I spend a lot of time talking with hopeful adoptive couples and expectant mothers about what I looked for in the family who adopted my baby. I talk about how I was looking for genuinely good people who lived in my area. A family who shared my religious views and sense of humor. This time I’m going to talk about why I said no to so many other profiles I came across on my search for the perfect family. Here are 7 common red flags that led me to say no.
1. The way they spoke to and about birth mothers.
I deserve respect. When I was exploring my options, I didn’t just look at a couples’ “hoping to adopt” profile. I looked at their personal Facebook, Instagram, and anything else I could find. Often I would find that the couple hoping to adopt had a very poor view of birth mothers. Either they would talk down to me in their “dear expectant mother” letter, or I would find something demeaning that they said about women facing unplanned pregnancies on social media. If I had any feeling that they did not respect birth mothers, it was an automatic no.
2. ‘Allowing’ me to visit
When I was interviewing prospective adoptive families, one of my first questions was what kind of openness I could expect with them. A few of them talked about how they would allow me to have visits and updates every so often. This showed me that they didn’t understand open adoption. For one, you are not doing me any great service by adopting my baby. You are not better than me, you just have different circumstances more conducive to parenting. To “allow” me to see the child I carried, delivered, and placed didn’t sit right with me.
Open adoption isn’t just about my well-being. It is the right of the adoptee to know where they came from and to have the opportunity to form a relationship with their birth parents if they choose. Visits are not a privilege for me, they are the right of the adoptee.
3. Their plans on talking to their child about adoption
It is not okay to not tell a child they are adopted. It is not okay to tell your child I am a “family friend” and then spring it on them that I am their birth mother when they turn 18. I wanted my baby to know from day one who I am and that I love her. I wanted to be there every step of the way for her to help her understand her adoption story. If adoptive parents don’t talk about adoption to their child in a positive way, it is feeding into the idea that adoption is shameful. I wanted my baby to be proud of her adoption, so I picked a family who would help her do that.
4. Acting Fake
There is a difference between highlighting the positives in your hoping to adopt profile and acting completely fake. I went through dozens of fake profiles. People pretending to have lots of money, a perfect marriage, and a glamorous lifestyle. That’s not what I wanted for my baby. I wanted down-to-earth people who weren’t pretending to be something they weren’t. No one is perfect, and pretending to be so was a big turn off for me.
5. Not acknowledging my grief
If I could teach one thing to every hopeful adoptive parent, it would be that placing a baby for adoption hurts. I suffered a loss and you gained an opportunity. To pretend that isn’t happening isn’t fair to me. I healed so much better when I found a family who understood how hard placing was for me. On the day I placed my baby in their arms, they cried for me. Feeling loved and understood was vital to my healing process. Because of their love and sympathy, I was able to come back from this experience a stronger, happier person.
6. They hadn’t grieved their infertility
Adoption is not a cure for infertility. If adoption is your fallback plan, I’m not going to place my child with you. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to be sad from time to time about your struggles with infertility. That’s okay. It is not okay to act like adoption is second best, because that will make the child feel like they are second best. Before you adopt, you need to have come to terms with your struggles and be fully on board and excited about adoption.
7. It just didn’t feel right
There were many wonderful families who didn’t show any red flags and met all my criteria. Dozens of sweet couples who deserved to be parents. But my heart led me to the family I chose. Somehow, I just knew they were the ones for her. If your wait to be matched is longer than you had anticipated, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with you. The right woman will match with you at the right time. And when it is the right time, you’ll know because of how right it feels to both of you.
Many of the hopeful adoptive couples I said no to simply needed to be better educated. Making an effort to understand birth parents and open adoption will not only lead to a better profile, but a better open adoption relationship, and therefore better quality of life, for all involved.