As a Communications Director for an adoption agency, I am often asked a lot of interesting questions, especially since a large part of my job involves going out into the community and talking with other agencies, organizations and individuals. Everyone seems to want to know about adoption and how it works.
Throughout the years, I have seen a pattern of similar questions being asked. “Why & how can people give up their child?” “What happens if the birth mother decides she does not want to give up her baby after all?” “Can a birth mother come back and take the baby?” “Do you work with – gasp – same sex couples?” “What happens if someone calls you wanting an abortion – what do you do?”
The list of questions goes on and on, though these seem to be the most recurring. And, like any competent professional, I answer the questions with ease, grace, and do my best to properly educate others on adoption. In honor of November’s National Adoption Awareness Month, I feel it is my duty to bring even more attention to the questions I am asked and provide the public with a deep (and correct) understanding of what adoption is, as well as what it is not.
Adoption is a multi-faceted process. There are many parties involved, many layers, and many types of adoption. For the purpose of this article, I am going to focus solely on what our agency specializes in, domestic infant adoption. Adoption Alliance is a private, small agency that works with both adoptive and birth parents nationwide, hence the domestic terminology. We have been in operation since 1989, founded by our adoption attorney, Dale Johnson, and currently led by his son, Executive Director Justin Johnson. We pride ourselves on being a “family-owned” operation while also helping to build families through adoption.
We work with currently pregnant women as well as women who have recently given birth. We help them with an adoption plan and living expenses. Our birth mothers are typically low-income, single and already have children. They come to us for a variety of reasons – they cannot financially provide for the child, they are not ready to take on the additional responsibility, or maybe parenting is not in their life plan. Whatever the case may be, we welcome them and help them through this difficult time.
When talking with our clients, whether they are adoptive or birth parents, we use positive adoption language. “Placing a child” versus “giving up” as a prime example. Everywhere I go and with everyone I talk to, I make sure to decipher between the two and gently correct people when they say “giving up.” Some continue to push and ask how a person can just give up and walk away from their baby. To them I say a woman is not walking away: She is providing her baby with the best life possible. She is making the ultimate sacrifice for her child. She is not taking the easy road by any means. For the rest of her life, she will think about that child every single day, even the ones who felt parenting was not for them.
We let our birth mothers know their rights. Though it is within their rights to decide to parent their child prior to giving birth and up to 48 hours after giving birth, once they sign the relinquishment paperwork, they do not have any parental rights over the child (they sign relinquishment paperwork 48 hours after giving birth according to Texas state law). Thus, the myth of a birth mother having the right to come back and take her child after the fact is 100 percent false.
Making sure we have what a birth mother needs and wants is important. We make sure to let her know she has control over the situation. She tells us how much financial assistance she needs and she chooses the adoptive family that her child will be placed with. If she wants a single family home, we can accommodate that. If she wants a two parent home, we can do that. If she wants a heterosexual only couple, that is her choice. If she wants a same sex couple, no problem. We create the circumstances based on what a birth mother needs and wants. So, when people ask me if we work with same sex couples, I say yes, we do. We work with all types of individuals and couples. We are proud to.
One thing we do not do is abortion. We are considered an abortion alternative service as outlined in internet searches, online directories and print directories. However, we do receive calls for people who are looking for abortion services. We kindly explain that we are an adoption agency and let them know that we can explore an adoption plan with them if they are experiencing a crisis/unplanned pregnancy. Some will hear us out while others choose not to.
Adoption is a beautiful thing and serves a great purpose in our country as well as around the world. National Adoption Awareness month brings adoption into focus and allows for people to have an opportunity to become educated on it. Whether that is answering questions people have, highlighting adoption stories in the news, posting on social media, writing articles for people to read, or any combination of the above.
To get more information on National Adoption Awareness Month 2015, visit https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/. If you would like to learn more about our agency, visit www.adoptionalliance.com. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, @adoptalliance.