From start to finish, the adoption journey can be filled with ups and downs. You may be tempted to take shortcuts or skip specific steps, but this could ruin your adoption opportunity. Our experienced Lifetime Adoption coordinators have seen what works and what doesn’t. If you’re in the process of adopting a child, here are six pitfalls to avoid as you move forward.
1. Incomplete home study
One of the first things your adoption professional needs for you to finish is your home study. You’ll need to complete paperwork and provide all the necessary documents, such as birth certificates and marriage licenses. Other things involved in your home study include:
- Background check
- Character references
- Interviews with a social worker
- Home visits with a social worker
These things are time-consuming, but your adoption can’t move forward if you don’t complete your home study. Therefore, a completed home study is vital to a successful adoption.
2. Narrow adoption preferences
When adoptive parents have narrow preferences about the child they want to adopt, it limits their chances of being chosen by a birth mother. These narrow preferences about a child can prevent or even derail your chances of adoption. These include things such as:
- Specific age preferences
- Not being open to a child of color
- Only being open to one gender
- Not being open to a particular type of adoption
Pray and allow God to help you have broader adoption preferences. You may be surprised to see how God works in your heart and brings the perfect child into your family.
3. Not following social media best practices
When a birth mother chooses you, you’ll be so excited and may want to post the good news on social media right away. But this may not be a good idea. Remember, everything you post is public.
Posting anything public about your match could derail your adoption. Before you post any sensitive information about your adoption, the birth mother, or the child, talk with your adoption professional to ensure you don’t break adoption laws concerning what can or can’t be posted on social media. Social media best practices in adoption include:
- Show respect for the birth family
- The recognition that your child will see these posts in the future
- Never post any personal information of birth parents or child
- Be respectful towards those who are helping you with the adoption. Complaining online about agencies or individuals is never helpful.
4. Refuse an open adoption
Another pitfall that can derail your adoption plan is refusing to agree to an open adoption with the birth parents. Today, approximately 95% of U.S. infant adoptions are open. Some are wary of open adoption because they believe it means co-parenting or that the birth mother can show up to reclaim her child. I recommend taking some time to research open adoption so you can find out what it looks like in real life. Share your concerns with your adoption professional, who can answer questions you have and explain the details about open adoption. In an open adoption, you can expect that:
- The birth mother will communicate with you and your child in a pre-planned way, such as through phone calls, emails, letters, texts, or in-person visits.
- Your child will know they’re adopted and know their birth family.
- If you and the birth mother are comfortable, your child can meet more members of their birth family.
5. Not dedicating time to adoption planning
If you aren’t currently devoting time each week to your adoption, start today! Adoption is a partnership, and your adoption professionals need your help and engagement to help you adopt. Therefore, keeping current and engaged is a vital part of your success in adoption.
Dedicate time each week to getting ready to bring your baby home through adoption! Here are seven activities and steps you can be taking each week:
- Prepare for adoptive parenting
- Use social media to share your adoption hopes
- Learn more through adoption webinars and books
- Learn about a birth mother’s adoption experience
- Hear from successful adoptive parents
- Remain in touch with your adoption professional
- Consider updating your online adoption profile
6. A weak profile
Your adoption professional will give you information on creating an online profile for birth mothers to view. Your profile introduces a birth mother to you, your family, your home, and your lifestyle.
Your adoption professional may give you suggestions to improve or change your profile. Don’t take these suggestions as criticism. At Lifetime, our adoption coordinators have extensive experience with birth mothers and understand what appeals to them and what may not appeal. As a result, not following their recommendations may reduce your chances of being chosen by a birth mother. Avoid these things in your adoption profile:
- Poor quality photos or videos: Your photos and adoption video are a huge part of your profile. A birth mother will want to see clear photos that depict your lives and the life you can offer her child. They also need to be engaged by your adoption video and be able to hear what you have to share in it. Not providing good quality photos or video is a major deterrent to a birth mother not choosing you.
- Perfection: Understandably, you want to portray your family in the best way. But sounding too perfect can push a birth mother away. Instead, be genuine about who you are, which will appeal to a birth mother more than trying to act perfectly.
- Lie: Hopeful adoptive parents have included things in their profile that later were proved untrue. Lying ruins your relationship with a birth mother. So avoid exaggerating, stretching the truth, and telling white lies. Honesty is essential when creating your profile.
- Hide your personalities: When creating your profile, be sure to show both your and your spouse’s personalities. Birth mothers look at a lot of profiles, so it’s important to stand out. Be unique and personal to reflect on who you really are.
- Leaving out your future plans: In your profile, if you don’t talk about your future with your adopted child, it’s a big mistake. A birth mother wants to know how you will include her child in your family life.
Don’t Forget God
Your adoption journey will have many ups and downs. Be sure to include God along the way. Ask Him for guidance and wisdom in every decision.
James 1:5 (NIV) says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” He promises to help you as you humbly ask for His help. There’s a massive amount of adoption information on what to do and not to do. Hopefully, this list helps you avoid these common pitfalls to having a successful adoption experience.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 3, 2013, and has since been updated.
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.