Finding adoptive parents for your baby can be a rewarding experience if you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant and decide you’re not ready to parent.
But as with any big life-changing decision, there is no guarantee that everything will go according to plan.
Things change, and people do, too.
For instance, right now, before the placement, the adoptive parents you’ve chosen may want lots of openness in your relationship (phone calls, emails, visits, etc.).
But after the adoption gets finalized, they may change their mind.
The problem is, in most states open adoption agreements aren’t legally binding. If the adoptive parents — or you, for that matter — decide to take a step back or shut down the adoption entirely, there is very little the other side can do to stop it.
You might have read stories about adoptive parents going back on their word and cutting off contact after an adoption. And you may be wondering if that will happen to you too.
Again, there are no sure bets. Every situation is different.
That said, here are nine signs that the hopeful adoptive parents you’ve chosen could close your open adoption later and what you can do about it now, before the placement is finalized.
1. There’s no mention of openness or of the relationship they want to have with you in their adoption profile.
When it comes to getting your adoption closed down after placement, there are many red flags. If there’s no mention of openness in the adoptive parents profile, that could be one of them.
Then again, it may just be an oversight on their part. Maybe they ‘re not sure what to say or how to say it, or maybe they’re worried they’ll say the wrong thing. Or they’re worried that the kind of openness they want is different than the one you want.
Solution: Ask them point blank about how they see you fitting into their lives after the adoption. Depending on their response, you’ll have a pretty good idea about whether they’re genuinely interested in openness or whether they’re just saying it because they think it’s the right thing to say or what you want to hear.
2. Their adoption profile and conversations are focused entirely on the baby, not on you.
Open adoption is a two-way street. It’s about give and take. If the waiting adoptive parents are only interested in taking and not in giving aback, you could have a problem on your hands. So how do you know they’re only interested in your baby?
If there’s no mention of you or your needs in their profile, just your baby’s, it could be telling you something. Then again, it may not be an issue. After all, when they wrote their profile, they didn’t know you. All they knew was that they wanted to adopt a baby and so that’s what they focused on.
Solution: Once again, have a conversation with the waiting parents and find out how, and if, they see you figuring in their future. If they avoid the topic, it could be a red flag.
Similarly, if you find that their conversations are focused entirely on the baby needs and show no interest in yours — about how you’re feeling, about your pregnancy and your hopes and dreams for the future — then you know there’s a good chance they don’t intend to have a relationship with you beyond the placement.
3. They’re reluctant to meet you or aren’t interested in getting together until after the adoption papers have been signed.
Adoption is a lot like dating. It’s hard to know whether you’re meant for each other until you’ve had a chance to meet face-to-face and checked each other out. However, if the adoptive parents don’t want to meet you or keep putting off getting together with you, that could be a major impediment.
They may be worried that they’ll fall in love with you and then get their hearts broken if you change your mind. Then again, it may mean that they don’t see you as a individual in your own right, but simply as a means to an end.
Solution: Tell them that you haven’t made a decision and that you would like to set up a meeting to get to know each other better. If they seem hesitate and nervous, let them know that you’re nervous, too.
Tell them you want the relationship to work and that getting together before the placement is important to you. If they continue to show no interest in meeting, it’s time for you to move on.
4. Open adoption or closed adoption — they can go either way.
Open adoption and closed adoption are world’s apart. In one, (open adoption), you share identifying information and maintain contact after the placement. In the other (closed adoption), you don’t.
So if a couple says that they’re open to either one, it could mean one of two things. Either they don’t understand the difference between the two or they don’t care. They just want to adopt a baby.
Solution: If open adoption is important to you, start with couples that have indicated they’re interested in openness. Chances are they understand what openness means and the benefits behind it, and it will make your life a lot easier now and hopefully later, too.
5. They agree to everything you ask for.
Adoption relationships, just like any relationships, have boundaries. That’s why it’s important to find your comfort level and stick with it. Same with the adoptive parents.
