There are so many hopeful adoptive families out there, it can feel impossible to narrow it down to one. Most of these people are sweet, wonderful human beings who would be great parents. But how do you find the match that is truly right for you? Here are a few steps you can take to help you pick the family that is meant to raise your baby.
- Make a list of priorities
To narrow your search, make a list of things you’d like in an ideal family. Do you want them to practice a certain religion? Would you like there to be other children already in the home? How much education is ideal for one or both of the parents? Are you looking to place with someone who lives in a certain area? This list of preferences doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it will help you to reduce the sheer number of profiles you are looking at.
- Look for people like you
If you were in a position to parent, what would that look like? For some people, that means raising their children out in the country on a farm. They’d teach their kids to care for animals, showing them every year at the county fair. Other people would read to their children constantly and have education be the number one priority. Still others would be very laid back, teaching their children to love art and music. Find someone who would give your child the life you would if you had the ability to. Find someone you agree with on basic parenting methods. It’s important that you choose someone who does things in at least a somewhat similar way that you would, or you might start to butt heads with them.
- Get to know them
If you are seriously considering placing with a family, it’s okay to get to know them before you make any promises. Hopeful adoptive parents are emotionally vulnerable, so it’s important to keep that in mind, but you have every right to wait to say for sure until you know them well enough to make a commitment that big. If you agree on most things—post-placement contact agreements, how the child should be told their adoption story, etc.—that’s a good sign. If you choose to spend time with them in person, it’s important that you get along with them well and feel comfortable. The better you know a family, the easier it will be to tell whether or not they are right for you and your child.
- Avoid Red Flags
There are some things you should look out for and avoid in hopeful adoptive families. If they won’t give you specific answers to important questions (how much contact to expect post placement, etc.) they probably aren’t right for you. If they make you feel looked down on, or only show interest in your child and not in you, don’t pick them. If there is anything that you see being an issue down the road, find someone else. No family is perfect, but most will try their best. Only pick someone you know is doing the best they can for you and your baby.
- Follow your gut
Your mama heart will know when you have found the right family for your child. Maybe it won’t be right away, but after taking some time, you’ll know. It’s okay if you can’t put your finger on exactly why it feels right—just go with it.
Finding the right family for your child is one of the most stressful parts of a birth mother’s adoption journey. The family you choose can change your path for better or for worse. Think through things carefully, and follow your heart. When you know, you know.
Annaleece Merrill is a birth mother to the cutest little girl on earth. She loves being an advocate for open adoption by writing, mentoring, and speaking at adoption panels. She attends Utah State University in Logan, Utah.