Families are created in a variety of ways, and deciding which is best for your family can be a difficult decision. Although many couples I work with have included adoption in their original plans for creating their future families, the majority of couples decide to begin their adoption journey after learning that a biological child would not be possible for them. Whether you’re considering adoption due to fertility issues or because you feel called to provide a home for a child, couples have many questions regarding the journey. I thought I would take this opportunity to answer the most common questions I am asked as a home study provider.
Will I get to meet the birth parents?
Most likely you will have an opportunity to meet the birth mother and sometimes even the birth father. Many birth parents like to set up a call to speak before meeting in person. They are just as nervous to meet you as you are to meet them. If you reside in a different state from the birth parents, many families meet prior to the birth, depending on the comfort levels for everyone. Some families spend time together at the hospital when the baby is expected. There are also some occasions where a birth mother prefers to not meet the family and may ask the agency or attorney they are working with to select a family.
Will the baby be healthy?
We don’t have a guarantee regarding medical records. I attempt to get a detailed family history and medical records, but keep in mind I am not always to get a medical history for the birth father, and sometimes birth parents are unaware of their family history. Many adoptive parents have questions about substance use by the birth mother. My advice to them is to meet with their future pediatrician to get a professional understanding on how different substances impact the unborn baby. The most common substances that the birth mothers I have worked with report using are marijuana, cigarettes and some alcohol.
Can birth parents change their minds?
I can only answer this question for those utilizing Florida law for their adoption, and would recommend you research the adoption laws for the state in which you reside. In Florida, the birth parents I have worked with have an attorney who informs them that once they sign a consent for adoption, it is irrevocable unless they can prove that they were under duress to sign. This is reviewed with the birth parents several times, and they are reminded of this during the consent signing process.
Can adoptive parents change their minds?
Yes! If you are in the process of working with birth parents and you receive new information such as the birth mother began using substances or your intuition is telling you that something “isn’t right” for you, you can change your mind.
What kind of relationship can you expect with the birth parents after the adoption?
You have two options in the state of Florida. In semi-open adoptions, adoptive parents will send letters and photos through the agency or attorney they are working with so that the birth parents can receive updates. There are requirements regarding how frequently this must be done, and it varies depending on your state. Another other option which is gaining popularity is open adoptions. In open adoptions, the birth parents and the adoptive parents have open communication and includes visits, typically once a year. Families that I have worked with who have open adoptions report great success. If you’re worried that this causes confusion for the child, don’t be; keep communication open and clear with your child so that they have an age appropriate understanding of adoption.
I hope this helps in answering some of the questions you may have about adoption and if it is right for your family. Remember that adoption is a life-long journey for you, the child and the birth parents.