What is a domestic “word-of-mouth” adoption? Folks in the adoption world use that phrase to describe an adoption plan that does not engage an adoption agency. While there are many benefits of working with an agency to develop an adoption plan, for many families, agency adoption just isn’t a good fit.
For a couple that is willing to brave the waters of adoption without an agency (and let me pause here to say that you should always have an adoption professional to consult with … even in word-of-mouth adoptions), word-of-mouth adoption holds out the hope of lower costs and more hands-on interaction with the birth parents.
So, how does one pursue a word-of-mouth adoption? The answer really depends on the prospective adoptive couple’s comfort level with … letting everything out there. On one end of the spectrum, a couple may only tell family and close friends of their desire to care for a child that needs a loving home. On the other end of the spectrum could be announcing on social media, printing out cards, calling OBGYN and crisis pregnancy centers, setting up a web page … and … buying a billboard … ?!
And, let’s be clear on this point: it takes work to get your name out into the community to such a degree that at-risk parents would contact you to parent their child.
When using an agency adoption, this is what you are paying them for … their ability to “attract” or “recruit” or “minister to” birth parents.
With all that said, one of the things we love to do at The Adoption Law Firm is consult with families about their own hopes, desires, and capacities as they pursue adoption. Please, don’t hesitate to give us a call!
A wise man once said that, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” For the process of adoption, this applies 100% of the time, all the time.
Simply the amount of paperwork involved in adopting an abused, neglected, or abandoned child is, to say it simply, mind numbing. This really isn’t an overstatement. Whether you are pursing international adoption, foster care adoption, agency adoption, or word-of-mouth adoption, the legal bureaucracy can often have a chilling affect on your ambitions.
I hope knowing that on the front end can help you persevere through the muck.
For the adoption-process-newby, there are some initial fork-in-the-road decisions that need to be made; like “Do we want to pursue international or domestic?” and “If we are adopting domestically, do we want to work with an agency or pursue a private, word-of-mouth adoption?”
The steps and decisions that you’ll have to tackle, roll out in a seemingly unceasing barrage from there.
Most adoptive parents will start the process by doing copious amounts of online learning. There are discussion groups, and blogs, and videos, and Facebook groups, and … have I left anything out?
The most important thing to really grasp in the beginning is that, unlike the tile in your bathroom, this really isn’t a DIY project that can be mastered from watching Youtube videos. At some point, you will need a seasoned guide to walk you through the process. That’s not very helpful, right? You’re thinking I wasted your time, right?
Sorry, it’s the truth. While there may be scientific principles to understand about the density of H20 that can help predict the strength of ice, there’s no guidebook for crossing a partially frozen lake in Spring. The same goes for adoption – understand the basics, then find a guide you trust to get you to the other side.
Has anyone ever asked you to write an letter of reference for an adoption home study? If so, you are probably wondering, “How do I do that?” and “What is an adoption home study?”
Let’s cut right to the chase. If you want a template for writing an adoption home study, here it is:
February 5, 2018
To whom it may concern,
I have known Joe and Sally Smith for 10 years. I have been involved with Joe and Sally as members of the neighborhood watch committee and in Sunday school classes.
I have observed that Joe and Sally are very kind and patient people. Although they do not have any children of their own, they have always interacted in a kind and friendly way with the children at our church. Joe and Sally are always pleasant to each other and the people around them.
I do not know of anything in their character or history that should prevent them from being successful adoptive parents. I give my unreserved recommendation that they be allowed to adopt a child/ children.
Now, if you are still interested, an adoption home study is a process that everyone has to go through if they are seeking to adopt an unrelated child. The home study will be written by an licensed social worker. The social worker is tasked with investigating key elements of a prospective adoptive parent’s life and reporting those findings to the court or other government entity.
The letters of reference from members of the community is just one way for the court to evaluate whether prospective adoptive parents are suitable to take in a child for adoption.
Did you know that the Christian Church has a robust history of orphan care? And adoption is a big piece of that picture.
“When we first meet the mention of the adoption and bringing up of foundlings, this work appears not as a novelty, but as one long practiced.” The research of Dr. John Aloisi points out that “[e]arly church history is replete with references to the fact that believers, and especially church leaders, were involved in orphan care.” A most remarkable historical artifact is how central orphan-care was thought of in relation to a healthy and genuine Christian orthopraxy. In fact, writing around 110 AD, Ignatius warned the church in Smyrna about men who held heretical opinions about the message of Christianity. Ignatius warned the church that these men were “contrary to the mind of God,” and could be identified, in part, by the lack of concern for the orphan. We can see this principle reiterated in the contemporaneous writing, Epistle of Barnabas, wherein the author describes indifference towards orphans as a mark of those hostile to the church:
It is the way of persecutors of the good, of those who hate truth, love a lie, do not know the reward of righteousness, do not adhere to what is good or to righteous judgment, who ignore the widow and the orphan…have no mercy for the poor, do not work on behalf of the oppressed, are reckless with slander, do not know the one who made them, are murderers of children…who turn away from someone in need…utterly sinful.
The practical application of this principle is profound. Do you question whether preacher so-and-so maintains a heretical position? Look to his orthopraxy—does he have concern for the orphan? Or, the application for minister so-and-so; are you being accused of heresy? If you can hold up a lifestyle of care for the orphan, you have tipped the scales one degree in favor of your vindication.
