Reading about another couple’s adoption match when you’re waiting to adopt a baby yourself can trigger a wave of conflicting emotions.
On the one hand, it’s exciting—a couple just got one step closer to their dream of becoming parents!
And it’s inspiring–if they can find a match with an expectant mother I can too!
On the other hand, if you’ve been waiting a long time, or even if you haven’t been waiting a long time but you’ve been waiting longer than you expected, it can also be discouraging and demoralizing.
Especially if the couple who found the match has been waiting less than you have or if other couples are finding matches as well.
It’s tempting to ask: Why is everyone else getting matched except me? What is it about our profile or us that is preventing us from getting chosen?
What you may not realize is that a match is only stage in the process. There’s still a long way to go, especially if the match came in the early stages of the expecting mother’s pregnancy.
Many matches never go the distance and get finalized as an adoption. How many is anyone’s guest because nobody is keeping track. But it’s thought to be at least 30-40% percent of matches don’t result in approved placements, if not higher.
The most tenuous ones are those that occur in the early stages of the pregnancy when the expectant mother may not have explored all of her options or in cases where the expectant mother doesn’t undergo the counselling she needs to make an informed decision.
An Adoption Match Is Different From A Finalized Adoption
Ironically, situations where the expectant mother is advised of her rights and other options, including the ability to parent, have a better chance of resulting in a successful placement. They give her the opportunity to reflect on her decision and move forward with her adoption plan with a sense of clarity, purpose and confidence.
The one thing you need to know about an adoption match is that it isn’t the same as a finalized adoption. There is no guarantee that connecting with an expectant mother or parents will eventually lead to an approved placement.
An easy way to get to the bottom of this is to visit an adoption service’s website or social media page. Let’s say they announce “10 matches in 10 months.” But when you go to their testimonials page there are only one or two success stories, if that. That’s the time you need to ask yourself—or even better, ask the adoption service–what happened to all of the other matches?
It’s Easy To Believe There Are More Adoption Matches Than There Really Are
There’s a good chance they never made it. But it’s a lot easier—-and sounds a lot better—to say “10 matches in 10 months” than it is to say “10 matches in 10 months but only one or two were successful.” That’s why, if you are an adopting parent, it’s always better to keep your match private or to tell a few trusted friends about it rather than to announce it to the world on your social media pages.
The other thing you need to know is that often, for marketing reasons, the same match will be announced by multiple services. For instance, an agency, a consultant and an adoption profile service may post a message on their Instagram or Facebook feed that one of their clients has just been matched when, unbeknownst to their followers, they’re all talking about the same couple. Furthermore, the match could have come from word of mouth or another source and they may have had nothing to do with it. But that won’t stop them from suggesting, intentionally or not, that they were responsible for it.
Bottom line: When you’re waiting to adopt, it’s easy to get the impression that there are a lot more matches out there than there really are. So when you’re interviewing your adoption specialists, asking them about the number of matches they’ve made isn’t nearly as useful as finding out how many of those matches resulted in a finalized adoption. Chances are you’ll discover there’s a glaring disparity between the number of their matches and placements.
When assessing a service, just how relevant is the number of matches it has made anyway? On the one hand, it can give you an indication of what to expect if you sign up. But on the other hand, it’s doesn’t paint the whole picture.
Judging An Adoption Service By The Number of Its Matches Isn’t The Best Way To Assess It
For one thing, apart from hearing that their clients have made connections with expectant parents, you really don’t know anything about the clients, the expectant parents they’ve matched with or the nature of the match itself.
A good part of the matching process is out of your control. For example, let’s say the expectant mother was specifically looking for an LGBT couple and you don’t fit that description. Or she wanted a couple that already had a child through adoption and you’re childless. Or she wanted a couple that lived on a farm because she grew up on a farm and you live in the city. The likelihood of you getting picked in any of these situation is pretty slim.
But a lot of matching process will depend on your criteria and how flexible you are. If you’re not open to a child of another race or one who has been exposed to drugs or alcohol during the pregnancy or a preemie or twins or where the identity of the birthfather is unknown or one of the parents is in jail or the expectant mother is in the early stages of her pregnancy and you specified that for financial reasons you wanted one who was closer to her delivery date, you’re likely going to have to wait longer than a couple who is open to all of these situations.
It’s the same kind of dilemma that many hopeful parents run into when they sign up with an agency and they’re asked whether they want to be notified every time their adoption profile is shown to an expectant mother.
If they say yes and an expectant mothers don’t show interest in their profile or their profile has been shown many times but they haven’t been chosen, they may wonder what’s wrong with them. But if they say no, they don’t want to be notified, then they will have no idea whether they’re being shown, how often, or even if expectant parents are expressing interest in them.
While it may seem like everyone else is finding a match or they’re finding a match faster than you are, there’s usually a lot more to it than meets the eye. Waiting for anything is hard. But there’s nothing harder than waiting for a baby when you’re ready to start your family.
Just remember that adoption isn’t a competition and it isn’t a race to see who can build their family faster. It’s a life-changing decision that involves real people making real sacrifices.
So as discouraging as it may be to read or hear about other couples’ success stories while you’re waiting to adopt, keep in mind that finding a connection isn’t your goal. Finding the right connection is, and just because you haven’t found one yet doesn’t mean you never will. It could happen at any time. Just ask any of the thousands of adoptive parents who have been there.