Matching means that a social worker has selected you as a potential family for a waiting child. This is the point where you get detailed information on the child and make your decision as to whether or not the child is a good “match” for your family.
Here are some “thinking points” to help you prepare:
1) Be prepared to say “no.”
You are ready for a child to enter your home and join your family. That does not mean that you have to “take” a child that your adoption worker suggests you. Make sure that this a good match for your family. There are other children available, even if it seems like you have been waiting a long time. Trying to force a match will have devastating consequences for both you and the child. Remember, every move impacts a child’s trust in adults. Do not take a child in with the feeling or thought that if the placement doesn’t work you, you can “return” him to foster care.
You can expect to feel sadness, loss and grief if you do not “accept” the child you have been presented with. After all, you are prolonging your wait for just the right child for you. These feelings are perfectly normal, even though the child was never “yours,” legally. You got your hopes up; you fell in love with the picture, or the profile. You thought your dream was about to come true. Losing that will hurt.
2) Find out the expectations of a “legal risk placement.”
Before you take in a child who is a legal risk placement (the placement of a child who is not legally free for adoption), be clear as to what the expectations are. Some states only place legal risk children and do not terminate parental rights until an adoptive placement has been found. In other states, a legal risk placement means that there is a risk that the child may be returned to the biological family. This could also mean continued visits with birth parents until parental rights are terminated or the adoption is finalized. Be sure you are clear on what will happen in your case. If you do not think you can handle the emotional loss of a child returning to his birth parents, do not accept this child. It is emotionally devastating.
3) Be sure to thoroughly read the child’s profile.
…and if you have any questions, ASK! Do not be afraid of the terminology or feel that a question is too stupid. This is the time to ask tons of questions. This is a lot of information to take in. Some profiles will contain numerous diagnoses. It’s OK to ask for clarification and get specifics on behaviors, amount of therapy required, and how this will affect your family. Better to have too much information than not enough. You have a right to know how this will change your life.