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WAITING FOR BABY: Cracking the adoption books

By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 at 10:41 am in Adoption.

baby(“Waiting for Baby” is a closer look at adoption and my family’s personal experience as we go through the process. It will appear every Wednesday in the aPARENTly Speaking blog.)

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.

bookI 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.

book2Pair 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.

book3The 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.

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2 Responses to “WAITING FOR BABY: Cracking the adoption books”

  1. Mirah Says:

    There are many other issues one should read about when considering child adoption other than prices and what is quickest and easiest and safest FOR THE ADOPTERS.

    There are ETHICAL considerations.

    There are other people’s lives involved in your decision. There is what is best for the child and his/her mother, father and extended fmaily.

    I might suggest that you add to your reading list blogs and books by adoptees. See how they feel.May are very angry, specifically internationally adopted persons.

    Read blogs and books written by mothers, father and family members who have lost children to adoption. Read about the coercion and exploitation.

    Google David Smolin and read about child trafficking.

    AND….if you want the safest, cheapest adoption with no risk whatsoever of a mother, father or anyone coming back…is to adopt one of the 100,000+ children in foster care who have no family to be returned to.

    Remember that the purpose of adoption is to find homes for children, not vice versa.

    The U.N. states that adoption should be a LAST RESORT for children after all efforts to keep his family in tact have been tried and failed.

    Mirah Riben, author
    THE STORK MARKET: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry

  2. Ann Tatko-Peterson Says:

    Mirah Riben makes some excellent points in her comment. Understanding the ethical issues is important, and certainly the next step in the deciding to adopt process. There will be a later post about books to read and other resources that will help in understanding how adoptees feel. Also, we will talk about open adoption, which has gone a long way to helping birth families and forging lifelong relationships, as well as adoptive families.

    As for saying that adopting a foster child has “no risk whatsoever,” that’s too broad a statement and not necessarily true. There are a lot of emotional issues, coupled with tremendous risk, in some cases. I know of cases where the adoption fell through for legal reasons, including changes in county laws, and another situation where the adopted child had severe emotional issues when his birthfather tried to re-enter his life.

    The point is that adoption, no matter the circumstances, is not something to take lightly. And I’m sure you will find that the majority who go down this path have done a lot of soul-searching and fact-finding before proceeding.

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