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Technology Will Change Adoption for the Better

Adoptive couple on iPad

It’s exciting to live in a time where technology is beginning to impact so many parts of our life. I believe that over the next 5-10 years, technology will dramatically change the way the adoption process is conducted, making the process more streamlined for parents, and ultimately, allowing more to be able to experience the joy of adopting a child.

An adoption requires the adopting parents to submit between 50 and 200 documents. Most of these documents are currently completed manually. Often, the adoption providers will send PDF documents to the parents, the parents will print and write in the answers, and then either fax or scan and email the documents back to the adoption provider. This ends up being a lot of administrative work for the adopting parents, especially if they don’t have a printer and scanner, or a fax machine at home. On many of the forms, adoption parents are required to fill in the same information over and over again—their names, addresses, etc.

How technology will change adoption

Technology has the potential to dramatically reduce the administrative work for the parents. Technology will change adoption for the better and allow them to complete paperwork online through e-forms, uploading attachments, and even signing through e-signature if their state allows it. Parents only need to fill out each piece of information once and then the e-forms would auto-populate all of the paperwork that asked for that information. It would eliminate the time needed for scanning or faxing information. It is estimated technology can reduce the administrative time spent on adoption paperwork by 80%, meaning it can reduce the overall time it takes parents to adopt. Technology could also save the parents’ information if they wanted to adopt again in a few years, dramatically reducing the time required to fill out the paperwork the second time.

The potential to reduce administrative work for adoption providers

The current adoption process is also a lot of administrative work for the adoption agency or provider. They need to keep track of sometimes hundreds of emails back and forth with the parents, providing additional information and submitting documents. It takes a lot of organization and administrative work to stay on top of all of the paperwork. Agencies and providers would like to be spending their time helping more parents be able to adopt, but instead they can get bogged down in paperwork and details. Sometimes details can slip through the cracks because there is so much to keep track of. For example, an adoption provider may think everything has been submitted, only to realize there is one form or one signature missing, which can then delay the process.

Technology also has the potential to dramatically reduce administrative work for agencies and adoption providers, allowing them to focus on what really matters to them—helping more parents adopt and providing them with the personal attention they need. If parents are filling out the paperwork online, the adoption provider can also have a way to easily access all of the documents online in one place, instead of fragmented across many emails and faxes. Adoption providers could even see the progress of the paperwork as it’s being completed and message the adopting parents to give them feedback and tips, instead of waiting until the end when parents submit it to give feedback. Technology can also help agencies track down references and allow references to fill in and sign forms online more quickly, expediting the overall process.

Certain parts of the adoption application can expire and need to be renewed, like the adopting parents’ fingerprints. If the adoption provider and adopting parents do not realize this in time and the fingerprints expire, this could delay the rest of the process and incur additional cost. Technology also has the potential to reduce these types of errors. For example, there can be expiration notifications for fingerprints and other documents that expire, giving parents enough time to make sure all of their documents are up to date.

Adopting couples are asking to complete adoption paperwork online

Technology can be a powerful force in reducing complexity and streamlining processes. Families can complete their taxes online, book their travel online, and stay connected with loved ones from around the world online. But why can they not yet complete adoption paperwork online? The generation of couples who are adopting today is very comfortable with technology and the internet. More and more adopting couples are asking their agencies and adoption providers if they can complete the paperwork online.

I’m excited for a day when technology dramatically improves the adoption process for parents, reducing the time spent on administrative paperwork, and ultimately, the number of months an adoption takes to complete. Streamlining the process has the potential to improve the adoption process’ perception in society, which is that it’s a long, difficult and confusing process. While an adoption process will always be very emotional, technology can at least make process much more straight-forward and approachable to families, ultimately making it possible for more parents to choose adoption allow more children to join loving homes.