Be open. That’s some of the first pieces of advice given to you from many social workers as you begin the adoption process. The more open you are, the easier it will be to place you with a baby. Be open. You can always say no to a potential placement if it’s not right. As a prospective adoptive parent, you may be thinking, “Why in the world would you say no to any placement opportunity? That could be your baby!” But let me offer a few reasons why you may feel inclined to turn down an opportunity presented to you.
1. It just doesn’t feel right.
Never underestimate the power of your own intuition. If you are in the middle of reading the information presented to you and you suddenly find yourself feeling uneasy about what you are reading, just stop and politely decline having your profile book shown to this birth mother. This decision is going to affect the rest of your life, so listen to yourself, and trust your instincts.
2. The information given to you isn’t what you “signed up for.”
Most adoptive parents working with an agency will have to fill out a “child characteristic” checklist to determine what they will and will not consider when it comes to their future child. You can choose everything from the child’s gender to age to disabilities and everything in between. If you find the information presented to you in a potential match is something you’re not comfortable with, then it’s okay to skip this match and wait for the next one.
3. The information given to you is what you “signed up for” but not that amount.
A few of the items on the child characteristic checklist my husband and I filled out had to do with the choices and behavior of the birth mother. For example, whether the birth mother took drugs or consumed alcohol during her pregnancy or whether she was smoking or didn’t have any prenatal care were items we could choose to consider or not. Let’s face it, there are a lot of moms who drink before they know they are pregnant and have perfectly healthy babies, and you might be okay knowing the birth mom had a few glasses of wine before she knew she was expecting. However, you may not be okay if the birth mom was drinking alcohol every day throughout her entire pregnancy. The amount and frequency of an undesirable behavior may be a reason to say no to a match.
4. You and your spouse don’t agree.
Perhaps there were some items on the checklist where one partner was more willing to say “will consider” than another, so the “will consider” box was checked, but that partner is still not completely comfortable with the choice. If that is the case, you need to have a long talk with your spouse, and you must be on the same page. This is your child and your future, and both of you need to be 100% committed to giving this child everything he needs. If one of you feels like your voice isn’t heard or isn’t important, it’s probably best to step away from that potential match.
My husband and I have a beautiful son through open adoption, and we waited for him because he was always supposed to be ours. Every element of his adoption was (here’s the dreaded cliché) meant to be—from his amazing birth parents, whom we now call friends, to his boisterous personality, which fits in perfectly with our family. He’s the most perfect addition to our family. Well worth the wait, and even worth saying no to a few potential matches.