Many people don’t realize that birth parents usually choose the adoptive family with whom they place their child. Some birth parents may seek adoptive parents out on their own, or they may go through an agency. Many agencies have profiles that birth parents look through and select from. These profiles may include anything from pictures of the family to religious backgrounds to how they plan to discipline their child.

The process of choosing adoptive parents can be quite daunting, but it is often easy to know what you want. Everyone is putting their best foot forward in adoption profiles, whether it be through an agency or those found independently online. It will seem like there are so many great candidates! While this is likely true, it may be helpful to ask yourself what you do NOT want in an adoptive family for your child to narrow it down. Here are a few red flags to look for and possible reasons you might want to decline a hopeful adoptive family:

1. Family Size

Did you always imagine your child being part of a big family? Did you always hope your child would have all of the attention as an only child? If these factors are important to you,  this might be reason to consider declining a prospective adoptive family if they do not meet your criteria. It is, however, important to remain open to changing this ideal if the family meets all of your other expectations.

2. Religious Preference

This preference will be more important to some than others. If you were raised in a certain religion and you hold that as sacred, you may only want to choose prospective adoptive parents of that religion. You may also want to inquire about the beliefs of prospective adoptive parents if their religion differs from yours. Religious beliefs may affect the way a child is raised and what ideas or disciplinary styles the family holds. Some of these beliefs may be deal-breakers.

3. Disciplinary Style

This conversation is usually typically pretty straightforward. Do the prospective parents believe in spanking? They will likely not disclose this in their profile, but it will definitely be a question you may want to ask. You may also want to know if they believe in positive or negative redirection when it comes to discipline.

4. Openness in Adoption

A huge factor in choosing a family is what kind of relationship they want with you. Do they want a completely closed adoption? What do you want? What kind of relationship do you want with your child moving forward? If you do want an open adoption, make sure your expectations are made clear and that the adoptive family also aligns with what you are hoping for in regards to years to come.

5. Go with Your Gut

If you come across a family where everything seems right, but something just FEELS wrong, trust your gut. You do not have to have a reason to decline a family. If something doesn’t feel right, the ball is in your court.