Dear Mardie,
When I share our program with other people, some of them say we should have gone with an agency that is full service and does the matching for us.  They don’t understand why we are doing so much of the work ourselves. What should I tell them?

For every path an adoptive family takes in adoption, there is always someone second guessing.  Today, many families are waiting years to adopt, no matter their path.  And there are many reasons for the wait.  But the bottom line is that today, more and more birth parents are choosing not to go through an agency, but rather find a family through networking or online that they can make a personal connection with.
Birth parents want to be in control of the choices they make for their child.  Most agencies today offer that control, but it isn’t always enough.  Yes, it may seem easier to let someone else do the footwork for you, but if the ease takes five or six years? Or if what you are seeking is something that agencies state is too narrow?  Most families who are choosing successful self-matching programs are doing it because they don’t want to wait around for something that may or may not happen. They, like birth parents, want to play an active role in building their family.
Your friends and family members may not understand this, just like they may not understand the concept of open adoption with ongoing contact.  You are on the cutting edge of adoption, where new techniques and connections are happening every day. Sometimes, it’s better to not put a lot of effort into educating everyone else, but focus your efforts on your adoption success.
Still, if you need to share the top benefits of self-matching, these are the main ones that I would share:
Focused Outreach
Rather than waiting to be chosen from a pool of families, you have the ability to put your family directly in front of potential birth parents. Your efforts are all unique to your adoption success.  And the more you put out there, the more you may receive in return.  This is a way friends and family can help you, by sharing your profile, your Facebook page, and more!
Control Over Location
If you don’t want to travel far or you want to adopt from specific states due to costs or laws, you can target your outreach to those areas.  Most nationwide programs don’t allow or encourage this, but self-matching allows it!
Control Over Preferences for Adoption
All agencies let you have specific preferences, however, if they are too specific, an agency may not be able to help you. With self-matching, you can network more heavily in ethnic areas you are searching for or specify gender. You can modify or change what you are seeking at any time, without ramifications.
Adopt Again
With agency programs, you need to hire them for each adoption. Once you learn the techniques of self-matching, you can adopt again and again without needing much assistance because you know how to do it independently.
A self-matching program is not for everyone.  But with time, effort and focus, many people are finding that it is a wonderful way to a fast, safe, and successful adoption!