Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by birthparent, Michelle Thompson, about her decision to find a family early on in her pregnancy and reasons why some expectant mothers considering adoption might choose to do the same. Please also note that the Independent Adoption Center uses positive adoption language.
EARLY ADOPTION MATCHES
Sure, many adoptive parents would consider it ideal for themselves to get a surprise phone call saying, “There is a baby waiting for you in the hospital RIGHT NOW! The birth parents have already signed the papers, and they’ve chosen you from your adoption profile. It’s a done deal!” All the waiting, hoping, and worrying about the possibility of having your dream, dangled before you with the promise of a match, only to fall through – all of that suddenly, irrevocably over. But that is not necessarily ideal for the birth parents. The myriad of different possible circumstances that can lead to the choice for adoption mean there will be different needs.
Many people wonder why any birth mother would desire an early match. My situation was thankfully uncomplicated by issues like homelessness or lack of medical insurance, but I did need to match in the first half of my pregnancy. It was non-negotiable. I was told by multiple agencies that I could not match before the 3rd trimester, or the 20th week, or the 30th week, or some such number arbitrarily set “to protect the adoptive parents.” They came off as pushy and manipulative, telling me, “that’s not how things are done,” as if I were being naïve and totally unrealistic asking for such a thing. I immediately rejected all of those agencies, and eventually, through perseverance, found the Independent Adoption Center. They understood my reasons and were willing to work with me.
So, here are 6 good reasons why a birth mother might want an early match. I’m sure they are not the only reasons. They’re just the ones off the top of my head.
- Her worry for this child’s uncertain future is stressing the hell out of her, raising her blood pressure, jeopardizing the pregnancy, and making her feel lost and miserable, and she wants to know that she has a plan she can feel confident about, not a vague idea of adoption, but a concrete plan with names and faces. A real plan also helps her to stand up to pushy relatives with their own agendas.
- She wants time to get to know the parents she tentatively chooses and make sure they are who they seem before entrusting you with her baby’s life.
- She doesn’t want to feel like she’s fighting a battle alone, with everyone around her treating her pregnancy like a tragedy, as though she has failed as a human being because she is in such a situation. Having someone to go with her to doctor’s appointments, or with whom to just share the news and updates, having someone rejoice in the miracle of the baby’s new life is a great source of strength and comfort in the face of all the criticism and negativity coming at her. It helps her to stay positive. It reminds her what is important.
- She knows it will take some time to iron out the details of a post-adoption contact agreement and make that sure everyone is on the same page and that expectations are clear. The time to do this is most definitely before the baby has been placed.
- She has other children, and she wants this decision to cause them as little heartache as possible. There is a world of difference between, “I’m going to have a baby brother, but my mom is giving him away. I won’t know where he is or what he looks like. I won’t even know his name. I will probably never see him again,” and “I’m going to have a baby brother, but he’s not going to live with us. He’s going to live with Sally and Ted. They have a big yellow dog and a room all decorated in blue for the baby. They are going to name him Sam, and they will send me a card with a picture every Christmas.” Whatever the details are, however little or much information he is given, a child needs something concrete to wrap his head around, to be able to picture the baby somewhere safe and loved. It’s the uncertainty of not knowing that’s most traumatizing.
- The possibility that your feelings might be crushed if it doesn’t work out is not her major concern. Her sole focus is providing for the welfare of her child. A heartbroken stranger might be a sad thought, but it is nothing compared to the safety and happiness of her child. She is doing this KNOWING that her own heart will break and believing it is worth the sacrifice, for the sake of her child’s best interest. Why on earth would it affect her choice to know that yours may break, too? If something feels off about the match, if it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do, of course she will back out. Time to be certain about the specific placement, with full knowledge of the details, is a precious commodity. No one should be forced to rush a decision that determines the course of her child’s life.