Making the decision to place your child is the hardest part of making an adoption plan. Choosing a family to place with is the second. I know because I’ve been there. When I was going through profiles, I was so confused. Here were dozens of families who all looked great—but were any of them really right for my baby? How could I tell just from photos and words on a page? In the end, I found the perfect family to place with. Here are some things I learned in the process of choosing the best parents for my baby.
- Don’t be afraid to be picky
When I was looking at profiles, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people looking to adopt. They all seemed like great people who deserved to have children. One way I narrowed it down was to be very specific about what I wanted. For me, that meant a two-parent home with no other children, I wanted them both to have a bachelor’s degree, and I wanted them to live within two hours of me. My requirements didn’t mean other families weren’t great; it just helped me narrow down my options.
- Keep an open mind
While having a specific idea of what you want can be very helpful, don’t close the door on someone who doesn’t fit exactly what you had in mind. If you feel drawn to them, they very well might be the right ones. Initially I didn’t want a family that had other children, but I ended up placing with a couple who did, and my baby has the most amazing big brother in the world.
- Take your time, and remember your rights
It doesn’t matter what your agency, parents, or anyone else says. This is YOUR baby, and you have the right to take as long as you need to choose a family. You are not obligated to place with a family for any reason. Even if you choose a family and change your mind during your pregnancy, that is within your right. However, it’s important to remember that hopeful adoptive families are so excited to be parents, so it’s best not to agree to place with them if you’re not sure. You can change your mind and parent or choose another family if you feel right about it, but remember that hopeful families have feelings, too.
It’s okay to interview a family before you agree to place with them. In fact, you can interview more than one couple. Meeting face to face can be a much better way to get a feel for who these potential parents actually are and whether they’re right for your baby. If you want to, sometimes it’s a good idea to meet more than once before the baby is born. I was fortunate enough to get together with my birth daughter’s future adoptive parents several times before she was born, and I formed a great relationship with them, which set the precedent for a wonderful open adoption.
- Ask Questions
It’s important to know exactly what to expect from your relationship with the family you choose to place with AFTER the baby is born. Many expectant mothers and hopeful adoptive parents agree to an open adoption, but the word “open” can mean different things to different people. To one person, “open” might mean an email once a year, and to another person it might mean weekly visits. It is vital to be on the same page with the couple you place with when it comes to the level of openness you prefer. If a couple is very vague with you and doesn’t tell you what you can expect, or if you feel that they may be dishonest, that’s a red flag.
- Go With Your Gut
When you know, you know. Sometimes it might be hard to describe exactly why you feel drawn to a family. That’s okay. There doesn’t have to be a specific list of reasons. Follow your heart—if you feel that a family is right, go for it. If you feel something isn’t right, listen to your instincts. Your mother’s intuition will lead you to the right family.
Choosing the right family for your child is not a quick and easy process. It takes time, effort, thought, and trust. Take your time to find the perfect family, remember what you’re looking for, and follow your gut. I found the perfect family to adopt my baby, and you will too.
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.