Simple truth is – I don’t, and anyone who tells you any differently is not being honest. Birth parents have a right to change their minds about the decision to parent -up to the time they sign relinquishment consent forms. It happens even in the most promising situations. So how can you figure out from the beginning, who is going to follow through and who is going to decide to parent.
When a potential birth mother starts looking at adoption plans, it should be treated as just that, a plan. She needs to first be given all the information available about adoption and options to parent. In all my years of adoption,I have found that one of the hardest things for those hoping to adopt to understand is that poverty isn’t a reason to not parent. So if a woman comes forward to look at adoption and her first reason is “I just can not afford a baby right now” the person she has turned to really needs to be offering her services and resources provided in her community. If lack of money is the only reason for this adoption plan, there’s a good chance that when she delivers she will have a change of heart.
After talking about resources, pre-natal care is the next step. How far along is this pregnancy? Has she felt the baby moving yet? Is it real for her yet? Getting her in to see a Dr or locating prenatal record is an important first step..If she does not know the gender that can change a whole plan..It is also important to know whether or not the staff at he clinic she is attending or the hospital she will be delivering at are adoption friendly.
How many children has she had before? Is she parenting now? What is her relationship with the father of the baby? Is she using drugs? Does she have a mental illness? Does she have family support? Where is she living?
It’s important to find out as much as you can about all of these things before any commitments are made to an adoption plan. She may come to you at 4 months and not felt the baby move and the pregnancy is still just that to her and not a baby. Once it becomes real, she may have different feelings about her decision. Has she delivered before? If a woman is having her first baby she doesn’t and can’t anticipate what labor and delivery is really going to be like and once delivered the feelings that are experienced may be overwhelming for her and make it impossible for her to follow through with her plan.
Does she know the father of the baby and was she in love with him? This is important to know because if she was, this baby may be all she has left to a)get him back or b) to cling too. Is he involved or is his family involved?
Where is her family in all of this? Do they approve of the adoption plan or want her to parent , but then aren’t offering any support. Does she know of anyone who has relinquished before? This one can indicate what is known as a red flag. If she knows someone who has relinquished, you need to find out if those friends followed through and completed their adoption plans. Having a friend who was matched and supported then decided to parent is a good indicator that this birth mom might have the same intentions.
I find a lot of potential adoptive families asking about other children in the family and their health histories. Unless you re hiring someone for surrogacy, I wouldn’t dwell on this detail. Each pregnancy is different, their could be different fathers and we don’t know about the nine months while she was carrying the others.
If you are doing an adoption on your own, all of the above information is important, but how you go about getting it is even more important. Remember, you are not a consumer walking into a store to purchase something, you are working with a human being who is vulnerable and emotional. She has feelings just like you do. All of this information can be gathered in a way so that you’re getting the details you need to make a decision and she doesn’t feel like you are going down a checklist. You need to be able to approach situations without feeling like everyone is a potential “scam”.
Counseling for potential birth moms is very important, and overlooked way too much. It is an added cost to an adoption plan that many try to avoid, but having an outside individual available to counsel twice before delivery and once to twice after is priceless. Your potential birth mom needs to be talking with someone who has no vested interest in whether or not she places, and she needs to know this. In addition it gives the people involved with the plan another impression about how this situation might go. A good therapist usually has an idea where all of this might end up, and remember if the birth mom has any concerns it is not the therapists position to sway her mind, if she decides not to place after talking with her therapist this is an advantage for you earlier than later.
So what is then the benefit of working with a professional if we don’t always know whether someone is going to follow through? With experience we can screen 9 out of 10 calls before even getting to the matching process, most of us can screen out an email. It is just like with any profession, you can do it yourself..but if you hired someone to do it for you , there may be less trips to the local hardware store on Sat. The project may get completed quicker and you have some extra time to shop for the accents.