As an adoption consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants, I've seen a drastic increase in the amount of questions that are asked about ethics, agencies, attorneys, fee structures, expectant mother/birth mother care, etc. As an adoptive mother and someone guiding families through the adoption process, I find it very encouraging that families are doing their research and asking the hard questions.
There are a ton of different avenues online where hopeful adoptive families can acquire information regarding adoption. From a quick online Google search to adoption support groups on Facebook-there is so much information out there! There are plenty of amazing adoption resources accessible to families. But, at times all of the information can be very overwhelming. In fact, I've had many families tell me just that. How do you know who you can trust? How do you know what information is accurate?
When I was working on my Master's degree in counseling I wrote many research papers. As a part of my work, I was required to include peer reviewed articles and journals. Peer review means these articles and journals had gone through an extensive series of evaluations by experts and scholars to establish their validity. I couldn't just pick a topic to write about and then "Google" my way through it to make my point. I had to ensure that the material being researched adhered to the highest credentials by the experts on that topic.
We live in a day and age where anyone can learn anything about anything. Although this has many benefits, it also reaps consequences. The consequences are that false, inaccurate and/or incomplete information about a topic has become easily accessible and transmitted to the general public. How many times have you stayed up late at night Googling your symptoms, only to be self-diagnosed with some crazy, rare disease based on someone's random post in a discussion board? Although we can glean a lot from others personal experiences, when it comes to something as important as your health, one would think you’d at least want confirmation on this crazy rare disease by an expert in the field: your doctor.
When my husband and I were researching adoption we quickly realized how much we didn't know about it. I'm so thankful our paths crossed with Christian Adoption Consultants. We felt more at ease knowing they were truly professionals in the field and had been around since 2006, assisting over 2,500 families on their adoption journey. The directors were more than just adoptive parents, they had founded 3 licensed adoption agencies in 3 different states, and had experience in working with adoption attorneys, social workers and case managers as well as state licensing specialists. When we signed on with CAC we weren't just getting access to one adoption consultant, but rather a team of 20 adoption professionals with 120 years of combined professional adoption experience. Four months after we signed on with CAC, we brought our twins home. And we could not have done it without their guidance, encouragement, support and prayers.
Shortly after the birth of our twins, I joined the team at CAC. Although our team has adopted 45 kids (and counting!) between all us, our knowledge goes beyond our experience as adoptive parents. We have team members that hold degrees ranging from masters to bachelors in the counseling, social work, child welfare and human services fields. Additionally, we have a licensed social worker on staff with over 17 years experience.
I'm a firm believer in doing research and asking the hard questions. How do you learn if you don't ask? But I'm also a big proponent in checking your facts and verifying credentials, especially in a day and age where anyone can be an expert. As an adoption consultant, I'm still learning and growing in this field-that will never stop! But I've found that with so much information at our fingertips we can't just accept any information that comes our way. We have to push back and ask questions. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself as you are filtering through adoption information:
1. Where did you acquire this information? Who is the author? Adoption Facebook support groups are great places to learn from other's adoption experiences, but just as you would go to a doctor to verify your Google imposed self-diagnosis, confirm said information with an adoption professional/expert.
2. Is this a fact or opinion? Facts can be verified. Opinions cannot. Just because a lot of people are saying it doesn't mean it's true. It's very easy to repeat information others have heard or said because it sounds right or is dressed in a pretty package. But, do your research. Make sure the sources are credible.
3. When was this information published? The adoption world is constantly changing. While doing your homework make sure you’re looking at the date it was published to ensure it’s relevancy for adoption today.
4. Are they a part of a reputable adoption organization? There are many things that make an organization reputable: education and experience in the field are just a few.
5. What is their relationship to adoption? Are they an adoptee? Birth mom/parent? Adoptive parent? Social worker? Knowing this information will give great insight into where they are coming from. For example, I'm not an adoptee or a birth mother. I can only speak to what I've learned from other adoptees and birth mothers. But, that is second-hand information. That doesn't mean I can't share what I've learned or discredit the information, but it's important for the audience to be aware of the sources relationship to adoption when speaking on it.
6. What topic are they discussing and what are their credentials? For example, someone who is discussing ethics and how it relates to an agency: Do they have any experience working at or with an adoption agency/attorney? Are they a social worker? Have they counseled expectant mamas/ birth parents before? If they haven't personally, are they a part of an organization that has where they are receiving education to be equipped with the knowledge they need to be discussing said topic?
I can't tell you how many people have come to me with inaccurate adoption-related information regarding something they read in an adoption support group on Facebook or the comment section of someone's Instagram account. I’ve seen false information regarding adoption that was essentially just parroted from something that someone else read or heard. It’s my hope that these questions will serve as tools to help you filter through information that crosses your path.