There’s no one right way to create an adoption profile or connect with birthparents looking at open adoption for their baby. But there are many wrong ways.
Here are some common mistakes waiting parents make in their journey through open adoption.
1. Taking shortcuts with counselling.
No matter how committed an expectant mother is to her adoption plan, she still needs counselling. It’s the only way she’ll be able to make an informed decision and live with it after the adoption. You may be so focused on trying to become a parent that you may not consider her needs or may not want to think about them.
But remember that as your possible child’s birth parents, they will be in your life for a long time to come even if they’re not directly part of it. So it’s in everyone’s interest that they understand the emotional and psychological effects of placing a baby for adoption. This will be a great benefit to them down the road but in the short-term it will reduce the possibility of the adoption falling through, which will be a great benefit to you.
2. Not keeping the baby’s father or the mother’s family in the loop.
Even if the father of the baby doesn’t play a direct role in the adoption plan, he needs to know about it. It doesn’t matter if he supports the placement or is opposed to it–every effort should been made to locate and inform him. Ditto for the expectant mother’s family. Never underestimate their influence.
In fact, they are the reason many expectant mothers end up changing their mind. So make sure they know everything they need to know from the get-go. Because if they eventually find out and offer to help the expectant parent raise their baby, it could lead her to change her adoption plan. Not to mention it’s just the right thing to do.
3. Opening your letter with “Dear Birthmother.”
We discussed this earlier but it can’t hurt to discuss it again. After all, this is such a common mistake that most waiting parents don’t even realize their making it. A birthmother is someone who has relinquished her rights to parent a child. The person you’re writing to, on the other hand, is a pregnant woman who is considering adoption for her child.
She may go through with her plan, but then again she may not. Calling her a birthmother at this stage robs her of her choices and could rub some readers the wrong way. And it could lull you into a full sense of security, especially if you ignore red flags leading up to the placement.
4. Forgetting your reader’s needs.
Your adoption profile may be autobiographical, but is it really about you? Not exactly. It’s a marketing tool intended to persuade prospective birth parents that you’ll be a great parent to their baby. As a result, it needs to address their needs directly. The details of your wedding and the names of your nieces and nephews may be important to you, but not to them.
Rather than pepper your letter with things you want them to know, tell them what they need to know, and that includes concrete details about what level of contact you’re hoping to have with them and how you plan to do it. After all, if there’s nothing in it for them, why should they choose you?
5. Focusing on your problems.
Most parents-to-be come to adoption due to infertility issues. And that’s OK. What’s less OK is making it the central point in your letter. A prospective birth mother is interested in finding out what you can do for her. Telling her that her baby “will make your life complete” or “be a gift” to you isn’t the best way to frame your adoption journey.
These kinds of details may be part of your home study, but they have no place in your letter. Don’t forget that expectant parents are wrestling with their own crisis. They have other challenges to deal with and frankly don’t owe you anything. Which is another reason why it’s dangerous to think of them as birth parents– as opposed to possible birth parents–prior to the finalization of the adoption.
6. Making yourself sound perfect.
A funny thing happens to some waiting parents as they go through the adoption process. They begin to believe that only perfect people can become parents. And so by the time they finish writing their profiles, they end sounding perfect, too. Maybe all that intense screening and scrutiny have something to do with it. Whatever the case, your letter should be as individual as you are.
Birth parents aren’t perfect, and they’re not expecting you to be, either. Put yourself in a positive light, but don’t overdo it. Remember, our shortcomings are what make us human and help us to differentiate ourselves from others. And they’re also the kinds of things that makes others, including potential birth parents, relate to us.
7. Forgetting that adoption is a lifelong process.
Today your child is a baby. But one day the child will grow up and have questions about his or her adoption. Will you be ready to answer them? That’s why it’s so important to keep the lines of communication open with your child’s birth family and not to say or do anything that would cast them in a negative light or make him or her question the reason behind his or her adoption. Creating a healthy sense of identity and self esteem in your child begins by having a healthy relationship with his or her parents.