She posted a request on Facebook for advice on how to choose adoptive parents for a baby, so this is for her and for every other parent-to-be who is considering the adoption option.

Any inquiry like that draws dozens (if not hundreds) of responses) nowadays. There are the “hey, I know someone who wants a baby!” posts from helpful would-be adoption arrangers who have no idea that someone who wants to adopt needs to have full background checks and a homestudy done first.

There are the “you should keep your baby, why are you even thinking about this?” responses, which offer little real support. And then there are the actual “here’s what to consider” posts, which are sometimes on point and sometimes way off base. (Don’t believe everything you read. One mistaken commenter wrote that birthmothers have at least sixty days to change their minds about adoption afterwards? That is not true in Texas, where the law allows no time for “reclaims” after a valid and irrevocable relinquishment is signed.)

So for anyone who’s thinking about adoption, has already considered all their alternatives, and just wants to know how to find the best adoptive family, here’s a starter pack of advice for you.

Where to Find Adoptive Families

Adoption agencies are typically private organizations licensed by the State to arrange adoptions. In Texas, only licensed agencies like Abrazo can legally match placing parents and adoptive parents. Abrazo has carefully-screened couples with documented infertility who have already gone through federal background checks and completed a homestudy to verify they are safe, stable and ready to adopt. (You can view some of our waiting parents’ profiles here.)

Do NOT assume that anyone who has a profile online has already been cleared to adopt, however! Unfortunately, there’s a nationwide network of gray-market adoption brokers called “facilitators” or “consultants” or “adoption advertisers.” They are NOT allowed by law to handle adoptions, but they still market online to collect big bounties from would-be adoptive parents. The bottom line is this: anybody who is looking to buy a baby should never be trusted with yours. In Texas, only licensed adoption agencies are allowed by law to help placing parents with living expenses before or after placement. (Not even lawyers can do that.) And the good agencies don’t dangle support to induce desperate parents to place, because no amount of monetary help can make adoption the right choice if it isn’t. To verify whether an adoption provider is licensed in Texas, you can look them up on the state website, right here.)

Be Choosy. It’ll Never Be More Important!

What matters to you most? If you want your baby to be a couple’s first child, consider childless couples only– but verify that they have documented infertility, so you don’t have to deal with the possibility of them getting pregnant before your child even turns one. If you want experienced parents so your child will have a sibling in the home, know what their relationship with their previously-adopted child’s birthparents is like, so you know if they kept their promises to them. Want the adoptive parents to be a certain race, or religion, or live in a certain area? Is it important to you for one parent to stay home with your child, or is daycare all right with you? Do you want the adoptive family to involve you in the choice of the baby’s permanent name, or to be committed to post-adoption visits with you?

It’s your right to decide what you want your child’s next family to be like, so know what matters to you, and look at as many prospects as necessary to find what feels right to you. You have the right to consider (or interview) as many potential adoptive couples as you need to in order to find the best match. (Just remember not to officially match with nor choose anyone until you’re sure. And don’t let anyone rush you into making decisions before you’re ready.)

What Do You Have the Right to Request?

For starters, don’t entrust your child to anyone who isn’t willing to trust you with their identifying information. If their adoption profile doesn’t tell you who they really are and where they actually live, is that really somebody who wants you to know them? (Ummm… no. Hard pass!)

The adoption profile is basically like a brochure the adoptive parents put together to “sell themselves” so while it’s fun to look at, it isn’t going to give the average placing parent all the info needed to make an informed decision. Before committing to a match with anyone, why not ask them to share their approved homestudy with you? That’s the in-depth report social workers write to document somebody’s suitability to adopt. Why shouldn’t the potential birthparents have the right to read it, before making a decision to commit their child to that home permanently?

Here’s the thing: even if you are not in a position to parent your child yourself, you are still responsible for making wise choices for your child’s future. If you’re uncomfortable asking all the questions yourself, then ask your adoption agency to get you the answers, but heck, yes, you have the right to know why they can’t have kids, why prior marriages failed, if either parent struggles with addiction or mental health issues, how they manage their money and anything else that may have a bearing on what kind of parents they are or may become.

How to Be Sure if They’re the Right Choice

Let’s be honest, anyone can look good on paper. And people who desperately want to adopt can make all sorts of promises they may or may not keep. So please don’t send your baby or child home with anybody without meeting them in person first and getting all agreements in writing– whether that’s the adoption professional or the adopting parents. Even if you don’t want to have an open adoption, still spend time with your child and with the prospective adoptive family prior to signing adoption paperwork, because it will matter both to you and to that adopted child down the road that you did that.

Will everyone be nervous? Probably. And that’s okay. But you still need to get a sense of who they are and for them to have a feel for who you are, before any permanent decisions get made. And if for any reason, you get a nagging sense something isn’t right, then by all means, make a different plan. Nobody is perfect, but there’s a right match out there, and your child deserves the best fit possible. Nobody owes their baby to anyone, and a broken adoption plan is always better than a disastrous (or dangerous) placement that you’ll one day regret. Under Texas law, placing parents cannot be required to pay back expenses for failed matches, so keep that in mind, too, if anybody tries to pressure you to go through with a placement that doesn’t feel right. (Please report them! That’s coercion, which is against the law.)

How to Choose Adoptive Parents for a Baby

This is just the beginning of what goes into a good adoption match. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. It’s a lot to think about, but that’s why having an ethical adoption agency ready to help is so important.

Having an ethical, licensed adoption agency behind you means having a whole team of people who are especially trained to cover all the bases: to look out for you, for your child, and for whatever adoptive family you may ultimately selected, before and during and after placement. (And at Abrazo, all our services are free to placing parents, whatever you decide in the end.)

There’s so much more that goes into knowing how to choose adoptive parents for a baby, so please call Abrazo anytime to talk with one of our counselors, night or day: 1-800-454-5683 or text HELPME to 210-860-5683.

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