Letter to Birth Grandparents

Navigating life when your child is facing an unplanned pregnancy can be difficult. Here are some things to keep in mind.

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Dear Birth Grandparents,

While I cannot personally relate to what it must be like to have a young daughter or son who is expecting a baby before they are ready to parent, I would nonetheless like to share with you what may be good ideas and what may be not so good ideas as far as proceeding to try to orchestrate an adoption arrangement for your grandchild.

First, you must know that in the United States, grandparents do not actually have legal rights to their grandchildren. While I personally disagree with this situation, the fact remains that you do not have the legal right to make an adoption plan for your grandchild, even if your daughter or son is a minor.

Second, while I understand that you believe that you know what is best not only for your child but also for your grandchild, once you begin to bring prospective adoptive parents into the picture, please keep their hopes and feelings in mind, as well.

For starters, make sure that you discuss any adoption plans with your grandchild’s parents, ideally both of them, and gauge if this is something that they want. You cannot force them into an adoption plan, nor should you want to. If they are on-board but prefer for you to do a lot of the leg work for them, that’s one thing. But if you go about the whole situation as if it were entirely up to you, you are asking for trouble.

Next, once you make contact with prospective adoptive parents, please try to remember that they are heavily invested in any changes that take place in the plan. Once your family and the prospective adoptive parents have met and gotten to know one another and agree to move forward, it is imperative to keep them in the loop. If your child changes her or his mind about the adoption plan and you’re the one who has been in contact with the prospective adoptive family, then it behooves you to contact them and let them know that the match has fallen through. Do not let your disappointment in your child’s decision cloud your responsibility towards the adoptive couple. Even if you still hold out hope that your child will come around, remember that this is not your decision, and it is important for the adoptive couple to be aware of their chances if these diminish between matching and birth.

Along similar lines, do not spring any surprises on the couple after you feel they have invested themselves enough to where they wouldn’t want to back out. This includes health information and prenatal history that can in any way affect the baby, such as if your daughter is a smoker. It is imperative that all parties involved be completely transparent in order for the adoption plan to be made in good faith. If, for instance, your daughter is on-board but the baby’s father is unknown or uncertain about the plan, it matters, and the adoptive parents deserve to know his status as it will affect how they go about ensuring that the adoption happens as smoothly as possible.

In our quest to adopt a child, we worked with two grandmothers who were trying to arrange for the adoption of their grandchildren. The first grandmother was simply in over her head since the Department of Social Services was already involved in her grandchild’s case. By the time she arranged for us to meet her daughter and the baby’s father, both of whom were in agreement about the adoption plan, it was nonetheless too late because they no longer had parental rights to make that decision. The little boy ended up being adopted by his foster parents, with whom he was placed while the grandmother was trying to hand-pick an adoptive family for her grandchild.

The second grandmother seemed to completely disengage once she introduced us to her daughter. After three months of various outings and conversations with not only the baby’s mother but her sister and visits to our house and hers, I noticed on social media one day that she had moved several states away. When I asked her about it, I found out that she had decided to parent after all. Neither she nor the grandmother thought to let us know that we were no longer going to be adopting the baby.

The best thing you can do for your child who is facing an unplanned pregnancy is to support what they want. If you cannot personally take over parenting your grandchild and you decide to involve prospective adoptive parents, make sure it is something that your child wants, and not simply the situation that you believe ought to happen.

Prospective adoptive parents thank you!