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Adoption not as easy as 1-2-3

Television sitcoms make the process of adoption look so easy. Fill out some paperwork, have a social worker interview you at home and wait for the call that comes to tell you a birth mother has chosen you. All in the span of a half hour.

That is as far from reality as television can get. The truth is, for people in Louisiana and elsewhere looking to adopt a child, it takes patience and work by the prospective parents.

One adoptive mother described her experience in finding a child to adopt much as she would in launching a new business. She and her husband hired an attorney, drew up a budget for advertising themselves to birth moms and hired a professional to create a website for them. They paid adoption websites to post their information.

Statistics show that most of the adoptions in the United States no longer follow the sitcom-character-meets-adoption-agency route. Instead, 65 percent of adoptions happen independently through prospective parents advertising themselves to pregnant women. That can occur online, through print publications or by telling friends who tell other friends that they know a great couple who crave a baby of their own.

The old days of anonymous adoptions, therefore, are nearly gone, with more birth mothers hand picking the people who will raise their babies and wanting to maintain post-adoption contact.

Still, prospective parents must know that any time the phone rings or an e-mail that arrives about a potential adoption doesn't guarantee anything. They need to be prepared to wade through scams and people looking to benefit financially from adoption.

Therefore, when a family advertises online for adoption, it must have an attorney working with them, ready to help them wade through any good leads toward adoption. The attorney will help with contracts as well as to make sure everything is legitimate going forward.

For the new parents, adoption is a great joy. They just make sure they are prepared in all ways - financially, emotionally and legally - when their blessing finally arrives.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Adopting a Child is Increasingly a DIY Endeavor," Mara Lemos Stein, Sept. 11, 2012

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