Finding adoptive parents for your child is one thing. Finding the right ones, however, is something else entirely.

  • How do you know they’re a good fit for your child?
  • How do you know they’ll keep their word?
  • How do you know you can trust them?

The truth is, you don’t. As with any type of relationship, there are no guarantees. Just because you click with a couple wanting to adopt now doesn’t mean you’ll keep clicking with them in the future. Things change — and you and they will, too.

So is there anything you can do to increase your chances of success? The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of parents you’re looking for.

  • What’s important for you when it comes to parenting?
  • What traits and characteristics do you value?
  • What kind of home do you want your child to grow up in and what kind of future do you want him to have?

A lot of it boils down to personal preferences and your own experiences. Think back on your own childhood.

  • What were some of the things you liked about the way you were raised?
  • What things didn’t you like?
  • What do you admire in other parents?

In the end, what you’re looking for probably isn’t all that different from what any other expectant parents is looking for: a loving, stable family that has common values and that will allow you to have an ongoing relationship with your baby.

Let’s break down that sentence word by word and explore what it means:

Loving. Every couple you read about will be loving. But how can you tell just how loving they are? Take a look at the way they describe each other and the language they use. Does their closeness and affection come through  in their letter and photos and does it seem genuine? If you can’t feel it in their words, check out their pictures. You shouldn’t have to look too closely. Either it’s there or it’s not.

Stable. An easy way to figure this out is just to look at the number of years they’ve been together. A couple that has been together for a long time will likely have weathered more challenges and transitions in their life than, say, newlyweds. Then again, there’s nothing to say that a couple with a 15-year-long marriage is more stable than one with 10 years. It all depends on how they adapt to new experiences and resolve their differences.

Common Values. People connect with other people because they have common goals, aspirations and values. It’s no different in adoption. If you’re Christian, chances are you’ll want your child raised as a Christian. If education is important to you, you’ll want to find parents who value education or have a background in it. When it comes to building a strong foundation, there’s no magic bullet. But this is as good a way as any.

Ongoing relationship. If you’re like most prospective birth mothers, you’ll want to have a relationship with your child after his placement. After all, you’ll not only want to know that your child is doing well, you want to see it for yourself. Take a look at the waiting parent’s letter: How do they handle the issue of openness? Do they discuss it freely or not at all? Does it sounds like they’ve given the topic a lot of thought and consideration or does it feel like it’s been added as an after thought?

Sometimes, you’ll need to read between the lines to figure out what a waiting couple is really thinking. But in this case, everything you need to know should be right there, spelled out in black and white.

Your Baby. Your baby is what has brought you and the adoptive parents together and is at the center of your relationship. But if he’s the only thing you have in common, it may be time to move on. Do the adoptive parents have interest in you too – and if so, how do they show it? Are they interested in hearing about your hopes and dreams? When you visit your doctor, do they ask you how your appointment went or offer to accompany you?

Some couples may be more shy or sensitive about your privacy than others. They may hesitate to ask you certain questions out of fear of offending you. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as you feel like you’re getting the support and assistance you need from them.

There’s never any guarantee that the couple you choose for your baby will be everything they say they are. And yet by asking the right questions and doing your homework you can improve your chances of finding a good match. Having shared values and interests are both good signs and can help you build a solid foundation for your relationship. But the best way to do that is to spend time together, in person, and to slowly earn each other’s trust through an honest and open dialogue based on mutual respect.