Families are an essential unit of the human race. In order for an infant to survive, they need an adult to care for them. In an ideal situation, a family will consist of two parents who lovingly share in the responsibilities of parenthood. A couple usually plans ahead for pregnancy and dreams of the future they will have with their baby. Sometimes a single adult will choose to raise a child on their own. In both scenarios, the baby is usually expected and prepared for. But expectant mothers faced with an unplanned pregnancy who decide to place their child for adoption have to ask themselves, “how do I know they, the prospective adoptive parents, are right for my baby?”
When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, there are many thoughts and questions that go through your mind. What do I do now? What is best for my baby? Where do I go for help? What is best for me? Who can I trust? Depending on your individual circumstances, these questions will have different answers. There are several options to consider when making choices concerning an unexpected pregnancy. There is no easy choice but with thoughtful consideration, you can hopefully come to a decision that will leave you with a feeling of peace and hope for the future. Choosing to parent the baby, choosing abortion, or placing the baby for adoption are among those options.
If you choose to parent the baby, you must look at how it is going to affect your own life and the lives impacted by this decision. Abortion is a very personal and moral choice that you alone must make and realize how it may or may not affect you for the rest of your life. Be sure to visit with a healthcare professional before making this choice.
The other choice is adoption. This would mean that you relinquish your parental rights to raise your baby. Another family would love and raise your baby as their own. There are closed, open, and semi-open adoption choices available. You can determine which option is best for you. Now you have new questions to ask yourself. How much contact do I want to have throughout this baby’s life? Do I want to be a part of his or her life events? Do I choose to work with an attorney or use an adoption agency?
If you feel like you are leaning towards placing your baby for adoption, the search begins to find an attorney or agency that is right for you. There are adoption agencies all over the United States as well as international offices. The Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth, Texas is one example of an available adoption agency. Their website will guide you through the first steps in determining what type of adoption is best for you.
They have adoption counselors available for you to talk to. Talking with someone who understands what you are going through can be very beneficial to you during this difficult time. They will not try to persuade you one way or the other but rather simply give you suggestions and guidance. Making the call does not mean you have to commit to the adoption process. If you choose to move forward, then you will be assigned to your own personal caseworker.
You will be given the opportunity to choose who you feel is the right family for your baby. This is a very difficult decision to make and one that you will want to give careful thought. Hopeful adoptive couples or families will submit what is known as a profile to the agency. Careful consideration and screening go into selecting these families for expectant parents to review. These profiles will include such things as photos, interests, jobs, and hobbies of the interested couple. There will be details about religion, extended family, and other personal information you may want to know. Physical features such as eye and hair color may contribute to your decision-making process.
You may be presented with a “Dear Birth Mother” letter. This is usually a very heartfelt letter from the prospective parents explaining why they are choosing adoption as a way to add to their family. It will probably share very intimate and personal information about the couple and help aid you in making your decision. You will not be rushed into making this selection and it may take several attempts to find the “perfect” fit for your baby.
I reached out to a few birth moms and asked them how they knew when a family was right for their baby. Of course, no one can love your baby the way you do but an adoptive family can come very close. They will love your baby in their own way and give him or her the best life possible. They will consider it a privilege to raise your baby as their own. One birth mom put it this way: ”I trusted the agency with the families that were presented to me and honestly felt that any of them would have been good parents. I had a few things I specifically wanted and once I got my core desires in place, I went with where my heart pulled me. Every day since I picked them has validated my decision.”
Another birth mother said: “I knew right away. Before meeting them, I had browsed through several profiles. I looked for couples with similar interests and personality traits like my own. Stability and strong moral values were important to me. The fact that they loved to travel was an added bonus. They were open to staying in touch, which was important to me. Their ‘Dear Birth Mother’ letters were open and honest and played a big role in my decision to choose them. When we met, I was so nervous going in. I was a 14-year-old girl, eight months along, who never wanted to place my son for adoption to begin with.