Such a rhetorical model may at first seem invalid as an ad hominem fallacy. However, remember Job’s discourse with his accusers. The accusation of someone’s argument being invalid because of the lack of concern for the orphan was hurled at Job, and Job hurled the same argument back at his accuser. Whether such progression is logically invalid, caring for orphans is certainly a fruit by which a tree may be known.
As the church continued to grow in maturity, around the year 110 AD, Polycarp extended these orphan-care principles to hail that in order to qualify as an elder or presbyter, a man’s life must be marked by active care of orphans: “The presbyters, for their part, must be compassionate, merciful to all, turning back those who have gone astray, visiting all the sick, not neglecting a widow, orphan, or poor person, but always aiming at what in honorable in the sight of God and of people.”
Justin Martyr’s observations around the same time coincide with Polycarp’s presbyter-requirement. Justin Martyr described a Christian worship service as progressing from celebrating the Lord’s Supper to money being deposited with “the bishop, who takes care of the orphans” and other socially vulnerable persons – looking after “all who are in need.”
In the third century, the Didascalia Apostolorum gives even more specificity to the orphan-care criteria for qualification to the office of elder. Dr. Aloisi explains that [o]ne of the requirements in this list is that the candidate has been known as “a father to the orphans.” This document then goes on to describe a suitable candidate for the bishopric as one who has been “a lover of toil, a lover of widows, a lover of orphans.”
Furthermore, we can see the examples and admonitions of “average” Christians to live-out their faith by visiting orphans in their affliction. In the Apology of Aristides the Philosopher, written around 125 A.D., Aristides writes to Caesar Hadrian, arguing that Christianity is superior to other world-views. Aristides makes his case, in part, by show the unblemished good works of the average Christian; which includes the simple fact that “they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly.”
The fourth century Apostolic Constitutions gives instruction to the church for caring for a child of the church who has become an orphan. The Apostolic Constitution teaches that “he or she should be adopted by ‘one of the brethren…for they which do so perform a great work, and become fathers to orphans, and shall receive the reward of this charity from the Lord God’ (4.1.1).” So important was orphan-care to the mark of a follow of Christ in the early church that “[a] number of early (post-Constantine) burial inscriptions speak specifically of church leaders engaged in the care of orphans, of Christian orphanages for foundlings, and of church funds being used to support the care of exposed infants.”
Now, let’s pause here to remember that there is only one Bible, and neither these writings nor the historical examples are included in it. As such, they should not be held to have the same authority. However, these respected church fathers’ opinions should be held as persuasive. Especially when the “democracy of the dead” speaks with such uniformity. In summation, care of orphans was no passing fancy of the early church. Lack of orphan care was a mark of a heretic, positive engagement with orphan ministry was a requirement for the office of elder, and the average Christian’s acts of caring for orphans served as a persuasive apologetic to the surrounding pagan world.
The costs of adoption can sometimes seem overwhelming. But that’s not stopping Jason and Tracy Goodwin from pursuing their dreams of parenting through adoption. “We want to be parents and God has put adoption on our hearts,” said Tracy. “We love children and we’re ready to take the next step.”
With the cost of private domestic adoption ranging from from $3,000 to $50,000, many couples find the financial hurdles almost insurmountable. Adoption advocate, Julie Gumm, has literally written the book on adoption fundraising, Adopt Without Debt. Her website, juliegumm.com, is the gold-standard for adoption minded couples to explore creative methods for raising money for adoption.
The reality is that there are over a dozen granting organizations who will partner with Christian families to help them offset the costs of adoption.
Jason and Tracy Goodwin have been inundated (in a good way) by friends offering to help them raise money through a yard sale. “I can’t find my house,” Tracy said with a laugh. “It’s basically walking room only.” The Goodwin’s friends and family have been dropping off items for their adoption funding yard sale, scheduled for September 23, 2017, from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm.
If you’re in the neighborhood … or the State … drop by and help them add to their family through adoption. Their address is 318 Mount Vista Drive, Montgomery, AL 36109.
For more information, contact Tracy Goodwin at 334-430-6022.
Here at the Adoption Law Firm, we hear a lot of concern about introducing an adopted child to their new siblings. Here are the practices we have found most helpful:
1. Involve them in the process as early as possible.
While it may not be a great idea to inform your child too early in the process, for fear of adoption not working out, involving your child early on can help them have to time to prepare to be a big brother or sister. Have them talk about the new child regularly to warm them up to the idea.
2. Have your children pray for their new sibling.
This one may seem obvious, but the power of prayer can never be understated. During prayer time, let your child say their own prayer for their new sibling. Praying for their future brother or sister will build their excitement to welcome them into the family. It will also help to show important this new child is to the family.
3. Involve your children in home preparation for the new child.
Let your others kids help set up a nursery or bedroom. Let them help pick out toys or books and give their input into what they think their new little brother or sister would like to play with. Involving your kids in little things throughout the process will help them get used to the idea that another little person is coming to join the family.
4. Read a bible story, book or watch a movie about adoption.
Teach your child about the story of Moses, Esther, or even our adoption into God’s family and relate that to how you are adopting a child into your family. There are also many secular books that have been written specifically to help introduce a new child to your family.
What has worked for your family when introducing a new sibling through adoption?
Embryo Adoption can seem like a new, somewhat confusing concept. The linked article explains one family’s journey in deciding to place their embryos up for adoption after a successful round of IVF and two more children. Click the link to read more about this incredible family!