originally posted here on 1/23/17
by Brooke Balderson
When choosing adoption, there are a number of avenues you can travel down — each one as valid as the next. For me, I had to mediate on how I would approach my adoption. Would I adopt through foster care? Would I wait for the chance at a private adoption or would I use an agency? International or domestic? I felt that all paths had possibility and validity but after pretty exhaustive research and knowing what I know about myself and the level of control needed, I felt an agency adoption was what would be best for me.
I’m nothing if not tenacious… so when I say I “researched” agency options, let me tell you that I researched a LOT. I looked up agency after agency and review after review. Choosing an adoption agency is tricky work and even more so as a single person trying to adopt. My first level of research is always the internet. I can internet-stalk with the best of them so that is always an easy place to begin… plus I didn't have to pick up the 200-pound phone yet to have any potentially awkward conversations. I started with my BFF google… “adoption agency, Annapolis, Maryland” was a simple enough search and yielded me an alarming amount of results to wade though. Most were junk... not even agencies… and most weren’t particularly local but good old google had them stuck in there anyway as they were a national agency with lots of cash to run advertisements.
After many searches and many phone calls (and many people telling me they’d love to help but they didn’t accept single parent adoptions at this time…), I had narrowed my list to two agencies. One was a bigger and more well-known and a little cheaper, and the other was small, local, closely aligned with my values, but more expensive. I read a lot of reviews and I thought I knew what I wanted to do but the money sure was a hang-up. I was 28, broke from a solo teaching salary, and adopting.. Money counted for a lot.
I loved the smaller agency but I was concerned about the extra money it would cause me to spend. At this point, my intuition told me what I should do but I kept pushing and looking for an excuse to go with the bigger agency because my brain wasn’t in agreeance with my heart and intuition yet. I turned to more reviews for each agency. And as I dug deeper, the pit in my stomach about the bigger, better known agency became heavier and heavier. I read review after review of distraught birth families who testified to having been coerced into giving their child up for adoption before they had made the decisions for themselves. These reviews made my decision very very clear and confirmed why my intuition had been so fiercely warning me off from about the bigger agency. Surely there were many happy stories and satisfied families on both sides of the birth story but I couldn’t work with them if there was even a chance one of those reviews had merit.
With the bigger agency ruled out, it cleared the path for my whole heart, mind, body, and soul to dive into my decision to work with my beloved little agency. Yes, it would be a little more expensive but this was my family on the line so what did a little extra money in the long-run really matter? This agency made me feel warm and fuzzy inside… like they really wanted to help me and like they really cared about each and every birth family and adoptive family they worked with. It was one-man show at this agency. It was easy to see this was his dream, his passion, and his calling. He loved every baby and he even called the babies his babies because he fiercely protected them and wanted nothing more than to choose the right families for them. I knew I fit here and could feel proud for working with them. I knew they would help me and that they would make my dreams of becoming a mother come true.
And they did. And you know what? I can’t wait to work with them again soon. After all, Isaac can’t be an only child forever. And getting texts like this, on a random Sunday morning two years after my adoption, just reaffirm my love for my agency, for this man that runs it, and for our shared love of amazing adoption stories.
The moral of this story is that while adoption is a confusing road, you only need to worry about your path, not the many paths you could take. Look deep into your heart and soul and you will find the right answers. One of those answers might lead you to working with me so that I can journey alongside you and your family. That would mean I can help you do all that crazy research and make things feel a little less confusing and empower you to do exactly what makes sense for you… or it might mean you roll up your sleeves and do the research and wade through the confusion like I did. Either way, I wish you the very best of luck and I hope that you cross to the other side of the adoption process with the same love and admiration I do for the path you chose.
Edited to add: The “work with them again sometime soon,” that I wrote above… is NOW. I am currently waiting on a second adoption placement. And it feels exactly as hard and scary and magical as it should. And I feel fantastic knowing that I have an ethical agency in my corner.