Over the last 20+ years that we’ve helped hopeful adoptive parents build their families through open adoption, we’ve been asked just about every question you can imagine.
But there’s one question that pops up again and again: What are birthmothers or, more to the point, prospective birthmothers looking for in adoptive parents?
Since open adoption allows waiting parents to do their own marketing and connect directly with prospective birthmothers, it’s an important question, and one that preoccupied me for a good period of time when my wife and I were trying to adopt.
While the question is simple, the answer is anything but. Birthmothers (and birth fathers) are no different than any other parent. They want their baby to be loved. They want their baby to be cared for. They want their baby to be safe. And they want their baby to be happy.
Why a birth family chooses one family over another
That much we can all agree on. But when you start looking at the details of why a prospective birthmother chooses one family over another, that’s when things get tricky.
That’s because while finding their baby a loving family is one thing that all birth mothers share in common, the circumstances and details under which that is done varies from one individual to the next.
For some birthmothers, finding a family that lives nearby may be paramount to their choice. For others, religion may be the deciding factor. While for others, having their child grow up with a sibling may be the deciding factor — or not.
Sometimes, it’s the small details that make the biggest difference: a hopeful adoptive father who reminds the expectant mother of her own father; the golden retriever in the waiting adoptive couple’s family photo that triggers a memory of the dog the expectant mother had when she was a child; or the fact that the hopeful adoptive mother is an graphic artist, just like the expectant mother always wanted to be.
All too often, it doesn’t take much to light that initial spark. So, if you’re looking for that one thing that birthmothers are looking for — a formula, if you will — be prepared for disappointment. The truth is there isn’t one.
And yet there is a way to find out more about who birthmothers are and what they want, which in turn could help you find a match faster and easier. And that’s to educate yourself about them by reading and listening to their personal stories. You can start by checking out the birthmother resources, including birthmother blogs, birthmother websites, birthmother support groups and birthmother books on our website.
Here are some additional resources to help you better understand the decision-making process that a birthmother goes through as she chooses an adoptive family for her baby. (Please note: this article was originally published in 2012. Some of the sources below may no longer exist).
What Makes A Winning Adoption Profile and What Birth Mothers Want Adoptive Parents To Know
1. A Birth Mom’s View of Adoptive Parent’s Profiles — what Nancy, a birthmother, looked for in adoptive parents when she placed her baby for adoption, along with plenty of helpful suggestions now what makes an effective adoption profile.
2. Tips For Writing A Dear Birthmother Letter — ideas and suggestions on how to write a “Dear Birthmother” letter by Nicole, a birthmother.
3. 10 Things Every Birthmother Wants Adoptive Parents To Know — what a birthmother thinks about, wishes for, and hopes for when placing their child for adoption by author and birth mom, Patricia Dischler.
4. A Birthmother’s View on Writing a Great Dear Birthmother Letter — useful tips and suggestions on how to write a “Dear Birthmother” letter by Courtney Frey, a birthmother.
5. Adoption Profiles From A Birth Mother’s Point of View — two birthmothers, Aubrey and Erin, explain made them choose the family they ended up choosing for their child and offer advice for couples and singles hoping to adopt.
6. Birth Mother Chooses New Parents In Open Adoption – Kristin, a birth mom, explains how she chose the couple who would parent her newborn daughter from among the list of other families hoping to adopt.
7. One Birthmother’s Open Adoption Story— Rebecca, a birthmom, explains how it only took her only one meeting with her child’s future adoptive parents to decide that they were the family she was looking for.
8. A Birth Mother’s Advice on Choosing Adoptive Parents — an article providing general information on what expectant parents should look for in adoptive families when considering an open adoption placement.
9. The Day I Gave My Heart Away — a birthmother shares her thoughts and feelings about making an adoption plan for her daughter and what drew her to the adoptive parents she ended up choosing for her.
Birthmothers Describe Their Adoption Journeys Through Videos and Interviews
10. A Birthmother’s Love — an honest and heartwarming video made by Birthmom Buds that puts a face on birthmothers and shows how the love of a birthmother never ends.
11. My Adoption Story: My Dearest Lucas — not so much an explanation of why she placed her baby for adoption as it is a tribute to him, this video by a 17-year-old birthmother will move you to tears.
12. My Adoption Story – through photos and text, a birthmother in a semi-open adoption chronicles her journey so far in this touching video.
13. Lisa and Jessica, Adoptive Mom and Birth Mom, are Friends in Adoption — sitting side by side, a birthmother and an adoptive mother share their open adoption experiences and offers useful information on what they were both looking for in this video by the Friends in Adoption adoption agency.
14. A Birthmother’s Perspective — a birthmother talks honestly and openly about the events leading up to her decision to choose open adoption and her daughter’s adoptive parents
15. Why I Chose A Caucasion Family To Adopt My Baby — in this radio interview, Tayala, an African American birth mother, explains how she came to choose the adoptive family she did for her baby and share practical information for women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Adoptive Parents On Why They Were Chosen By Their Child’s Birthmother
16. What Made Your Birthmother Choose You — adoptive parents share what led their child’s birth mother to connect with them and eventually place her baby with them.
17. What are Birthmothers Thinking During Their Pregnancy, When Selecting an Adoptive Couple, and at the Hospital — an adoptive mother gives her take on what’s important for a birthmother as she chooses an adoptive family for her child and why it’s important for adoptive families to educate themselves on the emotional journey that a birthmother experiences.
18. Dating the Birth Mother — a light, but poignant look at what it’s like to wait to be chosen by an expectant parent considering adoption.
19. Waiting For Birthmothers To Choose You — why creating a relationship with a birthmother is a lot like long-distance dating.
20. What Do Birthparents Look For When Choosing A Profile — in this online forum, various people answer the question of what are birthparents looking for when choosing an adoption.
Articles About Why Birthmothers Choose Adoptive Parents
21. What Birthmothers Look For In Adoptive Parents — an overview of the different factors that are important for a prospective birthmother as she reads through adoption profiles or letters and tries to decide which family to place her baby with.
22. Birthparents and Adoption: An Inside Look at the Birth Family Perspective — the findings of a major study about birthmothers, and what they’re looking for in a family that’s ready to adopt.
23. What Do Birth Parents See As Important When Choosing Adoptive Parents? — a list of characteristics that birth parents deem important when they’re choosing adoptive parents for their child.
24. What A Birth Mother Is Looking For — from our website, what a birth mother is looking for (and not looking for) in adoptive parents.
25. Letter From A Birth Mom: Adoption Realities — a reminder of the stakes involved in placing a baby for adoption and some of the factors that an expectant parents should consider before placing her infant with a couple hoping to adopt.