If you are a birth parent and trying to choose the right family to place your child with, how will you know you are making the best choice?
This is something that birth parents stress about and contemplate before and after adoption. It is normal to question whether you did the right thing, or if you should have made a different choice.
Maybe the photos with the family on the beach looked really beautiful, but you think you should choose the family on the farm because you wanted your child raised with animals. And now you wonder if the farm will be too much work and if your child will even like animals. Maybe you should have chosen the family that preferred beach life. But if you had chosen the beach family, how do you know that your child would be safe in the water? How do you know that you aren’t dooming your child to a water-related accident or injury? What if they swim in the ocean and an octopus gets stuck to their face? Or worse, what if they are eaten by a shark? Maybe the farm family sounds safer. But, what if your child becomes injured using farm equipment? What if a cow steps on their foot, crushing the bones, and forcing amputation? What if the farm has a bull that goes crazy and gores your precious baby? What if your child steps on a rusty nail and develops tetanus? Let’s face it, while these situations are a bit ridiculous, this is how anxiety can manipulate this decision and make it more daunting than ever.
What if you really struggled between the family that had other children or placing your child as an only child instead? Were you an only child who wished for siblings that never came? Or maybe you had siblings that drove you crazy and took up all of your parents time? Maybe you felt invisible part of your childhood since your sibling was a sports all-star, but you had no interest in playing sports. You were dragged around to random games when you would have rather been doing something else, and you grew up resenting your sibling for it. All of these things are valid concerns when thinking about whether you should choose a family with siblings, or if you wish to place your child as the only child in the home.
What if you really like the couple in the photo with the small cottage-style home, but you think maybe your child will have more opportunity with the couple with the large brick house that looks to have cost a small fortune? How can you know which situation will give your child the best life has to offer?
What about that bio that sounded great, but the photos that went along with it weren’t what you expected? Should you keep that couple as a good option or scratch them off the list?
What about the profile with the potential dad who looks like a former boyfriend from years ago? I mean, he clearly isn’t that guy, but they could be twins! Maybe this hopeful mom will be a lot like you…you may have the same taste in guys after all? Or maybe you should avoid this couple…that guy you dated wasn’t the most faithful, so his doppelganger may not be either, right? Is it a sign that he won’t be a good dad since he looks like the cheater from your past? Should this influence your decision at all? Maybe it shouldn’t…but maybe it does.
All of these questions can drive you insane! How are you supposed to know you are making the right choice? How can you be sure you are choosing the right people to raise the tiny human you are placing into their hands?
The truth is, you just have to make the choice that feels right for you. There will not be guarantees. There will be no neon sign flashing and pointing at “the right” profile. And, remember, we are all just human, and none of us are perfect. No matter who we choose, they will be winging it just like every other parent. But you need to choose someone who you feel comfortable with—someone you feel you trust. And then you must trust that they will do the best job they possibly can. And they probably will.
With any major decision in life, you will question if you are making the right choice. This is just part of human nature. Even when you feel really sure about something, you may still go to the “what if” train of thought and wonder why you feel so sure, because anything could happen. This doesn’t make your choice wrong or less valid, it just means you are taking the decision very seriously and really thinking about all possible outcomes.
While you may decide you want your child to be the only child and doted upon as such, is there a guarantee that this family will not add more children in the future? While the family profile you love shows a wonderful dog in the photos, what if that isn’t their dog? What if the neighbor’s dog got in the photo, but looked great, so they used it? What if the family on the beach had never been there before and just really wanted a pretty photo for their profile? They don’t live a beach life, they don’t own a boat, and they will likely not step foot in the sand unless they are vacationing.
Choose the profile that speaks to you. Choose the people you believe will be the best fit. And that is truly the best you can do.
Choose a family that has the same type of adoption in mind. Are you looking for an open adoption, a closed adoption, or something in between? This would be a great place to start when making a decision. If you are looking for an adoption that would include occasional photos and updates, be sure you choose a family that is comfortable in providing that type of correspondence. If you are hoping to be able to visit your child on occasion, be sure that the profile you choose is accepting of an open relationship that includes visitations.
