Choosing An Adoptive Family For Your Baby: Do’s and Don’ts

choosing-adoptive-parentsI’m never going to find the right adoptive family for my baby.

Nobody will ever love my child as much as I do.

What happens if the family I choose doesn’t like me?

How do I know I can trust them?

Will they judge me?

Maybe I should just stop looking and raise my child myself.

If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption, you may be familiar with this line of thinking.

In fact, you may be going through it yourself right now.

And that’s okay. Many expectant mothers looking into adoption face the same doubts and questions. Next to the decision to place a baby, finding an adoptive family is the hardest thing an expectant mother can do.

And yet each year thousands of women who are not ready to parent successfully find loving families for their babies. And you can, too. Here are some tips to make the selection process easier and less intimidating.

Do
Get a counselor. A counselor can explain what your choices are and help you through each step of the process. As an expectant parent considering adoption, you’re also entitled to have your own attorney and receive independent, unbiased legal advice.

Don’t
Don’t jump in blind. Knowing what kind of parents you’re looking for at the outset and narrowing down your choices will simplify things for you later on. Make a list of the things that are important to you. Then look for adopting families that match your criteria.

Do
Take your time. In some cases, you might get lucky and find the right parents (or parent) right away. But more likely it will be a lengthy process involving lots of bumps, dead ends and wrong turns along the way.

Don’t
Don’t let anyone pressure you into making a decision. Adoption is permanent and only you can decide if it’s right for you. Choosing adoptive parents for your baby requires a combination of intuition and reason. Trust your gut. But do your due diligence.

Do 
Find support. If the father of your baby or a family member isn’t available, get a friend or someone whose opinion you trust to help you go through the selection process. Having a second set of eyes will make everything less overwhelming, especially if you run into problems or have to choose between more than one couple.

Don’t
Don’t make a decision solely on the basis of a parent profile. It’s a good start, but it won’t tell you everything. Keep in mind that an adoption profile is designed to show the hopeful parents in the best light possible. If you want to find out what they’re really like, speak to them directly and get to know them one-on-one.

Do
Build your relationship gradually. Start with email. Then move on to a phone conversation. And finally, when you’re ready, arrange a face-to-face meeting.

Don’t
Don’t worry about being judged. Hopeful adoptive couples understand what you’re going through. They’ll be just as worried and nervous as you are. They’ll be thrilled to hear from you and should support whatever choice you make.

Do
View at least three couples before you make a decision.  Even if you fall in love with the first couple you come across, it’s helpful to look at other families as a point of comparison and to build confidence in your decision.

Don’t 
Don’t settle. If you don’t connect with any of the families you’ve found online or are presented with by your agency, keep looking. There are many websites and agencies that specialize in different kinds of adopting families. With a bit of effort and luck, you’re bound to find the one you’re looking for.

Do
Keep in mind that no two families are alike. They may initially seem similar, but once you scratch below the surface and start asking questions you’ll find that each one has something unique to offer.

Don’t
Don’t go to a face-to-face meeting alone. Bring along your adoption counselor or a friend for support and to get a second opinion. Try to meet in a neutral public place such as a restaurant or a park and keep your get-together short and informal.

Do
Keep in mind that hopeful adoptive parents are vulnerable and anxious to become parents. Contacting them will take your search to a new level and create additional pressures on you. Don’t reach out to anyone if you’re having second thoughts about your adoption plan.

Don’t
Don’t neglect to speak to other women who have gone down a similar path before you. They know first-hand the challenges you’re facing. They can help you find out what’s involved in the process, what to expect, and what questions to ask.

Do
Explore your state and county’s adoption laws. Keep in mind that the rules and regulations regarding things like medical and pregnancy-related expenses vary from one jurisdiction to the next. Consult your professionals before you make any decisions.

Don’t
Don’t worry if you don’t have answers to all your questions. But don’t be afraid to ask them. When you hit a snag, try to see things from the hopeful parents perspective. But make sure that they see things from your point of view.

Do
Go into the process with an open mind and an open heart. If you change your mind before the relinquishment, be sure to let the family know — or have your worker let them know — as early and as gently as possible, before they get more involved in the situation.

Don’t
Don’t make a decision without creating an openness agreement. Determine what level of contact (open, semi-open or closed adoption) you and the adoptive parents are comfortable with. Even though there’s no guarantee that either of you will follow through on it, having a plan in place will give you an idea about the kind of relationship you can expect to have after the placement and provide guidelines on how to achieve it.

Finding parents for your baby is a time-consuming, nerve-wracking process that can be complicated and unpredictable. Doing your research beforehand and getting  experienced professionals will help you get through the process so that you can find the family that’s right for you.

How did you find parents for your baby? What mattered the most to you in your search? Share your comments in the box below.

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