Tag Archives: hoping to adopt

How to Start An Adoption Profile

There’s only one thing harder than finishing an adoption parent profile. That’s starting it.

Summing up your life is always a challenge, especially when you only have about 1,000-1,500 words to work with.

But as with every long or difficult journey, this one begins with one small step.

The fact that you’re reading this means that you’ve already begun to think about it.

That’s a good place to start. So don’t stop now. Keep going!

You’ll see, little by little, step by step, it will all come together.

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to do to keep the process moving forward.

Plan

Just the thought of writing your profile can be overwhelming. Never mind actually doing it.

But you don’t have to do it all at once. (Then again, if you can knock it off in one sitting, all the power to you!).

Break it up into small manageable pieces. Start small, and keep the ball rolling.

If you have a partner, have some fun and turn it into a joint effort. S

tart by asking each other questions: What was it about me that initially caught your attention? How would describe me?

What are some of the things I’m good at? What sets us apart from other couples? Why do you think we’ll be good parents?

Research

If you’re stuck or need some help, take a look at what other couples’s have done with their profile or letter. Look for ideas and inspiration but don’t get too carried away. Remember, your goal isn’t to sound like everyone else. It’s to find your own story and differentiate yourself from others. Pay attention to the details. What catches your attention – and why? Then start thinking about how to incorporate those details into your narrative.

Organize

Once the ideas start coming, put them down on paper. It doesn’t matter if they don’t come out in perfect sentences. You can edit them later. The important thing is to get your thoughts out there. Next, organize them by theme: About Me, About My Partner, About Our Family, etc. Dividing your material into sections will help you focus your thoughts. And it will eventually make your letter easier to write–-and read, too.

Write

Now that you’ve come up with your major topics and themes, start elaborating on them. Find a good story or two to illustrate your points. Show, don’t tell. For instance, instead of saying “we’re active,” talk about some of the things you do to stay fit like running or swimming. Use words to create images that will be meaningful and memorable for your reader.

Rewrite

No one ever nailed their profile in one take. And chances you won’t either. That’s okay, though. The secret of good writing is re-writing. Start with a first draft, then take a break and go back to it later with fresh eyes. You’re bound to find a new or better way to say something. Build on what you have, filling in the missing information, tweaking it until you’re satisfied you’ve said everything you want–and need–to say.

Package

Writing your letter is only part of the process. You still need to find photos to illustrate your story and grab your reader’s attention. Then you’ll need to figure out the form and format in which to present your story. Should you create a book or post it online? Should you send it out to a professional or do it yourself?

Writing a profile is no easy feat. But if you give yourself enough time and the right attitude, it can be a great experience–a chance to take stock of everything you have in your life and share it with others. Plus, it’s a great way to start thinking of yourself as an adoptive parent and focus on what’s important to you. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

Struggling with your profile? We can help. Check out our parent profile writing service.

Want to raise awareness about open adoption? Like us on Facebook.

[Photo: Tableatny]



7 Common Mistakes Hopeful Adoptive Parents Make

There’s no one right way to create a prospective adoptive parent profile or go through the process. But there are many wrong ways.

Here are some common mistakes waiting parents make in their journey through open adoption.

1. Taking shortcuts with counselling.
No matter how committed an expectant mother is to her adoption plan, she still needs counselling. It’s the only way she’ll be able to make an informed decision and live with it after the adoption. You may be so focused on trying to become a parent that you may not consider her needs or may not want to think about them.

But remember that as your possible child’s birth parents, they will be in your life for a long time to come even if they’re not directly part of it. So it’s in everyone’s interest that they understand the emotional and psychological effects of placing a baby for adoption. This will be a great benefit to them down the road but in the short-term it will reduce the possibility of the adoption falling through, which will be a great benefit to you.

2. Not keeping the baby’s father or the mother’s family in the loop.
Even if the father of the baby doesn’t play a direct role in the adoption plan, he needs to know about it. It doesn’t matter if he supports the placement or is opposed to it–every effort should been made to locate and inform him. Ditto for the expectant mother’s family. Never underestimate their influence.

In fact, they are the reason many expectant mothers end up changing their mind. So make sure they know everything they need to know from the get-go. Because if they eventually find out and offer to help the expectant parent raise their baby, it could lead her to change her adoption plan. Not to mention it’s just the right thing to do.

