How you go about searching for your child’s birth mother will depend on whether you feel comfortable talking to and screening women who are still in the process of making a decision about their pregnancy. If you’d rather work through an intermediary, an agency or attorney can do the screening for you. Some of our families have enjoyed the direct contact with expectant mothers; others find the process too emotional and draining.
How to Find an Expectant Mother
- Apply to an adoption agency, which will send your biography (along with those of others) to an expectant mother; she makes the choice.
- Apply to an adoption agency which pre-screens expectant mothers and makes the choice for you. (This is increasingly rare; more and more expectant mothers want to make the choice themselves, and agencies want to facilitate them.)
- Retain an adoption attorney who will search for an expectant mother for you.
- Search independently for an expectant mother by posting your profile on an adoption website, advertising in the newspaper, posting flyers, and mailing letters to people who may have contact with birth families.
Many parents end up taking a combination of routes. They advertise independently, and then use an attorney to screen the expectant mothers. They use an attorney to find the expectant mother, then complete the adoption through an agency.
Some states do not permit attorneys to match expectant parents to adoptive parents; in other states, would-be adoptive parents can’t advertise to expectant mothers directly. Check the restrictions in your state before finalizing your plan.
How do I know the expectant mother isn’t running a scam?
In the 30-year history of Adoptive Families, we have occasionally come across “birth mothers” who were pretending to be pregnant, or pretending to be interested in adoption, in order to extract cash from prospective adoptive parents. While such scams used to be rare, the Internet has made them more common. This, if for no other reason, is why you should engage a good adoption professional. In our experience, the families who get “scammed” are the ones attempting to adopt on their own.
Mark McDermott, an adoption attorney and legislative director of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (and himself an adoptive father), says there are three common signs that an expectant mother doesn’t plan to follow through with the adoption:
- She doesn’t want to be represented by an attorney of her own.
- She wants to speak immediately to the parents’ attorney, not to the parents.
- She discusses money at first contact.
Work with a qualified attorney or agency, and be wary of these items.
How many expectant mothers change their plans?
About half of the women who start out investigating adoption for their babies choose to parent instead. One-third of our adoptive families doing private adoptions report at least one “false start” before completing an adoption.
Can we make a contract with the expectant mother?
No state allows a mother to give up her parental rights before the baby’s birth; even if she signs such a contract, it can’t be enforced. You have to wait until after the baby is born. (Likewise, nothing can force prospective adoptive parents to accept a child, either.)
What should I say to a potential birth mother?
If you are adopting privately, you will end up writing a “dear expectant mother” (or “dear birth mother”) letter or making an online profile that describes you and the life you can offer a child. You will want to offer details on your home, career, finances, circle of friends, faith, extended family — and, most of all, your plans for her child.
How close should I be to the expectant mother?
In about half of today’s private adoptions, the expectant mother and adoptive parents have contact during the pregnancy. Only you can decide how much contact you want to have after the adoption is completed, but our parents caution against becoming too close to a mother before she relinquishes the baby. More contact doesn’t always lead to more affection, our families say. In fact, it can bring differences to the surface.
Can I be present for the birth?
If it’s important to you to be present at the baby’s birth, ask the expectant mother, and check with the hospital where she plans to give birth. Most hospitals are more than cooperative, and require nothing more than the expectant mother’s permission.
If the expectant mother says she doesn’t want you at the birth, or says yes and then changes her mind, don’t get too upset. If you adopt this baby, you will have the rest of your lives together.