They were high school sweethearts with a solid marriage, rewarding careers, and a large circle of friends.
But there was one thing that didn’t come so easy: getting chosen by a birthmother. Even though they had done everything they were supposed to — created an adoption website, started a blog, taken out advertisements, and spread the word about their adopting plans on social networking sites — months went by without any response.
Then one day, just before they were about to go away on vacation, they got the call that would change their lives. Two weeks later, they were in the delivery room cutting their son’s umbilical cord after his birthmother gave birth.
In the months following the placement, when Bob and Theresa asked their child’s birthmother what had drawn her to their profile, they were expecting to hear her mention Bob’s career as a lawyer or Theresa’s plans to be a stay-at-home mother. In fact, what caught her attention was a throwaway line about Theresa growing up near a horse farm. It turned out the birthmother loved horses, and that was enough to create the initial connection.
This just goes to show you that when it comes to getting chosen by a birthmother in open adoption, there are no certainties. As in any relationship, you need to be open, upfront and honest. What you think will appeal to her is often very different from what grabs her attention in the end
And that’s both a good thing and a bad one.
- Good because it means that the matching process is completely wide open
- Bad because there’s a lot of guesswork — at the end of the day, you never know what’s going to click with a birthmother
As we recently discussed on our Facebook page, you could say all the right things in your adoption profile and still not get chosen.
In regards to what a birthmother is looking for, then, each case is different — as different as the individuals involved in the placement process. To illustrate this point, here are some posts I’ve written about this topic in the past:
- What Do Birthmothers Look For In Adoptive Parents? 25 Answers
- 10 Things A Pregnant Woman Considering Adoption Is Looking For In Parents Hoping To Adopt
- Trying To Connect With A Prospective Birth Mother? A Birth Mom On The One Thing You Shouldn’t Do
- How I Made An Open Adoption Plan For My Baby
- Why Do Some Adoptive Parents Find An Adoption Match While Others Don’t?
As I was doing research for this post, I thought that instead of focusing on what a birthmother is looking for, another way to approach this topic might be to look at why couples were chosen. So here are comments from couples I’ve worked with who have successfully adopted after being picked by their child’s birthmother. As with Bob and Theresa, all of the names have been changed for privacy reasons.
We were chosen by our child’s birthmother because we had a shared adoption connection:
“What I heard was that they liked the idea that we camp and go on summer adventures. Either they did and want the same or didn’t get to and want it for their kids. Also people like that we have adoption in our family. I’d encourage people to mention it even if it’s a distant connection.” Jen and Steve
We were chosen by our child’s birthmother because we had a similar upbringing and lifestyle:
“I think what worked for us is that our profile happened to match the birth mother’s upbringing and lifestyle. The birth mother said she liked that we’re very active and met while playing a sport (she’s a personal trainer), and she also liked that we’d traveled quite a bit and have pets around the house (The birth mother had traveled and had pets when she was younger). Also, the birth mother is in the same city as us, so that’s a nice connection as well.” Jodie and Dan
We were chosen by our child’s birthmother because we already had a child:
“Our adoption this time was a last minute placement. They picked us because they wanted their child to have a sibling and they wanted them both to be adopted (we have a 3 year old daughter who was adopted as well) They also liked that we had a picture of our daughters birth mom in our letter because they wanted an open adoption and a good relationship.” Alex and Andy
We were chosen by our child’s birthmother because we seemed “real”:
“The only feedback we got on our profile was that it seemed ‘real.’ They said something about the way we wrote lead them to think we were normal and that we weren’t trying to ‘fluff’ things up.” Jane and Chris
We were chosen by our child’s birthmother because we were a gay couple with a similar parenting philosophy:
“She loved that we were a gay couple, a couple who wanted an open relationship, and one with a kid already, so the two kids would grow up together, with the bond of being adopted. She said she fell in love with us right away through our philosophy of the importance of just wanting to create a “happy life” for our kids, and she loved all the fun we were having in our pictures and the humour and love in our letter. She said we seemed ‘real’. She told us she was worried we were going to get “snapped up!” and wanted our agency to contact us right away. So it just goes to prove – it just takes one to notice you, amid so many others. We’d been turned down about 4 times due to the fact that we already had a son, and were starting to lose hope. Now we know it was all meant to be.” Don and Matt
We were chosen by our child’s birthmother because we wanted openness:
“Birthmom chose us because we already have a successful open arrangement with Andrew’s birth mother. She also wanted openness. Although, because she already parented, and is 35, those boundaries are tough.” Stephanie and Jack
We were chosen by our child’s birthmother because we worked with children:
”I asked her what attracted them to our profile, and she said that they were initially interested because of my occupation (that I work with children) and that we seemed like a good fit overall.” Cindy and Douglas
We were chosen by our child’s birthmother because we were a same-sex couple and adoption was our first choice to create a family:
‘Firstly, our Birthmother was indeed looking for a same-sex couple, and was looking for a couple who truly valued adoption as their first choice for creating a family. We have received some positive feedback from many on our profile and website, and we feel that this is due in no small part to the fact that we celebrate adoption so publicly, and have so much respect for birth families. Beyond that, many of the small aspects of our story resonated with her. Our child’s birthmother is also interested in social justice, the arts, sees adoption as a positive, is exploring her spiritual side, and has a broad definition of family.” Bill and Scott
So there you have it, real adoption match stories by real people. Now before you start tinkering with your profile and slip in details about how much you like to camp or how adoption is the first choice to build your family, keep in mind that when it comes to finding a match just about anything goes.
Perhaps the one lesson you can take away from these stories is that birth mothers often look for people who remind them of who they are or are a reflection of the people they would like to become. One more reason why you shouldn’t embellish your profile with unnecessary or inaccurate details and to just be yourself!
On that note, I’ll give Bill and Scott the final word: “Our advice to prospective adoptive couples is simple: Everyone is here because they very much want to be parents, but no one reason or background or journey is more special or more deserving than any other. What is important is to be honest and forthcoming about your own lives in a positive way, while recognizing that one’s personal struggles may not resonate with the birth family.”
If you’ve found a birth mother match, I’d love to hear how it happened. What worked for you? What was it about you or your parent profile that clicked? Leave your comment in the space below.