In part one of our blog, we discussed why Paul and Jenny chose their agency. Part two will discuss their agencies operations and marketing strategy.
Going forward, how much paperwork did you have to fill out that was affiliated with the home study?
P: Once we retained Kirsh, we were connected with our home study contact immediately. The home study consisted of three sessions with a caseworker and one educational group meeting where we learned some background on advertising/networking techniques.
J: To start the home study process we were asked to complete an application, sign a fee schedule, provide a photo of our family, and include an installment fee. Then we had to provide physical and mental health records including a checkup conducted by an MD, financial information, and we were even asked to provide a copy of our marriage certificate. Once we completed the paperwork and were approved, we were assigned a caseworker.
That is a lot of paperwork and hoops to jump through, how long did it take the two of you to get all of it turned in?
J: It’s hard to say, we turned in the documents to the home study company in late February who then approved us and notified Kirsh that we were fit for placement of a child in late March of 1999.
P: We did not waste time when we went through the process. As soon as we were told to fill out specific documents or hand over any records we either mailed them in or filled them out in the offices of Kirsh. For example, even in our downtime of getting approved, we started working on our birthmother letter. Which, it would be fair to keep in mind that when we adopted there were only a few recommendations on what we should have in our letters. Writing those letters was one of the hardest steps in the adoption process.
That was going to be my next question, what tactics did you use to market yourselves?
P: Once we had our letters finished and were approved by the home study company we started advertising ourselves in newspapers. To filter out inquiries, we installed a separate phone line in our house. I also went a step further and gave our birthmother letters to “centers of influence,” families, doctors’ offices, and friends to increase the chances of getting seen by a birthmother. The center of influence strategy worked so well in our favor because I know a lot of doctors through work, an advantage other people may not have had.
How much did all of that cost and how long did it take?
P: To market ourselves we essentially spent money on three things: newspaper ads, an extra phone line, and our birthmother letters which we printed on very nice stationary. All told that cost us between $3K and $4K for a six-month period.
Thanks for reading part two of our Then and Now series! Stay tuned for Part three.