Adoption Contracts: Knowledge is Power

Adoption Contracts: Knowledge is Power

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”
– Kofi Annan

We’re familiar with the phrase ‘knowledge is power’. Truth be told, while we are familiar with this adage, we often forget to apply it in our everyday lives. This is especially true when it comes to reading and understanding important documents and contracts. We just run through the pages or give a cursory glance at the contents, before signing on the dotted line. Some don’t even do that!

The adoption process can be quite challenging and time-consuming. Prospective parents often are focused on the outcome – to bring their baby home. And that’s perfectly natural. Couples who have gone through unsuccessful assisted reproductive treatments like IUI, IVF, or ICSI suddenly have the hope of bringing home a baby of their own. They are excited and anxious at the same time and their emotions are understandable. But, the adoption process requires couples to spend time with adoption professionals, reading through the adoption contract to understand the terms of the adoption process.

If you have trouble paying attention to anything in print, you may have to take it up with your school! From grade school to college, many students just go through the motions of reading and writing, creating a veritable treasure trove of misinformation such as:

a) In Guinessis, the first book of the Bible, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree.
b) Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments; he died before he ever reached Canada
c) Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock
d) History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long.
e) The pyramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain.

While it may be very funny to read, we can all learn something from this – we must spend time in preparation when we are faced with life-changing decisions and we surely need to pay attention to what we read!

Micky and Ellen were eager to jump right into adoption after five rounds of unsuccessful IVF.  They signed up with the first adoption professional they found and hurriedly began preparing for their baby.  Two years later, they were weary of waiting and started to ask questions of their professional, mainly why it was taking so long.  What they learned was that their agency only performed adoptions in their home state of Alabama, and there were many waiting couples to adopt on their list.  They were completing about five or six adoptions per year and had close to 25 couples waiting.

Was this information in their contract?  Not in so many words but had they taken the time to read their agreement, they would have realized that the average wait was four to six years and that couples were encouraged to pursue other adoption outreach efforts as well.  Eventually, they did adopt, though not from a birthmother located by their agency.  Today they are happily parenting, but do feel as though they lost the two years they were blissfully waiting, unaware of the terms and expectations of their local agency.

If your adoption is not complete and you have not read your adoption contract yet, I strongly recommend picking it up right now and spending time reading it. Don’t try to read it in between work or when you are mentally occupied with other things. You have to be mentally present when you read the contract. Ensure that both you and your spouse understand the entire terms of the adoption contract. A poorly read contract may cause you a lot of confusion and frustration in your adoption journey.

Beware of adoption professionals with no contract.  With no agreement, no formal relationship, and no official document, there is no responsibility to help you see your adoption dreams become a reality.  Similarly, beware of anyone who does not give you ample time to read the contract and have an independent review with your own attorney if you do not understand any of the terms.

If you have any doubts or questions, get in touch with your adoption professional right away.  It is always better to be safe than sorry!

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Reprinted from with permission from Mardie Caldwell, Adoption expert and travel writer. All rights reserved.

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