Five Reasons You are Not Getting an Adoption Match

Fact Sheets


Why is it taking you so long to get an adoption match?

Waiting is hard, especially hard in adoption. The wait gets even harder when you hear of others who were matched with an expectant mother quickly, or at least faster than you. You wonder why they “got lucky” while you are still at the hoping, longing, and checking your phone every 10 minute stage.

Adoption isn’t a race, and the goal shouldn’t be how to adopt the fastest. Adoption is for life, and you want to adopt the child that you are best able to parent for the long run. But if you are wondering why others are getting domestic infant adoption matches faster than you, these are the top five reasons that we see here at Creating a Family, the national adoption & infertility education and support nonprofit.

1. Prenatal Exposure

Adoptive parents that are open to infants that have been exposed to alcohol or drugs during pregnancy often have a shorter wait. Prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol can cause brain damage in the developing fetus and is not something to be overlooked just because you are tired of waiting. However, it is something worth understanding to see if this is a risk that you are willing to take. Check out these resources to help you decide:

2. History of Mental Illness

Adoptive parents that are open to domestic adoptions where there is a history of mental illness in the birth parents or their extended family often have adoption placements sooner. Mental illnesses can have a devastating affect on the person suffering and their family, but it helps to understand the risks of inheriting a mental illness. Here are a couple of outstanding resources covering the genetic connections of mental illness and how to assess the risks:

3. Race

Adoption professionals tell us that they have more prospective adoptive parents wanting to adopt Caucasian babies than African American babies. Bi-racial and Hispanic babies fall in between. The hardest of all to place is full African American baby boys.

Transracial adoption is not for everyone. Your family (and extended family) becomes transracial, your family will be stared at in public, and you accept the added responsibility of helping your child identify as a strong black man or woman in America. Before you decide, you should learn more about what is involved.

4. Money

Sorry to say, but money matters. Some adoptions cost more than others, due to lack of medical insurance, an expectant women that makes an adoption plan early in her pregnancy and lives in a state that allows for more birth mother expenses to be paid, or agency costs.

Some adoption agencies charge the same for all adoptions and share the cost of the more expensive adoptions amongst all their families. Others ask the matched adoptive family to bear these costs alone. They often have fewer adoptive families that can afford the higher cost, and those families that can often have a shorter wait.

Adoptive parents with “deeper pockets” can also afford to apply to more than one agency, consultant, or facilitator (to understand the difference check out this resource), can afford to do more extensive outreach/advertising for expectant mothers who may be considering adoption, and can keep on trying even if they lost money on a failed adoption match.

5. Luck

In most domestic infant adoptions in the US the expectant women or parents choose the adoptive parents. Many adoptions happen through word of mouth, and adoptive parents that do a better job spreading the word amongst their family, friends, and acquaintances that they hope to adopt often find an adoptive placement sooner. Luck plays a role too.

It is hard to predict what will attract a woman who is making the all-important decision of who will parent her child. It could be that you live on a farm, or maybe that you live in a city. It could be that you have a dog like one she had as a child, or that you don’t have any dogs because she hates dogs. It could be that you have no other children or she may love the idea that her child will have an older brother. In other words, some of it is just plain luck of being at the right place at the right time.

What factors do you think affect how quickly a family is chosen for domestic infant adoption? 

Originally posted in 2014, updated in 2016.
Image credit:  Serge Melki

06/01/2016 | by Fact Sheets | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog, Other Adoption Resources | 24 Comments

24 Responses to Five Reasons You are Not Getting an Adoption Match

  1. Pingback: Coping with the Grief After an Adoption Falls Through - A Family for Every Child

  2. Avatar Zoe says:

    SERIOUSLY!!!! What is wrong with you people? It’s not like picking a breed of the dog… You take the baby that God has given you! And we wonder why there are problems with adoption???

  3. Avatar Diamond Owens says:

    my name is diamond owens and im 15 ive been looking for a parent to take me and I think its hard because most parents want a baby and not a teen because were runaways or we do drugs but if you want to be a parent that helps then help US teens who don’t know what love is or never had a family, my mom died when I was seven on my birthday ive been group homes, treatment centers, mental hospital, and no one still wont take me in but I still have faith because god has big plans for me!!!!!

    • Avatar Rebecca Vitale says:

      You precious girl, Diamond. I hope the Lord has worked some miracles in your life. Stay strong dear heart. You are valued. You are loved.

  4. Avatar Leslie says:

    I also think it depends on what route/methods you are using to try to adopt. I had signed with one adoption agency that said to expect it would take 2-3 years because I am single and wanted a girl. At 3.5 years they hadn’t matched me with one single birth mom. I signed with an adoption consultant, who connected me with numerous low-cost up front agencies that I signed with. In four months I was matched with my daughter via my consultant’s connections. I highly recommend using a consultant who will connect you with numerous agencies she’s vetted. Instead of just signing with one agency and sitting and waiting.

