A local adoption service is dedicated to helping prospective parents find their way through what can be a very complicated process.
Navigate Adoption Consulting works to streamline the adoption process.
Dr. Teri Kramer, an adoptee herself, understands adoption firsthand. Her positive experience growing up in an adoptive home led to her desire to expand her family by adoption as an adult.
“My greatest joy beyond my own family is using my talents and knowledge to build your family,” she said.
Initially, families should decide what avenue of adoption works best for them: private adoption, agency adoption or foster care adoption.
“I like to coach families through a hybrid approach that maximizes the value of their home study and gives them access to the most adoption opportunities, but ultimately, families have to decide which route best fits their needs,” Kramer said.
The adoption process can be overwhelming, and some entities are willing to take advantage of prospective families.
“It happened to our family when we adopted my daughter — we were scammed out of thousands of dollars,” Kramer said. “I am troubled by the similar stories I often hear. What I seek to do with my consultancy is help prospective families from the moment they begin thinking about adoption until placement.”
In doing so, Kramer’s goal is to help clients avoid common (and uncommon) pitfalls during their adoption journeys and make the paperwork and profile writing processes easier.
“The beauty of my job is that I get to customize my approach to meet the specific needs of each family I assist,” she said. “I am happy to survey agencies, home study providers, attorneys, etc. to make sure the services provided by these entities align with the needs of the family. Additionally, because I’m a writer who is both an adoptee and an adoptive parent, I know just how to tailor my families’ profiles in a manner favorable to birth parents.”
Beyond that, Kramer feels her duty as a consultant is to fill any gaps on the adoption team.
“It’s critical to have a great team working together toward a successful adoption, and each member has a specific role,” she explained. “For example, while adoption attorneys may hold adoption in high esteem and care deeply for the families they represent, their primary focus is to execute the legal proceedings meticulously. Likewise, a social worker assigned to the home study process needs to make sure an accurate assessment of the home is rendered. My role as a consultant is everything in between. I am available when families have questions about where to find grant funding or how to write their profiles. Maybe they’re feeling discouraged while waiting for a placement and need recommendations for support groups in their area. I will help them locate resources.”
Prospective families have been pleased with the support they have received from NAC. An adoptive mother, Kayla L., notes, “When we chose to pursue adoption, my husband and I felt overwhelmed and a little isolated. Let’s face it, adoption isn’t something everyone chooses, so finding a support system can be very difficult. We were fortunate to have Teri to lean on. She listened to our fears, helped us choose the path we were most comfortable with, and shared her experiences with us.”
A Yankton family added, “Teri has been an excellent resource in my family’s adoption journey. She has offered her experience, given advice, and provided resources for us to consider. She has been available to us and is so responsive, sharing her time without hesitation. We have appreciated her grounded perspective in our journey, and her background makes her such an incredibly well-versed resource.”
If you know and care for families like these impacted by adoption, Kramer said, “The best thing an adoption supporter can do is validate all members of the adoption triad. When speaking with biological family, adoptive family, or an adoptee, remain adoption positive and remember no one in the adoption triad ever falls away or becomes less important.
“One of the key points for supporters to remember is that adoptive parents, grandparents, and extended family are all real family,” she added. “While DNA gives adoptees their physical traits, it isn’t the litmus test for who is family and who is not. Familial bonds transcend genetics. We’re all family by choice. That can be difficult for people outside the triad to understand, but blood and choice are equally strong bonds.”
Adoption is at the core of who Kramer is, as evidenced by the focus of her extensive educational background. She holds a master’s degree (MFA) and a Ph.D. in writing. Much of the writing she did throughout those programs was focused on adoption and/or processing the adoption journey.
“I feel very fortunate to be in a place where my career can merge with a significant portion of my identity,” she said. “As consultants go, you will find a few who have been touched by adoption. Most often, these are adoptive parents, but I am the only one who is an adoptee, an adoptive parent, and who has studied writing to the Ph.D. level with a focus on trauma, social justice, and creativity. I am grateful to be able to offer my clients multiple levels of expertise through experience and education.”
In connection with the consultancy, Kramer has begun work on a book called, “So, You Think You’re Ready to Adopt?” It is forthcoming next spring. The book focuses on different kinds of adoption, pre, and post-adoption preparations, and ultimately, transition and aftercare for all adoption triad members.
For more information, go to: navigateadoption.com.