There are a lot of very real things to fear in adoption. Adoption is an emotional process that, by nature, tests your strengths time and time again. Adoption also has a way to bring out all of your deep down insecurities. When I think about the fear of birth parents taking their child back, more than one potential situation comes up.
The first situation is that it can happen. It does happen. This can happen when the birth parent is still the legal parent before consent is signed or termination of rights has happened. During this period, their child could be in your care. You will know that the situation has the potential to be temporary. This temporary custody period varies in length from state to state.
One very important thing to remember is that until consent or termination and after the revocation period has happened, birth parents are still the legal parents. Your job as the potential adoptive family is to love on, pray for, and provide the very best care for this child until the birth parent can or it’s decided by the court that you will be the forever family.
I deal with the very real fear by reminding myself that adoption plans aren’t complete at birth and initial placement. Plans can and do change. Educate yourself about the laws in your state. Ask questions about how your adoption professional handles potential changes of plan. How will you be informed? When will you be notified? And where will you need to take the child if there is a change of plan.
The other time I encounter the fear of birth parents taking their child back is in reference to open adoption. This is mainly from other people. But, after you work through the emotions leading to finalization, I can understand the transition from potential adoptive family to forever family takes a little time.
I think it’s normal during this emotional transition phase to still feel insecure about the solidity of your family. From “one day it could all disappear” to “this is forever” is a big switch. The comments from the peanut gallery surely won’t help either. Keeping the line of communication open with your child’s birth family has nothing to do with the realness of your family. It is about supporting your child. Your whole child. They didn’t start with you. It’s your job to teach them about where they came from, which can trigger your own insecurities. Work through it. I know you can.
Also, remember this: It cannot happen. After finalization, no one, birth or otherwise, can take your child from you. Let go of all that fear. Open adoption is not a way for birth parents to take their child back. They are no longer the legal parents. You are. There is no more potential about it.
Addressing fears in adoption for me is about identifying the facts around the fear which is if, when, how birth parents can take their child back. What I need to do is prepare and educate myself with my worst case scenario in mind. Then, I process my own insecurities that are not supported with facts, but are still very real. I learn about the stigmas around open adoption and the realness of a family built through adoption. The last thing to do when addressing fear in adoption is to take a deep breath and move courageously into the future. You can do this.
Do you have a fear of a birth parent taking their child back? I would love to hear about how you are addressing the fear.