I’m not going to lie. We had one of the easiest and best adoption experiences you can get. We made a decision to adopt in December 2010 and were chosen by our birth mom just 8 months later, with our son born a month after that in August 2011. We were adoption pregnant for the same amount of time as a gestational pregnancy. We were truly blessed. But it wasn’t the first time we were chosen by an expectant mother. So how did we know the first wasn’t a right match for us and our son was?
Many friends of ours have waited much longer, agonized, had failed placements, and have lost much emotionally and financially. Yet they didn’t give up. They persevered and had faith that their child would make it to their arms. How could they be so vulnerable and know that this time it would be a right match for them?
For ourselves and for many of our friends, our faith in God and ultimately the peace that He gave us is the answer to those questions. Sometimes that’s all the explanation that others need when they are waiting to adopt or waiting to make the decision to place their child into the arms of another. For others, they seek something tangible to guide their decisions.
So how do you know when it is right? I have been asked that question countless times over the last three years. And here are some answers that I have given. They are not all inclusive and are certainly not going to prevent failures from happening. But they are simple ways that I’ve found in talking with numerous couples that have helped them in their decision making.
1. When you know you know.
My first response has always been that “when you know you know.” I know that sounds almost too easy or a heartless answer. For us it was almost unexplainable the amount of peace that washed over us when we met our birth mom for the first time. I had no doubt from day one that she would change her mind. I had total and complete peace and confidence in her. We built a relationship and trust between the two of us in just a short few weeks. I recently had a friend call me after she was matched and tell me, “I now know what you mean. I feel it. I just know and I have total peace over this situation just like you said I would. I didn’t have that the first time.” This was after a failed placement a few months earlier and now have a beautiful baby girl at home. I’m not saying it is this easy for everyone. I would say, however, that if your instinct and faith gives you peace, then most of the time (not always) you will know it is right.
2. Don’t be guided by emotions alone.
For many who are seeking to adopt, they have already gone through several years of tests, procedures, and heartaches. They are anxious and beyond ready to start a family. So when that first call comes for a match, emotions can take over and cloud our vision. We received a call just a few short weeks after finishing our home study. I was ready to jump in head first no matter what because I was that eager to be a mommy. But after stepping back and gathering all our facts and learning more about the situation, the more uneasy we became. There were already signs that it may fail and as hard as that no was, we now know that was not the child meant for us. It was meant for another family. I still have some guilt over that choice we made, but then we wouldn’t have our son – the one that we know God intended for us – otherwise.
3. Form a bond.
What I mean by this is to build a relationship with the expectant family and especially the expectant mom. Treat her with respect, care for her, and show her love. Spend time with her. And that doesn’t mean just doctor visits or classes. One thing that I wish I had was more time developing a relationship with our birth mom before our son was born. Sure we hit it off immediately and she felt like part of our family from the moment we met. And doctor’s appointments and child birth classes were amazing experiences. But I wish that I had more time with her just doing things together as two women – pedicures, movies, lunches. Sometimes that isn’t an option, but if it is then the more time you spend together the more comfortable you will both feel about the placement. She will gain more faith in her decision and you will gain more trust in her.
So what if your expectant mom chooses a closed adoption and doesn’t want to form a relationship? Then don’t push it. Allow her the breathing room that she needs to get through this time in her life. Respect her. But ensure you are communicating properly and consistently with your agency and/or attorney. Which leads me to the next point. . .
This is absolutely essential. If your agency or attorney is not giving you periodic updates or returning calls, that can be another indication that this is not the right situation for you. Many times the simple lack of communication with a social worker, agency, or attorney leads to frustration of both the expectant parents and the prospective adoptive parents. And frustration then can lead to minds being changed or strained relationships between the parties involved.
As I said previously, this is not an all inclusive list but is some practical ways to know when your adoption plans are on the right track. Every single situation is unique, with varying emotions. But don’t give up on your dream to create a family through adoption. It is always worth it.