ARE YOU REALLY READY TO ADOPT?
Don’t answer this question until you have read this. In the adoption world, prospective adoptive parents have no control. I once heard a case worker say “prospective adoptive parents are like a passenger in a car. They need to put on their seat belt and get ready for some possible bumps in the road ahead.”
Below is information you may want to know (or need to know) and to keep in mind if you decide adoption is the way you want to build your family. This information may or may not apply to you, but it is good to be fully informed of what may lie ahead.
There are many reasons why an expectant mother has decided to place her child for adoption. There is no perfect situation out there; however, there is a perfect situation for you and your family. If you are looking for a perfect baby (whatever you define that to be), it may be worthwhile to figure out what “perfect” means to you. If you are looking for what adoption professionals call a “unicorn” baby (Google it!), you may want to explore infertility treatments or hire a surrogate. Remember, every prospective adoptive parent wants a healthy baby; the more restrictive you are, the longer your adoption journey may be. Families need to have an open mind when considering adoption as a way to grow their family. Families who place restrictions on the type of baby they are wanting are usually the families who take the longest time adopt or never adopt at all. These families are most likely the ones that, in the end, end of adopting opposite of their restrictions- only if those families were just more open-minded in the beginning.
Every adoption entity (agency, attorney, facilitator, etc.) has their own way of conducting their business. They are all different. They all have their “at risk” amounts for the adoption, refundable and non-refundable policies, how they vet their expectant moms, how they prefer their adoptive families to communicate with their expectant mothers, and so forth.
When an entity is vetting an expectant mother, the entity has the expectant mother fill out a social/medical intake. Every entity has their preference on how they present this information to families. Some may provide the actual intake to the family while others will provide a summary of the intake to the family. How accurate is this information? While most information is accurate, it is unfortunate that information provided may not always be truthful, or the information may be truthful at the time of the intake, but the expectant mom may make a poor choice at a later time which changes the validity of the initial information provided. No entity can control what an expectant mother says or does. Think about it- can someone control you? How would you feel if someone tried to control you?
Here are a few scenarios describing how the information can be misleading: Scenario #1: You submit for a situation where the baby is of a certain race/ethnicity that you prefer. You are chosen as family to adopt this baby. The baby arrives and ends up not being the race/ethnicity the expectant mom stated she was having. What would you do? Scenario #2: You have always wanted a girl. You submit for a situation of a baby girl due in a month! You are chosen to adopt this baby. The baby arrives, but it is a boy. What would you do? Scenario #3: You are not open to any drug use. The intake state that the expectant mother does not use drugs. The baby is due in less than eight weeks or even arrives on time, but was exposed to drugs. What would you do?
If you would walk away from any of these scenarios, then adoption may not be for you.
If medical records are going to be a hot button for you in your adoption journey, adoption may not be the thing for you. First, a HIPPA release has to be filled out by the expectant mother and given to the adoption entity. Once the entity requests medical records, it can take up to 30 days for the entity to receive the medical records. Most entities don't get medical records in a timely manner and most adoptive families never see them prior to match let alone baby being born. Once medical records are received, those records are usually shared with the adoptive family as long as the expectant mother has signed a release to do so.
A question that comes up a lot is “do adoption entities drug test expectant mothers?” Most entities do not drug test expectant mothers. Some entities may drug test if they suspect an expectant mother is using, but this is very rare. All lab work and medical testing ordered are medical decisions made by the physicians and medical professionals treating the expectant mother. Sometimes, an entity may find out there has been usage when medical records are received. Should there be medical records that include information regarding any drug testing, entities will communicate that information to the adoptive family.
Expenses for an expectant mom are always part of the adoption budget. Any expenses paid out are non-refundable unless you are with an entity that states otherwise. Some entities pay the expenses to the expectant mom while other entities will pay expenses to the company (i.e., Landlord) and give the expectant mother gift cards to pay for food and non-food related items. Regardless, every adoption entity provides the adoptive family with a ledger of what expenses are paid. This is usually received post adoption and required by the local court as part of the post adoption requirements. Even expectant mothers who are in jail are allowed to receive expenses for purchase from a commissary. What is commissary? It is a store within a correctional facility where inmates may purchase both food and non-food items, such as snacks, beverages, hygiene products, and toilet paper. The cost of commissary items is usually higher than retail. If you are fostering children or considering surrogacy, it is highly suggested to hold off on adopting through an agency or attorney. Most, if not all, adoption entities will not work with families who are simultaneously fostering or going through surrogacy. The fostering agency will most likely tell you to stop fostering if you wish to pursue private adoption. If you are matched, the entity you are matched through will most likely ask you to choose fostering over private adoption. It is important for a family who is seeking adoption to be fully invested in their adoption as an expectant mom wants her child to be the priority of the adoptive family.
Consider this scenario: You are licensed to foster children, but decide that you wanted to adopt domestically. An expectant mother chooses you to adopt her unborn child. A few months into the match, you get a call from social services about a set of twin newborns needing to be placed in a home and could possibly be placed for adoption. After learning more about the foster situation, you contemplate taking in these babies, but realize you may jeopardize your current match. Comparing both situations, you realize they are similar in regards to substance usage during pregnancy. What would you do? If you would walk away from being matched with your expectant mother, then adoption may not be for you. This can be very devastating to the expectant mother.
The road to parenthood isn’t easy, whether you choose infertility, surrogacy, foster to adopt, international adoption, or domestic adoption. They all have their bumps in the road where it is unfortunate that prospective adoptive parents are not in the driver’s seat, but rather passengers in a car, hoping for a pleasant ride. This blog was written to educate on what can happen and realistic scenarios seen throughout the years. Adoption is a beautiful thing and so many parents (including myself) would not be parents if it wasn’t for their child’s birth mother. So, are you really ready to adopt?