How to Find the Perfect Adoptive Parents for Your Baby
Finding adoptive parents for a child is probably one of the most important decisions that is made in the adoption process. The first significant decision after choosing adoption is choosing the adoptive family. As a birth mother who chose adoption, I know the weight of this decision. I also know how freeing it is when you find the perfect family for your child. A prospective birth mother, even a pregnant one, knows better than anyone what is best for her baby, including the parents that child will end up with.
Can You Choose Your Adoptive Parents?
Creating an adoption plan will include outlining what a potential birth mother is looking for in an adoptive family. There are many factors that go into the consideration of what constitutes the right fit for adoptive families from a birth mother’s perspective. These factors range from physical attributes, to social behaviors, to parenting style. While the following may not be a comprehensive list, it gives an idea of some of the most significant aspects of adoptive families that a birth mother may look for.
Sexual orientation / partnership style
Society has changed, and it no longer takes a man and woman to complete a family. There are single parents, mixed race parents, and different sexual orientations within relationships. A birth mother may prefer more traditional familial roots, while another birth mother may prefer her child be brought up with more of a progressive lifestyle.
Ages / relationship history
Many couples who end up choosing to adopt have been together for a long time and have undergone attempts to have children naturally, gone through fertility treatments, or have made other attempts at having children but been unsuccessful before choosing adoption. Other couples may have chosen adoption to help the wellbeing of a child. Other couples may have decided from the beginning of their relationship that adoption was the right choice for them.
Whatever the case may be, every couple has a relationship history. Some couples may be older, while others have an age difference, while others are younger. A birth mother may feel that this history is important while others may not find it to be a factor. Once the decision to adopt has been made, how the adoptive parents came to that decision may not be relevant to a birth mother.
Ethnicity / background
America is the melting pot, and even neighbors can have different ethnicities and cultures. Some cultures value strict discipline, while others believe in more independence. I grew up with a pretty firm foundation in sticking close to family, yet had friends who went far away to college as soon as high school was over. Regardless of the culture a birth family is from, matching it to parents that adopt, or choosing differently, may be very important to a birth mother.
Religious / spiritual affiliation
This issue is probably one of the most important factors to consider when choosing parents looking to a adopt a newborn or a child for a birth mother. Religion and politics are hot topics in any forum, but the topic should be brought to light in an adoption plan if the content holds value to a birth mother.
Discipline / parenting style
Choosing an adoptive family who will uphold important parenting values is crucial to consider when choosing an adoptive family. Some birth mothers may desire a strict discipline regiment, while others may want their child to have more room to explore themselves. This topic goes together with culture and religious/spiritual affiliation, as they are typically related to one another. People looking to adopt come from many different backgrounds.
Diet habits / health status
Some children have serious allergies, other children are picky eaters, and parents may have different parenting styles to deal with this. If a birth mother wants her child to follow a specific diet, or if the child has a significant allergy, this will be disclosed in medical history, but may also need to be talked about when creating the adoption plan and with prospective adoptive parents.
Active vs. inactive lifestyle
A birth mother may have a preference as to the level of activity her child is exposed to with a prospective adoptive family.
Type of schooling
This is another topic that may or may not be important to a birth parent. There are so many options for schooling these days, from homeschooling, to public schools, to private schools. A birth mother may have a preference as to the type of school that her child is raised in. Many birth parents consider adoptive parents’ attitudes toward college and continuing education, as well.
Adoptive families may have children already or explain that they are hoping to have or adopt more in their adoptive parent profiles. A birth mother may want her child to be the oldest child, have a large age gap between other children, or want her child to be around children the same age while growing up.
Here is where we get into after-adoption communication. Whether the adoption is open, closed, or semi-open, this needs to be decided on before choosing an adoptive family. In a closed adoption, there will be no communication while the child is growing up. In a semi-open adoption, there will be periodic updates, but likely no direct contact. In an open adoption, there is frequent contact throughout the life of the child.
I Knew When I Found the Family
In my experience, finding someone to adopt my baby happened very quickly. I was handed four paper profiles of potential adoptive families and was told to pick two of them. However, one profile stood out to me. This couple had infectious smiles. They looked so genuine in their picture. The rest of their profile was a match for what I was looking for as well. They were the age I wanted, had a culture I desired my son to grow up in, and shared the values that I wanted him to have as well.
I was nervous to meet them, but a friend who had adopted told me, “You will know when you meet them if they are the right fit.” Well, she was right. The moment I met them I knew they were meant to raise my son and be his parents. I left that initial meeting filled with joy, laughter, and peace. I just knew they were the right fit. Fast forward six years later, and I still feel the same way.
Take Your Time Finding the Right Fit
Finding a family is not always as cut and dry as my experience was. This step can take time. Birth mothers can meet multiple couples before finding the right fit. Adoptive parents can be found through an adoption agency, from independent searching, or with networking.
Finding a Family Through an Agency
Adoption agencies have adoption profiles of people who want to adopt a baby, which give a glimpse into their lives so that a birth parent can get an idea of the type of people they are. These profiles may be on paper or digital. Adoption agencies will filter the family profiles for adoption that they show a birth mother based on the desires she has outlined in her adoption plan for a family. If a birth mother is only open to couples with a traditional family, those will likely be the only profile she sees. An adoption agency may show profiles outside of the criteria if they feel that another couple may end up being a good match as well. Adoption agencies have families that sign up with them and create these profiles in hopes to adopt through that agency.
Independent Family Search
Independent searching may require caution. There are websites that provide ads of people looking to adopt privately, a plethora of online adoptive parent profiles, and other forums in which a birth mother may find a couple to adopt her baby. My word of caution is to make sure that a birth mother doesn’t commit to anything or meet anyone alone without the expertise of an adoption attorney or adoption professional present.
Networking with Friends and Family
Networking with friends and family is another way for a birth mother or birth parents to find a family for the child who is being placed for adoption. Family members may be interested in adopting the child. There may be family friends or referrals that a birth mother can consider for options to finding an adoptive family for the child. This is different from independent searching because there is already a level of trust from the networking referral to start with. I still recommend discussing with an adoption professional before committing to anything, even if it is someone that the birth mother may know, or someone she may have been referred to.
No Matter What… Take Your Time
No matter what factors a birth mother finds important in an adoptive family, or how she finds that family, I advise to be sure to take the time required to find the right fit. A birth mother will know when she finds the right family, and trusting her gut is crucial. After all, this relationship will be long-term, if not for her, at least for the child. Making sure a child is placed with an appropriate family waiting to adopt is probably one of the most important decisions of the adoption process.