Finding an online adoption match is an exciting time if you’re a prospective adoptive parent hoping for an open adoption.
Nothing will get your heart pumping faster than hearing that a pregnant woman has found your parent profile on the web and wants you to adopt her baby.
But as important as that initial bittersweet email from her may be, keep in mind that it is only the first stage in the matching process, and that a match is not the same as a placement.
As this list shows, you still have a long way to go before you can bring your baby home and become a parent.
1. Verify the identity of the person who contacted you
Unfortunately, not everyone who will contact you is who they say there are. Because the internet is rampant with scams, you need to go into every situation with your eyes open.
No matter how solid the match may sound or how good you may feel about it, don’t take anything for granted or let your emotions get the better of you. Do your due diligence and make sure that the person contacting you really is who she says she is and that she really does have an adoption plan.
2. Get your professionals involved
This may be your first match, but for your adoption specialists it’s nothing new. They’ve been through the process before, and are in a better position legally and emotionally to handle it.
Give them the heads up as soon as you’ve been contacted. They know what questions to ask, what documents need to be produced, and who to talk to move forward with a situation. Besides walking you through the process, they can also point out any black clouds on the horizon before you get too emotionally or financially involved.
3. Arrange for her to get counselling
No matter how anxious you are to become a parent, it’s important that the expectant mother is also properly represented and understands the process.
You have your specialists. As a pregnant woman who is considering adoption, she’s entitled to hers. If she’s doesn’t have her own independent unbiased counsel already, make arrangements through your professionals to get her assistance and support. She needs to know about all of her options and what to expect if she chooses to move forward with her adoption plan.
4. Get to know her
Being contacted by an expectant mother considering adoption is a lot like online dating. She may know a lot about you through your profile, but what do you know about her?
Once you’ve verified her identity and are confident that she has an adoption plan, use the time before the baby’s birth or the placement to get to know her better. Arrange to speak by phone, Skype or, ideally, meet in person. Talk about yourselves, the kind of future you’re hoping to have, and the level of openness you’re comfortable with. The more you get to know each other now, the more confident you’ll feel about your match and the better the chances there are of it going through.
5. Be excited
Being matched is exciting, even if it is just the first step. Try to soak up the excitement as much as you can and find the joy in it. For some waiting parents, this is the closest you’ll ever get to being pregnant.
At the same time, remember that this is a difficult time for the expectant mother. She is dealing with a potential loss and maybe already in the process of grieving. Everyone handles the situation differently and at times it may be confusing for you. That’s because even though she may be hurting inside she will still want to know that you’re excited and looking forward to providing her child with a loving home.
6. Be cautious
As you know, an expectant mother considering adoption can change her mind any time before the placement. That’s nothing something you want to happen, but it’s always a possibility.
Because the process is so unpredictable and things can change at any time, don’t plan too far ahead or tell too many people. Give the expectant mother the support she needs and take your cues from her. Live your life one day at a time, knowing that some days will be better than others.
7. Prepare your home
A lot of the fun of welcoming a baby into your life is preparing your home for her arrival. Every waiting parent handles this part of the waiting period differently based on what feels right for them.
Some say preparing the nursery gave them something to do while they waited and made the baby’s arrival more real. Others, however, don’t do anything beforehand because they’re worried the expectant mother could change her mind. As with so much about adoption, there’s no one right way to do things.
8. Prepare others
Once you’ve prepared yourself for the possible arrival of a baby into your life, it’s time to prepare others. Once again, you’ll need to walk a fine line.
You don’t want to tell everyone, especially if you’re wary about how things may turn out. But you also don’t want to spring the news on those closest to you, or your employer if you’re planning to take time off, at the last minute either. How you go about this is up to you. Compared to the other challenges you’ll face, this is admittedly one of the better ones to have.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it will help guide you through what is one of the most emotionally giddy–and difficult– stages of your adoption journey.
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