Social workers are often asked “what is the most common reason a birthmother chooses a particular adoptive parent or couple?” The answer to that question is as wide-ranging as the women working with AFTH. It may be based on professions or hobbies, where they live, how they spoke about open adoption in their profile, the place they vacation each year, or simply because of a connection the birthparents felt to the family.
One birthmother told us she choose an adoptive parent because she loved the fact that he plays Scrabble every week with his neighbors. Another woman says she chose an older couple because she hoped their life experiences gave them the wisdom she said she did not yet have with her youth. A third birthmother says she picked a same-sex couple because she knew their options for having a family were limited and once she met them she knew they would love her child just as much as she does.
The Early Growth and Development Study is a national ongoing study of birthparents and adoptive parents and provides insight into birthparent’s choices and the things that influences those decisions.
When choosing a particular family to adopt the child, it was “pretty important” or “very important” that:
94% There were educational opportunities for the child
93% They had a close marital relationship
91% They were financially secure
72% They had the type of family you would have liked when you were growing up
51% One of the adoptive parents would stay at home with the child
41% They had a nice house
36% There were children in the neighborhood
34% The adoptive family was unable to have biological children
33% They had the type of family you grew up in
32% They liked to do activities that you would have liked to do
27% They had the same religious background as you
19% They liked to do the same activities as you
17% They had physical characteristics that were similar to your own
14%They had a playground or swing set
When birthparents were deciding to make an adoption plan, it was “pretty important” or “very important” that:
95% Ability to see and select the adoptive parents
84% Able to talk with or email or meet potential adoptive parents before the birth
60% Access to post-adoption services like counseling, support groups, and updates from adoptive parents
47% Receiving Counseling
26% Able to talk with other people who had made an adoption plan
22% The agency or adoptive family paid for medical care
SOURCE: Early Growth and Development Study, grant R01 HD042608, NICHD and NIDA, NIH, U.S. PHS.