There’s many reason couples choose to adopt a baby. For couples who have trouble conceiving or people who think there are enough kids in the world to go round, adoption is a viable and rewarding option. But, you can’t just walk into an orphanage and pick out a kid, Annie style. That’s why it’s important for hopeful future parents to understand how to adopt a child.

Becky Fawcett is the director and founder of Helpusadopt.org, a foundation that offers financial grants to support families interested in adopting a child. She and her husband have been through the adoption process twice, and between her own experience and helping other parents, she’s seen just about every way it can go wrong. “We really need an encyclopedia,” she says. Here are a few of her tips on how to avoid scams, navigate the legal pitfalls, and find an agency you can trust.

Stop Googling ‘Adoption’

“I really do tell people not to go online and Google ‘adoption.’ You will crawl under your bed and never come out,” says Fawcett. Instead, her advice for the first steps is to just be that person who can’t stop talking about it. “The more you talk about adoption, the more you realize that people you didn’t even realize are connected to it, and everyone wants to help,” she says. There’s an off chance your friend’s friend’s cousin’s sister might have a referral for an agency that specializes in the exact thing you’re looking for.

Know the Adoption Laws In Your State

One of the trickiest things about adoption is that the laws are different state-to-state, and you might be dealing with 2 different states depending on where the birth mom is. “With my first adoption, we lived in Philadelphia at the time, and Pennsylvania has some specific adoption laws. Because of the state my birthmother was located in — that specific state-to-state match — we went with the laws in her state.”

It gets even more complicated with international adoption because countries can open or close when they’ll allow adoptions without any real warning. Fawcett says that finding an agency that’s licensed in the particular country you’re looking to adopt from is an absolute necessity. If a country is closed to adoptions at the time you’re looking, don’t trust someone who tells you they might still be able to pull it off. Same with anyone who says they don’t usually work in that country, but is willing to “help you out” anyway. This is a baby, not a severed toe with nail polish.

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Here at the Cognitive Institute of Dallas, our mission and vision is encouraging you in everyday life. Taking experiences and weighing in on them to guide you toward better parenting. Listen to WHFF.Radio and our Executive Director, Dr. Rachael Robertson for more information, resource gathering and connecting with other parents.

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