Welcome! If you are reading this article, you are most likely an expectant mother thinking of placing your child for adoption. This article is written specifically to help expectant mothers find an adoptive family but can also be informational for other individuals curious about adoption. Adoption placement can be a very difficult decision to make, and one that requires a lot of thought and research. You may be wondering what options are there for you, the expectant mother, to choose the couple or family your child will grow up with. Today, there are many ways to find a loving family for your child. In this article, we will go over some of them. Remember, this is just an overview to help you on the path to making the best decision for yourself and your child. Be sure to continue researching and talking to people you trust if you have any questions about how to find an adoptive family. 

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Looking for a Family

Before you jump into looking at a couple’s or family’s profile, you should stop and consider what you want for your child, and yourself if you choose to place your baby for adoption. You should be clear about your adoption plan before you start researching because it will help you narrow down your options. There are so many people who are hoping to adopt that it might overwhelm you, the expectant parent, when you begin searching for the perfect family. It is helpful if you can answer these questions before you begin the process. 

Do I want an open or closed adoption? 

This is an important first question to answer when you begin to find an adoptive family. It will greatly affect your adoption plan. A closed adoption means that you will not have contact with your child once the adoption placement occurs. Depending on the type of adoption you are choosing, you may not know the adoptive family’s names or location, and they might not know your name or location. You may know simple statistics about the adoptive family such as their occupations, their hobbies, what type of home they live in, and what their family make-up is (single, couple, with or without children). You may also be given information about their religion, appearance, and general location. This article about closed adoptions may answer more questions about closed adoption that you have.

Open adoption is basically where you can have varying degrees of contact with your child and the adoptive family. This type of adoption infers that you will come to a unanimous decision with the prospective adoptive parents and how much contact there will be. This contact could include the sending of pictures, letters, and videos, or sometimes even visits. The degree of contact really varies depending on your adoption plan. Perhaps you want to know the parents’ names, location, and get updates about your child on a regular basis. Maybe you would prefer to see your child in-person. Previously determining what degree of openness can help you choose a family that is interested in the same adoption plan as you are. This article on Adoption.com really looks in-depth at how much you can individualize your adoption plan with open adoption. 

What type of family do I want for my child?  

This question can be phrased in a variety of ways. When you are thinking about your child’s upbringing, what do you envision? What type of family would you like for your child? Would you consider a single man or a single woman? Do you want your child to be adopted into a home with other children? If yes, will it matter to you if the siblings are biologically related to the parents, or do you prefer that all siblings are adopted so they can share that bond? Does parental age matter to you? Would you prefer young parents or parents who are older? Would you consider parents from a different religious/ethnic background? These are all questions you consider when you begin your search to find an adoptive family.

When you are done thinking about all of these questions, I would recommend you get a piece of paper and physically write down your ideal adoptive parents. Perhaps it would look like this, “Two-parent family with one older child who is also adopted; religion and ethnicity doesn’t matter. Parents should be younger than 40. One parent should prefer to stay at home.” 

What occupations/income is important to me?

As you are looking through Parent Profiles, you will notice that parents who want to adopt have a wide range of occupations. Will it be important to you that your child’s adoptive family has a lot of wealth? Do you prefer a middle class family? 

Where do the parents live? 

This can mean a couple of different things. First, narrow down the area of the country you would want the adoptive family to be from. Obviously, if you are seeking an open adoption with frequent visits, you will want the family to live in your area. If that doesn’t matter to you, there is more variety available for your decision. Maybe you have always wanted to live by the ocean, and you’d like your child to have that opportunity. Then, think about the community your child would live in. Do you picture your child living in a city while visiting parks and museums? Or would you prefer a small town, rural area or even a farm? 

What do I do once my adoption profile is complete?

You have completed the future adoptive family profile. Maybe you have written down exactly what you hope the adoptive family is like. I have suggested writing it down because it might solidify your mental image of your ideal adoptive family. The next step is finding a family. How do you do that? Well, there are a few options to try: 

1. Find an adoptive family on your own.

This could be the easiest option if you are seeking an open adoption. Typically known as an independent adoption, you are doing the searching yourself without the help of an agency. Maybe you know a family or couple in your circle of friends, at your workplace, in your school, or in your church. If you know they are hoping to adopt, it may be easier for you to communicate an open adoption plan with them due to the previously established relationship. An adoption attorney would be necessary to work out an adoption plan with the potential family. 

