The adoption process is full of highs and lows as well as paperwork and classes and then of course the waiting. At times, things may feel overwhelming or you may be struggling with all the unknowns. We have asked several social workers to share what they wished prospective adoptive parents knew throughout each phase of the process.
Your social worker is always here for you! Don’t be afraid to check-in, ask for updates or even request a pep talk once in a while during your wait.
Birthparents are not what you see on TV. They are not irresponsible, selfish, inappropriate individuals. They are loving peopleselflessly putting their child’s needs first.
Educate your family and friends on positive adoption language and open adoption. Your child need a support system of accepting family and friends who are informed about adoption.
Even though we cannot predict how long a family will wait, we do understand how hard an unbearable the wait can be for prospective adoptive parents.
It can be hard for prospective adoptive parents not to take it personally when their profile isn’t selected. Remember that women choose profiles for such very different reasons and one day an expecting parent will look at your profile and have that special connection too.
Adoption is a leap. Trust your social worker.
This is an incredible journey with many twists and turns. Embrace every part of the experience because it will be the foundation of the story of how you became a family.
You will be matched with the child that is truly meant for you.
Fully open adoptions are becoming the new normal and more commonly requested by expecting parents. Dive into what fears may be holding you back educate yourself of the benefits as well as the challenges about open adoption. It is important to be honest with the level of openness that you are really comfortable with.
We are rooting for you and are just as thrilled to tell you that you have been matched as you are to hear it!
Make sure to focus on all the information discussed during the classes and the education courses and not just the end goal of having a baby. A lot of times, once families do get the call and are placed, they look back and wished they had really listened.
Time of Match and/or Placement
While it is an exciting time for you, it is an incredibly sad and heartbreaking time for the birth parents. Respect their time to make sure adoption is the right decision, refrain from celebrating with a baby shower or “brother/sister” language until after the revocation period has passed.
The excepting parents are just as nervous to meet you. They think you will not like them or judge them. It’s funny how similar fears can be.
There are certain aspects of the delivery, health, hospital experience etc. completely out of everyone’s control. Patience, a healthy attitude and your support system will help you get through it.
Become familiar with the phrase “Cautions Optimism.”
Respect the birth parent’s time in the hospital – this is their time with the baby, you will get a lifetime.
Get to know the expecting/birth parents as best as you can as this may be the only experience you have to meet them and you will want to remember as much as possible to pass along to your child one day.
Be careful not to make promises you can’t or don’t intend to keep. The excitement of being matched may cause you to want to agree to things you weren’t initially open to. Make sure this doesn’t happen! If an expecting/birth parent asks you for something you are unsure about, just say that it is something worth considering and that you’d like some time to think it over. Lean on your social worker to help you sort out your feelings.
This is more than just the day they meet the baby that may become their child, but it’s also the beginning of their journey with their child’s birth parents. These are the beginning moments that they will be able to tell their children about and these are the stories their children will love to hear over and over again.
Medical records take time to retrieve. We cannot dictate how quickly a hospital or doctor’s office will respond to our request.
Respect the wishes of the expecting parents. Even though this is an amazing and wonderful time for your, remember that the birth parents are struggling with one of the hardest decision of their lives.
We cannot force a woman to get prenatal care. We strongly encourage it and offer to help in any way we can however there could be a variety of reasons she chooses not to.
Remember, remember, remember it is not yet your son or daughter until after the revocation period is complete. Shower the child with love and remind yourself each day that his or her birth parents are struggling with the life-long decision of placing or parenting and should not be shamed or made out to be a villain no matter what they decide in the end. Either way, they will be grateful that you were there to love and care for their baby.
Post Placement and for Years to Come
Birth parents never forget about their child, even if they don’t follow up with visits or future contact. Adoptive parents should remember this when approaching their child’s story and their updates for their child’s birth parents.
Birth parents should not be forgotten. They should always be a part of your story and deserve your life long respect. Do not minimize their role in your family.
Do not go back on your promises of updates and visits. We have seen the pain caused to birth parents when families do not keep their promises and it can be unbearable and cause doubts. Do what you say! It’s not only a commitment to your child’s birth parents but also a commitment to your child.
Be open with your child and ready to discuss their circumstances surrounding their adoption. If you would like help, don’t hesitate to call your social worker.
Leave space for your child to have a full range of emotions about their adoption story. When a child shares “big feelings”, even the negative ones, don’t override those feelings with a rainbow and unicorn speech about adoption. Adoption is love but it’s also loss and your child needs to feel comfortable speaking with you about ALL their feelings.
Do not talk negatively about your child’s birth parents. This is your child’s blood. Without them, you would not be a parent. Explain things in a way that shows that even through struggles, your child’s birth parents are important to you.
Be honest and loving. Don’t get tripped up on the hard questions. Your child deserves the truth and deserves to explore their story in their time and own way.
Open adoption is about removing the fear and stigma and providing children with their identity and history. Base your decisions about the open adoption journey in hope and positivity rather than fear.
A child should not have fear that they will hurt your feelings by asking about their adoption story or birth family. Start the discussion early and explore their thoughts with an open heart and open mind.
It’s helpful to establish friendships along the way with people who have adopted.
If you have adopted transracially, do not be scared to ask questions. Your child deserves to know that you are doing everything you can to understand the challenges a child of transracial adoption may face.
Better your child’s experience by challenging yourself to really seek out other adoptee’s points of view. Unless you have been adopted, you cannot fully understand your child’s experience and so listening to many other adoptee’s experiences may give you a better understanding.