3. Opening your letter with “Dear Birthmother.”
We discussed this earlier but it can’t hurt to discuss it again. After all, this is such a common mistake that most waiting parents don’t even realize their making it. A birthmother is someone who has relinquished her rights to parent a child. The person you’re writing to, on the other hand, is a pregnant woman who is considering adoption for her child.

She may go through with her plan, but then again she may not. Calling her a birthmother at this stage robs her of her choices and could rub some readers the wrong way. And it could lull you into a full sense of security, especially if you ignore red flags leading up to the placement.

4. Forgetting your reader’s needs.
Your adoption profile may be autobiographical, but is it really about you? Not exactly. It’s a marketing tool intended to persuade prospective birth parents that you’ll be a great parent to their baby. As a result, it needs to address their needs directly. The details of your wedding and the names of your nieces and nephews may be important to you, but not to them.

Rather than pepper your letter with things you want them to know, tell them what they need to know, and that includes concrete details about what level of contact you’re hoping to have with them and how you plan to do it. After all, if there’s nothing in it for them, why should they choose you?

5. Focusing on your problems.
Most parents-to-be come to adoption due to infertility issues. And that’s OK. What’s less OK is making it the central point in your letter. A prospective birth mother is interested in finding out what you can do for her. Telling her that her baby “will make your life complete” or “be a gift” to you isn’t the best way to frame your adoption journey.

These kinds of details may be part of your home study, but they have no place in your letter. Don’t forget that expectant parents are wrestling with their own crisis. They have other challenges to deal with and frankly don’t owe you anything. Which is another reason why it’s dangerous to think of them as birth parents– as opposed to possible birth parents–prior to the finalization of the adoption.

6. Making yourself sound perfect
A funny thing happens to some waiting parents as they go through the adoption process. They begin to believe that only perfect people can become parents. And so by the time they finish writing their profiles, they end sounding perfect, too. Maybe all that intense screening and scrutiny have something to do with it. Whatever the case, your letter should be as individual as you are.
Birth parents aren’t perfect, and they’re not expecting you to be, either. Put yourself in a positive light, but don’t overdo it. Remember, our shortcomings are what make us human and help us to differentiate ourselves from others. And they’re also the kinds of things that makes others, including potential birth parents, relate to us.

7. Forgetting that adoption is a lifelong process.
Today your child is a baby. But one day the child will grow up and have questions about his or her adoption. Will you be ready to answer them? That’s why it’s so important to keep the lines of communication open with your child’s birth family and not to say or do anything that would cast them in a negative light or make him or her question the reason behind his or her adoption. Creating a healthy sense of identity and self esteem in your child begins by having a healthy relationship with his or her parents.

Looking to get the edge on your open adoption advertising efforts? See how our services can help.

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[Photo: SuperFantastic]


How to Deal with a Failed Adoption

Adoptions fail for the same reasons that they succeed: Some times they’re meant to be; other times they’re not.

So while your immediate reaction may be to blame yourself, a better approach is to understand that you probably had nothing to do with it at all. Another way to look at it is that the birth family that’s looking for you hasn’t found you yet.

There is no one reason why adoptions fall apart. In open adoption, prospective birth mothers not only have the ability to change their mind—it’s their right.

Indeed, it’s the main reason why most couples hoping to adopt end up pursuing other adoption routes. They don’t want to take the risk. That doesn’t change things or make them easier for you. But it is something to think about as you go through the process.

Knowing that a failed adoption could happen is one thing. Having it happen to you is something else. No waiting parent gets involved in a situation thinking the prospective birth mother will change her mind.

Getting emotionally involved with a prospective birthmother before the relinquishment papers have been signed is a big no-no. The reason you know that is because everyone from your adoption worker to your family and friends have told you so.

And despite their warnings, it’s next to impossible not to get emotionally attached, especially if you feel like you’ve clicked with the prospective birth mother and that she’s counting on your for support.

So what do you do? You can’t go into a situation half-way. And over the coming weeks and months, as you get to know each other better and spend more time together, it’s hard not to bond.

So when your relationship goes south, it’s hard not to feel shocked and betrayed. After all, this was a person that you shared your most intimate thoughts and secrets with and made plans for the future. You might have met her family and received a copy of her ultrasound.

She may have even invited you to the birth and told you she wanted you to be the first person in the world to hold her baby. And she might have told you that other people would change their mind, but never her.

