When Sarah learned she had been matched with a prospective birthmother, she couldn’t wait to tell her friend, Dawn. Dawn had been her No. 1 supporter throughout her adoption journey so it only seemed right to let her in on the good news. Little did Sarah know that she was about to set off one of the most heartbreaking and embarrassing chapters in her life.
Excited for Sarah, Dawn told her friends, who in turn told their friends, until it seemed like everyone knew about Sarah’s adoption match. What they didn’t know is that a few days after Sarah broke the news to Dawn, the prospective birthmother announced that she had changed her mind and decided to parent.
Sarah was devastated. But that was only the beginning of her ordeal. For the next little while, every time she ran into one of Dawn’s friends, she had to field questions about when the baby was arriving. Sarah promised herself that the next time she found a match, she would keep the news to herself.
Being matched with a prospective birthmother after she’s found your adoption profile is an exciting event. But Sarah’s story illustrates the other side of it: the uncertainty of the process and the reality that it ain’t over until it’s over. With that in mind, here are some things to keep in mind after you’ve connected with a prospective birthmother and are waiting to move forward with the placement.
Don’t tell everyone you know
When you’re trying to find a match, everyone tells you to scream the news from the rooftops and let everyone know you’re looking to adopt. The thinking being, one person will tell another who will in turn tell another until eventually one of those people will lead you to the adoption situation you’ve been waiting for. But after you’ve found a match, the process is completely the opposite. Knowing that the prospective birthmother can change her mind at any time leading up to the placement, you’re better off keeping the news to yourself. If you really want to share the news — and let’s face it, who doesn’t — tell a few discreet well-placed people but only after they’ve vowed not to tell anyone else.
Don’t finalize a baby name
After you’ve found a match, it’s tempting to turn to names for the new baby, especially if you know the gender. Who doesn’t have a list of favorite baby names? But don’t play the name game just yet. For one thing, you’ll want to get the prospective birthmother’s input. Otherwise, she’ll feel left out. Often, the way it works is the adoptive parents will come up with the child’s first name, and the birthparents will supply the middle one. The other danger about jumping in too quickly is that if the adoption falls apart, you won’t be mourning just the loss of your baby. You’ll also be mourning the loss of that baby’s name. That’s because once you associate a name with one child, you won’t want to use it for another one.
Don’t paint the nursery
There’s a lot of debate over this one. Some people see painting the nursery as a positive step, a chance to relax and be proactive while you wait for the placement to happen. Others, however, are more superstitious and argue that painting the nursery before the adoption is finalized could jinx your chances of becoming a parent. So what’s the big deal? Will a few coats of paint really change anything? They won’t. And yet, if things don’t go according to plan, that nursery could become yet another reminder of what happened, or in this case, didn’t happen to your adoption plan.
Don’t go on a shopping spree
Once you’re a parent, you’ll need to buy a lot of things for your child: diapers, wipes, formula, clothes, bedding, furniture, toys. So why not start early? After all, you’ve got all this time on your hands. Again, there’s no problem, just don’t get too carried away. There’s nothing wrong with researching car seats, baby formula and bassinets. Just leave the major shopping spree for another time.
Don’t ignore the prospective birthmother’s needs
I left this point for last, but it’s probably the most important one of all. After you find a match, don’t take it, or the prospective birthmother, for granted. As you’re waiting for the placement date, make sure you keep busy and stay positive. And that you tend to the prospective birthmother’s needs. She’ll be going through a difficult time. See that she feels good about her decision and that she gets all the information and support she needs.
Of course, when it comes to adoption, one size doesn’t fit all. Every hopeful adoptive parent is different and reacts differently to the highs and lows they encounter on their journey. For instance, even if you know the risks of telling your friends about your placement, you may decide to go ahead and tell them anyway just because you’re excited and it’s something you feel you have to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. Being matched is always an exciting time, no matter what happens. You know yourself better than anyone and what your comfort level is. Personally, I’m the type that errs on the side of caution. But that’s me. Find the approach that works for you. Good luck and enjoy the ride!
What did you do after you were matched with a prospective birthmother? How did you move your relationship forward? Leave you comments in the section below.