As a pregnant woman exploring your adoption options in Canada, you probably have lots of questions and concerns. Knowing who to turn to for help shouldn’t be one of them.
Also known as a social worker, an private adoption practitioner is without doubt the person you’ll rely on most for guidance and support in the months ahead. S/he can explain the adoption process from beginning to end, and go through it with you one step at a time.
S/he’ll be your teacher, confidante and crutch all rolled into one. Next to the relationship you strike up with a prospective adoptive couple, his/hers will be the most important one you’ll make. Once you start the adoption process, an adoption practitioner will be assigned to you to go over the repercussions and consequences of your actions.
But there’s nothing that says you can’t start your search now. Just as every adoption situation is unique, so is every adoption practitioner. When choosing yours, look for someone who’s competent, caring and compassionate. Someone you feel comfortable with.
Among other things, find out:
- What’s his/her philosophy and approach?
- How long has s/he been in the field and how many adoptions has s/he been involved in?
- Is s/he accessible?
- Is s/he empathetic?
- Is s/he someone with whom you can openly discuss personal and often painful details of your life?
Knowing your legal rights and responsibilities is an important part of the adoption process. That’s where an adoption licensee comes in. A licensee is someone who’s licensed by the province to carry out the legal work of an adoption. S/he can be an individual or an agency. In Ontario, you have the choice of one or the other. In most other provinces, you can only go through an agency.
As a potential birth mother, you’re entitled to independent legal counsel, and so is the birth father. As in the case of your adoption practitioner, all fees will be paid for by the prospective adoptive couple. It doesn’t matter what you decide to do in the end — whether you want to place your child for adoption or parent him/her.
Once you find a prospective adoptive couple that interests you, you’ll have a chance to speak to a licensee. Although your involvement with a licensee will be limited to a few sessions, you’ll need to feel comfortable with him/her and that s/he’s someone you can talk to openly and honestly. Although many licensees are lawyers, in Ontario, for instance, they don’t have to be.
If you’re looking for a adoption practitioner or a licensee, you don’t have to look too far. Both can be found at a private agency. An agency can not only offer you support and counselling, it can help arrange your adoption and, if you’re so inclined, even put you in touch with hopeful couples in your province who are trying to adopt.
Although an agency can’t offer you money, most can offer you a full range of pre- and post-adoption services. But first, you have to establish whether you meet the criteria. Each agency has its own philosophy, rules and regulations that you’ll be expected to comply with. Find out what they are and then decide whether you can live with them. For instance, what’s their official line in regards to birth mothers and adoptive parents? Do they have any restrictions? How many prospective adoptive parent do they have on their waiting list?
In some provinces, you may have the choice of more than one agency. If that’s the case, do some research. Find out:
- How long each agency has been in business?
- How many adoptions they’ve done?
- Whether they have any unique services?
- What percentage of prospective birth mothers they work with go through with their adoption plan, and if not why not?
Try to get references from other birth mothers who have worked with them. Their advice may come in handy down the road. No matter what you decide, take the time to find out everything you need to know. Adoption is a huge decision. There’s too much at stake not to.
Ten Common Mistakes Birth Mother Make When Choosing Their Professionals
- They wait until the very last minute.
- They don’t realize they have choices.
- They don’t realize they have rights.
- They get intimidated too easily.
- They don’t spend enough time educating themselves on the process.
- They don’t read between the lines.
- They don’t realize that professionals are there to help them.
- They don’t refer to their professionals as often as they should.
- They don’t realize that there are limitations as to what their professionals can do.
- They think that because their adoptive couple pay for their professionals, they work for them as well.