,At first glance, finding adoptive parents for your baby online is a breeze. Simply type “open adoption profiles” or “adoptive parent profiles” or “Dear Birthmother letters” into a search engine like Google and hundreds of results will instantly show up.
Finding the right adoptive parents for your baby — now that’s a whole other story. With so many potential parents to choose from, how do you know which ones (or one) are right for you and your baby — especially when they all look and sound so perfect?
What’s an expectant parent to do? Here are tips on how to find the perfect adoptive family — or at least the one that’s perfect for you — on the web.
Decide what you’re looking for
The idea of choosing virtual strangers for your baby can be scary at first. How do you know they will love him? How do you know you can trust them? Before you begin your search, online or off, you need to have a clear idea about what you’re looking for. Do you want an adoptive family that lives close by? Do you want a couple or single parents? With or without children? Religious or spiritual? Urban or suburban? Outdoorsy or domestic? The possibilities are endless. You don’t have to have everything worked out right away. No one does. You can always change your mind later. But establishing a set of guidelines early on will make the selection process easier. And it will increase your chances of finding the parents that are right for you and your baby.
Be sure they’re adoption ready
Not anyone you find online can adopt your baby. In order to be eligible, hopeful parents have to undergo a rigorous screening process called a home study that includes everything from an examination of their finances to police checks. Without it, they’re not adoption ready. All of the hopeful families posted on an agency website will have had a home study. But if you find them on a personal site or an online adoption profile site, there’s no guarantee they’ll have been vetted. While the internet is a great tool to reach out and find an adoptive home quickly, conveniently, and confidentially, you have to be mindful about protecting yourself and your baby. Do your homework and get licensed professionals involved in the process as early as you can.
Go through their photos
There’s a reason they say a picture is worth a thousand words. As far as starting points go, photos are as good a place as any. After all, they’re the first things you’ll see when you come across an online profile. They’re also a nice way to ease yourself into your search. Who doesn’t like to flip through a family photo album? Once you start, you might even find yourself enjoying the process. As you look at the hopeful parents’ faces, what do they tell you? Do they look happy? Can you see them being part of your life? Can you imagine them raising your child? Are their pics natural looking or staged? Do they look open and easy-going or tense and uptight? What does the rest of their family and home look like? Don’t underestimate the importance of first impressions. Right away you should have a good idea about whether these are people you want to know better or whether it’s time to move on to the next profile.
Read their letter
After you’ve gone through the potential parents’ photos, it’s time to tackle their letter. Most families will spend countless hours crafting and polishing their message, making sure that every word sounds just right. Funnily enough, their photos are usually treated as an afterthought. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with their pictures. They usually offer a more transparent portrait. Reading their letter, don’t just pay attention to the facts — the description of their lifestyle, their interests, their home, their family. Take a close look at the language they use, and how they see you fitting into their life, and vice versa. Watch out for red flags: a preoccupation with their infertility or phrases like “our baby” instead “your baby.” What are their thoughts about openness? If there aren’t any, that could be a warning sign. Read between the lines but be prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, a profile can tell you only so much about a person. If you have questions, set them aside for later.
Narrow down your choices
Ignore the parent profiles that don’t speak to you and create three lists for the ones that do, Then rank them. Call them whatever you like. For instance: “Profiles I Love,” “Profiles I Like,” and “Profiles That Are Interesting.” “Profiles I Love”: these are the ones that immediately jump out at you, that you instantly fall in love with. “Profiles I Like”: these are solid but don’t fill you with the same sense of hope and excitement as the first group. “Profiles That Are Interesting”: these are the ones that you can take or leave — the letter or photos are interesting, but overall they don’t rock your world. For a decision as important as this one, there’s no fooling around: your child’s future family needs to knock your socks off. If they don’t, there’s no point considering them. Still, it’s always good to keep a few profiles around as a fallback, just in case your first choices don’t pan out or if you undergo a change of heart.
Decide next steps
Depending on how confident are in your adoption plan or how far along you are in your pregnancy, you can take your search to the next level by contacting the potential parents directly. This will allow you to learn more about them and answer any questions you have. Or, if you feel like you’re not ready or need more time, you can do more research or get more counseling. As with so many aspects of the open adoption process, the choice is yours. Trust your instincts. So, at the end of the day, how will you know you’ve found the perfect family? In the words of many a birthmother and father, you’ll know: “It will just feel right.”
How did you find adoptive parents for your child? What did you look for when you were searching online? Leave your comments in the section below.