Telling Adopting Parents You’ve Changed Your Mind About Your Adoption Plan

change-mind-adoptionBreaking up is hard to do.

It’s hard to do in any relationship. But it’s especially hard when your relationship involves adopting parents.

That’s because hopeful adoptive parents don’t fall within any neat or familiar category.

They’re not family. They’re not friends.

And yet depending on how well you’ve gotten to know them, your relationship could be as strong and as deep — or perhaps even deeper! — than any one that you have with a family member or a friend.

You may have spent hours on the phone together, met their family and friends, been invited into their home, shared a copy of your ultrasound, and made plans for the future together.

In short, you may genuinely like each other and have created a special bond.

So how do you break the news to them that you’ve changed your mind and decided not to go ahead with your adoption plan?

As in any break up, there’s no easy way to deliver the news.

And just to be clear, I’m referring to a failed adoption match rather than a failed adoption. This assumes that you haven’t signed the relinquishment papers and given the placement your legal consent. If you have, it’s a different story that requires a different response, based on the  laws of your state.

The adopting parents may have seen the news coming. But even so, it will be hard for them, initially at least, to view it as anything but a rejection. Or perhaps even as a betrayal.

And yet how they feel about it is outside your control.

All you can do is tell them the news as quickly and as honestly as you can.

Keep in mind that they were aware this could happen. They knew that changing your mind before the relinquishment wasn’t simply an option. It was your right.

But that won’t make things any easier for you. Or for them.

But this isn’t about either of you really, no matter how many times you’ve told them (or yourself) you would never change your mind or how much the adopting parents have invested financially or emotionally into the process.

It’s about doing what’s right for your child. So if you’ve decided that raising him is what’s best, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Nobody makes the decision to place, or not to place, lightly.

By the way, the situation you find yourself in is a big reason why many people are opposed to pre-birth matching — finding an adoptive family before the birth of a baby.

Although it can help the expectant parent bond with the adopting parents and make her feel more comfortable about her decision, it can also exert additional pressure on her to go through with her adoption plan despite her misgivings.

Things change. Circumstances change. People change.

Maybe you didn’t have all the facts when you originally made your adoption plan. Maybe your personal or financial situation isn’t the same. Maybe the father of your baby or your parents have stepped forward and gotten involved. Or maybe you’ve decided that you just want to parent.

In some ways, it doesn’t really matter. It’s your baby, and your decision. There is no right or wrong answer about what to do now any more than there was a right or wrong answer when you initially created your adoption plan.

So even though you may feel badly for the couple, don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault.

Of course, the closer you are to your due date and the more planning you’ve done, the harder it will be for you to deliver the news.

So don’t let the situation drag on. Delaying the news won’t make it any easier for you, and it could make it harder for the hopeful adoptive parents.

Be prepared for a mixture of shock, tears, and maybe a bit of anger. But again, don’t take it personally.

Bad news is always tough to take.

If you’re up to it, tell them yourself, directly, by phone rather than by text or email. They’ll appreciate hearing the news come from you.

Or, if you find it easier, get your adoption attorney or worker to tell them for you.

Although telling the adopting couple why you’ve changed your mind is a nice gesture, it could complicate things. When you’re set your sights on adopting, there are always obstacles in your way.

So if you do get into the details, be prepared for the adopting couple to come back and try to talk you out of it.

But you should make it clear that your decision is final and that it’s not about them.

On a positive note, some pregnant women who have changed their adoption plan have gone on to have a wonderful relationship with the adopting parents they picked for their baby. You may, too.

But that’s not something you need to focus on. For now, all you can do is make the best decision for you and your baby and hope that the adopting parents will understand and respect you for it.

What do you think is the hardest part about changing your mind about an adoption plan? Have you ever  dealt with an disrupted adoption? What was your reaction? Leave you comments in the space below.

4 thoughts on “Telling Adopting Parents You’ve Changed Your Mind About Your Adoption Plan”

  1. My husband and I suffered a failed adoption. It was a short notice call that the baby had been born that morning. We brought our son home from the hospital at two days old. After two years on adoption lists, this was a dream come true! We knew that the agency was still trying to contact the birth father and there was that legal risk. The story we had been told was that he had known about the pregnancy and was in no way involved and was actually avoiding phone calls. After loving and caring for our son for two and a half weeks, we were informed that the birth father had actually never been told about the pregnancy and wanted to parent. The social worker came by our home that very night to take our son to his birth father. This experience was the most heartbreaking and devastating of my entire life! I have come to recognize; not accept, but recognize, that this is a grief I will carry with me each and every day the rest of my life. We are back on the adoption lists, hoping to find the right match. I can respect and understand a birth mother who may change her mind either about adoption or about that particular match. I agree that honesty as soon as possible is the way to go if that is the case. Adoption can be a blessing, but it comes with both joy and sorrow as well as benefits and challenges. The most important thing is to respect all parties with honesty.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Kristin, and I’m sorry to hear that your match fell through. As you mention, it’s one of the risks and realities of the open adoption process. But I’m glad to hear that you’re back on adoption lists and going into the process with a new understanding of its impact on both prospective adoptive parents and birthparents.

  2. I think this is why it is so important for agencies to make sure that all parties understand that, in the end, it is supposed to be about an expectant mother making an important decision for her child’s future. A good agency will make sure that no promises are made and that nothing is a foregone conclusion until after the TPR is signed.

    Some agencies do seem to encourage the emom to disassociate herself from her child and to start thinking of their child as going to the adoptive parents. This to me is not fair on the child as what can happen is that decisions can start being made as to what is in “the best interests of the adoptive parents” rather than the “best interest of the child”. It is not fair either on the bparents or prospective adoptive parents to do this either because bparents may end up promising things and truly meaning it at the time and thus the AP starts thinking of the child as theirs but when reality hits after the birth, it can make things very complicated.

    In the end, an adoption plan is just that “a plan”, it is not a contract. I keep heaqring about emoms being “committed to their adoption plan”, personally, as an adoptee, I want emoms to be committed to exploring all options – being committed to an adoption plan makes it sound as if other options have been taken off the table. The other worry is that when an emom who has been “commited to her adoption plan” does decide to parent, she may not be as ready as an emom who has been open to ALL options.

    That is why I feel all adoptions are best done as an auxillary service provided by an organisation who helps emoms explore all options and helps them to improve their lives regardless of what decision they make. That is how adoption is done where I live. Of course, the “downside” for prospecting adopting parents is that as a result, there are fewer infant adoptions.

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