God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

Dating Birthmom

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There has been some confusion about how we get matched with a child in the adoptive process. There is no queue in our agency, so they don’t select adoptive parents based off profile matches and seniority, rather the choice is made by birth mom. If birth mom reaches out to our agency or a social worker connected to our agency, she is given a number of profile books to read through. Profile books are filtered down based on matches from our checklist, and her preferences, such as wanting the child to be raised in a Christian home. This process is not unlike a person on a dating website reading through suitor profile pages.

Let’s assume for this example birth mom is 5 months pregnant. If birth mom is considering us, we will meet somewhere, like a restaurant, to see if this could be a match. She may meet with more than one couple while deciding. This meeting is like a first date. It is also appropriate (and encouraged) to bring a gift. You introduce yourself, try to make some small talk, but the situation is uncomfortable. You may want to ask questions, but may not know what is appropriate. You also want to avoid questions that you don’t want interpreted wrong. What makes this so difficult is knowing that this meeting is the intersection of realizing your dream through her nightmare.

Luckily, you have a chaperone there, usually her social worker, or someone from the agency who’s been to these meetings before, and knows how to guide them along. There is a main goal of assuring birth mom that if she entrusts you with her child, that they will be raised well. There is work on our side as well, we must decide if she can live with the terms of the relationship going forward. For instance, she will be apprised of the progress of the child through life, but won’t have part in the decision making that surrounds it. She may want the child to have ballet lessons, but that decision is ours alone.

So birth mom picks us. Yay! Now what? There is 4 months until birth. The dating continues. She is under no legal obligation to stay with us. She can change her mind on parents, or may decide to parent herself. We must continue to show that we will be the best parents for her child. That should alleviate the option to change adoptive parents. We can’t control the her choice to parent.  She is ultimately the mother.

I would imagine that many birth moms believe one thing, which is that they would be the best parent for that child if it were not for X. X could be money, age, health, family circumstances, etc. This always is awkward to think about. One teacher we had for our training classes has an adopted child. She plainly admitted that if it were not for birth mom’s drug addiction, she would not have her child. Should she be happy about this?

Between that first meeting and birth, contact can vary. Some birth moms want lots of contact, others not so much. Here’s the harsh truth for us, we are not in this to adopt a birth mom, but a child. This is a tough juggling act. She is providing us with the greatest gift imaginable, and we do owe her gratitude and the knowledge that we will be fantastic providers for the child. What varies is the support towards her and where the line is. There are different levels of support between the two parties. Through our classes and conversations with adoptive parents, it can stretch from the monthly pictures only to practically inviting her into your family. Other not uncommon supports include phone contact, driving birth mom to her appointments, or providing groceries/rent (as allowed by the state).

The other circumstance that we may be up against is if we are chosen while birth mom is at the hospital.  She could be just about to have her baby, or the baby may already have been born.  In this case, the social worker once again hands her a stack of profile books and she chooses.  If she chooses us, we are called and asked to come to the hospital as soon as possible.  In this instance there is very little time between being chosen and birth mom signing the surrender papers.  Maybe we should call this speed dating?  If you are chosen and birth mom does sign the surrender papers you could be bringing a baby home from the hospital.  We were informed by our social worker that 70% of the adoptions from our agency happen this way.

In either situation, we also have the right to choose.  If we feel it is not a good match for us, then we have the right to “break-up.”  This could be one of the hardest things.  It is going to be difficult not to automatically say yes to the first chance we may have to bring a baby home.

As any soon to be parent, I’m reading a couple of baby books right now. In the intro of one, it plainly states that the things discussed are not cure alls, or if you do A your kid will be B. Why? Because every child is different, every parent is different, every friend is different, and every environment is different. Same goes with this. Every birth mother is different, every situation is different, so we can’t anticipate what level of comfort we will have. Just as everything else, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

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