Making an adoption plan can be incredibly overwhelming. Choosing to place your baby takes a huge amount of thought and effort, and that’s only the first part. The second step, choosing an adoptive family for your child, is just as difficult. There are so many choices, it’s hard to know where to begin. Here is a list of starting off points, from a birth mom who has been there.
1. Outline your parameters
Since there are so many wonderful couples looking to adopt, a helpful way to narrow it down is to list the attributes you would like for your child’s parents. What is important to you? Education? Location? Would you like them to have other children or for this to be their first? What types of things are “deal breakers” to you? Is it important that they share your religious/political views? How do they plan on talking to their child(ren) about adoption? These guidelines are not hard and fast, but they can help to somewhat narrow down your options.
2. Think about openness
I love open adoption. I think it is a wonderful, healthy option. Exactly what openness means, however, is up to interpretation. Your definition might be very different than a potential adoptive family. It is very important to understand exactly what both parties expect as far as updates and visits before you agree to place with them. I have seen many broken hearts on all sides of the triad due to misunderstandings or dishonesty about the level of openness in an adoption.
3. Reach out
I’m not kidding when I say I looked over hundreds of profiles. I spent hours and hours debating the pros and cons of each one. Eventually, I narrowed it down to three couples. I sent them each an email asking them to tell me a little more about themselves. Although they were all worthy candidates, something felt wonderful when I read the messages from the couple who would later become baby R’s adoptive parents. I told the other two couples that they were amazing, but that I had gone a different direction. I continued to email back and forth with baby R’s future family. It was through those emails a beautiful friendship was born.
4. Get to know them
You can only learn so much from a book or online profile. If it’s possible, meet the couple you’re thinking of placing with in person before you make a final decision. Being around the adoptive parent(s) and seeing how they interact with each other and others will give you a better picture of what life would be like for your baby. Remember, meeting with a couple does not mean you have to place with them. If things don’t click, that’s okay. For me, forming a close bond with baby R’s adoptive parents was (and still is) my lifeline when it comes to healing. Choose a couple you can be friends with!
5. Go with your gut
Choosing a family for your child is a lot like finding “the one”—when you know, you know. Trust your instincts on this one, if something doesn’t feel quite right, chances are it’s not. You are not obligated to place with any particular couple, and you should be wary of anyone who makes you feel pressured. A mother’s intuition is real—you know what’s best for your child.
6. Take your time, but let them know
You have the right to take as much time as you need to make your decision. Short of your due date, there is no deadline to decide for sure. However, it’s important to keep in mind that hopeful adoptive parents are emotional and vulnerable too. If you decide a couple you’ve been communicating with is not right for your child, kindly let them know rather than simply disappearing. When you find a couple you’re sure about, it can be easy to sit on it, just in case you change your mind. This is within your right. Personally, however, it was so helpful for me to see how excited baby R’s hopeful adoptive parents were when I told them. Their joy helped me get through the end of my pregnancy, delivery and placement. Telling them that I had chosen to place with them made it real to me—this was a commitment that would break hearts if I backed out. I’m so glad I told them as soon as I knew they were the ones. That way we both had time to prepare for the coming placement.
Choosing an adoptive family for your child is exhausting and scary. But, if you follow your heart, finding the right adoptive family might just be the best decision you have ever made. I can’t imagine my life without baby R and her amazing family in it. Every adoption is different, and every adoption is hard. If you find the right people to work through it with you, you, the adoptive parents, and most importantly, your baby, will be able to conquer anything.