Most every prospective adoptive parent anxiously waits for their first contact and hopes that the first contact will result in a match and eminent placement. While this has, and does happen, it is more realistic to prepare for multiple contacts before finding the right match. Are you on the adoption journey with the first person you ever dated? Most likely not! Finding the right match is often compared to dating and finding the right partner; when it’s right, you usually know it.
Unfortunately, you don’t have much control over getting a contact (although networking can increase your chances), but that doesn’t mean that every contact is the right one for you. In the waiting stages of the journey, it can be hard to imagine turning down any potential situation. However, this can be necessary. It is important to be honest with yourself in how you feel about a contact and if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. While prospective adoptive families often feel bad about turning away a potential birthmother, if you try to force a match, it will likely fall apart at some point. If she’s not the right match for you, there is likely another family that she is the right match for. Keep in mind that sometimes the right match turns out to be something that you didn’t anticipate and really surprises you.
Think about the things that are important to you in a match, things you are open to considering, and things you would not proceed with. Since potential birthmothers will be contacting you, and not vice versa, you will also need to think about what you are flexible on. For example, while you might love to have a contact in your same state, are you open and able to travel to another state?
Some things to think about when talking with birthparents:
- Can you see yourself being friends with this person?
- Can you see your family and friends welcoming her/him into their circle?
- Do you share common interests and beliefs?
- Are you comfortable with the amount of contact she/he is wanting and are you realistically able to agree to it?
- Are you willing to embrace this potential birthmother’s child, including race, ethnicity, prenatal exposures, mental health history, and physical health history?
- Are you comfortable letting the birthparents make decisions that are right for them, even if you would choose something different?
- Are you comfortable, based on the information you know about the birth family and the situation, moving forward?
When talking with a potential birthparent, realize that she/he might not know what she/he really wants either. The birthparent might have ideas in mind about what she/he wants, but might not have received education and counseling about open adoption yet. They might not understand what is typical, acceptable, or reasonable. For this reason, it’s important to not dismiss a situation or commit to anything without first consulting with a counselor. Most situations are going to have some details that will need to be worked through with the help of the agency and counselor. Afterwards the situation may end up being more acceptable to you.