A disrupted adoption is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to deal with, particularly if you brought the baby home with you and starting the bonding process. You can beat yourself up and get angry, but it won’t change anything.

You may pride yourself about your understanding of people, but this has nothing to do with it. Even when you retrace your steps, the warning signs may not have been evident. So how could this have happened? How could someone have pulled the wool over your eyes so easily?

And yet that’s the wrong way to look at it. The expectant parents probably were pursuing adoption initially. But then something came up that caused her to changed her mind.

  • She might have decided that she could parent after all
  • Her parents might have offered to support her and gave her a place to stay
  • The baby’s father may have decided he wanted to make a go of it
  • She might have found another couple that she felt was a better fit e.g. because they lived closer to her
  • The pain of relinquishing her child might have been too great for her to bear

The road to recovery from a failed adoption is long and painful. Here are some tips to help you along

Give yourself time to grieve. A failed adoption is devastating. Acknowledge your pain and your loss and discuss your feelings with your partner. In all likelihood, he or she feels the same way. Together, you’ll emerge from your crisis even more united.

Try to get answers. The expectant mother may not tell you why she changed her mind. And legally, she doesn’t have to tell you. You can ask, but don’t expect answers. Anything you do get, however, may put your mind at ease.

Join a support group. A failed adoption can leave you feeling depressed and empty. Get in touch with other adoptive parents who have been in your shoes. Most people won’t understand what you’re going through, but they will.

See a counsellor. If things don’t get better in time, think about seeing a professional. This could help you process your loss and let you move on to the next stage.

Don’t give up hope. As hard as you may find it hard to believe, the moment will pass. There will be other opportunities if you allow yourself to pursue them. Be good to yourself and to your partner and don’t make any big decisions until you’re ready.

Each failed adoption fails for its own reasons. Just because one situation didn’t work out doesn’t mean the next one won’t either. For all you know, you could be closer to reaching your goal.

So rather than focus on what you’ve lost, think about all the things you have, starting with your partner and/or family. A loss through adoption, especially after infertility, can take a heavy tool on even the strongest of relationships. But, with the right attitude and resources, it can make it stronger, too.

Want to increase your chances of finding the match that’s right for you? Check out our open adoption networking service.

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[Photo: ekpheartsbooks]




FAQs

1. What can America Adopts! do for me?
America Adopts! is an online service that helps hopeful adoptive parents connect directly with prospective birthparents. We offer adoption profile writing and networking services to help you find a match easier and faster, as well as information and resources to help you build a strong and lasting relationship with prospective birth families.

2. What’s the difference between America Adopts! and an adoption agency?
An adoption agency is a state-licensed organization that facilitates adoptions and offers a variety of services, ranging from home studies to legal work. Some offer parent profile services, but not all. America Adopts! builds on their work and specializes in online profile and networking services.

3. Are you a facilitator?
No. Facilitators act as a go-between expectant parents and adoptive parents. As a web-based service, we do not get directly involved in the matching process. We let you control all of the communication and interaction with expectant parents.

4. What’s the advantage of using America Adopts!
America Adopts! is designed to give you more control of the networking process and to help you make your adoption profile the best it can be so that you can increase your chances of finding a match.

5. How long does it take to find a match?
There is no set time. Some hopeful adoptive parents find a match quickly. For others, it takes more time. And others may not find a match at all. The key is to stay proactive and to keep your options open.
6. Why does your site refer mostly to prospective birth mothers. What about birth fathers?
Most of the decision-making surrounding a placement is done by prospective birthmothers. Birth fathers often play a secondary role or no role at all because they’re no longer in the picture or their identity is unknown.

7. What if the father of the baby is opposed to adoption?
Birthfather rights vary from situation to situation and from state to state. Depending on the circumstances, an adoption attorney can give you a more detailed and specific answer. Still, it’s important to keep the father of the baby in the loop about any adoption plan as much as possible.

8. What if the prospective birthmother doesn’t know who the father is?
In order to avoid troubles down the road, it’s important that the prospective birthmother make every effort to track down the father of her child and make him aware of her adoption plan. Again, an adoption attorney can give you more detailed information.

9. What if the prospective mother is no longer with the baby’s father?
As the prospective birthfather, he may still have rights. Best to check with an adoption attorney before you jump into any situation.

