At this point in your journey you’ve probably decided that adoption is right for you and your baby. If you haven’t gotten to this point, you may want to read this to help you decide.
Choosing an adoptive family for your child will seem like an intimidating task. After all, you’re choosing a permanent home for your baby, and how do you even know which one is the right family for your child? Read on to know how to answer that question and maybe put your worries at ease.
1. Before you start looking at families, decide what you’re looking for first.
If you haven’t started your search just yet, you should know there are hundreds and hundreds of couples looking to adopt a baby. So to help prevent overwhelming yourself, you need to decide what kind of family you’re looking for. Write down your answers to the following questions and use them as a guide to help narrow your search.
- What is important to you in a family?
- What values do you have that you want your child to have in his/her adoptive family?
- What kind of education would you like the adoptive parents to have?
- Where are you okay with your child living?
- Are you okay if the adoptive parents have other children?
- What are “deal breakers” for being your child’s parents?
- Do you want your child’s adoptive parents to share your religious and political views?
- How would you like the adoptive parents to view open adoption?
You may wish to think about other requirements you might have that are not listed above. You don’t have to answer every question and not all questions will apply to you. Every adoption plan will be slightly different from each other, so cater your plan to your needs. Don’t be shy about reaching out to birth parents and asking them why they choose the families they did. You may find these discussions helpful.
Keep in mind that you’re not searching for perfect people but the perfect family for your child. No one is perfect, so don’t stress yourself by trying to find the impossible. People are going to be flawed, but you must decide what flaws you are capable of living with comfortably.
2. Decide what kind of adoption you want for you and your child.
Have you thought about open adoption? While you don’t have to have an open adoption, openness in adoption has been proven to be beneficial for your child. While you’re deciding on families, think about what level of openness, if any, that you’re comfortable with.
Since many states do not legally enforce post-adoption contact agreements, you’ll need to find a family that you can trust. Because adoptive parents are not usually legally required to keep in contact with birth parents it is extremely important that you talk about open adoption ahead of time. You should discuss with potential families what desires you have for the relationship and what they can honestly promise themselves. Be wary of prospective adoptive couples who are quick to agree to any amount of contact or visits; this can indicate that they haven’t put much thought into the realities of following through with their open adoption promises and may not be able to commit to keeping these promises after placement.
Open adoption can be tricky to navigate. The levels of openness will likely vary over time, from simply exchanging occasional mailed updates to gathering regularly in person. As in any relationship, contact can include in-person visits, calls, texts, social media updates, photos, letters, and more. It’s up to the parties involved to decide what they’re comfortable with agreeing to.
Ask your potential adoptive families to be honest and don’t be afraid to ask questions and bring up concerns. Take time to develop the relationship. You are making a permanent decision and you need to make sure you’re making the best choice that you can.
3. Talk to potential families.
It’s a good thing to reach out to families and chat with them. When you find a family’s profile that you’re interested in, reach out to them–or have your adoption caseworker reach out for you. There’s only so much information you can gather from a profile.
Don’t feel like you can only talk to one family. Much like dating, you don’t choose the one until you’ve tried others out first. Choose a handful of families to reach out to. Ask them questions and chat with them so you can truly get a feel for who they are. Be upfront with them about your intentions, making sure they know from the get-go that you are considering other families while you are getting to know them too.
If possible, you should try to meet in person. There is nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting. You can hear their voices, feel the connection (or notice the lack of connection), and ask questions to get a more natural response than you might over email.
Keep in mind that just because you meet or email a family does not mean you have to choose them. If, after getting to know a family, you don’t feel they’re the right ones, politely tell them you’ve enjoyed meeting with them but you’re going to go in a different direction. Or ask your social worker to let them know you’ve decided to go a different route.
4. Go with your gut.
It can be annoying to hear “When you know, you’ll just know.” But it’s true! The right adoptive family for you and your child is out there, so let your mind be calm and listen to your gut. You have to trust your instincts. If someone doesn’t feel right or your decision to place doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and change your decision. You are the only one who knows best for your child.
Another thing to keep in mind: do not in any way feel obligated to place your child or to place your child with a certain family. Adoption is not an obligation. It is a choice and a sacrifice. You and your child do not owe a family anything.
This will be a difficult task to navigate. But don’t be afraid to reach out to birth parents that have traveled a similar path. Ask them for advice. You can talk with your adoption professional. If you’re still looking for more information about placing your baby, you may want to read this and the additional resources below or visit adoption.com to find adoption message boards and adoption discussions.
If you’re ready to start finding an adoptive family, click here to search through profiles now.