The agency or attorney tries to convince you that even though they’re not licensed to practice in your state, they can still handle everything “over the phone.”
AdoptMatch-approved adoption agencies and adoption attorneys are committed as adoption guides to assisting expectant parents who consider adoption where they live for a local adoption and help them make adoption decisions. The benefit of working with a local agency is that they connect you with services you need in your area, such as counseling, education, transportation, medical care, etc, not through a telephone line or over text, but in-person. You should never agree to work with an adoption agency or attorney who is out of state, even if he/she tells you they can provide everything you need over the phone and through email. Going through an adoption is quite intense and demands professional support. The relationship between you and your caseworker or attorney is more than important than most people realize. They both need to be very familiar with your state’s specific adoptions laws. They should also be able to connect to a wide range of local resources.
The agency or attorney fails to connect you with your own attorney early in the process.
Some agencies and attorneys apparently believe that because the adoptive parents and pregnant mother are working together toward the shared goal of the adoption, there’s no need for the birth mother to have her own attorney. AdoptMatch strongly disagrees with that view. Placing a child for adoption is a legal process and one that will forever impact the birth mother’s life. The intention of separate legal representation for both parties isn’t to “stir up trouble.” In fact, it’s just the opposite. Having an attorney provides assurance that you’ll have your rights and responsibilities and other adoption information thoroughly explained to you before you sign the adoption consent. The last thing you (or the parents looking to adopt) want, is to look back on your adoption experience feeling that you were kept in the dark or never fully understood what was happening. Having your own attorney gives you the peace of mind, knowing there is someone looking out for you and only you.
The agency or attorney doesn’t require you and the adoptive parents to have an in-person meeting before a “match” can happen.
It’s true that you can learn a lot about prospective families looking to adopt through long phone calls, late-night texting sprees and emails. Skype or Facetime offer an even easier method of getting to know one another; however, once you’re at the point of actually choosing an adoptive family for your child, there’s nothing that can take the place of an in-person meeting. In some situations, that may not be possible. If it is, you should politely insist that they make it happen. It doesn’t really matter if you travel to them or they to you, but whatever effort is required will be worth it down the road. Choosing adoptive parents for your child is a sacred responsibility – it’s one moment in life you want to get right. When you spend time with the prospective adoptive parents in-person, you’ll have a chance to watch them interact with one another, to observe their non-verbal communication, get to know them in a relaxed setting and begin bonding with them before baby arrives.
The agency or attorney doesn’t require a written post-adoption contact agreement.
If your adoption social worker tells you it’s fine to merely have a verbal agreement (or handshake deal) that covers your post-adoption contact or, worse yet, casually suggests that you and the adoptive parents should chat about post-adoption contact at the hospital and let her know what you decide, it’s time to push back. Note: If you’ve followed our above advice (see no. 2), you will have your own attorney and this won’t even be an issue!). But if not, you still need to politely (but firmly) request that the agency or attorney assist you and the adoptive parents work out a mutually agreeable contact agreement and put it in writing for all to sign. After all, that is precisely the job of both an adoption agency and attorney.
In 2018, the majority of domestic adoptions are categorized as “open.” It’s important to know that “open adoption” can be defined in many different ways, ranging from receiving periodic pictures and letters of your child, to seeing him or her on a regular basis. Be honest with the adoptive parents about what you want in terms of post-adoption contact and why you think it will be best for your child. Adoptive parents, as well as birth parents, are often guilty of tip-toeing around this issue, not wanting to stir up conflict. We promise you that it’s much better to have those difficult conversations up front, with the help of a knowledgeable adoption counselor than to have to deal with hurt feelings, misunderstanding and resentment later. (Tip: If you really don’t feel up to having contact in the near future, ask for an agreement that reserves your right to request letters and photos (and even visits) later. That way, if down the road you change your mind, it won’t be too late no matter how many months apart between your decision and the baby’s birth.
The agency or attorney doesn’t offer you adequate counseling with an experienced and licensed therapist who is experienced with issues of grief and loss.
We’ve noticed lately that just about every adoption agency and attorney’s website out there promises 24/7 counseling and support for birth mothers. “We’re here for you” is the typical mantra. Unfortunately, our experience with birth moms at all stages in their post-placement journey tells a different story. The truth is that very few adoption agencies (and even fewer adoption attorneys) offer anything close to adequate post-placement care for birth mothers. Placing a baby for adoption is a traumatic life event. In order for a birth mother to begin to heal, she needs access to therapy (and not just for 2 or 3 sessions), peer support from other birth mothers (preferably those who are farther along in their post-placement recovery) and sustained care from family and friends. Make sure you thoroughly discuss this issue with the adoption agency or attorney before you agree to work with them in your adoption. If comprehensive, post-placement support is not a regular part of how they care for birth mothers, it may be best to find a different adoption professional.