If you’re trying to choose someone to adopt your child, it helps to know what questions to ask adoptive families. (You wouldn’t want to place your baby with just anybody, after all!)
These days, it’s easy to find people who want to adopt. Nationwide, more than 50 couples wait on every one baby placed for adoption. You can find adoptive families through a licensed agency, via churches, or even online, on Craigslist and other sites. (Nobody vets those ads to ensure they’re legally approved for adoption, though, so beware! It’s much safer to plan an adoption through a licensed agency like Abrazo.)
Most adoption agencies now post their waiting families profiles online, as Abrazo does. Attorneys in many states are prohibited by law from matching expectant moms and adoptive parents, unless they’re also licensed as adoption agencies, but most also have profiles they show upon request.
The problem, though, is that anybody can gather some attractive photos and pay someone to write a compelling “Dear Prospective Birthparents” letter for them, so what you see may NOT be what you get. Finding the right match and building a lifelong relationship takes work.
How to Find the Right Adoptive Family
To find the right adoptive family for your baby or child, first get some good adoption counseling with an unbiased professional, to be sure you know your rights. This will help you know what emotions that birthparents go through, and get an idea of how much or how little contact may feel right for you before or after placement.
In Texas, placing parents have every right to get to know a prospective adoptive family personally before deciding whether to proceed with an adoption plan. Placing parents also have the right to not match with any couple until after the birth of their child, if they prefer, to be certain if placement is truly necessary.
You may have noticed that our headline doesn’t say “how to find the perfect adoptive family”. That’s because nobody is perfect– even if a pretty profile makes it looks like a family has the perfect life. Money doesn’t guarantee happiness, and fancy houses are no guarantee of great parenting skills. (Don’t get sold on the wrong stuff, okay?)
This is why knowing what to look for and what questions to ask adoptive families is so important. For starters, you need to be clear about your own expectations. If you grew up in a broken home and don’t want that for your child, then search for couples with long marriages and no prior divorces. If faith is important to you, then focus your search on families who are actually active in a church, not just people who self-identify as “spiritual, not religious.” If you want your child to be active in sports, then avoid folks who are couch potatoes. If you want your child to go to college, then seek out adoptive parents who are degreed, themselves.
Our best advice, right out of the gate, is to only consider adoptive parent profiles that include last names and where they actually live. There’s no reason to potentially trust anyone whose adoption profile is as secretive as someone in the Federal Witness Protection Program, amirite?
What To Look For in Adoptive Parents?
We know everybody likes to just text these days? But you really can’t get to know somebody without a personal conversation, whether by phone or in person. (Trust us on this one, okay? And never place your child to someone who won’t ever even talk with you, or give you their personal phone number. (800 numbers are not “personal” lines, comprende?)
The first time you actually speak with prospective adoptive parents, keep in mind that they may be just as anxious as you are. It’s fine to say “I don’t do this everyday, so forgive me if I sound a little nervous?” You can follow that up with a reminder that you are still considering all your options, and you appreciate the chance to learn a little about them, so you can be sure to make the best choice you can after your child is born.
You may find it helps to start out the convo with an icebreaker, like “so tell me, if your life was a hit movie, who would you want cast as you?” or “what was the first concert you ever went to?” Most adoptive parents will have a pretty practiced answer if asked why they want to adopt, or what kind of parents they hope to be. (That doesn’t mean the answers aren’t real; it just means you may not learn much from those.)
Everyone who is cleared to adopt has to have a homestudy. You may want to ask the family if they’re willing to share their finished homestudy with you? (There’s no reason a placing parent cannot see this, if the adoptive couple agrees to release it.) This may be one of the more savvy questions prospective birthparents can ask adoptive families whom they’re genuinely interested in considering.
What Questions to Ask an Adoptive Family
There’s nothing you legally cannot ask a prospective adoptive parent about; you only cannot ask them FOR anything material or of a cash value (like financial support, loans, or money or gifts in exchange for a child.) Some folks may not feel comfortable answering very personal questions about things like sex or income on a first call, but neither would you, probably? (So keep in mind that you, too, have the right to say “that’s not something I’m comfortable discussing” if they ask you something that feels too personal too early on.)
Here are some questions that may help you get to know an adopting family better:
In what ways do you hope to parent (or not parent) like your own parents did, and why?
What did you and your spouse do to come to terms with your infertility losses?
What was the closest you and your spouse ever came to splitting up, and why and when?
Have you or your spouse ever been treated for addiction or mental health problems?
What would you be willing to do to help the baby’s birthfather feel involved in this process?
If I chose you, how would you raise our child to know me and understand this decision?
How will you and your spouse raise your child to understand the value of money?
In my state, open adoption isn’t legally-enforceable, so how can I know I could trust you?
When it comes to adopting, what complications would be your “deal-breakers” and why?
When you think about open adoption, how do you feel about sharing a child with the birthfamily?
How would you help your adopted child fit in, if they look nothing like you or your family?
If I were to place with you, how often would you travel here for visits after placement?
What do you and your spouse do, together or separately, to deal with stress?
If you were the placing parent and I were the one adopting, what would you need from me?
What is the one thing you are hoping I won’t ask you, and why?
Remember: the goal is not to get “perfect” answers, but instead, honest ones.
At the end of your first call, even if it went really well, resist the urge to announce you’ve chosen the family, or want to match with them. Jot down some notes on the call, and then sleep on it. Wait to see if additional questions to come to mind. Talk it over with your counselor or caseworker. Never consider just one family; even if the first family you get to know turns out to be a good fit, take time to be sure of all your choices.
Because “will you adopt my child?” is one of the questions to ask an adoptive family only after you’ve truly gotten to know them– and deciding to whom to entrust your child should never be a quick decision.