Depending on the type of adoption you seek, you may want to choose a couple who lives nearby, or maybe one that is further away. Or maybe you don’t really want to know where they are located at all; as long as they are in a safe and loving home, you are happy with giving them privacy. These are good things to consider when making your choice. Knowing the type of adoption and the amount of contact you wish for afterward will be a great way to help you decide how to choose the right family for your child.
Another thing to consider, when choosing the family you wish to adopt your child, may be religion. To some, religion is extremely important. This may be true for adoptive parents as well as birth parents.
Do you want your child to be raised with certain religious beliefs? Or, on the other hand, do you prefer that your child be raised in an atheist household? How important is religion to you and how much will you consider religious beliefs when viewing profiles? If religion is important to you, it may be something that will include or exclude certain family profiles. By evaluating your beliefs and wants about religion, this may help to make your decision easier, and help you feel more confident in your choice.
Are you concerned with the educational background of the parents who will raise your child? Are you specifically searching for a family that has a certain type of educational background, having completed college and with degrees and jobs in their chosen field? Or are you more comfortable with a family that is more relaxed when it comes to educational values and works in a trade that didn’t require further formal education? How much importance will education and jobs hold when making your decision? Or is this not really important to you at all, as long as the family is financially stable?
Are you willing to allow your child to be placed with a family that may be of a different race or ethnicity? How much does this matter to you when making your decision? Would you be comfortable with your child being in a family that may have different ethnic traditions, and where they don’t “match”? Evaluating your feelings on this may help you to make your decision. Some find it is important to them to have their child look like they “fit in” with the family, sharing a similar hair color or facial features. Others don’t want their child to resemble their adoptive family, and like the idea of their child knowing their appearance came from their birth family without any question.
When choosing the family you wish to place your child with, the more specific you are, the fewer profiles there will be that match. If you decide to be very specific, you may be narrowed down to just a few choices that meet all of your criteria. You may find this to be more desirable, to have fewer options, and to feel like you are making a more informed decision. On the other hand, you may prefer to have more options and to not have a narrowed choice. You may feel you are not giving your child every possible opportunity if you are micromanaging so many details. In the end, you need to decide how many aspects of their future family you want to have a say in. Are you happy with any family that will love and care for your child? Or are you hoping to give your child a specific type of upbringing, and looking to choose a family that fits the mold you seek?
Each adoption is so unique. This is said a lot because it is so true. The way you experience adoption will not be the same way another does. Some may have similar aspects, but no two adoptions are alike.
How will you know if you chose the right family? You just have to trust yourself.
And while you take this adoption journey, your feelings may change. Some days you may feel super confident in your choice and content with your decision. Other days, you may doubt yourself and have a zillion “what if” questions enter your mind. This is normal.
The way you feel will likely be determined by where you are in your journey. It will depend on the stage of grief and loss you are experiencing that day. Some days you may be accepting and feeling okay with your choices. Other days you may be in a place of denial and fearing the worst.
All of this is extremely normal.
If you are struggling with your choice, seek out support. Maybe you can have a close friend look at profiles with you to help you and limit overthinking. Maybe you have already made your choice, and adoption has been finalized, and you are feeling worried. Therapy or a support group can help you sort out your feelings, and why you may be feeling this way. It is okay to bounce around on the grief scale and return to feelings of anger or denial even after you have thought you were accepting of the loss. Grieving your adoption will look different each day. Feeling confident in your choice may occur when you are accepting the loss well. However, you may worry about your choice on days when your grieving is stronger, and you are feeling more emotional about your loss. Having resources to reach out to on days when you are struggling is important. Don’t wait to find support until you struggle. Seeking support prior to the adoption, so that it is in place when you struggle, is important.
Jennifer is a mother to 3 children (one biological, two adopted). She is also a mom to numerous pets. She enjoys volunteering in her children’s classroom, reading, and crafting in her spare time. She has been married for almost 15 years.