As an expectant parent, you may have a lot of emotions and thoughts going through your mind. You may just be beginning your journey of learning more about adoption, you might have just found out you are pregnant, you could be at the end of your pregnancy, or even already gave birth to your baby. You may just be trying to research and understand your options or you may be clear that adoption is the best decision for you and your baby. Either way, and wherever you are in your journey of pregnancy, understanding the process of finding hopeful adoptive parents for your child can seem like an overwhelming process, but it does not need to be. Looking for adoptive parents is one of the most important parts of your journey, especially when thinking about what not to look for.
Here is a list of some things not to look for when searching for adoptive parents for your child. There is a lot of wonderful information available to expectant parents or birth parents on what to look for in adoptive parents when creating an adoption plan for your child, however, there is very little information for what not to look for. This is why we will be covering this information here.
When Looking for Adoptive Parents: Do Not Look for Only Financially Affluent Families
Many expectant parents may have found themselves unexpectantly expecting. They may want to parent the child they are carrying in pregnancy, but are unable to provide for the child financially. There are lots of options available to expectant parents in terms of financial assistance at the federal and state level. This financial assistance available during your pregnancy and in the life of your child will vary from state to state. You may feel you are unable to parent a child due to your financial situation. If this is the case, you may be contemplating creating an adoption plan for your child. In looking for adoptive parents, do not look for is a family who is financially affluent or well-to-do. For an expectant parent who is struggling financially, the idea of your child having a childhood where they will not want for anything seems very appealing. You may want your child to have a better life than you had growing up or better than what you can provide for your child. These are all selfless and loving reasons for contemplating an adoption plan but this should not be your only focus or priority when looking for adoptive parents for your baby.
You may very well come across profiles of hopeful adoptive parents with your adoption agency and some of those profiles may show hopeful adoptive families who have significant financial means and can provide a life of affluence for your child. However, they may not seem like the best fit for your baby. Just because they have financial means does not make them the best fit for you or your child. They may live very far away from you and you wish to be able to have an open adoption relationship with your child and the adoptive family, one in which you could visit. This may not be feasible if they live far away. You may also seek an adoptive family who shares your faith or values. It is important to not let financial means or affluence supersede everything else that is important to you when looking for adoptive parents for your child.
You may also come across profiles of adoptive families who you feel would be perfect for your baby and just feel like a good fit for you. Their energy, photos, story, and values may touch your heart in a way that you just know they would be the best adoptive parents for your baby. However, they may not be very well off financially. They may be middle class or even lower class but have a lot of love in their home for your baby. They may be able to provide everything else you want for your child and give your baby the love and protection of a forever family. Do not disqualify someone or a couple who may be the best fit in every other way.
You must also remember that all prospective adoptive families go through a home study with a licensed home study agency or adoption agency in their respective state of residence. The home study will ensure that the home they live in is safe and adequate in terms of space for a child. Many adoption agencies insist that the child a family hopes to adopt will have their own bedroom in the home. Most adoption agencies also do a thorough assessment of the prospective adoptive family’s finances and job security. So when a hopeful adoptive family’s profile is presented to you, even if you believe they are not as financially well off as you would have originally hoped, they have enough financial means, per the social worker to raise your child properly. You should consider the best adoptive family for your child not solely based on financial wealth.
When Looking for Adoption Parents: Be Wary of Hopeful Adoptive Parents Looking for a Playmate for Their Child
When you are looking through adoption profiles online of hopeful adoptive parents, there are some statements hopeful adoptive couples or individuals may say that you should pay attention to when you are choosing an adoptive family for your child. If you hear them make these statements, write them in a post, a response, or in their profile, you may want to at least ask further questions.
A hopeful adoptive family may state that they are looking for a playmate for their child or are very focused on having a sibling for their child. Wanting to build your family through adoption or have another child in your family is a great reason to adopt. However, hopeful adoptive families who state to you that they have an only child and want to adopt so they have a playmate is not a good reason to seek to build a family through adoption. Their child, whether biological or adopted, has many ways in which they can make friends. They can join sports teams or art classes or dance schools. They can find hobbies and activities where they can have a rich social life and many playmates. Siblings are wonderful, but adding to your family through adoption should be because you are just as excited to have another child in your family. The hopeful adoptive parents should be equally excited for this child to join their family as they are to have their other child. The motivation for this adoption should not just be for the other child.
When Looking for Adoptive Parents: Recognize Their Other Motivations
In interviewing prospective adoptive parents for your child it is also important to understand their motives for wanting to build their family through adoption. A social worker will likely have already approved them and understood their motivations as a couple or an individual for wanting to adopt. Licensed social workers specializing in adoption will understand the couple and the why behind wanting to build their family through adoption. Interviews, home studies, applications, and other measures are taken to ensure the individual or couple is fit, prepared, and properly motivated for the right reasons to adopt a child. If you are using a licensed adoption agency you can usually rest assured that they have done their due diligence with screening and approving prospective adoptive parents for you and your baby. You however will want to do your own due diligence in going through profiles and asking the right questions when you or meet or interview prospective adoptive families for your baby.
If a prospective adoptive parent is seeking a child to alleviate their loneliness, it is likely not the best reason for wanting to build a family through adoption. Loneliness in adults should be alleviated in other appropriate ways. Children are their own beings and souls and need everything from their parents, not the other way around. Parenting is an incredibly difficult and selfless act that never ends. You are a parent for the rest of your life and children, no matter how many you have, will not alleviate your loneliness. An adult must find ways to seek friendships, companionship, and fellowship through other means, not through a child.
Similarly, prospective adoptive couples or parents who want to build their family through adoption because they now have an empty nest or will have one is also a terrible reason for wanting to adopt a child. Children are not meant to fill a void in a parent’s life, whatever that void may be from. Parents who have raised their children and face an empty nest may be going through grief and loss because the stage of parenting dependent children is over. However, healthy, well-adjusted adults will enjoy every stage of their child or children’s lives. When parents have their entire identity wrapped up in parenting, children leaving the home can be a massive emotional blow. They may seek to fill that void with another child. Many of these parents are older and unable to have any more biological children. They may seek to adopt to fill that void in their homes and hearts, however, what they truly need is to work with a counselor to help them process these normal emotions before it becomes a pathology.As an expectant parent, you may have a lot of questions running through your head and a lot of emotions running through your heart. As you work with an adoption agency or adoption attorney to help you navigate this process, they will help you understand what not to look for in choosing an adoptive family for your child. Trusting your heart as you interview prospective adoptive families is important. It is also important to know exactly what you are looking for in an adoptive family for your baby. What you wish now may change as time goes on. Things that may have seemed very important may be less of a priority if you meet the right family and they do not meet that requirement in your mind. Trust your instincts and your social worker and you will make the best choice for you and your baby, whatever choice you make!
Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.