I am excited to do a Q+A series this month in honor of National Adoption month! Jeremy and I get so many questions and so our goal this month is to cover a big variety of adoption related questions (we’ll definitely talk about financial stuff, fears, the adoption process and challenges). And Jeremy is going to write some of the posts too (I just made him promise.. haha).
So, I’ll just jump right in with the first question! I’m doing two questions today because they pair together.
Q: Where do you start? What are the first steps?
A: Choose a social worker.
The first step is to choose a local social worker who can do your home study. If you have already chosen what type of adoption you want to do (domestic, foster care, international….) that’s great, but if you haven’t made a final decision your social worker may be able to help guide you by sharing what they know about these different programs. We have had two social workers (our first social worker stopped practicing after Nova’s adoption) and they have both been incredibly knowledgable and experienced. Since social workers work with local families who adopt from all the different programs they are a great resource to ask about the differences and the pros and cons of each program.
Choose your program.
A lot of people don’t know that when you adopt internationally you have to choose which country pretty early on. You can’t just stay open to “any country”.
There are so many good options when choosing a program. A lot of people ask our advice for what is the “best” program and I feel like they are basically asking us to explain why China is a better choice since it’s what we chose.
Honestly there is not a best program- it’s more about finding what is the best fit for your family. Different programs have different rules for qualification- most families and individuals don’t qualify for every single program in the world, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another program that will work! When we decided to begin our first adoption we looked into a lot of different programs and the best places we found to get information were our social worker, our agency and other families who have been through each particular program.
I am so passionate about this next statement… there is no wrong program to choose. There is no better or best. Choosing ANY option is a beautiful choice. As adoptive parents none of us are solving the orphan crisis. Most of us can only give a family to one child at a time. For that reason I encourage families to not put so much pressure on the choice of which program. A lot of people feel drawn to one program or another, but if you find yourself on the fence just talk to families and/or read adoption stories from families who have adopted through different programs and pick whichever one feels best for you. There is no right or wrong.
Choose an agency.
We get so many questions about what is the best agency. Having only worked with Holt, we don’t feel qualified to compare them to other agencies but we have had a good experience.
Your agency (or adoption lawyer if you are doing a private domestic adoption) will be a big part of your life during your adoption process and I think you should feel compatible and comfortable with them. A quick phone call is the first step. Just write down your questions and be totally honest about any concerns you have.
Something I have learned is that adoptive families tend to be extremely nervous of being rejected. It can be tough to be super honest about questions and concerns- but I do think it’s extremely important. Remember that agencies and social workers don’t want to turn families away. In fact, it’s their job to guide you toward options that are best for your family. You don’t have to be afraid of rejection, get as much information as you can!
Considering adoption? Our agency, Holt International, is happy to talk you through different options for adoption (it’s free and there is zero commitment). Holt has adoption programs for China, Korea, Vietnam, Colombia, Thailand, the Philippines, Haiti and India. You can get in touch with them by clicking here.