The question, what is an adoption photolisting, can be answered in a few ways, depending on the type of adoption and who is viewing. For those who are prospective adoptive parents, adoption photolistings are a wonderful resource to see an extensive list of children who are waiting to be adopted. Most of these children are in the United States foster care system and are eligible for adoption in their respective states. Prospective adoptive families can search by state, age of children, special needs and even sibling groups. Adoption.com has one of the largest and most comprehensive adoption photolistings available.
Another type of adoption photolisting is an international photolisting. International adoption of photolistings abide by the requirements of the country from the child will be adopted. The children on international photolisting sites are usually older, many have special focus needs and need medical treatments.
The adoption photolistings most pertinent to you as a birth parent or expectant mother are adoption photolistings of couples and families looking to build their family through adoption. These photolistings of prospective adoptive parents include active listings of couples and families who are hoping a birth mother will choose them to place her baby. They are looking to build their family through adoption. These adoption photolistings provide birth parents and expectant mothers photos of the couple (and family if they have children), photos of their extended family, recommendations from employers, friends, neighbors, children’s teachers or family members and extensive information on the couple.
On adoption.com’s photolistings of prospective adoptive parents, there is information on the prospective adoptive mother and father, respectively. You will see their age, race and ethnicity, and religion. As you dive deeper into their profile, you will see information on their professional and educational background. You may see how long the couple has been married and their journey to adoption. They may include photos of their travels, information on pets in the home and their other children, if applicable. On adoption.com’s photolistings for expectant mothers, you will see information on the prospective adoptive parents’ desired level of openness in the adoption with the birth mother or birth parents and post-adoption level of contact.
Adoption.com also includes a letter from the potential adoptive parents describing why they want to adopt and maybe what they have walked through in getting to this point in their adoption journey. They may include posts to keep you updated on their life. They will likely include if they are working with an adoption agency and the purpose. They will share where they live, how long they have been married and other information about the home environment that would exist for your child. The couple will likely have a link on their page with a contact button so you can reach out to them directly with any questions you may have for them.
It is important to remember that these photolistings get updated pretty regularly. You will see new posts from the families or couples who you are following. You will see new photos or even updates on their adoption journey. As you are making a decision regarding an adoption plan for your child, viewing adoption photolistings from the comfort and privacy of your home can feel comforting during this time.
Many prospective adoptive parents spend countless hours literally placing every detail of their lives on their parent profile. Many will include more information that you could ever imagine receiving as an expectant mother and/or birth parent. They will include everything from photos of rooms in their home to photos from the couple’s wedding and family pets. These photos tell a story and will help you as the birth mother make a decision about the couple and family with whom you may place your child.
How Do I Choose An Adoptive Family After Understanding What Is An Adoption Photolisting?
There is a lot to consider when choosing an adoptive family for your child after viewing photo listings. Following your heart and instincts, praying about it and diving deep into many profiles will help you make a decision on whom you would like to reach out to have a conversation at first via email and then maybe via a phone call. Once you narrow your list of potential adoptive parents, and remember new ones get added every day, you will want to reach out via email and ask any questions you may have to review their respective profile. Sometimes an expectant parent just reaches out to one prospective adoptive parent couple or family at a time, other birth parents may make a short (or long) list of families with whom they would like to get more information.
Deciding on which prospective adoptive parents to contact can seem overwhelming, but it does not have to be. Many birth mothers or expectant parents realize that the easiest way to make a list of prospective adoptive families to contact is to write down the things most important to you as a birth parent. Many birth mothers find this to be a helpful way to filter the many potential adoptive family profiles.
It is helpful to filter first through the things that are most important to you as a birth parent. It may be the level of contact or openness with the prospective adoptive parents. It may be their geographical location–you may want a family from your state or even city. Maybe, you would like a family with children, whether they be through birth or adoption. You may want a couple who has walked through infertility or decided that it is important for your child to be raised in the same faith tradition or religion as you. Whatever those non-negotiables are, make a list of them and begin to filter profiles by those critical aspects.