  5. Avatar Meredith says:

    I think this posting very troubling:

    1. Not many couples have the resources to handle children that are heavily exposed to drugs and EtOH. I also have found on our adoption journey that the social/medical questions are at best incomplete, if not completely false. The toxicological testing in the NICU found more drugs and EtOH than were listed in the social medical questionnaire, which really destroyed any trust between our family and theirs.

    2. Again, mental illness is such a difficult condition to control. Resources for addressing mental illness are decreasing in our communities. I don’t understand why adoption professionals dismiss the impact of this on a family.

    3. Social Workers are now ranking PAPs as to how “culturally competent” they are in raising a child of another race. Many adoption organization are calling for an end of placing children in households that are not able to correct reflect the child’s culture. So what is the right answer? It appears that the adoption community is giving very mixed signals.

    4. Money. Very disturbing. There is a fine line between paying for adoption services and buying a baby. Saying that amount of money you can spend for an adoption determines the odds of success for adoption is very troubling. How much money is too much? When does it become more than paying for adoption services and become the purchasing of a child?

    5. Luck – Luck has been used as a excuse to cover up many things that some people say are not explainable. When is the US going to have a more transparent system? Isn’t that the wording that the US says to international countries doing international adoption? Why isn’t the same standard applied to domestic infant adoption? Do folks really believe that when an agency has 600 couples waiting that all birth mothers see all 600 families profiles? I wonder if something else other than Luck is at play?

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Meredith, you are very right that some families are not equipped financially, emotionally, and other reasons to handle a child that has been exposed to alcohol or drugs prenatally or has a genetic risk of mental illness. If they are not the right family for that child they should NOT adopt that child. I believe that they need to educate themselves before the adoption on both of these risk factors so they can make an informed decision.

      I’ve not heard of too many adoption organizations that are calling for an end to transracial or transcultural adoption, but I think it is generally accepted that families that adopt a child of a different race or ethnicity need to be educated and prepared to raise this child as a member of his race.

      • Avatar Meredith says:


        Our social worker is a member of Our case worker at our foster care agency is currently lobbying against Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 (MEPA) based upon a paper published by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Both organizations don’t feel that white couples are culturally competent to raise black children.

        Since this is the education we received from our social/case worker and these are organization are nationally accredited organizations, I’m not sure what to say other than we try to stay out of political discussions.

  6. Avatar Praying for a baby. says:

    We had a meeting with out adoption agency to discuss why we are not being matched. We are open to all races, but we have been told that due to us being Caucasian, African American birth families will not consider us for placements. I’m also told that the National Association of Black Social Workers greatly influences African American birth families and this organization does not favor black infants being placed with Caucasian adoptive parents.

    Based upon what our social worker says we not sure what to about race. Adoption seems to be growing more difficult by the day and these issues make the wait very difficult.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Praying for a baby, many AA expectant couples are open to Caucasian adoptive parents. I think you need to do your own research on the current status of the Nat’l Association of Black Social Workers position on transracial adoption.

  7. Avatar Kendra Cyrus says:

    I agree with 3rd and 4th, but not with the rest.

  8. Avatar AnonT says:

    Why are boys harder to place than girls? I think you mentioned this was the case for international adoption as well? Just curious.

  9. “Adoption isn’t a race, and the goal shouldn’t be how to adopt the fastest. Adoption is for life and you want to adopt the child that you are best able to parent for the long run.” <== So true.

  10. Avatar Jill says:

    The financial issues are one reason we shied away from newborn or international. My heart was very drawn to Poland (my genetic history) but we cannot possibly afford that. We are going foster adopt route because of that and because it works best for us

  11. Avatar Shalisa says:

    Thanks dawn. We are open to many backgrounds, including African Americans. At the end of the day, we “look different”/ “look foreign”. And there’s a difference in religion as well (although we are not particularly religious). It’s a whole aspect of transracual adoption that is rarely talked about. We have been told that working with a facilitatorsy be a better way to go.

  12. Avatar Robyn C says:

    Agree with #3, #4, and #5, but I would say money is #1, followed by gender. If you’re specifying gender, you’re going to wait longer, especially if you’re specifying girl. I’m not sure that openness to mental health really matters that much. I would say that being open to openness matters. More expectant/birth parents want open adoptions, and some PAPs are afraid of open adoptions.

  13. Avatar shalisa says:

    The race/ethnicity of the adoptive parents also matters. As an American family of Arab descent, we have been told time and time again that domestic adoption may entail a longer wait for us because we do not look like most other prospective adoptive parents.

    • Shalisa, valid point. However, there are many African American birth parents that are actively looking for black adoptive parents for their child, so I would assume that if you were looking for an AA infant that many black birth parents would be receptive. Is this not what you’ve found because of your Arab descent?

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