10. What if we’re contacted by a prospective birth mother from another state?
Interstate adoptions are possible but tend to be more complicated. In addition to the laws in your state, you’ll have to abide by those in the prospective birth mother’s. Once again, your adoption attorney can offer you further assistance.

11. What are prospective birth parents looking for in adoptive parents?
Each case is different. Generally, though, birth parents are looking for a family that they can relate to and that will give their baby a better future than the one they can offer.

12. How do we know the prospective birthmother won’t change her mind?
Prospective birth parents have the right to change their mind any time leading up to the placement. Although there’s nothing you can to stop an expectant parent from having a change of heart, one way to protect yourself is to make sure the prospective birthparents get all the counseling they need to make an informed decision.

13. How do we know the prospective birthmother is not abusing drugs or alcohol?
Her medical and social history may provide some clues. Or you can have your adoption professional speak to her adoption professional to find out more.

14. What if a prospective birthmother asks us for money?
State laws prohibit money from exchanging hands, so giving an expectant parent money could put your adoption in jeopardy. Depending on where you live, some living and medical expenses can be covered by you. Speak to your adoption worker for more details.

15. What if we’re contacted by more than one prospective birth mother?
To be fair to the to prospective birthmother and to avoid complications for yourself, it’s best not to pursue more than one situation at a time.

16. What happens if we’re contacted by an expectant mother who’s early in her pregnancy?
That’s up to you. On the one hand, it could give you time to build a strong relationship with her. On the other hand, it could put you at risk if the expectant mother hasn’t had enough time to carefully think through her decision and changes her mind before the placement.

17. What should we do if we’re invited to be at the birth?
If you receive a direct invitation from the expectant birth mother, it will be hard not to accept. However, if there are circumstances where you think it’s not a good idea for you to be there — for instance, because the expectant parents appear to be wavering in their decision — you may need to decline. Your adoption worker can help you further.

18. When does the baby usually come home?
In open adoption, placements usually take place shortly  after the birth of the child, directly from the hospital. This is something you’ll need to work out with the prospective birth parents as part of your adoption plan.

19. How much time does the expectant mother have to change her mind after the birth of the baby?
The laws vary from  state to state. Consult your adoption agency or attorney for more information.

20. How do we know how much contact to have with the prospective birthmother after the birth?
That’s a personal decision that you’ll need to make in consultation with the birth parents and your adoption attorneys.

21. We’ve heard about birthmothers changing their minds and reclaiming their child. What are the chances that will happen to us?
Birthmothers can change their mind, but it usually happens before the birth of their child. Afterwards, it much more rare. And unless the birthmother can prove that the placement was made under duress or through coercion, she cannot reclaim her child.

Want to raise awareness about open adoption? Like us on Facebook.

[Image: Flickr user mlinksva]




While You’re Waiting

Making a connection with a prospective birth parent takes time – in some cases, lots of time. Think of adoption as a marathon, not a sprint. When it comes to reaching out to expectant mother considering adoption, being patient isn’t simply a virtue. It’s a necessity.

But that doesn’t mean you should just sit and wait for something to happen. Here’s a list of things you can do to generate more leads, make the time pass faster, and help you stay positive and proactive.

Join A Support Group. If you haven’t joined a support group already, now is the time to do it. Signing up with one will put you in touch with people who are just like you. They “get” adoption and know what it’s like to be in your shoes. Count on them for information, advice and support.

Find A Buddy. Adoption can be a lonely journey, even at the best of times. The only people you will really understand what you’re going through are people who have gone through the process or are going through it now. Hooking up with a Buddy or Mentor will give you a chance to compare notes, swap war stories, and help you find leads and inspiration.

Read Everything You Can. This is one of those things you can do anytime anywhere. Adoption books and guides can be incredibly useful. Just remember, the landscape is always changing. So if you’re looking for the most up-to-date information, check out resources online.

Keep A Journal. If you like to write, there’s nothing better than keeping a journal. It gives you a a change to put your thoughts on paper and keep your emotions in check. If you’re up to it, you can even share your observations through a blog. Not only will it be an inspiration for others, it could make a wonderful keepsake for your child.

Start Preparing for Parenthood. Becoming an adoptive parent is something that can happen at any time. So when it happens, you’ll want to make sure you’re ready. Don’t go out and buy a crib just yet. But keep your eyes and ears open for a pediatrician and other things you’ll need to do after you get “the call.”