If you find that they agree to everything you ask for and are always willing to compromise on their values and beliefs, you’ve got to ask yourself why. Is it because they respect and trust you and you’re both on the same page? Or is it because they’re so anxious to find a match that they’ll say and do anything you ask for?
Solution: Again, it’s complicated. Just like you, the adoptive parents have gone through a lot to get to this point. The last thing they want to do is say or do something that could jeopardize their relationship with you.
So be prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt and cut them some slack. Their inability to say no to you could be the result of pre-adoption jitters. Then again, it could be something else. Speak to your counsellor or get to the root of the problem by having a face-to-face conversation with them yourself before you get too emotionally involved in the situation.
6. They’re not working with an adoption agency.
There are many advantages to connecting with a couple through an agency. And one of the biggest ones, from your perspective, is knowing that the couple has attended adoption and parenting classes.
Those classes will have taught them the benefits of maintaining a strong relationship with you after the adoption. If the couple is working on their own or with an attorney, there’s no guarantee that they will have the same level of training or understanding about openness and keeping the relationship open.
Solution: Good relationships depend on the individuals involved, not on the training they’ve received. So while choosing parents who have gone through education courses has its advantages, it shouldn’t be the only factor when it comes to making your decision.
The most important thing going into the placement is that you should feel comfortable with your decisions and being around each other, and that you have common values and realistic expectations.
7. It’s their first adoption
First-time parenting is always scary. But first time adoptive parenting can be doubly scary if the parents aren’t secure in their new roles or about having another set of parents in their lives.
If, however, the adoptive parents already have an open adoption, they will be aware of the advantages of having you be part of their extended family and will be more inclined to include you in it.
Solution: Do you get the sense that the adoptive parents are avoiding you? That they fear you? That they may be jealous of you? That they’re judging you? If you do, that could be another warning sign. Adoption relationships are built on honesty and self-respect.
But if you feel like the adoptive parents don’t approve of you or your lifestyle choices, that could create problems for you down the road. For instance, the adoptive parents could decide to cut off contact with you later because they believe that you’re not a good influence and that exposing their child to you could be detrimental to his or her development. So if you have concerns about the way they’re treating you, it’s best to act on them now.
8. They say they want an open adoption but all of their actions suggest they don’t.
Some adoptive parents may say they want an open adoption without fully understanding what it means. Or, pressured by their agency, they may say they want one because they know that it will increase their chances of finding a match.
But talking the talk is one thing. Walking the walk is another. Sure, every adoptive couple has a case of nerves going into a placement that can make them seem like they’ve created a protective wall around themselves. But if you find that can’t penetrate it, it could be a bad omen for what’s to come later.
Solution: Whether of not they plan to have openness later, adoptive parents have a good reason to keep in contact with you now. So while you’re still talking, make a point of raising your concerns with them. After the adoption, things will be different.
You’ll both be leading new lives and they’ll be busy with the baby. So if you have problems, get to the root of them now. Later may be too late.
9. They’ve had a failed match.
Sometimes the adopting parents will go into the adoption process wanting a fully open adoption. But after experiencing a failed match — an expectant mother changing her mind and deciding to parent — they may have a change of heart and go into their next situation more cautiously. And sometimes, they may go into it not wanting any openness at all.
Solution: Once again, look for signs that they’re committed to maintaining contact with you after the adoption. A failed adoption can make an adoptive parents more wary about jumping head first into a new situation. But with the right support and encouragement from you, it may not have any effect at all on your future relationship or level of openness.
Most adoptive parents will keep their adoption open with you after the placement for the benefit of their child. If, however, you have concerns about whether the parents you’ve chosen are sincere in keeping their open adoption with you later, make sure that you raise the issue with them now, while you still can.
Not only will it ensure that your relationship gets off to a good start and put your mind at ease. It will also spare you headaches and heartache down the road.
What tips do you have about making sure an adoption stays open after placement? What is your worst post-adoption fear and what are you doing about it now? Share your comments here or on our Facebook page.