As more private adoption self-matching services pop up, adopting parents have more options than ever to connect with expectant parents who are considering adoption.
Just like you, these services are looking for ways to set themselves apart, promising to find you a match faster and cheaper than anyone else.
But some are going a step further—not only promising a faster and lower cost match but a more ethical one as well.
Fast, low-cost and ethical aren’t words you usually see mentioned in the same sentence.
But apart from that, what does it mean to offer an ethical adoption match? Which prospective adoption parent doesn’t want to be matched ethically? But what does the service really mean when it says that and what’s behind it? Is it meaningful or just more marketing?
Most people would agree that an ethical adoption match is one where both the prospective parents and the expectant mother (or father) go into the relationship honestly, openly and act in good faith.
Adoption is, at heart, about relationships, and like any budding relationship a match needs to be founded on trust and mutual self-respect. If one side isn’t straight with the other or willingly deceives them or withholds crucial bits of information, it creates conflict and eventually the match and the relationship unravels.
Self-matching adoption services like America Adopts! help bring expectant parents and adopting parents together so that they can create an adoption plan.
For instance, one of our requirements is that all of our adopting parents have a completed private adoption home study. At the very least, that means they’ve been screened by adoption specialists within their state and are approved to adopt.
An Ethical Adoption Match Isn’t Just About Getting A Baby
It also means that they’ve gone through adoption education and training and are aware of their rights and responsibilities. And that includes providing the expectant parents with independent unbiased professional counseling and legal representation.
Finding an ethical match also means that the adopting parent understand that adoption is a lifelong journey; it’s not just about getting a baby.
One day that baby will grow up and start asking questions about their adoption story. Being open and honest with the expectant parents from Day One will increase the chances of building a strong relationship that will continue after the baby is born. That way they can be a part of their child’s life and be able to answer any of the child’s questions themselves.
For adopting parents, that’s not only good for your relationship, it’s also good for your child since it removes doubts about their adoption story and builds confidence and self-esteem.
Having that knowledge and education that comes from completing a home study is a safeguard for adopting parents. But it’s also a safeguard for the expectant parent. They typically come into a match cold, without any education or training and with a limited understanding of how the process works. Often, they’ll rely on the adopting parents for guidance, at least in the early stages, before they receive counselling and support of their own.
Expectant Parents Need To Have A Level Playing Field
An ethical match means the adopting parents will do everything they can to make sure that the expectant parents are on a level playing field and get the facts they need to make an informed decision. That means working together in the best interests of the child that they both love.
Sometimes self-matching services that promote ethical adoptions send out mixed messages. On the hand,, they’ll mention the reasons why their matches are more ethical than others and emphasize the importance of providing birthmother with post-placement care and support. And then on the other, they’ll scream “10 matches in 10 months” or how many “birthmothers” visit their site every month looking for adopting parents or they’ve post couples that haven’t been approved to adopt.
Or they won’t mention the fact that a lot of their matches come from so-called “adoption-friendly” states– ones where birthmother and fathers have less time to change their minds before the adoption is finalized.
The thing is, a lot of these services have no control over whether the match is ethical or not. They’re not agencies nor are they regulated. And they’re not involved in the servicing of the placements.
That is left entirely up to the individuals involved in the match and their adoption professionals. They’re the ones that do all of the vetting and discuss important issues like openness and post-placement counseling and support, not the matching service
Once the prospective adoptive parents and a pregnant woman find a match, the role of a matching service is over.
An Ethical Match Means Not Making Promises You Can’t Deliver
Sometimes problems will crop up later because one side will realize the other one wasn’t as trustworthy and transparent as they believed. But the self-matching service doesn’t have anything to do with that. In many cases, their interactions with the adopting parents is limited and they rarely, if ever, speak to the expectant parents at all.
Look online and you’ll find hundreds of stories of birthmothers who say they were duped into making a match—promised one thing before the placement only to have the adopting parents go back on their word or break off the relationship after they go home with their baby.
For someone who is trying to find a match those stories are tough to read, and you can understand why some services go out their way to ensure their clients that their matches are 100% ethical. But there are limits to what self-matching services and even adoption specialists and attorneys can do.
So next time you come across an adoption self-match service promoting its ethical credentials, ask them what do they mean and how do they stand behind their words.
Because even though they may say theirs is the more ethical way to adopt, the reality is they often have little if any control over what happens a match is made or whether the finalized adoption will be ethical or not.