Follow Your Passion. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Mastering an instrument or learning a new language? If so, his could be your last chance to do it for a quite a while. Once you become a parent, you won’t have the time or the energy to do much else. So make a list of all the things you and your partner always wanted to do and go out and do them.

Take a trip. Becoming a parent changes everything. If you have the time and financial resources, take advantage of them while you still can.

Look after yourself. Adoption can be stressful, no matter how strong you are. Try to stay relaxed and keep your expectations realistic. Exercise regularly, eat well, and get a good night’s sleep. And after you’ve taken care of yourself, take care of your partner.

For many parents-to-be, the waiting is the hardest part of the adoption process. Staying focused on your goal is important. But so is having a Plan B.

So, if your search takes longer than expected, don’t be afraid to try something new. Being flexible and adapting to new situations is not only part of the adoption experience. It’s also great preparation for becoming a parent.

Does your adoption outreach plan need a boost? Check out our services.

Want to raise awareness about open adoption? Like us on Facebook.

[Photo: Jason Gordon 11]




How to Network Your Adoption Profile

Going online is one way to share and connect with prospective birth parents. But it’s not the only game in town. Check out these other ways to spread the word about your dream to adopt.

A printed adoption profile. This has the main networking tool used by agencies in the past and it’s still the big one today. You can create a printed profile on your own through free services like Picassa or have a professional service do it for you.

Both options have their pros and cons. A lot will depend on your schedule, creativity and budget. Making your own profile is one way to showcase your personality and artistic talents and take a hands-on approach to your outreach efforts. Plus, it’s fun to do, especially if you do it with your partner or your child.

Just be prepared to invest a lot of time and effort, particularly if you’re working with more than one agency because you’ll need multiple copies. Before you get started on yours, run the idea by your agency. They may try to talk you out of it because home made books tend to be fussy, bulky and difficult to store.

By contrast, digital books are easier to create and have a nice clean look to them. But they lack the personal touch. And can come off looking slick rather than sincere.

Social networking. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are all the rage today in part because they’re free and easy to use. And while they’re great for networking and generating leads, their track record for creating matches is still unknown. To be successful at social media, you need to find content that’s fresh and relevant and interact on a regular basis with your followers, which can be a huge drain on your time. So before you jump in, make sure you’ll willing to make a daily commitment to updating your account.

Personal websites and blogs Creating an online presence is a popular way to stand out from the crowd and cast a wide net. But establishing a digital outpost is only half the battle. Making sure people find it is the other half. That said, websites are another way to get the word out about your adoption journey. And along with blogs, it’s a useful resource to document your ups and downs and find an outlet for your thoughts and emotions.

Newspaper ads. Newspapers were one of the most popular networking tools. Then the internet came along and print media lost its dominance. Targeting your search with classified ads is still effective, particularly in smaller communities where local papers still have a lot of influence or on campus. But check first since some publications have policies that prohibit adoptive parents from advertising.

Letter and pamphlets. Many people believe writing letters to obstetricians, gynaecologists and family doctors are an effective outreach tool. But the benefits are minimal. Doctors are way too busy to show your profile to their patients. And unless they know you personally, they probably won’t keep it on file.  Their patients are their top priority. Still, it’s worth a try and their addresses are easy to find online or through a mailing list broker. Just don’t make it the cornerstone of your networking campaign.

Business cards. Handing out business cards can help you get the word out, but again the payoff is questionable. On the plus side, they’re versatile and the printing and distribution costs are minimal. On the negative side, handing them out to people you don’t know could lead to a lot of raised eyebrows and awkward silences.

T-shirts and other marketing tools. When it comes to getting the word out about your plans to adopt, the sky’s the limit. There are so many ways to get attention. Over the years, waiting parents have posted their message everywhere: on T-shirts, on their cars, even on a billboard. Some methods are more effective–-and tasteful!-– than others so keep that in mind when you’re putting together your outreach strategy.

Word of Mouth. This is by far the cheapest and most effective networking tool. Telling people about your adoption plan may be difficult to do, especially at the beginning of your journey. But the more people who know about it, the more chances you have of connecting with prospective birth parents. After all, you never know someone may know someone who knows someone who’s thinking of placing her baby for adoption.

