By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 at 10:41 am in Adoption.
Adoption looked and sounded scary when my husband and I first decided to begin this journey. As a TV junkie and avid reader, I’ve come across my share of stories: the birthmother changes her mind, taking the baby back from devastated adoptive parents; the birthfather suddenly appears out of thin air and puts a halt to the adoption proceedings; adoptive parents spend years on a waiting list. Fear and doubt usually accompany the start of most adoptions. It’s not that we don’t want a baby, but after years of disappointment — the natural byproduct of infertility — we simply don’t want another broken-heart.
On top of the misperceptions, adoption comes with plenty of questions: attorney or agency, domestic or international, open or closed? How do you pay for it? What about medical issues? Bottom line: where do you even begin? The only way to get answers, and put a little truth behind the misperceptions, is to do some homework. And so, I found myself in the bookstore staring at a shelf filled with adoption books.
I got lucky. My colleague Jackie Burrell knew about our decision to adopt. So when a new adoption book hit her desk in late 2007, she immediately sent it my way. “Adoption: The Essential Guide to Adopting Quickly and Safely” by Randall Hicks ($15.95, Perigee Trade) was a life-saver. This practical guide is written by a California attorney who has helped oversee more than 900 adoptions. He cuts to the chase by giving a broad overview of any and everything adoption. (The only drawback is that as an attorney, he’s leans a little more toward going the attorney than the agency route.) What made this guide invaluable is that it outlines up-to-date adoption laws and guidelines for all 50 states, plus it offers a comprehensive list of attorneys and agencies in each state. (And in doing my own research, I found only one California agency not included in the book.) It’s a must-read.
Pair that one with “The Adoption Decision: 15 Things You Want to Know Before Adopting” by Laura Christianson ($13.99, Harvest House Publishers). Not quite as heavy on practical facts, this book still does an excellent job of addressing some big issues — and debunking all those TV shows and fictional stories about adoption. Christianson covers how to deal with extended famiy, expenses, the role of the birth parents, race and culture and emotional/behavioral/physical challenges. She tells about real-life stories, which gives this a nice personal touch and makes it an excellent choice for early-in-the-process reading. It went a long way toward easing my fears.
The unfortunate drawback of adoption “guides” is that within a year of publication, most are out-dated. That’s because so much on the adoption landscape is constantly changing. To help deal with this, the publisher of Adoptive Families Magazine prints an updated “Adoption Guide” ($14.95, New Hope Communications) every year. In the magazine format, this guide contains attorney and agency listings, Web sites, the best books on the market, deciding between domestic and international adoption and how to handle expenses. It’s also a great just-starting-out resource.
Once you’re in the adoption game, you will find a lot of other beneficial books. By then, you’ll know what topics pertain to your situation. But in the initial fact finding stages, practical information is a must and these three books are an excellent starting point. Of course, they are merely three possibilities. If you’ve come across others that helped early on, please include them in the Comments section below or send us an e-mail. We’d love to know what other resources are worth a look.