- Set clear goals for yourself; determine exactly what you want. For example: to adopt a child under five years old from Korea or a healthy newborn in the United State, start research on that type of adoption professional who can help you accomplish your set goal.
- Determine the steps you have to take in order to reach your goal of adopting. List obstacles you may have to overcome (financial limitations, age etc.)
- Identify the resources and expertise you will need to acquire to overcome the obstacles between you and your goals. You can't seek out an adoption professional unless you know what sort of adoption you want.
- Search the Internet and follow through with referrals from other adoptive parents. Select the most successful people in the areas in which you need help with your adoption.
- Join positive email lists, support groups and team up with others that have the same goals and are supportive of adoption.
- Once you have become involved, volunteer to monitor boards or chat groups, and become actively involved in activity of these groups. You'll learn much more about the adoption process and meet the kind of people that can help you.
- Research, study and apply what you learn to continually increase your knowledge of the process of adoption. Listen to programs such as the topics on Let’s Talk Adoption with Mardie Caldwell. The very best professionals are going to be interested in helping you if they feel you are completely dedicated to becoming an adoptive parent and willing to take the steps needed. You may show your dedication by following through in a timely fashion, developing a plan and sticking to each step without giving up. There is nothing that will attract people to you faster than by being enthusiastic about what you are doing and making adoption your priority at this time in your life.
- When you find a potential adoption professional, don't drive them nuts by being a nuisance. Instead, ask for 15 minutes of their time by phone, in person, or by email to ask questions you still have after doing your research. I am always surprised when we receive emails from visitors to our site they ask simple questions that are answered on the FAQ’s page @ Lifetime Adoption. Most professionals are very busy with their practice whether it is facilitating, law, or preparing home studies. They are bothered by people who take up a lot of their time asking questions when the information is clearly available online. With the flood of emails and calls an office receives, there is only so much time one can take to answer questions. Potential adoptive parents should make sure these are important questions that pertain to areas not covered in the literature or on the web site.
- When you do meet with an adoptive professional, tell him or her clearly that you are dedicated to building your family through adoption and you have a few questions. Let them know you would very much appreciate a little guidance and advice that would help you move closer to your goal. Ask for a specific answer to a question or direction on where to go to get the answer (a book, tape, or web site for example). Make sure to ask a specific question that you haven't been able to have answered in research or that is personal to your situation (i.e. you are stationed overseas and want to know how to proceed, you have been married only one year and are not sure if the adoption professional or organization has restrictions on length of marriage).
- Thank them by email or note for their time and guidance. Mention that you hope you'll be able to work together.
- Once you are working with a professional, keep in touch, but don't nag them. Ask how often you should check in and with whom will you speak. If you can check in by email and you’re professional has the time to respond by email that might work for you. If not, an occasional phone call may work better. Report back to your professional if any changes have occurred (i.e. you have found a child through another source, or you are in need of a break from the adoption because of an emergency, etc.).
- Be willing to help others, perhaps as a reference for your adoption professional, by speaking to other families. The more open you are to helping the process along for yourself and others, the more others will be open to helping you. Learn from others that have been through adoption and share your knowledge with people interested in adoption. Educate the public on how different adoption is today, and that it is very needed and appreciated by all that are touched by adoption.
Whatever adoption you decide to pursue, be sure that you have done your homework. You will find you have fewer surprises when you know what to expect. The risks in some adoptions, time frames, and the cost vary in each adoption. With planning, you will be on your way to a smoother adoption and hopefully enjoyable journey.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P. is the founder of Lifetime Adoption http://www.LifetimeAdoption.com. Caldwell is an adoptive parent, the award-winning author of http://www.AdoptingOnline.com and http://www.AdoptionStepbyStep.com and radio talk show host of http://www.LetsTalkAdoption.com . Mardie writes and speaks on parenting, adoption, infertility, writing, financing, and travel. Contact Mardie at (530) 432-7373 or through her website http://www.MardieCaldwell.com