Connecting with prospective birth parents online is a fast and easy way to jump-start your adoption journey. But there are many other tools that can help you reach out and begin a conversation. Research your options and find the one that’s best for you based on your personal preference, timeline and budget.

Want to take your online adoption outreach efforts to the next level? Our services can help.

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[Photo: net_efekt]




How to Spot A Scam

Having a prospective birth mother change her mind after connecting with her through your online adoption profile can be devastating. But being the target of an adoption scam is worse in many ways.

Although some waiting parents forget it, prospective birth mothers actually do have the right to change their mind. And when they do so, it’s not for malicious reasons.

Adoption scams, on the other hand, are calculated deceptions that often involve planning and preparation. Often they’re referred to as “birth mother scams” but that’s a misnomer.

Birth mothers–mothers who have placed their baby for adoption–have nothing to do with them. The term is used for the simple reason that it’s a fast and easy way to get your attention.

Many waiting parents are weary about posting their profile online because they fear they may be targeted in this way. What they don’t realize is that the internet is just a tool.

Adoption scams can happen any time, through any platform, and even when professionals are involved. That’s why it’s important not to dive into a situation too quickly and to do your due diligence every step of the way.

Here are a few warning signs and suggestions on how to protect yourself:

A questionable email address or subject line. When it comes to reaching to you, most scammers first point of contact will be through email. Even before you get to their message, their address (babyforadoption@hotmail.com) or subject line (“Baby for you”) could be an instant tipoff. Think about it: if you were looking for adoptive parents for your baby, is that the message you would send out?

Request for money. Nothing says “scam” more than an email request for money. Save yourself trouble down the road: Put an end to the correspondence immediately. Never give anyone a cent without clearing it with your adoption professional first.

Request for a plane ticket. Alarm bells should go if you get a request for an airline ticket, especially if the email originates overseas. Just because someone tells you they want to have a baby in your city doesn’t mean there is a baby or that the person contacting you has any intentions of pursuing adoption.

Generic message. If the email lacks specifics or there’s no indication that whoever sent it had read your profile, be on your guard. Chances are you’re just one of many people on the message’s receiving end.

Twins and timing:  Another red flag is twins. Although twins do get placed every once in a while, they’re also one of the classic scams in a adoption fraudster’s playbook. And if they happen to be due around key times of the year—say, Christmas or Mother’s Day, when your guard is down and your longing to become a parent is at its peak—you know you’re heading for trouble.

A one-way street. A relationships are built on give and take. If there’s no give on the other end, there’s likely no relationship. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether the person on the end is legit or not. After all, it could well be a prospective birth parent. She may just be shy or confused. And the last thing you want to do is scare her off and lose out on what could be a great opportunity.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions that will help you determine whether the person really is who she says she is:

Set up a phone conversation. Not sure whether you’re corresponding with a 30-year-old pregnant woman who’s thinking of adoption or a 12 year-old boy with a too much time on his hands? Arrange a time to speak by phone and see what happens.

Get a confirmation of pregnancy. An easy way to confirm whether the person you’re speaking to is pregnant is to get a copy of her ultrasound. If she can’t send it or doesn’t want to, see if you can speak to her doctor. If she turns you down, it’s another sign that things may not be what you think they are. But also keep in mind that the ultrasound could be a fake as it’s very easy to get one online.

Get your adoption professionals involved. Still have doubts? Get her to talk to your adoption professionals. They have more experience in these matters than you do. And, because they’re not emotionally involved, they can ask hard questions that you may be afraid to ask.

Not all adoption scams revolve around money. Some are driven by the need for attention and control. If you sense that the person you’re dealing with is manipulative or overly interested in your personal matters that have nothing to do with your adoption plans, it’s time to rethink your relationship.

You could be dealing with someone with mental health issues. Cutting yourself off may be difficult. And if you think it’s hard now, just wait until you’re even more fully immersed in a situation.

Adopting a baby is stressful and unpredictable at the best of times. Properly screening people who contact you can take a huge weight off your shoulders and save you headaches and heartaches in the future.

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Signs She May Change Her Mind

It’s every hopeful adoptive parents’ worst nightmare: the fear that a birthmother may change her mind.

Nobody knows exactly how often it happens or why it does. But if you’re a waiting parent, that’s beside the point.

