let's Talk Adoption.com with Mardie Caldwell and the founder of Lifetime Adoption in 1986. She travels and speaks nationwide on adoption topics, family topics, infertility and writing. She has been quoted in and consulted for Parenting and Adoption magazines and has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC, BBC, NBC, and Fox. Featured in Parade Magazine, Caldwell is an adoptive mother living in Northern California.