Finding a birthmother match is challenging at the best of times. Throw COVID-19 into the mix and suddenly things start to look even more daunting.
The coronavirus has transformed the world of adoption, especially open adoption and the efforts by hopeful parents to adopt a baby.
From home studies and in-person meetings with birthmothers (or, to put it more accurately, expectant parents considering adoption) to hospital visits and finalizations, COVID-19 has changed just about every aspect of the adopting process, much as it has changed just about every other aspect of our daily life.
Home studies, which used to be conducted in the safety and security of the waiting parents’ home, now take place by video call.
In-person meetings with expectant mothers, which used to take place in a restaurant, park or an adoption agency’s office, are now on hold, replaced by conversations over the web or by phone or text.
Hospital visits, which in the past often gave the adopting family and expectant mother the opportunity to meet, bond, and greet the newborn baby, are out until further notice.
And adoption finalizations, which used to be held in courthouses and were considered a highlight of the adoptive parents’ journey, are now conducted online. Meanwhile, government agencies and attorney offices are either closed or operate with reduced hours, adding more delays and frustration for prospective adoptive families.
So, if you’re home study-ready and hoping to adopt a baby through open adoption this year, where do you go from here? How do you navigate the new challenges, lockdowns and restrictions in the era of COVID-19?
Adopting a Baby in 2021
Maybe 2020 was supposed to be your year to adopt. Maybe it was a total write-off thanks to the pandemic. But now, here you are in the early months of 2021 and you’re wondering how to move forward with your adoption plan. What can you do between now and the time life returns to normal to overcome the barriers surrounding the coronavirus and welcome a newborn baby into your home?
One thing to keep in mind is that babies are still being born. And birthmothers are still making adoptions plans for them. But also don’t forget this is also an especially difficult time for expectant parents. They too are struggling with a host of questions ranging from should I take the vaccine to is adoption the right decision?
Financial pressures have traditionally been one of the biggest factors in guiding a birthmother’s decision to place. Given the country’s deepening economic crisis, there is every reason to believe that we’ll keep on seeing adoption plans in the months to come. That likely won’t change until everyone has been vaccinated and life returns to normal.
Adoption Placements During The Coronavirus
In fact, some adoption professionals say they’re witnessing a spike in placements, at least in the early stages of the pandemic.
They’re also reporting that while the COVID-19 has created new stresses for parents wishing to adopt a newborn baby, it has eliminated some of the old ones.
For instance, with the new social distancing restrictions hopeful adoptive parents no longer have to worry about making sure their house is spic and span for their social worker’s home study visit.
Nor, if they to need to drop off something for their attorney or advisor, do they need to get into the car and drive across town to do it. Pretty much everything today is being done virtually, from the convenience and comfort of their home. And it will likely continue this way for the unforeseeable future.
So, in the meantime, whether you’re trying to find a match on your own or through an agency, what can you do to speed up your wait? How can you get around the hurdles to build your family in 2021?
Here are a few things you can do right now to shorten your wait and keep yourself busy:
Strengthen your Adoption Profile
Your adoption profile is your calling card, expectant parent’s first impression of you. It needs to stand out and grab their attention. Prior to the pandemic, you might have been able to get away with not having the time to polish the wording in your letter or take better photos.
But now, if you’re stuck inside due to shelter-at-home orders, that explanation doesn’t hold water anymore. There’s no reason not to use the extra time to look for ways to improve your profile and make it the best it can be.
Remember, the goal of your adoption profile is to set yourself apart and sound real, not perfect. And while you’re at it, use your down time to get yourself up to speed about the birthmother experience, openness and other aspects of open adoption.
Create a strong web presence
Word of mouth used to be one of the most tried and true ways to spread the word about your desire to adopt. It still is. But now that people aren’t out and about as much, there are fewer opportunities to spread your message.
As for agencies, they’re struggling with their own issues due to COVID-19 restrictions and stay-at-home-orders. As a result, if you’re looking to make a connection with a prospective birthmother, having a strong online presence is more important than ever.
Signing up for an adoption profile service is one economical way to boost your outreach . Social networking, creating a website and starting a blog are others.
Brush Up on Your Tech Skills
Since most of your communication with expectant parents will take place online, having a fast and reliable internet connection is a must. If you haven’t installed Zoom or Skype or know your way around Google Meet or Facetime, now is the time to get yourself set up.
That goes for texting and posting to social media as well. The last thing you want is to lose out on a matching opportunity because your internet crashed or you couldn’t figure out how to answer a video call.
Keep Your Paperwork Up to Date
We all know that adopting a baby can be a bureaucratic nightmare. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure that all of your documents—from your home study to your police checks—are up to date and ready to go. You never know when a situation with a prospective birthmother will pop up. Get your documents in order now so that you can spring into action the moment it does.
Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health
Waiting for something you want so badly (and that so many others take for granted) can do strange things to you. As you move forward with your adoption journey, it’s easy to lose sight of things—to focus on the things that go wrong rather than the ones that go right.
Don’t fall into that trap. Adopting a newborn baby can be an all-consuming endeavour, devouring all of your time and energy. And in this age of coronavirus lockdowns and social distancing regulations, it’s easier than ever to become isolated and detached from the rest of the world.
If you find your efforts to connect with your future child’s birthparents are becoming too overwhelming, try to get out of the house and out of your headspace. Do simple things that make you happy. Exercise. Go for walks. Eat well and get a good night’s sleep. Stay in touch with family and friends. Find new interests and things to do. Be good to yourself and your partner.
Managing Your Adoption Journey
In other words, keep living your life. One day the pandemic will come to an end—and so will your adoption journey. There is a light at end of the tunnel even if it seems faint and far away at this moment.
In many ways, finding a birthmother match in the age of COVID-19 is no different than it was before. You still have to find ways to make your profile stand out and deal with the uncertainty that comes with it; you still need to find ways to develop your relationship with the expectant parents after you’ve made a match; and you still need to figure out what kind of relationship you want to have with them as he or she grows up.
Once you work these things out, everything else will fall into place. As the pandemic drags on during the winter, life will be particularly challenging. New obstacles and setback will pop up. Take them all in stride. One the great thing about living in uncertain times is you never know what will come next. And sometimes that can lead you to the biggest surprise of all. Here’s to finding a birthmother match in 2021!