While my experience is in the arena of public child welfare, there are other ways to adopt. Private adoption agencies can help people who want to adopt domestically (within our country) or even internationally. Lori's adoption was arranged back in the day when there were not very many private agencies. Her birth mother and adoptive mother shared the same doctor who served as a broker between the two.
Since I have more knowledge of adoptions through public agencies than private, I shall focus on those. The main difference between the two seems to be the child. Private agencies are often where a birth mom turns to when she has made a decision to not parent. Private agencies tend to work with newborn children. I am sure you can imagine, the wait time can be long. Parents who adopt through a private agency tend to feel well informed about the birth mother's past, where in public adoptions that information may not be known.
Public agencies tend to have older children, minority children, or even sibling group of children. What they absolutely have are children who have suffered some type of abuse or neglect. They have special needs compared to the newborn baby. Those special needs can be broadly different per child.
Because of their special needs, every state has an adoption subsidy program to help adoptive parents meet the children's needs. Adoption subsidy plans typically aide an adoptive parent in the legal fees associated with an adoption (conservative measures put that cost around $15,000 for a domestic and a lot more for an international), child care cost, medical coverage, and even counseling services until the child reaches the age of 18 years old. In summary, yes, children available through a public agency might have had a rocky start to life, some have even experienced some life events you don't even want to think about but kids are recilient and are capable of overcoming so much when placed in a loving and supporting family.
An adoption story is a love story. The decision a birth parent makes to place their baby into someone else's hands is not an easy choice to make. It is probably one of the most selfless acts one can make. To decide "now is not a good time in my life", or "I am not at my best right now" just takes a lot of self-reflection and even courage. Sharon talked about carrying around the fear of judgement for years. She wondered how people would relate to her if they knew her decision to place a baby for adoption. I wish I were older and knew Sharon back then. How I wish I could have sat next to her in church and held her hand and stood next to her on Mother's Day. It is not a decision based on personal need or instant gratification but on love and hope for a brighter better future than can be provided at that time. It is not a character flaw. It is a character strength.
An adoption story is a love story. It is a story about an individual or a couple who can open their heart and recognize that love can grow from any where. They know that while DNA might determine a person's gender or eye color, it does not determine the relationship between a parent and their child. Adoptive parents can look past the circumstances of a child's past and can see a child's life potential.
If you are an a part of the adoption triad and live in a state that has closed adoption records and wish your search could be as simple as Lori's, please consider reaching out to your state's lawmakers and ask for adoption reform.
If you have ever considered adopting a child, please use the Internet to help you learn more. Adopt US Kids is a great place to start. If you missed any part of this four-part story, you can check them out here:
The Hardest Decision
An Adoptee's Story
Reunion and Healing
If you have questions, I will try my best to try and answer. If you are searching for your birth parents, I know Sharon can help put you in touch with support groups in your area. If you enjoyed this series, let us know. We welcome comments.
Again, thank you!