Even parents without adopted children know that the process is often a long, draining and expensive one. All successful adoptive parents will be the first to tell you that none of the trials matter once they have their child, or children, in their homes. Still, adoption is a complicated and competitive process and is not for the faint of heart.
Which is why many prospective adoptive parents are taking matters into their own hands. With the prevalence of social networking, parents are foregoing traditional adoption means, like agencies, and reaching out to find their families online. While independent adoption is not a new concept, the rise in adoptions procured via social networking is on the rise.
'I never thought ten years ago that I would have three kids today'
|James (left) and Sam welcome new |
baby sister, McKenna
"For me it was not about having a biological child. It was just about being able to be pregnant. As a woman, I wanted to try for that," Meghan told me over the phone.
After a few years of fertility treatments, Meghan and Kenny decided it was time to look into adoption. They knew that they did not want to go the traditional adoption agency route for a few reasons. The first was that they wanted an open adoption -- for their child to be able to know his or her birth family. Meghan also felt that the views of many agencies did not match the ethics of her and her husband.
"Agencies charge a lot of money and tend to be coercive towards birth mothers. They will do anything to place a child," she explained. Meghan knew that was not for them. As a manicurist, Meghan had time flexibility to do her own research and seek out adoption on her family's terms.
They adopted their oldest, Sam, six years after getting married. With Sam, Meghan says that they did not utilize any online resources because she was not very Internet savvy.
"We put ads in newspapers, that sort of thing," Meghan said. "We ended up finding Sam through some friends who had a niece looking for adoptive parents for her child."
By the time they were ready to add another baby to the family, Meghan had schooled herself in the online ways of open adoption. She started a blog, joined some adoption-focused social networks and created a Facebook page. Finding their next child, James, took a couple of years and they learned a few things in the process.
Like about the reality of scammers. In two cases, Meghan spent time and energy on birth mothers who ended up not even being pregnant. While she and Kenny, a police officer, were not duped out of any cash, there was an emotional toll.
"There are emotional scammers out there, who want nothing more than the attention," Meghan explained. "They are very good. And you have to be careful."
Still, she never gave up hope. A birth mother reached out to Meghan and Kenny after viewing their profile on the popular adoption networking site, ParentGallery.com. James joined the family just over a year ago. The relationship that Meghan and Kenny formed with both of James' parents was a strong one. So strong, in fact, that Meghan received a call a few months after the adoption from James' parents -- a call telling her that they were pregnant again and going to consider adoption. Three months ago, James' little sister McKenna was welcomed with open arms into the family of four.
Though she is done with adoption for now, Meghan still maintains her blog, but admits that she does not have the time to update it nearly as often. She sends any prospective information that she receives to friends in her adoptive parent circle. She hopes to do everything in her power to help others find the happiness that she has found with her growing family.
"I never thought ten years ago that I would have three kids today," Meghan told me, apologizing for crying. "It's just too wonderful."
'It's not all rainbows and unicorns'
|Susan and John hope to meet their baby |
through social networking
Like Meghan and Kenny, Susan and John tried to start a family the traditional way. After meeting and marrying in their late 30s, however, they soon found the road to family creation a bumpy one. They tried a few fertility treatments before deciding it was a process that was not for them.
"We did not need a biological child. We only wanted to have a family," Susan explained. Their adoption journey began at that realization.
They ruled out foreign adoption early on, as many countries were closing the doors of opportunity at the time they began their search. They considered going through an agency but quickly determined that they could do better on their own.
"I had a women from an agency be very upfront with me. She told me that our ages (now mid-40s) could hurt us and would make it very difficult to find a birth mother," Susan said. She appreciated the honesty and also recognized that they could represent themselves much better on their own.
"Age is relative. When people meet us, there are so many other things about us that they learn first and the age is sort of a side note. With these agencies, it is the first thing they show these birth mothers."
So Susan has made it her "permanent part-time job" to reach out to parents through social networking mediums like Twitter, CafeMom, Parent Profiles, Adoption Voices and even Craigslist.
Susan has had several responses online but none that have worked out just yet. She and John are also looking for an open adoption and that narrows the potential families. They have had two situations that looked promising but after discussing them with their lawyer, it became clear that legalities would make it an impossible match. John and Susan were forced to make "painful decisions" to walk away.
Susan maintains a positive attitude though, telling me that she feels like the baby for them is "just around the corner."
Susan is happy for friends like Meghan and Kenny who have succeeded in completing their family through independent adoption and social networking means. It gives her hope.
"We don't sit around grieving where we are in this process," she explained. "It's not all rainbows and unicorns and we probably weren't completely prepared for the reality when we started. There are ups and downs. But I believe we are close to finding our baby."
To contact Susan and John, visit their blog or email them at email@example.com.
To contact Meghan and Kenny, visit their blog.
You can contact Katie by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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