“Why don’t birthmothers like us?”
The question came out of the blue, but it wasn’t completely unexpected. Other prospective adoptive parents had asked it before.
I’m sure I did too when were waiting to adopt.
It came from a prospective adoptive mother I’ll called Pam. For nearly two years, she and her husband had been waiting to get picked by an expectant mother with an adoption plan.
And yet despite a few inquires that didn’t pan out, they were still waiting to get matched. And they were quickly losing hope.
“Sometimes I feel like it’s just not going to happen for us,” she said. “Every day I lose faith and wonder whether it’s time to move on and give up on our dream to become parents.”
And that’s when she wondered whether the reason they hadn’t been picked was because birthmothers simply didn’t like them.
Finding an adoption match is such an emotional experience.
It’s hard not to take things personally when they don’t happen as quickly or as easily as you expected.
But getting chosen by an expectant parent is both a waiting game and a guessing game. You never know when or how it will happen.
Sometimes the connection happens right away. Most of the time, however, it takes months or even years.
Every morning you wake up with the same question: is this the day I get chosen?
You check your phone to make sure it’s still working. You check your Inbox to see if anyone has sent you a message. You call your adoption worker to find out if any new situations have come up.
And you spend hours on social media getting Likes, sending out Tweets and posting Pins in the hopes of getting noticed.
It feels like your whole life is on hold.
And the fact that everyone else seems to be getting pregnant or finding an adoption match so easily doesn’t make things any easier.
But the worst part is that your wait time has no fixed end date. From starting your home study to sending out your profile, it can often feel like you’re just going from one waiting period to another.
The uncertainty doesn’t only wear you down. It can really do a number on your confidence.
You go from questioning your profile —
“Maybe we should have sounded more upbeat.”
“Maybe we talked too much about our jobs and not enough about our family.”
“Maybe we should have had more photos of us with kids.”
to questioning yourself —
“Maybe we’re too fat.”
“Maybe we’re too old.”
“Maybe we’re not athletic enough.”
to questioning, as Pam did, whether there’s something wrong with you.
After all, isn’t that why a birthmother hasn’t picked you?
But there are problems with this line of thinking.
For starters, a woman doesn’t become a birthmother until she has signed the relinquishment papers and placed her baby for adoption. Until then, she’s an expectant mother considering adoption.
But part from that, it assumes that all expectant mothers are alike
And that they all choose open adoption for the same reason.
And that they’re all looking for the same things in adoptive parents.
Or that getting picked comes down to some kind of popularity contest or competition. (“Pick me, pick me!”).
Every expectant mother is different.
And what brings them to open adoption and what they look for in adoptive parents is also different, depending on the individual and their circumstances.
Wouldn’t it be great if every situation was the same, if there was a magic formula to getting chosen, if all you had to do is say or do something and voila, you would magically get picked?
But open adoption matches don’t work that way.
Some expectant mothers are looking for a family with children, some aren’t.
For some, religion is important. For others, it’s not.
Some want a traditional family with a mother and a father. Others want a same sex family.
In some cases, location is paramount. In others, your child care or education plans are what count.
Not knowing what an expectant mother is looking for can be frustrating.
After all, if you knew what she wanted, you could tailor your profile (and yourself) accordingly.
But don’t look at it as an obstacle. View it as an opportunity.
It means that there’s a level planning field.
Whether you’re rich or poor, black or white, live in the city or the country, religious or not religious, you have the same chance of finding a match as everyone else.
Expectant parents aren’t looking for any one thing in particular. They’re looking for people they have things in common with. People who are like them or what they aspire to be — who they can see as parents of their child.
So, what does this mean for you?
It means don’t get resentful that you haven’t been chosen yet. And don’t start changing things about yourself just for the sake of getting picked.
You won’t feel good about it, and it won’t sit well with expectant parents either.
Instead, take pride in who you are and be true to yourself.
Because you never know, all of the things that you believe are holding you back from being picked by an expectant mother with an adoption plan could end up being the ones that eventually help you get matched.
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