By Tina Tyra
More and more, we hear the frustration of people who are trying to build a family through adoption. There is so much misconception about the process. Foreign adoption is fraught with the problems we’ve discussed previously, and is costly. Plenty of foreign adoptions have been successful, but there are so many unknowns that it is a scary process for families. Domestic adoption is viewed with intrepidation as well. The fact is, people don’t often do their homework when embarking on domestic adoption either. Abortion and the lowest birth rate since the Great Depression have created a shortage of adoptable infants. There seems to be a common notion that if people pay money, they will automatically get a baby. You can’t buy children! Adoption agencies, attorneys, and professionals advertise and network to find birth mothers who wish to place their infants. But, we are all in the same boat. Advertising is very expensive, and on-line there are literally hundreds of thousands of sites dedicated to adoption.
Once a birth mother has made the decision to place her child, she has a multitude of choices, especially in today’s world. Networking and personal relationships are key to finding birth mothers. This takes hours of time on line and on the phone, as well as in-person with hospitals, social workers, doctors, and counselors around the country.
The availability of abortion in our society today has made it relatively easy for a woman not to continue with an unplanned pregnancy. All of this adds up to mean that there are not nearly the number of babies available as there are families who want them. That, in turn, means that not everyone is going to find a baby or child to adopt. It’s that simple. There is no magic, and adoption professionals can’t coerce a birth mother in any way to choose you. That has to come from her. If you do your homework, you can come out ahead, but remember that it’s all up to you – not the adoption professionals – to be chosen by the birth mother. There are many ways to enhance your chances of being chosen. Are you open to anything other than a Caucasian female infant? Are you very rigid about your criteria? If you are able to expand your parameters to other races, children who aren’t newborn, and perhaps even mild special needs, this will give you a chance to be chosen more often and increase your odds of becoming parents sooner, rather than later.
Beyond that is your profile. Is your profile one that a birth mother would find warm and inviting? You don’t have to be Barbie and Ken, but you do have to be realistic. A birth mother wants a family that has vitality. While many adoptive families are in their 40’s and sometimes into their early 50’s, you want the birth mother to know that you are young enough to raise a child to adulthood. Ladies, L’Oreal is your best friend! Use pictures that show you active and engaged with life and children. Gentlemen, take a moment to review your appearance as well. That old sweatshirt that you love can make you look like you live on the couch! Take a look at your profile as if you were choosing a family for your child and see if you come away with a different perspective about yourselves. If you do, it’s time to spruce it up. Otherwise, you may get upset when other families get chosen and you are still waiting. Keep in mind that not every family can be chosen by an individual birth mother. While she may say all of the profiled families are wonderful, she has to choose one. Other families have to understand that and be ready for the next opportunity. If you get on a roller coaster and melt down every time a birth mother does not choose you, this is going to impede your progress and make your life more difficult. As I have always stressed with my own children, “Life is not fair”. It never will be. If it was, we’d all have an easier time with our burdens. It would be very simple if we could go in order and everyone got a turn, but that is not reality. Birth mothers choose for a variety of reasons, all beyond our control.
Some families will have to wait. The sheer numbers of supply versus demand dictate that. It can be difficult for adoption professionals when families lash out because they have not been chosen. You should realize that we are always doing our best to get families matched and home with their babies. It’s an impossible task that we have dedicated our lives to. Adoption social workers and counselors can be up all night with a birth or a crying birth mother. That doesn’t mean that they can cancel the following day’s work! A single adoption can take several days work on the part of staff. Everything non-essential stops during that time. It’s crunch time! We may have difficulty calling you back for a routine update or being available until we get through the task at hand. When it’s your adoption, you will have our undivided attention.
Also, while we have a small number of families waiting (which is beneficial, as some agencies have very large numbers of waiting families), everyone is in the same boat and everyone wants their baby right now. You have waited to find the right time to parent, and then you have waited through infertility and the grief of accepting that, so now you are told you have to wait again. We understand how devastating that can be. We are not insensitive to that fact, but rather focused on our work so that we can help you achieve your goal of a family. So, while it’s difficult to wait, please think twice when shooting the messenger. We are on your side!
When the right baby finds you, none of the waiting will matter, because he or she will be the baby God intended for your family. Then YOU will be up in the middle of the night!