Many adoptive parents who are matched with a birth mother get anxiety about whether their adoption might fail. They wonder, “what if she changes her mind about adoption?” When a birth mother changes her mind before signing legal paperwork, it’s known in the adoption world as a “fall-through.”
Lifetime encourages you to remember that this risk in adoption is so worth it. After all, taking the chance is how you’ll be led to your child. At Lifetime, our goal is to see you adopt successfully, not just get matched. In most cases, if adoptive parents face a fall-through we will continue to help them to find a successful match. While failed adoptions are less common at Lifetime, because of the way our program supports each side of the adoption match, it’s good to understand why a birth mother might change her mind, and what happens if she does.
Birth Mother Education
Many assume that the majority of birth mothers are going to fight the adoption. Here at Lifetime, we know that if a birth mother has been provided with the counseling and adoption education that she needs beforehand, reclaims and fall-throughs are less likely to happen.
Plus, with open adoption, your relationship with a child’s birth mother will be based on trust and an understanding that you both want the best for the baby.
Birth Mother Rights
In open adoption, every birth mother has the right to change her mind before paperwork is signed. Until the moment of signing, it’s impossible for her to know what it’ll be like to place her child for adoption.
We know it’s difficult for you to let go of the dream you created with this specific baby, but try to see it from her point-of-view. If women didn’t have the option to change their minds, it’s entirely possible that fewer would choose adoption. Many birth mothers who go through with adoption feel comforted in knowing that they could’ve changed their mind and that it was really up to her to place her baby for adoption.
Why Does a Birth Mother Change Her Mind?
It’s very rare that a birth mom would change her mind because she feels you’re not the right choice for her child. She will feel guilty for disappointing you because she knows this isn’t what you were hoping for.
She has to make a decision for HER child, and that might mean she changes her mind about adoption. Be encouraged by the knowledge that she was inspired by the parent you would have become for her baby. Through this experience with you, she may have been motivated to make positive choices for her and her baby, as her baby’s primary caregiver.
Encouragement for the Future
At Lifetime when a family experiences a match that fell through, we continue working to find them another match, at no additional fee. While you became attached to the idea of that child, you know that you still hope to adopt. Take time to grieve the loss if you need to, and then refocus on your goal.
If you were honest, kind, sincere, and showed this birth mother that you would provide for her child the best way you could; but it didn’t work out, take comfort by knowing you may have blessed that mother and child in a way no one else could. You gave her availability, openness, and listened to her, which are things that many birth moms may not see in their everyday lives. You might be one of the few people praying for her and her child. The birth mom might refer a friend to you in the future because you treated her with compassion and understanding.
Know that you will adopt, and a failed adoption can become a step along the path to the child you do add to your family. You may remember this time, and that baby, but you’ll also appreciate the journey when you’re holding the child you eventually welcome to your family forever.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”