Once you've made the decision to adopt -- or to at least consider adoption -- you may wonder where to begin. How do you find the best information on the topic (there's tons of it out there), and how do you know whether this path to parenthood is ultimately right for you? Here are five ways to learn about adoption -- and get started on your journey.
1. Network. One of the first things you can do is talk to friends, friends of friends, relatives, coworkers, people in your community, and/or anyone else who has adopted or knows someone who has. Couples and singles who've been through the process can offer practical, firsthand information; refer you to an adoption agency, attorney, or support group; or steer you in a direction that you hadn't previously considered (such as adopting an older or special needs child or a baby from a foreign country). Once you start networking, you'll be surprised at how many people have connections to the adoption world.
2. Go online. The Internet offers a wealth of helpful information, providing you know where to look. Start by going to the Web sites of organizations such as the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and the National Adoption Center. Or if you have an interest in foreign adoption, check out the sites for groups such as Families with Children from China, Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption, or Latin American Parents Association. All of these sites offer good, basic information, and some provide links to other reputable sites and resources.
3. Read up on the topic. There are perhaps hundreds of books that have been written about adoption. But if you're looking for current information, try to find books that have been written or updated in the past couple of years. If your local bookstore or library doesn't offer an up-to-date, varied selection, you can peruse the choices online at places such as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or Tapestry Books, a company that specializes in books about infertility, adoption, and parenting. For a free catalog, call 800-765-2367. You can also subscribe to Adoptive Families (www.adoptivefamilies.com), a bimonthly magazine that covers a wide range of adoption-related topics.
4. Join an adoptive-parent support group. Even if you're not an adoptive parent -- yet, you can still benefit from joining a support group. In doing so, you'll be able to meet other parents who've adopted (and see their children firsthand); get some practical information on adoption; learn about agencies, social workers, or attorneys; and gain a sense of camaraderie and support.
To locate a group in your area, you can:
5. Go to conferences. Some of the larger adoptive-parent groups hold annual conferences, where you can listen to speakers, pore through the latest books on adoption, and meet other parents who are planning to adopt. If you are in the early stages of adoption, it might be worthwhile to attend a conference in your area. Many prospective parents find these meetings to be both informative and uplifting -- and a great place to network.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.