My husband and I were married for 12 years before we decided to start the adoption process. After considering our options - international adoption, agency adoption, fostering to adopt, and private adoption, we chose the latter. We retained the services of an adoption attorney and started working toward adoption. From start to finish, the entire process took about 2 1/2 years. We actually took our newborn son home from the hospital after only nine months of searching and waiting, but his adoption wasn’t finalized for quite some time afterwards.
I didn’t realize the extent of the work, time, effort, anxiety, and reward that goes into adopting. It’s a wonderfully frustrating process that requires much patience, but also persistence. It is not exactly for the faint-hearted. In the beginning, we thought adopting our son was going to go off without a hitch, cheap and easy, relatively speaking. We were in for a rollercoaster ride. As part of our personal process, we were having trouble locating the birth father. By state law, our attorney had to perform due diligence in locating him. As part of that due diligence, we decided to hire a private investigator.
My son was only a few months old. We had met his birth mother several months before she gave birth. My husband and I were at the hospital when our son was born. It all came together so smoothly. The only hiccup was that our attorney couldn’t find the birth father. So that’s when she recommended we use a private investigator to find him. Everything happened through our adoption attorney. The PI found my son’s birth father quickly and we were able to legally adopt our son after a drawn-out custody battle with him and an appeal.
Our story is the perfect example of the importance of adoption due diligence. Had that private investigator not conducted a thorough search, we could have had a very angry birth father enter the picture months or years down the road with claims that no one ever informed him of his son’s adoption, therefore he wasn’t given fair chance to obtain custody. My son’s security could have potentially been jeopardized if our private investigator didn’t do his job well. That is a VERY big deal to me as a mother. A very big deal.
I was working as a crime analyst for my local police department at the time of my son’s adoption. Hiring a private investigator to find my son’s birth father really got me to thinking. As a crime analyst, I often researched people through social media, proprietary databases, and law enforcement records. It was part of my job to find information on suspects, to dig deeper than the detectives had time for and to assist them with their cases. I concluded that as a crime analyst, I did much of the same work as a private investigator, only operating under the public sector instead of the private.
I was looking for more control over my workdays with my young son. Local government isn’t known to foster a whole lot of creativity or challenge for its employees. I was itching to use all I had learned as a crime analyst in a more open and challenging format. Working for myself sounded lovely to me. Switching to the private sector just made sense and it seemed like the perfect time to do it.
As I researched the best ways to achieve my newfound career choice, I learned that it would be smart to choose a niche instead of offering all services to all people. It was very similar to teaching, which I had done before I was an analyst. For my undergraduate teaching degree, I had to decide which area of teaching I wanted to pursue. I couldn’t just choose the broad area of education. It was the same for private investigations. I needed to choose a specialty. It only made sense that I would choose social media and open source investigations with a personal interest in adoption-related searches and missing persons. My decision tied into what I had been working on as a crime analyst, but also gave me the flexibility to pursue adoption cases, which are obviously near and dear to me on a very personal level.
Who knew that when I hired that private investigator to find my son’s birth father, I would soon BE that private investigator searching for other birth fathers out there.
Note: The above photo is me with my newborn son. Photo attributed to my friend, Beth Chambers.