Matching means that a social worker selected your family as the potential family for a child. This is the point where you get detailed information on the child you matched with. You need to make your own decision as to whether or not the child really is a good fit for your family.

Here are some tips to help you prepare:

1) Be prepared to say “no”.

You are ready for a child to enter your home and join your family. However, that does not mean that you have to adopt any child your adoption worker suggests. Make sure that you matched with a child who is a good fit for your family. There are many children who need a family, even if it seems like you have been waiting a long time. Trying to force a match could have devastating consequences for both you and the child.

Remember, every move impacts how willing a child is to trust adults. Do not take a child in with the feeling or thought that, if the placement doesn’t work, the child can just go back to foster care.

Naturally, you can expect to feel sadness, loss, and grief if you do not get to adopt the child you matched with. After all, you are prolonging your wait for the right child to reach your family. These feelings are perfectly normal. You got your hopes up; you fell in love. It’s possible you even felt relief at the thought of your dream finally coming true. Losing that will hurt.

2) Find out the expectations of a “legal risk placement”.

Before you try to adopt a child in a legal risk placement situation (when a child who is not legally available for adoption goes into a potential adoptive home), be clear about what the expectations are. Some states consider a placement situation to be a legal risk if they simply do not terminate parental rights until they find an adoptive family. In other states, a legal risk placement means there is a chance the child may return to his or her biological family.

This could also mean continued visits with biological parents until they relinquish their parental rights or you finalize the adoption. Regardless of your situation, be sure you are clear on what could happen in your case. If you do not think you can handle the emotional loss of a child returning to his or her birth parents, do not try to adopt the child. It can be emotionally devastating if it falls through.

3) Be sure to thoroughly read the profile of the child you matched with.

Of course, if you have any questions, ask! Do not be afraid of terminology or feel that a question is “too stupid”. This is the time to ask tons of questions. There is a lot of information to take in. Some profiles will contain numerous diagnoses. It’s okay to ask your case worker for clarification and get specifics on the child’s behavior, the amount of therapy he or she may require, or how this will affect your family. Understandably, it’s better to have too much information than not enough. You have the right to know as much about how this adoption will change your life as you possibly can.