Becoming a parent is one of, if not, the most important events in life. That is true if your child joins your family through pregnancy or adoption. Adoptive couples are faced with countless decisions on their journey to this huge event called parenthood. Many decisions will have lasting effects. The decision to be ‘matched’ with a birth mother is one of the biggest decisions that requires a certain level of faith in the adoption process.
A match is made when both a birth mother and an adoptive family mutually decide to proceed with an adoption plan. Once a birth mother decides that adoption is what she wants for her child, she must choose a family to adopt the baby. Most birth mothers are given many profiles full of pictures and information about potential adoptive families from which she selects her favorite. An adoptive family waits to move forward with an adoption until chosen by a birth mother. Once chosen, the family is given information about the birth mother, her situation and many other factors that will affect the adoption.
Then comes the hard part: Should they proceed?
You can imagine all the questions that the adoptive couple considers. Some questions can be answered and some cannot. The family will consider what information is known about the situation. For example: the race of the child, the due date, birth mother’s reported drug or alcohol use, the genetic and medical history of the birth parents, the estimated budget, whether or not the birth father will consent to the adoption, where the birth parents are located, what parties will facilitate the adoption, the process and timeline for coming home and finalization.
Some families handle the stress of this decision better than others. They seem to ease into the adoption process, accepting that there is no way to have every answer, finding a way to trust the birth mother and the process. Others families seem to struggle with every step. They obsess over small details or the unknown. They fight for control in a situation that is uncontrollable.
I have seen families paralyzed by the “what ifs.” What if the baby isn’t healthy? What if the baby is premature? What if the birth father fights the adoption? What if the mother doesn’t go to her doctor’s appointments? What if the mother wants too much contact with them after the child is born? What if the mother is using drugs? The list goes on and on. If a family lets it, the fear and what ifs will take over. There will always be unanswered questions. There will always be what ifs.
It is difficult for adoptive parents to accept the fact that nothing obligates a birth mother to sign her consent to the adoption. No matter the financial or emotional investment a family makes during the pregnancy, the birth mother can change her mind and decide to parent. That is why adopting takes faith.
I’m not suggesting that you make an uninformed decision. What I want you to know is that some level of anxiety is inherent in the process. You have to listen to your gut, close your eyes and jump. There are no guarantees. You must determine what risks you are comfortable with and what risks you are not. You can always find reasons not to move forward with a ‘match.’ You have to have faith that all the reasons why you shouldn’t move forward will be outweighed by the sweet little reason you should.
Megan Monsour is an attorney with Martin Pringle Law Firm. Her practice is devoted to adoption, assisted reproductive technology (ART) and child permanency litigation. She is committed to helping individuals and families realize their dreams of building a family. Megan represents both adoptive families and biological parents in their adoption journey and in a variety of other matters as well, including contested adoptions, foster care adoptions, step-parent adoptions, relative adoption, same sex and second parent adoptions. Additionally, she represents intended parents and carriers in surrogacy agreements. Megan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and has been recognized by Kansas and Missouri Super Lawyers as a Rising Star since 2011.
If you have questions about adoption, please feel free to contact Megan directly, at [email protected], or 316-265-9311.
For more information on Martin Pringle’s adoption & surrogacy practice, please visit their website.