Turning Down an Adoption Match or referral

After all our paperwork was finally signed, sealed and delivered, our agency told us we could expect a referral in about six months. After about four months, I found myself running to answer the phone, checking for voice messages the second I walked in the house, and listening for our case worker’s voice when I picked up the phone. I insulted more that one friend by starting my side of the conversation with, “Oh, it’s just you.” It was magic when we finally heard, “I have a baby for you to consider.”

Although we had been open to some special needs, the first baby that was referred to us had more needs and risk factors than we thought we could handle. It was a heart breaking decision. My husband and I had compromised on what special needs we would accept, and this child was far outside of our agreement.

In my mind, I knew we had to make the decision that was best for us as a family, but in my heart, I worried that we were giving into fear and that with enough love we could make it work. I worried that we would never get another referral or would have to wait for another six months. I was so tired of waiting, and so ready for this child.

I am thankful that our agency stood by our decision and never pushed or even encouraged us to stretch to accept this child. The decision haunted me long after we were told that the baby had found a family that was up to the challenge.

The following month we were referred our daughter. She was classified as a “failure to thrive” baby and there were some medical concerns. I would be lying if I told you we weren’t scared and worried. It felt like we were stepping into the unknown, which I now realize is exactly how you should feel every time you open your life to a child regardless if that child is yours through birth or adoption.

We consulted our pediatrician and an international adoption medical specialist and within days we said yes. Although this is not always the case, our “failure to thrive” baby has thrived spectacularly, and even if she hadn’t, I now firmly believe that she is the child God always wanted us to have.

We were not alone in turning down an adoption match or referral. If you are faced with this decision, be honest with yourself about the child you are best able to parent. This is not a charity, this is your family. No reputable agency should push you to accept a child with needs or potential issues that you are not equipped to handle.

However, don’t automatically reject a referral with a special need without being informed. Knowledge is power. If you are considering a child with a potential special need, get as much information as possible from your doctor, other parents who have children with this issue, and online support groups for this specific disability or need. You can find this type of information at the Rainbow Kids site.

As the mom of children who have had their share of medical and learning issues, I can tell you that for me, the ride has been well worth the price of admission, but only you can decide what is best for you.

If you decide against an adoption referral or match, no matter how reasonable your decision, be prepared to feel awful. You will worry about what will happen to that child, you will feel guilty, you will question your decision, you will grieve. Don’t expect the rest of the world to understand, but know that I do, and so do the thousands of other adoptive parents who have either been there or, but for the grace of God, would have been there.

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Image credit: sure2talk