It’s a question we get all the time. “How do you know if a birthmother will change her mind about adoption?”
The short answer is, unfortunately you don’t.
Although a failed adoption placement can be devastating emotionally and financially, it’s nearly impossible to predict if, and when, it will happen.
As a prospective adoptive parent, you could have the greatest relationship in the world with an expectant mother one day and then the next day, KABOOM!, it’s over.
She’s changed her mind and decided to parent, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Legally speaking, an expectant mother (as opposed to a “birthmother,” who is a woman who has signed adoption papers relinquishing her rights to her child) can change her mind at any time prior to the placement date—and, depending on where she lives, for a period of time after it as well.
How often this happens is anyone’s guess. No one is really keeping track.
But anecdotally, a failed or disrupted adoption match —which isn’t the same as an adoption scam, which involves an individual deliberately preying on your desire to adopt—is more common than people think.
And yet knowing that it can happen to you doesn’t make it any easier to take.
So, let’s say you’ve been matched with an expectant mother and you’ve started to bond with her, what should you do?
How do you know if she’ll change her mind and decide to parent? Are there any warning signs you can watch out for that will tip you off that she’s re-thinking her adoption plan?
There are, but nothing engraved in stone. For instance, we recently had a couple adopt after finding a match with an expectant mother when she was only two months into her pregnancy.
Nevertheless, here are 10 common red flags that could signal that the woman who chose you to adopt her baby may change her mind.
1 She’s early in her pregnancy
Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is stressful and confusing enough. Creating an adoption plan is another thing entirely.
If the expectant mother contacts you early in her pregnancy, there’s a good chance she may be still exploring her choices and could very well change her mind if her circumstances or plans change in the months ahead.
2. She hasn’t seriously considered her options
Before an expectant mother can decide on adoption, she needs to rule out her other options.
But if she hasn’t explored them thoroughly yet, she may decide down the road that one of them—rather than adoption–is the right decision for her.
3. She hasn’t received counselling
Prospective parents often worry when a expectant mother opts for counselling. They fear she’ll change her mind.
In fact, woman who undergo counselling are more likely to act on their adoption plan because they have a better idea about what to expect and are in a better position to handle anything that’s thrown at them.
4. She’s a teenager
One of the biggest myths about birthmothers is that they’re teenagers. In fact, many of them are in the 20s and 30s and already raising a child.
Unlike teenagers, older women tend not to glamorize motherhood because they’ve already had a taste of it and know the challenges that lie ahead.
5. It’s her first child
Placing a baby for adoption goes against society’s view of a mother. Who could you give away your baby, birthmothers are asked?
For some expectant mothers, the pressure from family, friends, and strangers, coupled with the fear that they may never have another child, can be so overwhelming that it could sway their decision on whether to follow through on their adoption plan.
6. The baby’s father doesn’t know about the adoption plan or is opposed to it
In many placement situations, the baby’s father is out of the picture. But in other cases, the expectant mother may choose to keep him in the dark either because she doesn’t want anything to do with him or she’s worried that he’ll disagree with her decision to place.
Regardless of the reason, it’s important to get the father’s consent. If you don’t or if the birthfather isn’t on board with the adoption, it could create major problems in the long run for you, the birthmother and your baby.
7. The expectant mother’s parents are unaware of her adoption plan or against it
If the expectant mother’s family are behind her decision, there’s a higher likelihood she’s go through with her plan.
But if they’re opposed to it or don’t know about it, it could throw a wrench into her plans and make her think twice about her decision to place.
8. She’s seems overly confident with her decision
It’s important that the expectant mother is at peace with her plan.
However, if she seems too confident about it, it may be a sign that a) she’s in denial or b) she hasn’t thought through her decision to the logical conclusion, which in turn could lead her to undergo an about-face when reality eventually settles in.
9. She has no plans beyond placement
Placing a baby for adoption is a difficult, life-changing decision. One of the things that help can help a birthmother heal is to have plans and projects ready to go after placement.
However, if an expectant mother hasn’t thought beyond the birth and placement of her child, it may be a sign that adoption isn’t in her future.
10. Her placement date falls on a major family holiday or milestone
We don’t have any scientific proof on this one, just anecdotal stories. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Major holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and birthdays are occasions when expectant mothers celebrate and honour their family ties.
But between the emotional tug and scrutiny they may face from family members, sometimes these events can trigger complicated feelings that may lead an expectant mother to re-evaluate her decision.
Placing a baby for adoption is the hardest decision a mother can make, and there’s no guarantee that she’ll follow through with her plan.
To avoid disappointment and heartbreak after she chooses you, it’s important to give her the space and support she needs to work out her mixed emotions while at the same time protect yourself in the event that she decides to change her mind.
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