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    Getting Started With Adoption

    Starting a family by adopting may be a second choice, but advocates say it isn't a second-best choice. Still, there is a lot to consider after you've made the decision to adopt a child.

    Openness in Adoption

    In the past, a mother who "gave up" her child to adoption did so in a profound way. After she delivered the baby, it would be whisked away from her, never to be seen again.

    Today, the birth mother can choose who will adopt her baby, and negotiate terms for contact over the course of the child's life. In some adoptions, just identifying information is exchanged. In more "open" adoptions, she is entitled to reports about the child from time to time, or she may even be allowed to visit.

    "Thankfully, many, many parents today are getting into open adoption and becoming a new type of family," Creedy says. "It's a much more healthy environment for the child."

    The idea of having birth mothers involved in their lives can cause anxiety for adoptive parents. But Pertman says fears of birth mothers' meddling are largely unfounded. "They've made the decision they're not going to parent the child. They've made the decision that you are."

    Nevertheless, to make sure that things go smoothly, any agency you work with should provide support services before the adoption and for years afterward.

    "You want this to be an ethical, warm, loving process and not a financial transaction," Pertman says. But parents do pay steep fees to adoption agencies. "For those fees, you should expect good service, and the service is not just delivery of a child, or that's getting perilously near the line of buying a baby."

    In addition to guiding you through the labyrinth of legalities, agencies should provide access to counseling for everyone involved -- you, the child, and the birth mother.

    Most importantly, Pertman says, "Be a good consumer -- not of children, but of services."

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    Reviewed on May 09, 2003

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