The fact that it happens all at-– and that it could happen to you-–is all that matters. And it’s enough to push waiting parents to puruse other adoption routes.

So how do you know a birthmother will change her mind? To be sure, there are signs to watch for. But before we get into them, remember that a birth mother and a prospective birth mother aren’t the same thing.

A birth mother is a woman who has relinquished her rights to her child. A prospective birth mother, on the other hand, hasn’t relinquished anything.

Just because she’s pregnant and says that she has an adoption plan and loves your open adoption profile doesn’t mean she’ll go through with it. Nor does she have to. keep that in mind as you set out on your journey.

There are three time periods when a prospective birthmother is most likely to change her mind:

  • Before she places her baby for adoption
  • Just after she places her baby for adoption
  • After her rights have been terminated

That covers a lot of time. For your purposes and in the eyes of the law, however, not all of these three periods are equal.

Before she places her baby for adoption. If a pregnant woman changes her mind during this period, unfortunately you’re out of luck. There is nothing you can do but wish her well and move on.

Just after she places her baby for adoption. For would-be parents, this is by far the most stressful time due to the emotional state of the prospective birth parents and their family and the fact that it’s the last opportunity she has to legally change her mind and not have her rights to her child relinquished.

The exact laws and time period will vary state by state. But depending on the jurisdiction where the baby is born, a birthmother has anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks or months to change her mind. If her decision takes place within this period, she has the right to get her baby returned to her, no questions asked.

After her parental rights have been terminated. It’s no uncommon for a birth mother to question her decision or have a change of heart after she’s signed the adoption papers. But once the grace period expires, her decision is irrevocable. The only way she can get it reversed is if she could legally prove she was tricked or pressured into making it.

Knowing that an expectant mother has the right to change her mind at any time, one way to protect yourself is to let her know early on that if she wants to change her mind before the relinquishment of her baby, she can do so–but to give you as much notice as possible.

Another way is just to make sure she has all the counselling she needs and to watch out for warning signs. Some reversals will come out of the blue and catch you unaware. But in other cases, the signs may be there all along. Either you didn’t see them or you didn’t want to see them.

Red flags include:

  • the expectant parent is a teenager with no other children
  • she lives with her parents and/or they don’t know about her pregnancy or are opposed to it
  • she has a continuing relationship with the father of her child or he is unaware of the adoption plan
  • she was raised by a single mother and/or has friends who are single mothers
  • she has dropped out of school and has no plans for the future or for going back to school

There are other signs, too: for instance, she may have kept her pregnancy secret or is so confident of her decision that she refuses counselling. In open adoption, or any adoption, for that matter, there are no easy answers or guarantees.

Just because the expectant mother who’s contacted you falls under one of these categories doesn’t mean she’ll change her mind. But it’s good to be prepared just in case she alters her plan.

If you’re looking for an added boost to your outreach campaign, our open adoption networking service can help you increase your odds of finding a match.

Want to raise awareness about open adoption? Like us on Facebook.

[Photo: jaxx2kde]




How To Create A Connection

There’s only one thing better than finishing your parent profile. It’s receiving a positive response to it.

Hearing back from a prospective birth mother is a feeling that’s hard to describe. (Although words like “Yipee!” “Wow” and “Oh my God, what am I going to do now” come to mind).

Before you pop the champagne cork or get the baby’s room ready, however, just remember that finding a match-–or more accurately, getting a response to your profile–-doesn’t an adoption make. You still have a long way to go.

Most expectant mothers you meet through your profile will want to know more about you. So if you want to take your relationship to the next level, you’ll need to answer her questions as best you can. If you don’t, she could very well move on to someone else.

There are no right or wrong answers. All you can do is be open and honest. You’ll be nervous. But so will the person you’re speaking to.

After all, there’s a lot at stake for both of you, and there a lot better ways and places to deal with an issue that is as serious and as life-changing as this one.

One advantage you have over the expectant parent is that you know a lot more about the adoption process and have been waiting for this moment for a long time, perhaps years.

She, on the other hand, may have only recently learned about her pregnancy and made the decision to pursue adoption.

Plus, unlike you, she may not be able to count on the support from her partner or her family. For that reason, she may be the one to initiate your discussion. But you’re the one who can lead it.

Just finding out how she feels and what’s she doing is a simple way to reach you and build your relationship. Expect a lot of silences and awkward moments off the top.

