An Insider's Perspective About The Adoption Process
I became a lawyer in 2006 to help build families. As an adoptee, I always had an interest in non-traditional family formation, especially adoption. Since the day I moved to Los Angeles, I became part of its very vibrant adoption community; we have one of the only groups in the country that hosts support groups that are inclusive of every member of the adoption constellation (adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents). It is revolutionary in practice and substance, in that it highlights the many, many ways in which we are alike and how so much of what we experience is similar.
But little did I know that the legal landscape of family and specifically adoption law was so complex in Los Angeles. There were few attorneys who were doing what I wanted to do and even fewer willing to give me the opportunity to learn from them. After many months of attempting to get my foot in the door, one attorney who has been a solo practitioner specializing in domestic adoption for decades was kind enough to allow me to hang around his office and observe. As an intern!
I learned everything I know about the adoption process from Durand Cook. I interviewed clients, mediated adoptive placements, filed paperwork, and appeared in court. What I realized during my time there was that people going through the adoption process were making very fundamental decisions about their adoption journey before they arrived in Durand’s office – or any attorney’s office – with no guidance. I could only imagine where they were getting the information they needed to make these decisions about the most important journey of their lives – late-night Googling sessions, referrals from friends whose needs were a bit -- or a lot -- different.
Some of the information getting passed along was on point, relevant, and helpful. But some was inaccurate and even harmful, fueling myths that were creating hopeful yet fearful prospective adoptive parents. It wasn’t uncommon for people to ask about the day someone would knock on their door to take their child away, or reflect on how they almost didn’t look into adoption because they heard it was too hard, too long, too expensive, too much of an emotional rollercoaster, and on and on.
It’s true that there are challenges with adoption, like anything. And of course no two adoptive journeys are the same but for the majority of people pursuing adoption, the reality is that it is a very attainable goal. I always tell clients if you are committed to it, it’s not if, but when. For instance, if funds are a point of concern, there are many ways to be creative about funding your adoption, and also methods to ensure that you receive significant tax refunds. Most of the time, someone’s adoption journey takes less than a year, but there are a few significant factors that will impact wait time. I always assure clients that once an adoption is finalized, it is permanent and irrevocable.
There are more than 18,000 domestic adoptions every year across the United States. Roughly 100,000 people are impacted by adoption annually if we assume that each -- not all – adoption involves five people (the adoptee, adoptive parents, and birth parents). Additionally, adoption is on the rise as more and more of us form non-traditional families by choice and by circumstance. Adoption is so very prevalent in all of our communities, yet it remains so elusive.
I searched long and hard for the place, the organization, person or people or group or network that offered curated information about logistics on adoption (cost, wait time, professionals involved) as well as the educational aspect of it (open adoption, post-placement contact agreements, support groups) -- the comprehensive approach.
This place or person or network or group did not exist. It simply was not a service that was offered. Each professional in the adoption community offered only their particular set of services. Meanwhile, I found myself answering random calls that came my way about all of the above and more, often. These one-time conversations often led to long-term communication with people who kept me updated on their adoption journeys, reaching out with new questions at each milestone.
I felt so strongly that people should be able to enter this journey with curated information that would help them understand how to navigate this complex and often emotionally fragile and complicated environment, that I had no problem devoting my energy to it. A friend one day asked why I hadn’t officially started this as a business. I protested with many reasons why it wouldn’t be possible. She looked at me with absolute clarity and said “you are already doing it!”
The Adoption Insider was born almost one year ago today. I have had clients locally and nationwide. They are single and coupled, they are every facet of the modern family you can imagine. Each one has taught me something that I did not know. I am so grateful for this.
My mission remains to offer transparent, curated information about adoption in all its splendor and challenges so people are well-informed, empowered members of the adoptive constellation. I am a strong advocate of full and total transparency because well-informed prospective adoptive parents create attuned caregivers, which greatly impacts the children they raise. I hope to give my clients a sense of camaraderie, a haven of support and an opportunity to form a lifelong community that understands the unique nuances of everything that is the very complex and also incredibly joyous journey of adoption.