If you’re hoping to adopt a baby through an adoption match, you probably have plenty of questions.
Topping the list may be this one: How long does it take to get matched?
Nobody likes to wait, especially for something as life-changing as a baby. Knowing what to expect can help you plan ahead and manage your emotions.
The problem is, nobody can say for sure what the answer is. Adoption is unpredictable. No two situations are alike.
We’ve seen waiting parents find a match in a day. And we’ve seen them find one in a year…or more.
If you’re looking for some kind of time frame that probably doesn’t help. But it does tell you one thing: When it comes to getting matched, just about anything can happen.
And just to make sure we’re on the same page: We’re talking about a match with an expectant mother who’s interested in adoption—which is probably the most unpredictable adoption match of all.
Unlike in public adoption where the parents of children available for adoption are no longer in the picture, in self-matching or independent adoption you’re responsible for finding the match yourself with an expectant parent.
You and the expectant parent (or parents) then go through the process together. During this time they have the option of changing their mind at any stage before the placement, and for a period of time afterwards as well.
All of which is to say that a match, as important as it is, isn’t the same as an adoption. You still need the expectant mother to undergo counseling and legal work to get the adoption finalized.
Working with an agency can reduce some of the guesswork and speed up your wait time but there’s no guarantee you’ll be holding a baby in your arms any sooner. Plus, the fees are considerably more than if you were to find a match on your own.
Another thing to consider is that matches can happen anytime during an expectant mother’s pregnancy.
Some expectant moms like to find a family early in their pregnancy and begin the bonding process right away while others, unsure whether adoption is right for them, may wait until the very end.
As a result, two waiting parents might find two different matches on the same day. But while one will have to wait six months for the baby’s birth, the other may not have to wait any time at all.
So your next question is likely: What can I do to speed up finding a match?
When it comes to adoption, there are things you can control, and things you can’t. The key is to focus on the former and ignore the latter since worrying about them won’t help you to change the outcome and adopt any faster. If anything, they will just distract you and keep you from reaching your goal.
Three things you can control are:
- Your parent profile
- Your marketing campaign
- Your attitude
Your Parent Profile
One way to shorten your wait time is to make your profile is the best it can be. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be good and it does have to get done. The sooner you complete it the sooner you can start showing it. And the sooner you can start making connections with expectant parents considering adoption and find a match.
No matter how anxious you are to get your profile out there, take the time to get it right before you send it out. Look at other profiles for inspiration and “borrow” the best elements.
Give expectant parents a snapshot of your life, your relationship, your home, your family and your friends. Help an expectant mom picture the life her child will have with you. And don’t forget to talk about how you see her fitting in as well.
Take the time to go through your photos. Don’t just grab the first ones you find or add them as an afterthought. Photos are the key to finding a match. Within seconds of finding you, expectant parents will be making up their minds about whether you’re the right family for them.
Make it easy for them by including heartfelt and upbeat photos that make you stand out. At the end of the day, they could be the game changer about whether you adopt now or a year from now.
Your Adoption Marketing Campaign
Your profile is your calling card. But creating one isn’t enough. You need to make sure it lands in the right hands. Or more to the point, gets in front of the right eyeballs.
Writing about yourself is hard enough. Marketing yourself is even harder. But it’s another factor that can make or break your ability to find a match. The more places expectant parents can find you, the better your chances are of making a connection.
If you haven’t created social media accounts dedicated to your adoption search, create them now. But don’t just create them, update them. Try to post something new every day that will grab an expectant parents’ attention.
Another way to expand your reach and increase your visibility is to create a website. It’s going to take a little more work than updating your social media streams, but gong the extra mile could pay off if gets noticed by the right people.
Another online tool you might consider is an adoption profiles website like America Adopts! It will create your web page and take care of your marketing plan for you, at a fraction of the cost of doing it yourself. It’s another way to find a match quicker and more affordably.
If you’ve signed up with an agency or an adoption advisor, they can help your profile and the marketing. They can also screen the responses you receive, reducing the risk of getting taken for a ride by a scammer.
The more creative, resourceful and proactive you are, the sooner you’ll find a match. Even if you’re working with an agency or a consultant, taking a more hands-on and getting yourself out there, on the internet and into the community, will shorten your wait time and keep you busy and feeling positive about your journey.
Your Attitude About Finding A Match
A positive attitude may not be one of the first things that come to mind when you think about ways to find a match sooner, but don’t underestimate its important. The more positive you are, the more motivated you’ll be to reach your goal.
Adoption can be a long, lonely road. Surround yourself with positive people and hire experienced professionals. Be careful about the scammers and the trolls but don’t let them get the better of you and prevent you from reaching your goal. Think of them as hurdles along the way that are there to test your resolve to succeed.
Now that COVID-19 is here, it’s easier than ever to feel isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. As you go through your adoption journey you’ll have good days and bad days, highs and lows. Sometimes it will feel like you’re no further ahead than when you started.
Don’t dwell on the things you can’t control. Keep your focus on the things you can do to move your journey forward and what it will feel like when you finally become a parent.
Although matches don’t happen overnight, they can–and do–happen at any time. Nothing could be going your way for weeks and suddenly late one night your phone lights up and your life will never be the same.
The More Flexible Your Criteria, The Sooner You’ll Find A Match
Try to be as open and as honest as you can when it comes to deciding what kind of child you’re hoping to adopt. The more flexible and adaptable you are, the sooner you’ll find a match.
Maybe at the outset of your journey you were only interested in adopting a healthy newborn. But now you realize that there are guarantees the baby you’ll be matched with will be healthy, the same way there would be no guarantees about the baby’s health if you were to give birth to them yourself.
Widening your parameters, whether it be in regards to the baby’s ethnicity, race, age or medical issues, will open you up to a larger pool of possibilities and could help you get matched earlier.
As you’re checking off the boxes about your preferences for a child, keep in mind that adoption is a lifelong commitment. It’s not just about getting a baby or finding a match.
Whatever criteria you come up with you’ll need to be comfortable with it, whether that means raising a child that has a different race from you or may have some pre-existing health condition. It’s up to you to decide what you can handle and what you can’t, and no matter what you decide don’t feel badly about putting limits on what you’re able to handle.
There are a lot of variables that will influence your ability to find an adoption match. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find one early in your journey. But most take about a year or two.
Hope for a quick connection but be prepared to wait it out. Managing your expectations early on will reduce a lot of the stress and uncertainty that comes naturally from waiting for a baby to adopt. It will also make you more appreciative of your match and the adoption when they finally arrive.