For Prospective Adoptive Parents
Entering the world of adoption is often very confusing. There are so many options, so much information, and so many factors to consider. For those who are considering adoption, I help people understand the many complexities involved in International and Domestic Adoption, explore the options available, and consider which variables are most important to them. See also the descriptions of workshops for parents, below.
Issues to consider include factors such as:
- Age, Gender, Race, and Ethnicity of the Child(ren) to be Adopted
- Health Concerns and Medical History
- Openness and Contact with Birthparents
- Costs and Length of Waiting Period
- Options for Single Adoptive Parents and Same Sex Couples
For those considering Domestic Adoption, areas to consider include
- Choosing Private (or Independent) Adoption with an Attorney or Use of an Adoption Agency
- How to Select an Agency or Attorney
- Understanding the Home Study
- Finding and Talking with Birthparents
- Writing a “Dear Birthparent” Letter
- Deciding on Degrees of “Openness”
- Issues Pertaining to Adoption of Older Children
- Birthfather Issues
- The Importance of Networking
- Transracial Adoption
For those considering International Adoption, issues include:
- Longterm Implications of Orphanage Care
- Choosing a Country
- Selecting an Agency
- Understanding the Home Study and Dossier
- Preparing to Travel
- Helping the Child to Adjust
- Issues pertaining to the adoption of older children
- Transracial adoption
Issues In Domestic Adoption
Deciding on the Variables: Degrees of Openness, Birthfather Involvement, Health Risks, Legal Risk, and More
Once you’ve reached the point of deciding to go forward with domestic adoption, you face another array of decisions that you need to make. There are no “right answers” on any them. Rather, what’s important is that you and your partner do some soul searching, both separately and together, so that you can be realistic about what you can and cannot live with as you seek the right adoption plan. “Openness” isn’t a “yes” or a “no” decision; it’s about exactly how much openness along the continuum you plan to have (full disclosure, visits, exchange of letters and pictures, e-mails, phone calls) both pre and post-placement. Are you OK with the idea of multiple possible birthfathers? An unknown birthfather? A baby conceived as an act of rape? A baby exposed to alcohol and/or drugs in utero? Are you willing to take a baby into your home during the “legal risk” period, when the birthparents still have the right to change their minds? While many aspects need to be decided upon on a case by case basis, it’s still helpful to become clear on general guidelines and preferences on these dimensions, as well as any absolutes that exist for you. Come and discuss all of these aspects, knowing that no “right” or “wrong” answer will be afforded. You will be encouraged instead to look within and be open to new ideas but also honest with yourself in the process of decision making.
Dealing with Everyone Else: How to Tactfully Keep Others Informed as You Pursue Adoption
People’s reactions to the news that someone they know is planning to adopt are varied – and not always helpful. You might hear that you “should just keep trying” to get pregnant, or you might be overloaded with lots of well intentioned (mis) information. The process can take a long time, and there are many ups and downs. People’s enthusiasm and desire for details may or may not be welcome. Learn how to develop your own style for tactfully handling all the concerned Aunt Harriets in your life. Decide how much information to share, and how, when, and with whom. This is another one of those “no right or wrong answer” areas, but we will discuss both the positive and potentially negative aspects of sharing information with your family and friends.
Post Adoption Counseling
Adoption Counseling is available for families who are further along in their adoptive journey. Counseling for birthparents, adoptive parents, and child/teen/adult adoptees is designed to help with whatever issues are arising at a particular time for the individual or family. Susan has worked with all members of the adoption triad – birthparents, adoptees, and adoptive parents – and is sensitive to the issues involved.
For Birth Parents
No matter what stage of pregnancy you are in, or how likely or unlikely you think it is that you will ultimately place your child for adoption, counseling from an objective third party is an important part of the process. My goal is to listen and provide you with information about all of the choices that are available to you: working with an adoption agency, an adoption attorney, doing a private placement, or planning to parent your child yourself. My hope is to provide a supportive and non-judgmental atmosphere so that you can come to the best decision for you and for your child. I commend you for even considering adoption as an option.
Being adopted is a part of one’s identity forever. There are times when issues relating to having been adopted may surface, and you may want to talk through some of these issues with someone who is experienced with adoption related matters. I hope to listen to what your experience with adoption has been and help you to clarify how it has shaped you and what steps, if any, you are ready to take to come to terms with any part of your adoption experience or to provide any closure that may be lacking for you.