They’re par for the course in any new relationship. As time goes on and you get to know each other better, you’ll be able to build trust and reach a certain comfort level.

Start slowly, through email, and gradually move up to phone conversations and eventually a face-to-face meeting. Through your adoption worker, you’ll need to find her a worker who can explain how the adoption process works and what her rights and responsibilities are.

You’ll be curious to know about the details of her life as well, but let her share them with you when she’s ready. Similarly, you’ll want to know about how her baby is doing and whether she or he is getting the proper care.

There’s nothing wrong in asking, but be sure not to focus all of your discussion around the baby. If you do, she may feel that you’re not interested in her and start looking for someone else who is.

There are other ways of showing your support and concern. For instance, if you live nearby, you could accompany her to adoctor’s appointment. Or at the very least find out what it went. Other things you could do together include

  • Go grocery shopping together
  • See a movie together
  • Meet her friends and family

As her due date approaches, you’ll need to decide about arrangement at the hospital and whether you want to be there when the birth happens. That’s something you don’t need to decide now and not on your own.

Given the volatility of your situation, and the fact that the expectant parent has the right to change her mind at any time, it won’t be easy. But no adoption situation ever is.

If, for any reason, you sense that the prospective birth mother is wavering in her adoption plan, take a step back and make a honest assessment. If things feel like they’re starting to unravel, find out what the problem is and try to fix it. Sometimes you can’t and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. Don’t blame yourself. But if you do find your situation is spiralling out of control, get your worker involved and make your relationship fall apart. That’s right: make it fall apart. If it does, there might never have been anything there to begin with.

If it doesn’t, you have one more reason to feel optimistic about your future. As a general rule, keep away from situations where you feel like you’re doing all of the work or walking on eggshells every time you speak to the prospective birth mother.

Remember, your child will always have a connection to his or birth parents. So make sure that you’re always upfront with them and feel as comfortable with them as they do with you.

Looking for help connecting with a prospective birth mother? Our writing service for adopting parents can help.

Want to raise awareness about open adoption? Like us on Facebook.

[Photo: ansik]




Questions to Ask

There are many ways to find out if you and a prospective birth parent are a good match after she responds to your adoption parent profile.

Sometimes you’ll know it the first time you speak. You’ll get the sense that even though you’ve just met, it feels like you’ve know each other your entire life.

But in most cases, as in any new relationship, especially one that is born out of a crisis, it will take a while for things to settle down and figure out where you stand with her. One way to find out for sure is to ask questions.

How she answers them will not only give you a better sense of whether you’re compatible. It will help you decide whether your relationship is worth pursuing in the long-term or whether you’re just spinning your wheels.

Here are some questions you might want to consider during that initial conversation:

  • How are you feeling?
  • How has your pregnancy been like so far?
  • When is your baby due?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your interests and hobbies?
  • Do you come from a large family?
  • How do they feel about your decision?
  • How did you decide on adoption?
  • What was it about our letter that caught your attention?
  • Do you know a lot about adoption?
  • Do you know anyone who has placed her baby for adoption or who’s been adopted?
  • What’s your baby’s father like?
  • How does he feel about your decision?
  • Do you have any special requests on how you would want your child to be raised?
  • What kind of relationship are you interested in having after your baby is born?
  • What are your plans for the future?
  • Is it possible to meet you before the placement?
  • Is it okay if our social worker speaks to you?
  • Is there anything you’re interested in talking about or knowing about me?
  • Where would you like to go from here?

Here are some questions you may want to ask, but probably shouldn’t. Better to leave these to your adoption worker.

  • Why are you placing your baby for adoption?
  • Have you ever placed a baby for adoption before?
  • Have you used drugs or alcohol at any time during your pregnancy?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Who’s the father?
  • Does he know about your adoption plan?
  • Does he support your adoption plan?
  • Do you think either or you will change your mind between now and the placement of your baby?

Asking a prospective birth mother the right questions early on will give you the answers and the confidence you need to move your relationship forward.

Plus, it will help you avoid bigger problems down the road. If, on the other hand, you don’t get the answers you need, you’ll need to ask yourself why and whether the adoption situation you’re involved in isn’t the right one for you.

Our open adoption networking service can help you take your campaign to the next level. Check it out!

Want to raise awareness about open adoption? Like us on Facebook.

[Photo: (F)oxymoron]