My, ah, displeasure with adoption agencies is well documented. So, this post most likely has nothing for individuals like me. However, to all adoptees living in Minnesota who don’t mind interacting with adoption agencies, this one is for you.
The next time you are asked by an agency to be on a panel for soon-to-be adoptive parents in the process of adopting, demand an honorarium of at least $100. From conversations I’ve had with a few other folks and my stint with two adoption agencies here in Minnesota, I’m convinced that we adoptees are doing ourselves a huge disservice if we give away our experiences for free.
Consider the following:
1. Why not demand the honorarium? There’s plenty of money to go around. Think about it. The cost of adopting an infant domestically or internationally can range anywhere between $5,000-$40,000. For individuals using the services of the larger adoption agencies in Minnesota, the range is around a whopping $30,000-$40,000. For the sake of simplicity, it’s safe to say that during the first part of the adoption process (homestudy, adoption education/seminar/training, etc.) about a third of the $30,000-$40,000 (or $10,000-$13,000) is shelled out by one set of parents for services rendered by agencies, their staff, AND professional partners. Generally, adoptee panels happen during the first part of the adoption process, and panels are billed as an important part of educating future adoptive parents. Adoptees and their experiences are promoted as expert testimony. In other words, we are said to be professionals partners.
So, as professional partners, is it too much for us to ask for $100, which is around 1% of the $10,000-$13,000? $100 is a blip if you take into account the fact that larger adoption agencies in Minnesota facilitate hundreds of adoptions each year.
Seriously. Why not ask? And if you don’t want the money, donate it! Our favorite adoptee led organizations here in Minnesota would welcome your gift. They can make $100 go a long way. Additionally, our neighbors in need who are struggling to put food on the family table would be thankful if you gave the $100 to food shelves and warehouses.
2. Demanding the honorarium offers adoptees an opportunity to legitimize our experiences. Demanding the honorarium isn’t about the money. It’s about encouraging adoption agencies to take actions that publicly demonstrate the level of respect that they SAY they have for adoptees and their experiences. Furthermore, it’s about us — adult adoptees — taking a proactive step that can aid our community in showing future adoptive parents the value of our voices.
Imagine what could happen if we used talking points similar to the following at every panel presentation:
- “Before the panel ends, I would like to thank (agency name) for inviting me to speak to all of you. I very much enjoyed the experience. I would like to also thank the agency for its willingness to offer all of the panelists a $100 honorarium for an hour of our time. By doing so, the agency is placing a small, yet symbolic, monetary value on our experiences, and recognizing that our voices bring as much value to this adoption training as the voices of other professionals.
- “I would like to thank all of you for listening. Please know that there are many legitimate adult adoptees and adult adoptee organizations in Minnesota who are willing to be resources for your kids after your adoptions are finalized.”
- “We here in Minnesota are fortunate to have a significant number of adult adoptee organizations, such as AdopSource, AK Connection, and Adoptees Have Answers. We’re lucky to have so many adult adoptee social workers, counselors, psychologists, researchers, educators, writers, and artists here in Minnesota who are engaged in the adoption community. Like your future children, these adoptees started out young, but they grew up, became professionals, and are now helping to lead the way.”
To all adoptees living in Minnesota who don’t mind interacting with adoption agencies, please consider my suggestion. Indeed, panel presentations are great opportunities for you to help agencies with their efforts in educating future adoptive parents. Simultaneously, they are also great opportunities for you to do something much more for us.