“Knowing that he would be raised by amazing, loving parents definitely helped me to accept my placement decision. We embraced and cried, and we had one of those instant bonds. It was like we felt and understood the trials the other had gone through. It was also very coincidental that my birth son’s due date was on her birthday. The adoptive father seemed nice as well, but it was meeting the adoptive mom that sealed the deal for me. Her heart was open and understanding. Her spirit was gentle and gracious. Unfortunately, we lost her to breast cancer a few years ago…but I will be forever blessed for having known her and helping her become the mom she was meant to be.”
When we adopted our son thirty years ago, we had a difficult time deciding to do an open adoption of any kind. Open and semi-open adoptions were new and still left the uncertainty of a birth mother changing her mind. The possibility of that happening was a devastating thought after finally having the opportunity to bring home a baby. When we were first approached with the idea, we actually turned down a possible adoption. In the coming months, we submitted a profile to a different attorney. Within a few weeks, we were contacted that an expectant mother wanted to meet us. This time, we agreed without hesitation. A few weeks later, we were sitting across the room from a scared, pregnant 19-year-old girl and her mother. We were just as scared as the meeting ensued. Neither of us really knew what to say.
Luckily, there were professionals to guide the conversation and get things started. As I looked at this vulnerable young lady, my heart ached for her. She had what I so badly desired, yet in order for me to have it, she would have to sacrifice a part of herself. I recently asked her why she chose us to raise her baby, why she felt we were right for her baby. With tear-filled eyes, I read her response.
“After I read the family letter, I immediately knew that this was my family. I loved the fact that Jeff had 2 adopted siblings so he knew what it meant to bring someone new into a family. My baby would join a family with aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, and a dog. The family that I wished to someday have in the future. Everyone was active in the family with hobbies and outdoor activities. Your family to me was perfect. It was everything I wanted for my baby that, at the time, I could not give him.
“The thing that really solidified my choice was the letter that you wrote. The part which read, ‘But in my heart, there is an emptiness that yearns for another child.’ I knew that my baby would be loved each and every day by his new family. I have never once doubted my decision. There were always updates and pictures sent, which I loved receiving and have placed in an album to keep it all together. Thank you for everything.”
What an honor to read those words so many years after she entrusted us with her baby boy. He has been a blessing in our lives and brought us so much joy. Likewise, the friendship that has developed over the years is priceless. Her gift to us is one that can never be replaced. There are no words for the gratitude we feel in our hearts for her selfless act of love. Our son recently got married and we were able to share that happy event together.
There will be many different reasons why you choose the family you do for your baby, whoever you feel will be right for your baby. One birth mother shared her experience with me.
“When I finally decided to look at profiles of potential families, I knew I wanted a family that was similar to what I hoped my family would be like someday. I knew I wanted a big family so I looked for one with at least a couple of siblings and it was important to me that my baby wasn’t the only one adopted. I’ve had hopeful couples ask what expecting parents typically look for? And there is never one specific thing or right answer.
“It always seemed that the things that are most important to the expecting parent/s is what would lead them to the families their baby was meant for. When I found the profile of the family I placed with, there were a lot of pictures of the dad with the kids. That really stood out to me because I felt like though I could be a good mom but if I kept him, my baby wouldn’t have a good dad in his life. And with placing, I could give him both a good mom and dad, even if that meant not with me. It’s been so fun to receive pictures over the years of the baby I placed with his wonderful mom, awesome dad, and all his siblings.”
Both of the birth mothers who expressed the desire for their baby to be in a home resembling what they hoped for someday have gone on to have more children and create those families they had dreamed of having.
Just as there are no right or wrong answers to what an adoptive family is looking for, there are no right or wrong answers for what you, as an expectant mother, desire for your unborn baby. You may picture the future being a part of his or her life with the adoptive family or just observing from afar. Whatever you choose is up to you. As you search for the perfect family, you will know when it feels right.
Making the decision to place your baby for adoption is not the end of your story together, but rather the beginning of a lifelong journey. There will be many new chapters for both of you as you begin your new lives. Adoption opens up so many opportunities for growth and development. Once you find the right family for your baby, you will hopefully be able to move forward with peace and look toward a bright future for you and your baby.