If you don’t know someone yourself, you may find couples through ads in newspapers or online. Sometimes, hopeful adoptive couples write ads in the hope that an expectant mother will see them. Choosing an adoptive family this way requires more due diligence on your part since you don’t know anything about the couple. Before making a decision, you should ask for background checks, check references, have extensive conversations, and visit the home.

2. Use an adoption agency.

You may decide to use an adoption agency to locate an adoptive family for your baby. An agency is a good choice for a number of reasons. First, you have the choice of either an open, semi-open, or closed adoption. Any adoptive couple you learn about through the agency has been vetted for you. There will be a wide range of adoptive couples to choose from who have a similar interest in the type of adoption plan you’re creating.  

One such adoption agency is The Gladney Center for Adoption. They support expectant and birth mothers across the country. Their potential adoptive family photolisting is available for you to search even if you have not agreed to work with them yet. This photolisting lets you search by region, ethnicity, children, and religion. Once you put in the criteria you are looking for, a photolisting of families meeting your requirements is populated. You can begin your search here. Once you search, a list of potential families comes up along with photos, videos, and a letter to the birth mother. 

3. Contact your social services agency. 

Generally, this option is the best for expectant mothers who desire a less hands-on adoption. In most cases, when you use your local county social services agency, you will not have a part in choosing your child’s adoptive family. Your child would, more than likely, be placed in a foster home setting until an adoptive family is found. Sometimes, if the child becomes eligible for adoption, it is the foster family that may choose to adopt the child, but this is not always the case. 

For example, our daughter’s birth parents surrendered their rights in the hospital, and she went straight to a foster home that specializes in infant care. She was 2 months old when we were contacted about the possibility of adopting her, and she was 3 months old when she was placed with us as a foster/adopt situation. We finally adopted her, officially, when she was four days short of turning 1 year old. It was a closed adoption: the birth parents know nothing about us, and we know very little about the birth parents. 

Can I change my mind?

Perhaps you have chosen an adoptive family for your child but later on you may be feeling a change of heart. Perhaps, if you have chosen the family independently, you have learned something about the family that makes you question their ability to safely parent your child. Maybe you would rather have an open adoption instead of a closed adoption now. Remember, you can change your mind. Nothing you have agreed to is set in stone until you sign the paperwork, and the state-required amount of time has passed. 

If you begin to feel the situation you have agreed upon is not right for you, reach out to talk to someone immediately. It may be your attorney, the adoption agency, or your social worker. Let them know how you are feeling and why. They should listen to you and address your concerns. At no point should you feel as if you are being forced to follow through with the adoption plan. You may decide that, after meeting or talking more to the family, that you aren’t comfortable with them and want to review other profiles. Perhaps you have decided that you want to parent and do not want to place your baby for adoption. As you get closer to delivery, you may decide that you want an open adoption instead of a closed adoption. All of these are valid changes. 

After all of the decision-making, you will find the right adoptive family for your child if you feel adoption is the best path for your baby and yourself. While placing your child for adoption might be the hardest decision you will ever make, you can find comfort in the fact that you worked through all the difficult questions. Make sure you go into the adoption with a clear plan, an idea of the perfect family for your baby, and make sure you have your questions answered. 

Despite all of this, after the placement, you may find that you really would like to talk to other birth mothers about their experiences or find a support group either online or in-person. Having other mothers to talk to, who have had similar experiences as you, can be very helpful. If you had an independent adoption, resources might be harder to find but are still highly recommended. This list of support groups may point you in the right direction. Additionally, this article really examines the many different types of support groups for birth mothers that are out there. 

If you used an agency, reach out to them and inquire about support groups if they have not provided information online. For example, The Gladney Center for Adoption offers counseling, lifelong support, and networking for birth mothers. You can check out what they offer here.

If you used your local social services agency to find an adoptive family, check with them. Your social worker probably has a lot of knowledge about what support is available in your area and can direct you to the right places to find an adoptive family. 

Gina Chesnes lives in western NY and is mom to 4 children, one who was adopted from the state foster care system as a baby, and Gigi to 7 grandchildren. She was a special education/ elementary education teacher for over 30 years in the same PreK-12 school that her children attended. Gina is passionate about animal welfare and has fostered over 100 cats and kittens…before having to stop because she kept too many! She also loves writing, gardening, traveling, reading, and visiting her favorite place – the Outer Banks. In her free time, Gina writes on education issues at //oneburnedoutteacher.com/