For the past several years, I have been convinced that becoming an adoptive parent someday is a calling for my life. Last summer I spent time volunteering at a large private adoption agency to get a better idea about what adopting through an agency is all about. I was hoping that I could learn about the process, and continue my dreams of someday becoming an adoptive parent. It was an incredibly positive experience.
The agency I worked with is one of the oldest and largest adoption agencies in the country, and it was created by people who loved children and saw a need for older children who were living on the streets to be placed with families so that they wouldn’t have to take care of themselves anymore. Originally these children came down to Texas on trains from big cities on the east coast. They stayed with the adoption organizers until they were placed with Texas families. Over the last hundred years the agency has grown and changed to specialize more in infant adoption.
My time at the agency was spent mostly tying up any loose ends that the employees needed done to make their workdays a little easier. I spent a lot of time in the insurance department helping file insurance applications and agreements for expectant mothers who were either living at the agency or living at home and keeping contact with the agency during their pregnancies.
The woman in charge of the insurance department was a lovely woman with a heart of gold. She was constantly on the phone trying to get Medicare, Medicaid, or any other possible financial help for the expectant mothers’ quickly growing medical bills. She worked her fingers to the bone, and she was almost completely buried in paperwork. She had a love for every expectant mother who walked through the doors because she knew how much work it would take to get all those bills paid, being a mother of four herself. She took care of the insurance needs of expectant mothers who had just recently contacted the agency all the way back to women who had given birth years ago. It did not matter if the mothers had given their children for adoption or decided to raise their own children, she made sure that all of their paperwork was filed on time and taken care of so that they would not have to worry about their medical bills.
I also helped make the calendars in the event planning department. This agency has the wonderful resources to plan events for birthmothers, adoptive families, and adoptees so that they may keep in touch. The agency helps introduce adoptees to one anther so that the kids can make friends who share similar stories and experiences. Event planning was a lot of work. The woman in charge had to plan for different regions throughout not only Texas, but also in other states. She had to take into account holidays and other scheduling conflicts to make a best time for most invitees to attend. The agency didn’t just plan one event per region per year. She had multiple events per region every month. She worked hard to make sure that everyone involved with the agency could participate as often as possible even if they had relinquished parental rights or adopted children years before.
My last day at the agency happened to be the beginning of one of the agency’s Adoption Orientation weekends for prospective adoptive parents, and I had the privilege of attending and observing. The agency provides an orientation weekend for adoptive parents not only to inform them about the adoption process, but also to make sure that they are serious about adopting. The agency provides workshops at the orientation where prospective adoptive parents can look at profile booklets, learn about their options with tax information, religion, the legal aspect of adoption, and many other aspects of the process.
The agency also had two expectant mothers come in to talk about their experiences with the agency. One had chosen a family to adopt her child when he was born, and the other was still deciding if she wanted to raise her child or place him for adoption. The prospective adoptive parents were able to ask them questions about their care and treatment at the agency and their goals for the future with adoption. Also, an adoptive family came in to talk about their experience with the agency, the birthmother who relinquished her parental rights to them, and their two year-old bundle of joy. Prospective adoptive parents asked them questions about their experiences with the agency and any advice they had for those who were serious about completing the process. Some of the couples seemed eager to get the process started, while others had more questions they needed answered before continuing the journey. The agency made sure everyone walked away from the first day satisfied that knew what they were getting into and all of their options.
I feel like adopting from a large agency like this one would be a good idea simply for the fact that it is well staffed and well equipped to deal with all sorts of situations and needs. The people I met who worked there were wonderful. They obviously love their jobs. They feel like they make a difference in people’s lives, and they enjoy themselves. The expectant mothers I met seemed extremely satisfied with the care they received and the help they were given in choosing the right option for them, or the right adoptive family for them. The adoptive parents I talked to seemed overjoyed with their child and with the journey they undertook to bring that child into their home. Overall, everyone was happy and excited with the outcome. The process was productive, everyone’s rights and wishes were respected, the birthmother placed her child with a family she felt would raise her child with the values she held, and the adoptive family received a new addition that they were excited to raise and love.
Large private agencies may not be the best option for everyone when considering adoption, but from what I can tell, the agency I worked with seems to have the kinks figured out in the adoption process so that it can go as smoothly and happily as possible. Because this agency is so big, it has more resources at its fingertips, a larger staff to handle any issues that may arise, more one-on-one care for both expectant mothers and adoptive families, and it sincerely strives to make the experience joyful for everyone involved. A smaller agency or direct placement arena, while just as caring, may not be able to provide all of the amenities that a large one can. This is not to say that direct placement is a bad idea. Each person looking to get involved in adoption needs to find what is right for that person. Perhaps a large agency is not best for everyone, but since I was involved in it firsthand, I can see the advantages of going through the larger arena simply because of all it can offer. I look forward to the day that I get to become an adoptive parent, and I hope that I can have the wonderful experience that those previously involved with this large agency felt.