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:
- Long Term Effects of Prenatal Alcohol and Drug Exposure (1 hr radio interview with Dr. Ira Chasnoff)
- Greatest Predictor of Success for Fetal Alcohol or Drug Exposure (blog)
- Practical Guide to Raising Kids with FASD or Drug Exposure (1 hr radio interview with panel of mothers of children with FASD and prenatal exposures)
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:
- Should You Accept This Referral or Birth Mother Match? (1 hr radio interview with Dr. Dana Johnson)
- Nature vs. Nurture / Genetics vs. Environment (1 hr radio interview with leading adoption and twin study researchers)
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.
- Life as a Mixed Race Family (blog)
- Your Chocolate I’m Vanilla: White Parents Raising children of Color (1 hr radio interview with Dr.Â Marguerite Wright)
- Your Adopted Child Should Not Be Your 1st Black Friend (blog)
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.
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