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The ABC's Of Adopting A Child: Part III
Identifying a Child

After you have decided to adopt, the next step in the process is to locate a woman or "birthmother" who plans to place her child up for adoption. When this happens, it is said that the adoptive couple has "identified a child."

Women, men, and occasionally married couples, decide to give their children to other families for different reasons. A single parent or a married couple may not want - or have the financial or emotional ability to raise a child. Whatever the reason, birthparents have the right to seek an adoptive couple to raise their child.

If the birthparents are living in the US, you should be able to adopt their child as long as you abide by the laws in both the state of your residence and the state where the baby is born. Some state laws allow the biological father to decide whether he wants to keep the child or may require him to relinquish his rights as the biological father of the child before adoption.

If you are adopting abroad, you will need to abide by the laws of the child's native country and the laws of the state of your residence. This will depend on the place of adoption.

Here are some ways for prospective adoptive parents to find birth-parents:

  1. Tell everyone you are looking to adopt a child.
    Word of mouth is still the best way to find a child and shouldn't be overlooked. Many people have found children through aunts, cousins, neighbors, and co-workers.
  2. Ask other prospective adoptive parents to keep you in mind.
    No one empathizes with the experience of identifying a birth-mother better than other prospective adoptive parents. Some parents have found their child through couples who had already adopted and passed on prospects to other couples in their adoptive parenting class! Networking of all sorts works!
  3. Advertise yourselves.
    This has become a more popular method of finding a birthmother. Many couples place an advertisement in the legal section of their city newspaper and install a toll-free telephone number into their home to receive calls from prospective birthparents. This allows screening between the sets of parents but can also be risky (you may be tempted to ask birthparents improper or illegal questions and birthparents may get more information about you as prospective parents than you want to divulge). This can be costly, both financially and emotionally.
  4. Pay an agency to advertise for you.
    Again, this can be expensive, but most of the time a professional adoption agency will write the advertisements for you, place the ad properly in the newspaper, and even accept calls for you.
  5. Find a lawyer to advertise for you.
    Many adoption lawyers automatically advertise on billboards, in the phone book and in the newspaper and may give special preference to their clients who help bear some of those expenses.
  6. Use The Internet.
    The Web is an invaluable resource and a global billboard. Create your own website. Families have been contacted by hospitals and other medical agencies because they had advertised their desire for a child on the net. Likewise, many hospitals are now placing pictures on the net of babies who are in need of homes because the hospitals cannot keep the children indefinitely.

Each of these avenues requires you to do some homework; use the locator method that you are most comfortable with. With any luck the right situation will come along and the perfect baby will be ready and waiting for you! 

Resources: Roots & Wings Adoption Magazine P.O. Box 638 Chester, NJ 07930; 908.637.8828 Adoptive Families Magazine 3333 Highway 100 North, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55422; 800.372.3300

Sue-Ann Malinconico is an adoptive mother. She and her husband, Frank, and their son Nicholas reside in Woodbridge.

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