If you are a prospective adoptive parent, you may be curious about whether you are able to choose the child you want to adopt. This is a great question and one we encounter a lot, so let’s get to the bottom of it. Read on to get answers to your questions about adoption, getting connected with a birthmother, and more!
Can adoptive parents choose the child they adopt?
The short answer to this is not exactly. A potential birthmother has the right to choose the family that she feels is best for her and her baby. A family can only be chosen after successfully completing the adoption home study process and becoming legally allowed to adopt. At that point, the prospective adoptive parents will create a profile that showcases their family. With the help of the adoption professional they’re working with, expectant mothers look through those profiles and choose one or more families they like.
While it might seem frustrating that you can’t directly choose the child you would like to adopt, it’s important to remember that with domestic infant adoption, the birthmother controls the process. She is the one who gets to choose which family to place her baby with. In the not so distant past, birthmothers were often mistreated, unable to make these important decisions for their children, and forced to enter into closed adoptions. Thankfully, modern adoption has made strides in ethical practices that place the voice of the birthmother at the forefront of these important decisions.
What can adoptive families control during the adoption process?
While you cannot explicitly choose the baby you adopt, there are certain things prospective adoptive parents can control or have say in.
Importantly, adoptive families can establish their preferences on what races they are open to adopting. This is a deeply personal decision and requires careful consideration that keeps the safety and well-being of the child at the forefront. For example, you may be open to adopting a child of a different race, but is your extended family or even the community in which you live willing to accept them? If not, the last thing you would want to do is bring a child into a situation where they are unwelcome or unsafe. Because of the sensitivity of this aspect of adoption, prospective adoptive families are able to have a preference and be approved in the home study process to adopt a child of a different race.
Prospective adoptive families can also control whether they want to go into a closed, semi-open, and/or open adoption post-placement communication plan. Many adoption professionals have certain openness requirements, but adoptive families can decide whether they are comfortable with a fully open arrangement.
Research the adoption process & seek online resources
As you’ve seen above, there are a lot of decisions and steps involved in the adoption process and there is no doubt you have a lot of questions about the intricacies of adoption. Because of that, we recommend researching the adoption process before jumping into this decision. When it comes to adoption, there are a lot of factors to consider and decisions to make. Undergoing the adoption process is one of the most life altering, but rewarding decisions you will ever make for yourself and your family, which is why research and preparation are so important.
You will need to familiarize yourself with the local, state, and federal regulations that may affect you, the financial aspects of the process, post-placement communication types (closed, semi-open, and open), and an adoption professional that you trust to guide you through the process. Taking time to research the different aspects of adoption can also allow you to assess your emotional readiness for undertaking the emotional rollercoaster that is adoption and clarify anything that may have been unclear before.
As you research the adoption process, keep in mind that there is an abundance of information available on the internet in the form of articles, guides, forums, support groups, and even e-books. You can find digestible information about different state requirements for adoption, which is particularly helpful for prospective adoptive families, accessible information about the cost of adoption, and financial resources that are available to them. Additionally, you can use online resources not only to find information about the adoption process but also to connect with other families who are going through the same thing in order to start building a supportive community.
Tips for fostering a connection with a birthmother
As we’ve discussed, the birthmother has the right to choose the parents of her baby. Because of this, properly nurturing a positive connection with a birthmother can get your family one step closer to finalizing the adoption process.
Here are some tips to help you during this delicate, nerve-wracking time.
1.) Find common ground.
During the initial stages of working with a birthmother, keep in mind that she will be just as nervous as you are! For this reason, finding common ground or something you can bond over can help ease the anxiety you both may be feeling. Whether it is a movie, book, sports, or favorite hobby, there will surely be something you can find in common with her. Plus, talking about casual topics can help everyone involved get to know each other better and create a deeper connection.
2.) Show empathy, respect, and kindness.
When interacting with a birthmother, it is of the utmost importance to show her empathy, respect, and kindness. In most cases, making the decision to put her baby up for adoption was not an easy one and she is going through a deeply challenging and stressful time in her life. Being proactive in showing respect, empathy, and kindness can make all the difference in making a connection and helping a birthmother feel a bit more comfortable.
3.) Be open to questions.
Choosing the right parents for her baby is not an easy or simple task. Because of this, the birthmother you work with will likely have questions about your life, your parenting style, your home, your family, your community, and more. It is important to show that you are open to questions and communication that will help her make this very important decision. Through positive, open communication, you will be able to build trust and a bond with her.
4.) Avoid discussing challenging topics.
If you are in the initial stage of connecting with a birthmother, during this time you will want to avoid discussing any challenging topics that she doesn’t bring up herself. This means avoiding subjects initially like medical history or her relationship with the biological father of the baby. At this point, she may not be open to sharing any deep personal information with you and it is important to respect that.
5.) Ask her opinion.
When discussing various topics, something you can do to create a deeper bond and learn more about the birthmother you are connecting with would be to ask her opinion on things. For example, if you are discussing education, you can inquire if she prefers public or private school and acknowledge her opinion whether you agree with it or not. This allows for her voice to be heard and for an open exchange to happen for you both to learn more about each other.
What is meant to be will happen
One of the most challenging aspects of the adoption process for prospective adoptive families is having little control over connecting with a birthmother and the time frame in which the adoption will be finalized. During the times when things feel especially out of your control, it is important to remember that the child who is meant for you will come into your life and once they do, all of the ups and downs you went through to hold them in your arms will be worth it.