The prospect of matching with a birth mother is an exciting one, but can be complicated, and will be different depending on your “path”.
'Matching' with a birth family in private infant adoption
If you are hoping to adopt a newborn through private domestic adoption, the birth parents will select you after reviewing your profile among other prospective adoptive parents — there are 36 potential adoptive parents for every one infant eligible for adoption in the U.S. so this process can take some time. In private domestic adoption, the process is driven by the birth family – it will be entirely their decision who they decide to match with. And in some cases, they can change their mind and decide to parent — which is their right. "This means that the person that ultimately chooses you is special," said Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network.
Building your adoption profile
As part of the matching process, your adoption professionals will help you build a profile that will be shown to birth parents. "This will be a look into your life, your community and your dreams," said Olivia Pope of Friends in Adoption. "It's basically a look at who you are and who you will be as a parent in order for birth parents to choose you."
When building your profile, make sure to include lots of photos, and make sure they are current photos — good photo choices can help birth parents envision what life might look like within your household for their child. You may also be able to create an adoption video to introduce yourself to potential birth parents. This gives you an opportunity to showcase your unique personalities and give birth parents a sense of your lives. "My motto is always raw and real," said Molly from Choice Network. "Envision the sorts of things you would post of your life to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube — that's the kind of content that our moms look for."
You may also be able to create your own blog, in which you can write about your journey, what’s led you to want to build your family through adoption, showcase your hopes, fears, and dreams, and help humanize you. It may feel scary to share that you are hoping to adopt with friends, family and colleagues online well before you’ve matched — but you never know where a potential connection might come from.
Tips for Matching
When it comes to questions the birth family may have about you, make sure to answer honestly. This will assist in creating the potential for a genuine and authentic relationship with her now and forever.
Follow the pregnant person's lead and respect what they decide is best in their life. Remain aware that changes may occur, such as meetings or changes in communication frequency. Flexibility is key. And if you are flexible with her, she will be flexible with you in return.
Let the pregnant person have the time they need. The pregnant person may need the space to process what is happening. Be open and welcoming when the pregnant person does respond with texts, phone calls, or means of communication.
What happens after I’ve been matched?
If a birth family is interested in your profile, the next step is to set up an initial call or video session between the two of you. "This will be an initial call for everyone involved to get to know each other and see if the fit between you all is right," said Molly of Choice Network. During this call, it will be important to listen more than you speak. Be inquisitive, ask questions, and then listen to answers.
It’s common for the birth parents to want to spend time getting to know you better before making an official decision — this is a time when you can build trust with one another, and help determine the degree of openness you all are comfortable with. Be open, honest and willing to listen. Once again, it’s important to follow the birth parents’ lead — in terms of frequency of contact, and what that contact looks like. Be ok if the pregnant person doesn’t want to talk to you — they may need space to process what is happening.
Also, it's important to know that being "matched" does not mean your adoption is final — birth parents will still have the ability to change their minds. And a court will still need to finalize the process after the birth. That said, being matched is one of the most exciting steps in the process, so be sure to give yourself room to celebrate.
Begin the pre-birth legal process
Though the finalization of your adoption won't occur until after the birth of the baby, there is some legal work you and your adoption professionals can begin to sort through once you've been matched with a pregnant person — being prepared on the early side can help your adoption go smoothly following the birth. Some of this legal work includes: documents that will allow hospitals to discharge the baby into your care, and others that will grant you the ability to make medical decisions prior to the adoption's finalization.
CONGRATULATIONS! You've completed Chapter 6: Matching with Birth Families.
NEXT UP: Chapter 7: Open Adoption
Or, contact one of the experts interviewed for this article: