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Web sites on adoption offer practical advice

December 6, 1996
Web posted at: 8:30 p.m. EST

From CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman

(CNN) -- The decision to expand a family by having a child usually is not easy, but it's even more complicated for a couple considering adoption.

Not only are there financial considerations, such as attorneys fees, but the decision to adopt is fraught with emotional issues.

Proponents of adoption, many of whom were adopted themselves, are passionate about the cause, and have assembled a worthy group of Web sites to help people find their way through the legal tangles to a new member of the family.

Wendy's founder known for more than burgers


Dave Thomas, the founder of the Wendy's fast food chain, is one adoptee who wants to help other children get into a stable and productive home environment. The Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation pages are just one small part of the Wendy's site, but has substantial pertinent information, including a "Beginner's Guide to Adoption," and a list of adoption resources.

Serious information for serious adopters


The AdoptioNetwork site has even more information for would-be adoptive parents, as well as everybody else involved in the adoption. The two-year-old site's stated goal is to be a neutral forum for information about adoption, whether for the adoptive parent, the biological parent, or the adopted child. It also posts sociological research useful to adoption and health care professionals.

Many sites get so wrapped up in the emotional mushy-gushy aspect of adoption that they lose their educational value. IMHO, a little mush goes a long way, so it was good to find that sweetness articles were not the norm on this site. AdoptioNetwork's focus is articles that contain enough actual information and detail to be useful. Some pieces even included lists of works for further reading.

For adopted children, AdoptioNetwork has an extensive list of support groups, organized by region. And for parents considering putting a child up for adoption, the site provides questions designed to help parents assess their plan and decide how realistic it is.


There are better organized pages than those at Adopt: Adoption Information, but few that offer as many different kinds of information and answer as many questions from prospective adoptive parents: "Can I get financial help to adopt?", "Can I adopt if I'm in the military?" and "Where do I start?" were just a few.

Other sections include "How to explain adoption to your child," "How to choose the right pediatrician," "Especially for the Birth Family" -- information on the emotional impact of giving a child up for adoption -- and "Especially for the Adoptee" -- whether to track down a birth parent, how to do it, and how to cope if the birth parent rejects you. The site also breaks down the difference between agency and independent adoptions, and gives the inside scoop on international adoption.

However, while you're on this site, watch where you surf! A number of commercial enterprises are listed on the site, not because the site is recommending them, but because they paid to be there. Do your research before you hire them, just as you would with any other company.

For U.S. citizens seeking to adopt children from other countries, the State Department's Office of Children's Issues can be a useful resource. No, the department cannot help you locate children waiting to be adopted, its mission statement tells you. However, it can help you get the necessary U.S. visa to travel abroad, help with inquiries into the status of a specific adoption case, and make sure that courts in other countries don't discriminate against U.S. citizens as they go through the adoption process.

The site has also posted virtual handbooks on the legal requirements for adoption from 71 different countries, from Albania to Vietnam. The articles vary in length depending on the complexity of adoption law in the country in question.

And finally, some snapshots

faces The Faces of Adoption site features the expected information on how to start the adoption search process, and includes a lengthy section on adopting children with special needs, and a list of upcoming conferences and seminars on adoption. It also has nearly 300 pages of children who need to be adopted and may be difficult to place, either because they are older children, want to be placed in the same home with their siblings, or have mental or physical disabilities.

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Like Faces of Adoption, both of the above sites post pictures of children available for adoption.
Covers adoption law in the United States, Canada and Australia, and links to other law resources.

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