Choosing a family for your baby my feel overwhelming and confusing at times. Before you begin that process, it is helpful to think about what characteristics you would like the family to have. Sometimes a potential birth mother will look for a family that has similar qualities to their own family. They may also look for a family with qualities that theirs lacked and they often wished for while growing up (depending on whether or not they had a happy childhood). Most likely, if you are working with an adoption agency, you will first be given some profiles of hopeful parents to browse. These profiles usually include a letter from the prospective adoptive parents to you, photos, and general information about them that will give you a glimpse of who they are. When you are ready, you will have the ability to contact them either directly or through your agency, and ultimately arrange a time to meet with them in person.
A few things to think about before you choose an adoptive family:
- What is my vision of how open I want my adoption plan to be? In order for your adoption plan to be successful, choose an adoptive family that has the same or similar vision of an adoption plan. Think of the type and amount of contact you would like and then look for families that have similar desires.
- How important to me is it that my baby be raised in a two-parent family? For some mothers, not being able to provide a stable father is one of the main reasons for placing their baby with an adoptive family. But for others, a single parent placement may be suitable if the parent can completely provide for the child. Please keep in mind that adoptive families are not immune to divorce. Just because you choose a two-parent family, this does not mean that it will always be a two-parent family.
- Is it important to me that my baby have a stay-at-home parent? For some mothers choosing adoption, this may be very important, as it is another commodity they cannot give their children. For others, a stay-at-home parent is not quite as important. Some birth mothers longed for a stay-at-home mom growing up and may want their child to have one. Again, keep in mind that things change and the adoptive mother may eventually end up going back to work.
- Do I want my baby to be an only child or do I want him or her to have siblings? An adoptive family could have plans to adopt another child after yours, and then for a myriad of reasons it might not happen. They may be planning to have just one child, but circumstances could change. There are some birth mothers who want to place their child with a family who does not have any children, possibly because they were the first born and want their child to be the first born, too. To other birth mothers, this might not be as important. A birth mother who had older brothers or sisters growing up, or who wished for them, may want her child placed with a family that already has children.
- Is religion a factor? For some birth mothers, religion is very important. If you were raised a devout Christian, it might be important to you that your baby be raised by a family that is also of the Christian faith. You may want your child to grow up with the same customs and traditions that you had as a child. To others, a loving environment is more important and religion is not an issue.
- Is location an issue? If you are hoping for a fairly open adoption, then you may wish to choose a family that is local. Other birth mothers think having their child so close to them would make it harder for them to cope, so they choose a family that is further away. Keep in mind that circumstances can change and people can move.
- Are the races of the prospective adoptive couple important to you? Some birth mothers who are giving birth to biracial babies will choose a couple with at least one member sharing the child’s ethnic background so the child can learn ethnic traditions and history that they might not otherwise be taught.
Tips for Choosing an Adoptive Family:
- Do not rush. While you may prefer to find a family during your pregnancy so you can start getting to know them before the birth of your baby, there is no rule that says they must be found and chosen before the birth of the baby. You can still choose a family afterward, so do not let an impending due date rush you into a quick decision.
- If considering an adoptive family that already has one or more adopted children with open adoptions, ask to speak to their child’s birth mother(s) to see if the adoptive family has remained consistent and fulfilled the promises they made before relinquishment.
- Discuss flexibility. While post-adoption contact agreements are great, you may want to discuss leaving some room for flexibility and try to find a family that is okay with being flexible based on your needs and the child’s needs. You will not know exactly how you are going to feel about being a birth mother until after the birth and relinquishment of your baby. During your pregnancy and the planning stages of your adoption plan, you may think that one visit a year is enough. But after relinquishment, you may decide that once a year is not enough and hope for more visits. Placing your baby with a family that is open to that possibility is important.
- Meet with more than one family, even if it is just for comparison. It is your right to meet with as many families as you need to or want to. Even if you know one family is the right choice, suggest meeting with another family to compare.
- If at any time you begin to see red flags that this may not be the correct family for your child, do something about it. You are not obligated to any family. If you begin to feel uncomfortable, consider choosing another family.
Questions to Ask:
Once you have selected prospective adoptive families, you may find it helpful to have a list of questions with you in case you get nervous during your first conversation with them. Below are some suggested questions.
- Why do the prospective adoptive parents wish to adopt?
- Do the adoptive parents desire an open adoption, do they want a closed adoption, or do they want something in between?
- What compromises are the prospective adoptive parents willing to make?
- Do the prospective adoptive parents have familial and community support for their adoption decision?
- Do they belong to or will they join any adoption support groups or play groups in their area?
- Have they had any education about issues some adoptees may face growing up?
- Are they willing to give you the type of contact you want after the birth and relinquishment of the baby? This may include visits, pictures, videos, letters, a combination of those, or other things not on this list. Are they willing to legally guarantee visits, pictures, videos, letters, or a combination of those after relinquishment?
- What are their thoughts on adoption?
- When and how do they intend to explain adoption to the child?
- What will the child refer to you as?
About Their Relationship
- How did the prospective adoptive parents meet?
- How long did the prospective adoptive parents date before they were married?
- How long have the prospective adoptive parents been married?
- Is this a first marriage for each parent? If not, how many times have each been married previously?
- What are their thoughts and feelings on what makes a strong marriage?
About Their Education and Careers
- Did the prospective parents receive any education after high school?
- What is the profession of each prospective adoptive parent?
- What are the future career goals of each prospective adoptive parent?
About Their Family Life and Home
- Do the prospective adoptive parents have any children? If they do have children, are they biological, adopted, or a combination of the two?
- If adopted, what type of relationship do they have with their birth mother or birth mothers?
- Is one of the prospective adoptive parents a stay-at-home parent? If not, where will the child be while they are at work?
- Do they own their own home? If so, what type of neighborhood is it in? Are there good schools nearby?
- What is their philosophy on education?
- What is their parenting style? How do they discipline?
- Are they involved in their community? If so, what type of involvement do they have?
- Do they have extended family nearby?
- What is their relationship like with each of their family members?
- What do the prospective adoptive parents do for the holidays? What traditions are important to them?
About Their Religion
- What religion or faith do the prospective adoptive parents practice?
- How big of a role does faith play in their lives?
- Do the prospective adoptive parents regularly attend a church? If so, what is their involvement in church?