Whether you are choosing to initiate the adoption process by going to an agency, find a lawyer, or choose a facilitator, it is important to know what you, the Birth Mother, are looking for an adoptive family. Many agencies or adoption professionals function by giving you many family options to choose from. Even after you have selected your Adoptive Parents, you will usually have time to decide whether you see the adoptive family as a good match for your child.
You have a lot of support within the adoption process, and this is a fantastic thing, since it allows you to feel much more happy and secure about your child’s future. This article will guide you through what you should look for in a good family, which is crucial to consider, whether you are just beginning the process, or if you are verifying the family you have recently chosen as candidates.
1) Excellent Communication Skills
Just as this is one of the main things employers look for in new employees, this is something that should be on your mind as you read about and communicate with potential candidates. Watch for how they communicate with you, but also how they interact with each other and the adoption entity as well.
With you: It is entirely possible that you and the adoptive family may be entirely
different people who come from very different walks of life. But even if this is the
case, the adoptive family should make a good effort to make sure that all parties
understand each other. If you are able to make a good connection, speak with
them, and enjoy talking with them despite potential differences, this increases the
likelihood that they will be effective communicators as parents.
A crucial element to excellent communication skills in the adoption process is being open and honest with the Birth Parents. You, as the Birth Parent, may have a lot of complicated feelings about the adoption process, and you should feel comfortable voicing your feelings and opinions to the family. If they seem to be making assumptions about you based on your feelings or experiences, you should either work that out or consider another match. The ability to express and discuss these difficult emotions is a sign of emotional maturity, which you should definitely look for in an adoptive family.
- With eachother: Don’t just pay attention to how they speak with you, but watch for their dynamics with each other if they are a couple. While agencies and adoption professionals tend to analyze couples’ relationship with each other in the screening process, it doesn’t hurt to look for this yourself, especially given that you are seeing them from a different perspective than the agency or adoption professional. Make sure the couple, if you are wanting to select Adoptive Parents in a relationship, communicate with each other comfortably, easily, and lovingly, and are always on the same page.
- With the agency/adoption professional: Do they communicate with the agency, the lawyer, or you directly in a timely and responsive manner? Are they respectful in their dealings with the agency/adoption professional, lawyer, or facilitator? All parties involved should be on thee same page about information, so make sure to pay attention to these dynamics for the sake of your relationship with the adoptive family and the adoption professionals.
2) Thoughtfulness and a Comprehensive Understanding of Adoption
While it tends to be a given that adoptive families have excitedly researched all there is to know about parenting (though you should watch for signs of that as well!), they might be less informed, and potentially more naïve, about the process of adoption and what it will mean for the child.
The adoptive family should have thought about these factors around adoption:
- Their plan for letting the child know about their adoption, and details of how they plan to discuss it with the child.
- Along those lines, how they intend to create open and honest pathways for discussing you, the Birth Mother, and your adoption decision with the child. Also, it is important to discuss how they will support the child with any difficulties in understanding that the child may have.
- A plan for how they intend to deal with the negative stigmas surrounding adoption, and how they plan to prepare the child for this possibility.
- An understanding of what their relationship with you will be like, and whether they want to pursue an open, semiopen, or closed adoption.
- Knowledge of how the child will fit into their lives and be treated equally if the adoptive family already has children.
While some of these will occur much further along, an adoptive family should still be prepared for these possibilities, all of which could arise at any time. They should approach adoption with a detailed list of expectations for the adoption process, and no queries about the above issues should come as a surprise to them.
3) Flexibility and Adaptability to Change
Though the adoptive family should definitely come in with certain knowledge and expectations, they should also be flexible and ready to adapt to things they didn’t necessarily expect.
The adoption process is definitely an intense one, and adoptive families will be called upon time and time again to reevaluate their beliefs and gracefully turn their mistakes into learning experiences. They should not appear to have a need to be in absolute control or demonstrate a need for instant gratification. They should not appear too rigid about how they will raise the child, but will rather be open to the possibility that they will learn much through the process of becoming a parent.
It can be difficult to determine the line between unpreparedness and flexibility. It might be helpful to compare your own views about adoption and childcare: you may find that you have a certain set of expectations and beliefs about how things should be done, but you may also think of times when these core beliefs were challenged or thrown into question.
In even the first few weeks of being parents, the adoptive family will learn much more about raising a child than they will by reading a book on the subject. They should be open to flexibility in this process while still demonstrating that they have put a great deal of critical thought into what kind of parents they want to be.
4) Financial Stability and Resources
The adoptive family does not need to be absolutely wealthy in order to adopt, but should demonstrate stability, access to all the resources they will need to raise a child, and that they have thought critically about the impact a child will have on their finances. This will be highly evaluated in the home study, and therefore, it is not solely up to the Birth Mother to decide the financial readiness of the Adoptive Parents. Professionals are alongside you and are adamant about selecting prepared families in every element when it comes to adopted children.
Overall, you, the Birth Parent, should trust your instincts when screening potential adoptive families. You are the one in control in this situation, and you should never be afraid to act according to your true feelings. That being said, your adoptive family is still human, and you should make sure not to get too caught up in a quest for complete perfection. You should strive to select a great adoptive family for your child, but you should also try to go in with realistic expectations of what a family should look like. All of the qualities listed above are perfectly reasonable virtues to expect from an adoptive family at a given time.
The screening process for adoptive families will help you determine if these important qualities are present in your chosen adoptive family. Adoption professionals will also test the readiness of a family through various means, including a home study, multiple interviews, and a comprehensive collection of references alongside countless other materials. But when you are the main screening process, you will be responsible for conducting a thorough character study of the adoptive family. This gives you a lot of responsibility, but also gives you a great deal of freedom and flexibility in choosing your child’s future.