Adoption. Where do I go to learn more?
January 6, 2013 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Adoption. There's too much about it on the internet. Can you help me find the wheat without dealing with too much chaff?

I want to learn more about adoption, and I know that it's an evolving topic with lots of complexity, but I really don't want to get caught up in the confusing world of forums, blogs, people arguing endlessly, etc. I just want to go to a source I can trust, at least to start. Does such a source exist? Can be on or offline.

More info about me:
-married (heterosexual)
-not really religious
-open to domestic or international adoption, open or closed
-would prefer to adopt a baby (this is in part due to the fact that I have come to adoption through infertility struggles)

Thanks so much.
posted by Anonymousness to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I am an adoptee and a birthmother and also a social work major hoping to go into the adoption field. If you want first hand experience, feel free to me-mail me. Also, James Gritter has a myriad of different books on the subject that really delve into the "wheat" of adoption as you call it.
posted by camylanded at 2:08 PM on January 6, 2013

Depends what country you are in, and if in US, what state you live in. Are you looking for step 1, 2, 3 here's how to do it type information? or are you looking for pros and cons? or what the experience will be like financially and timewise?
posted by SyraCarol at 2:10 PM on January 6, 2013

Sorry. Here we go.
posted by camylanded at 2:10 PM on January 6, 2013

Response by poster: SyraCarol: California. As for what kind of info I'm seeking, I'd say all of the above, but with an emphasis on reliable wisdom and data. It seems that a lot of the sources online are either highly personal/anecdotal, or a bit "corporate" and therefore potentially sugarcoated.
posted by Anonymousness at 2:18 PM on January 6, 2013

Mod note: Folks, the OP is looking for sources, not opinions. MetaTalk is your option if that's a problem for you.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:20 PM on January 6, 2013

I just want to go to a source I can trust, at least to start.

Adoption is deeply polarized -- pro vs con, domestic vs international, open vs closed -- which makes such a single source hard to come by. I'm sure people will be happy to share the sources they personally found the most trustworthy: I prefer Adoption Nation to other guide books because of all the mainstream books I think it does the best job of balancing the triad. You might also want to join the women on the forums at ADL, many of whom are experienced with various forms of adoption.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:36 PM on January 6, 2013

MeMail me with your questions.
My wife is executive director for an adoption agency. While not in California, we can certainly answer whatever basic questions you might have. Adoption laws, of course, vary state-to-state.

I can tell you that the general trend nationwide is toward open adoptions.

Religion isn't that big of a deal. A lot of adoptive couples are fairly religious, though.

International adoption is a bit of a basket case right now. I'm sure you're aware of the recent to-do re: Russian adoptions. Frankly, Americans did it to themselves. There was an unfortunate string of abuse cases on the part of US adoptive parents over the last few years. Other nations are tightening their requirements, too. Depending on where you are, domestic adoption can actually be quicker than international, unless you're holding-out for a perfect white baby. Then, your wait can be very lengthy, unless you luck into a private adoption through a lawyer.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:02 PM on January 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

DarlingBri beat me to it - Adoption Nation is very informative and helps you understand the complexity of adoption in the US. Also, if you know anyone who has adopted, was adopted, or is a birthparent, they are an amazing resource. We learned more from talking to people than we did from any book available.

Also, feel free to memail myself or Slothrop - we came to adoption through the same route.
posted by dirtmonster at 3:07 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Because requirements vary from state to state, I recommend starting with the California Department of Social Services. They should be able to help explain the requirements for you and your husband and direct you to a licensed adoption agency.
posted by kbar1 at 3:14 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is a mefite who runs a blog about her adoption experiences, danged if I can remember her username, now.

Just Nthing regarding your "one source" requirement, that's quite an ask, as it's a super controversial topic with a huge range of opinion - as opposed to one "true" truth.

And Nthing that Adoption Nation is a fine place, to start. Good luck to you.
posted by smoke at 7:15 PM on January 6, 2013

This definitely falls in the "highly personal/anecdotal" category, but perhaps one of the blogs on this blogroll is written by someone in your area, or in your circumstances.
posted by juliplease at 8:10 PM on January 6, 2013

Make it a priority to read first family and adoptee experiences. Adoption is a long process, and then parenting your adopted child is a couple of decades, so having their voices right from the start really helps when you're making crucial decisions.

Adoptive parent voices are overwhelming online and offline, especially if you are an adoptive parent and your own personal experience naturally biases you to prefer the same.

I had to actively force myself at first to seek out adoptee and first family memoirs and blogs, because I felt criticized and unheard but they have made my relationship with my kids immeasurably better.

Here are a few blogs I follow that have been helpful over time:
  • Yoon's Blur - no longer active, but so so worth going through the archives.
  • Lost Daughters - wonderful. No adoptive parent commenting allowed, a really good place to listen.
  • Love Isn't Enough - a good collection on transracial parenting
  • Harlow's Monkey - also wonderful, and good analysis.
  • Rage against the Minivan - Adoptive parent, internationally and fostercare - I don't entirely agree with her adoption stance but her blog includes diverse voices about adoption and she herself is an awesome adoptive mom.
  • is particularly assertive and good for a voice against the pastel paternalism of the agency-dominated stuff.
I just went to the library and checked out everything they had written by an adoptee in the memoirs section. You need to read a range because their experiences are so diverse.

I would also recommend doing the same for books specific to infertility and adoption. They tend to polarize between "This is God's plan and your baby is in someone else's womb across the world!" and "This hurts. That will hurt in a different way." I had to read a bunch of first chapters to find something that worked for me.

I disagree for Adoption Nation. In my opinion, it severely underestimates how pervasive trafficking and family exploitation is in adoption and spins everything towards what is easier for adoptive parents.

E.J. Graff has written several long very good and well researched pieces on adoption. They are must-reads if you're thinking of international adoption.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:04 PM on January 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

Labor of the Heart: A Parent's Guide to the Decisions and Emotions in Adoption
New empirical research by Kathleen Whitten, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and adoptive mother, and other experts in the field contradicts many of the outdated myths presented to parents and written about in widely-used adoption guides. Whitten separates fact from fiction and leads parents by the hand through the many emotional impacts the process involves. Written in a reassuring, conversational tone, the author tells parents when they should listen to their heart-and when practical considerations are too important to ignore. Each chapter features workbook section with constructive exercises and stimulating questions.
It provides an excellent base from which to make the big decisions that will drive your further research. If you decide that international adoption isn't for you, for example, you can skip that exhausting and complex issue altogether.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:33 PM on January 6, 2013

Oh, and I'd also hold off on contacting an agency until you have a more firm idea of what you want and don't want. You might decide that you don't even want to work through an agency, for example.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:38 PM on January 6, 2013

I am an adoptive dad. My girls, from China, are now 14 and 16 years old.

One of the things my wife and I did before we decided to adopt was to go to a number informational meetings at various local adoption agencies. I think that will provide you with a foundation that will help you make your decision.

Best of luck. I will say it's been an incredible experience. And when I looked at my daughter's eyes for the first time in that far away city in China, it suddenly occurred to me there might be a God. I'm not a religious person at all. But to think that I traveled half way around the world for this baby, it felt like we were destined to meet. It's what those in the Chinese adoption area call "the red thread."
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 3:48 PM on January 7, 2013

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