05 May How to Choose Adoptive Parents for an Unplanned Baby
Pregnant women considering adoption often ask Cradle of Hope for advice on how to choose adoptive parents for their baby. If you’re thinking about adoption and have already considered all your alternatives and just want to know how to find the best adoptive family for your baby, here’s a starter pack of advice for you.
Adoption agencies are typically private nonprofit organizations licensed by the State to arrange adoptions. In some states, only licensed agencies like Cradle of Hope can legally match placing parents and adoptive parents. Cradle of Hope has carefully screened couples who have already gone through federal background checks and completed a homestudy to verify they are safe, stable and strong candidates for adoption.
You should not assume that anyone who has an adoption profile online has already been cleared to adopt. Unfortunately, there’s a nationwide network of gray-market adoption brokers called “facilitators” or “consultants” or “adoption advertisers.” They are NOT legally allowed to handle adoptions, but they still market would-be adoptive parents online to collect large fees from them. In MD, VA and DC, licensed adoption agencies are allowed by law to help placing parents with living expenses before or after placement. And good agencies don’t dangle financial support to induce desperate parents to place their children, because no amount of monetary help can make adoption the right choice.
Be Choosy. It’ll Never Be More Important!
What matters to you most? If you want your baby to be a couple’s first child, consider childless couples only. If you want experienced adoptive parents so your child will have an adopted sibling, know what their relationship with their previously adopted child’s birthparents is like, so you know if they kept their promises to them. Want the adoptive parents to be a certain race, or religion, or live in a certain area? Is it important to you for one parent to stay home with your child? Do you want the adoptive family to involve you in the choice of the baby’s permanent name, or to be committed to post-adoption visits with you?
It’s your right to decide what you want your child’s next family to be like, so think about what characteristics matter most to you, and look at as many prospects as necessary to find the family that feels right to you. You can consider and/or interview many potential adoptive couples in order to find the best match.
What Do You Have the Right to Request?
The adoption profile is basically a brochure the adoptive parents put together to share about themselves. It’s fun to look at but it may not give you all the info you need to make an informed decision. Before committing to a match with anyone, why not meet the prospective adoptive parents by phone or zoom or even in person? Even if you are not in a position to parent your child yourself, you are still responsible for making wise choices for your child’s future. If you’re uncomfortable asking all the questions yourself, then ask your adoption agency to get you the answers, but you have the right to ask why they can’t have kids, why prior marriages failed, if either parent struggles with addiction or mental health issues, how they manage their money and anything else that may have a bearing on what kind of parents they are or may become.
How to Be Sure if They’re the Right Choice
Even if you don’t want to have an open adoption, spending time with your child and with the prospective adoptive family prior to signing adoption paperwork will matter both to you and to the adopted child down the road. Will everyone be nervous? Probably. And that’s okay. But you still need to get a sense of who they are and for them to have a feel for who you are.
This is just the beginning of what goes into a good adoption match. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. It’s a lot to think about, but that’s why having an ethical licensed adoption agency behind you provides a whole team of people who are especially trained to look out for you, for your child, and for whatever adoptive family you may ultimately select, before and during and after placement.