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Domestic Adoption

Domestic Adoption Experiences and Other Insights

By Betsy Buckley, author of The Greatest Gift

As with international adoption, domestic adoptions can be facilitated with the help of an agency, although sometimes an adopting couple or individual is frustrated by the law of supply and demand. Many individuals are looking for healthy Caucasian infants to complete their families and at times, there simply are not enough for immediate placement. More and more prospective adoptive parents are writing their own 'Dear Birth Mom' letters, placing ads in local and national newspapers, and using a variety of other means to help them locate expectant mothers, mothers who might be thinking of putting their babies up for adoption and are unsure of where to turn. Though they can be time consuming and emotionally draining, efforts like these can be successful. Speaking directly with expectant moms about their wishes and needs, however, can leave a person feeling extremely vulnerable. One couple I interviewed installed a separate telephone line into their home so they wouldn't miss a call. In addition, it's not unheard of for one of the spouses to quit his or her job in order to be available to answer the phone. "Who would want to miss even one phone call by not being there? Expectant moms might never call back," said a father of two adopted boys living in Detroit.

Parents like Paul and Suzie, who met on a blind date, plan to contact expectant mothers by displaying their bibliographical flyers in every imaginable place. "Different individuals have come up with clever places to hang them for us," she explained, "such as maternity wards, libraries, supermarkets, church halls and YMCA's. We have postings up all around the country." Hiring a private attorney who can assist in locating a child is another method used by singles and couples pursuing domestic adoption.

The waiting period for the finalization of a domestic adoption varies widely from state to state. Some states require a two-day waiting period; other states, like New York, have required in the past a forty-five day period. Domestic adoptions differ from international adoption, in part, by the nature of the contact between birth parents and adoptive parents and adopted children. Domestic adoptions can be closed, either semi-open, or open, depending upon the agreement signed by the birth parents. Some birth parents cherish full contact with adoptive parents and find these types of relationships very satisfying. Others, after considering their options, decide to limit or have no contact with their biological child and adoptive family. One of the reasons I heard for deciding to adopt domestically was a strong desire to locate a child of similar race. For a number of parents, that meant reaching out to children with disadvantages-children with disabilities of all sorts, hard-to place sibling groups, and older children.

Domestic adoptions, like international adoptions, are sometimes clouded by negative publicity. A handful of recent stories that received heavy media coverage, for example, included photographs of tearful adoptive families being torn apart by reemerging biological parents. In cases like these, the rights of birth parents and adoptive parents can become temporarily blurred. It can be a devastating experience for the adoptive parents and disruptive for the adopted child. One person suggested that birth parents that reappear should have to pay a type of alimony. Yet, for the number of domestic adoptions in which the biological parents do return to take their child, there are thousands more with happy conclusions. Domestic adoptions, including those with single, gay, and lesbian adoptive parents, have worked wonderfully for the vast majority who chose to share their experiences.

Copyright 2001, Betsy Buckley
Originally published in The Greatest Gift, Oct. 2001, Creative Arts Book Company. Reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. Read review of The Greatest Gift.

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