It can be helpful to then make a list of qualities or factors that are less important to you, but still something to consider as you make your decision on with whom you will place your child for adoption. Are there values, interests or number of years married that could tip the scales when making a decision between two or a few families or couples for your child? Once you make this list, it can be easier to narrow your search of profiles. As you come across a potential adoptive couple, view the list and see if these items match and begin to take notes on who they are and how they meet your qualifications.
As I shared above, following your heart and instincts are crucial during this part of the process. Think of all of the times in your life when you made a critical decision, whether it be for schooling, your career, where you live or even making the decision to create an adoption plan for your baby–you likely blended facts with your instincts. For me personally, I am a big believer in prayer. Many of the things we call instincts or “gut-feelings,” I believe, are really God gently nudging us to a decision. If you believe in God or a higher power, deciding to pray on this decision as well can give you peace and a deeper inclination. Trusting your instincts, heart, and potentially God on who you choose to contact is just as important and your list of non-negotiable qualities you want your child’s adoptive parents to have. Even though a list can be extremely helpful, most expectant parents still follow their instincts in making this decision.
Some birth parents recall looking at families with whom they matched based on their list and just did not feel right about them as a potential family for their child. The birth mother had no explanation as to why it did not feel right, but instead trusted her instincts and heart and continued the adoption search until she found the right adoptive family for her child. Having a sense of confidence and peace in looking at their profile is a good sign. Trust your gut.
Reaching out to Prospective Adoptive Parents
Once you have narrowed down your list of prospective adoptive families with whom you would like to connect, reaching out via the connect button on a family’s adoption profile is the easiest way to make the first connection. Reaching out to several families is okay and advised. Conducting that initial outreach is a great first step to see if your list and instincts match your initial communication. Doing this via email can be a great way to initially asset what you want for your child on a deeper level. You may immediately realize in these virtual conversations that certain things you did not factor in are actually critical to your decision in choosing an adoptive family for your baby. Just as trusting your heart in viewing a photolisting of prospective families is critical, having a real-life connection is just as subjective and important. You may think the prospective adoptive couple or family is a great match for you and your baby, but when you write or speak with them, the feeling may not be as strong as you wanted it to be. Although this is not what you hoped for, do not let it be discouraging. It just means that they are not the perfect match for you and your baby, but their adoptive family is out there.
If you have worked through your list and still do not have a feeling of confidence and security in the prospective adoptive families with whom you contacted, go back to the adoption photolistings and start over. Every day, every week new families are adding their profile to the family photolisting website. It may take some time but you will find the right family for you and your baby.
Once you make the initial outreach, schedule call or facetime teleconference – whatever you are most comfortable with at this time. Technology is a wonderful resource during this search period, so use it to your advantage. Before scheduling the calls, have a list of questions you want to be answered. Adoption.com has a wonderful article on questions birth mothers or expectant parents should ask prospective adoptive parents. Doing your research is a helpful starting point in compiling a list of interview-like questions for the couple. Also, ask the questions you really want the answers to. You may view their adoption photolisting and have a very specific question you would like an answer to better understand their reasons for adopting or about who they are a family or couple. No question is too small or silly. Ask what you want and need to know to make the best decision for your baby.
After having the initial conversations via email, phone and video call, you may then work to meet with the parents. Their agency may help facilitate this meeting for you. You can see what adoption agency they are using in their parent profile in the adoption photolisting. Meeting in person allows you to see if the feeling you had speaking to them matches the feeling you have when meeting them in person. It may be the time to ask the rest of your questions, as new ones will likely arise as time goes on. You want to make sure you find a family with whom you have a strong connection. In an open adoption, this family will be someone you will communicate with as often as you agree. Most importantly, they will be the family in which your child will be raised. You want to be sure it is a great fit and you feel at peace with that decision. Most importantly, remember that if at any point during the adoption process, even after many visits or calls, you are not comfortable with your initial decision, you can go back to the beginning and choose a new family for your child. You can take your time and make the decision when you feel it is right and only you know the timing and who is best for your child. Trust your instincts, ask the right questions and take your time as you view the adoption listing profiles.
Jennifer Mellon is the co-founder and president of Trustify, providing private investigators on demand to consumers and businesses. She has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving as the executive director and chief development officer at Joint Council on International Children’s Services. She also worked for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) and served on the board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro region. She currently serves on the development board for the National Council for Adoption and currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband and five children.