Assessing risk when considering an adoption situation

You never know when your first adoption situation will present itself and what form it might take. We all dream of an ideal situation – and that ideal can certainly take a variety of shapes, depending on who’s doing the dreaming.

This week, we received our first call from an adoption attorney we’d contacted recently. A birth mother needed substantial financial help right now, and significant monthly financial assistance for the length of her pregnancy (she was only 9 weeks along), came to the attorney’s office seeking an adoptive couple without a child. While the attorney’s office had a list of waiting families, none of them were childless, and while we were not yet on their waiting family list, they remembered our networking call and immediately contacted us. Tag – we were it. I guess networking really does have a tendency to work. We called back immediately – all excitement, hope and nerves — and a healthy dose of self-protective skepticism.

But every adoption situation is different, from what a birth mother might be going through that brings her to consider such an important and life-changing decision, to the level of risk a prospective adoptive couple is willing to accept. There are a number of risk factors adoptive parents must consider, you need to sit with them to determine what you are truly ready and able to withstand during the roller-coaster ride.

Risks could involve drug and/or alcohol exposure, health problems associated with age or genetics, the length of time remaining in the pregnancy, the amount of financial assistance required and the ever present worry — the likelihood of a failed adoption plan.

Adoption expenses are a fact of life in most adoption situations. The funds are not payment for a baby, no matter what some opponents might say. There is significant work and time involved for agencies and attorneys to help ensure all parties are protected in an adoption situation. And the combination of legal expenses, counseling fees, agency fees and birth mother expenses can potentially add up to a large sum, indeed. That said, as adoptive parents, you need to be able to know what you can handle financially, and weigh that commitment with the risks you are comfortable taking in the birth situation presented to you. How much money do you have, and, if this adoption falls through, will you have funds left when the next adoption situation presents itself?

The adoption situation we were presented with involved an older birth mother with a history of problems that prevented her from being able to work – and thus required significant financial assistance for the remaining 7 months of her pregnancy, as well as a previous failed adoption – she changed her mind – two years earlier.

Ultimately, we decided the risks in this situation were too much for us and let this situation go to another family that might be more comfortable with the situation. It was a hard decision, because you worry about when and if the next situation will present itself, and if you turned down “the one.”

Have you been in this situation before and if so, how do you personally deal with the decision? Do you have any other advice concerning acceptance of an adoption situation? Please feel free to share!


10 responses to “Assessing risk when considering an adoption situation

  1. Oh yes, we have been in a similar situation…it was heartbreaking but ultimately was the best decision for our family.

    We were matched by CPS with two little boys, ages 6 & 8. We got their case file and read through it. Some red flags but stuff we could work with (we are experienced parenting children with special needs) so we planned for the day to meet the boys and tell them they had been matched with us as their forever family.

    Two days before this grand introduction was to happen, the CPS worker called to tell me that some new details had “just come to light” and that the 8 year old was exhibiting some sexual acting out..both personally and in the context of relating to others. At the time, our daughters were 5 & 1 and there was no way we could risk them being molested by their new sibling. It was a decision that was both easy and hard…easy because protecting our daughters is always easy and hard because we’d worked for six months to be matched with these particular children. We had their room ready, clothes purchased, everything.

    We’ve gone on to bring two “new” children home….a son who was almost 5 at placement and a daughter who was 11 months when she came home. 🙂 They are wonderful blessings. We are working now to hopefully be matched with another sibling group….this time of three children. It will be months before we know how that will work out but in the end, I know that we will make the right decision once we have all of the information.

    • Wow, Christina, what a time you had. So sorry you had to go through all of the heartbreak, but that was definitely the right decision. I am so glad it all worked out in the end and you have 2 new beautiful children and hopefully more on the way! Just fantastic. Thanks for visiting and be sure to stay in touch. All the best, Ann

  2. I think you were absolutely very smart to not take on this situation. With the length of time involved and the history of non-placement, I would never have gone with the situation.

    My partner and I are currently in a match that started when the bm was 5 months pregnant. We are finally in our last month, and it has been very stressful and a lot more expensive than we planned when we accepted the placement. The bm has been very connected to us from the beginning, which is why we agreed to the placement. Now, we are getting so close, and we pray that it goes through, but we know she will never know if she can place the baby for sure until the moment arrives.

    We broke our own rule by accepting a placement longer than 3 months. We also ended up way exceeding the financial budget we set. We pray it works out as this will have been a costly, exhausting placement.

    Because we have already adopted one child, we are not coming from a place of desperation. This made it a lot easier to not get overly excited about the initial call. We thought we were making practical decisions, but it has still been a roller coaster.

    • Thanks Kathy, for your thoughtful contribution. That is a good idea, to try and set a limit of months and expense, but, like you said, that is hard to keep to if the connection is there, I would imagine! But at least you thought about it and tried. There is only so much you have control over. I know you must want to be excited but are afraid to be excited until it is final. I will keep you guys in my prayers and think good thoughts! All the best and be sure to visit and share! Ann

  3. Hi Ann and Eric!

    Boy do I feel for you! We are in the same boat and just had to turn down a second possible match. We have struggled with it, because this most recent one was sort of within the parameters we had agreed to initially. We ended up turning it down because there were just too many compromising circumstances–it kind of stacked up and made it a bad choice to go forward. It was so hard to say no, because you do wonder (as you said) when the next chance will come along or if maybe you’re making a mistake. I know I won’t relax about any of this until we bring a baby home and have papers signed… On the flip side, we had what seemed like the perfect match that was going so well, and it fell apart out of the blue two weeks before the baby was due…It makes you wonder!

    Thanks for sharing your blog!

    • Oh, Jessie, that had to be so hard to go through – 2 weeks before. I’m sorry you had to go through that. We just have to stay optimistic and do our best, right? Thanks so much for commenting and please do stay in touch! Wishing you all the best. Ann

  4. My husband and I got a call this past summer of a possible match and we just weren’t in a place where we could have taken in a baby. We certainly couldn’t have paid living expenses for the mother through birth in December. We weren’t even Home Study ready. It was pretty obvious it wasn’t a situation for us and pretty easy to make a decsion.
    However, we’ve just become Home Study approved but still have a ways to go before we can really think about bringing a child home. So anything that might come up for us will be hard to say no to, but we have to. At least for a few months until we have some cash saved up. There is so much to think about, like the adoption costs, court fees, and then the 6 or so weeks to take off work when a baby comes home. It is really not something we can handle if we were called tomorrow. We’ve both agreed that we would pray and say ‘no’ when we need to. The right situation will come along when God knows we are ready. And through prayer, we will know too.

    • Hi Blake,

      That is very wise of you both to have a plan. When the time is right, it will happen for you. There are so many things to consider before taking such an important step, but at least the home study part is done! 🙂

      Best of luck and thank you for visiting and commenting. Stay in touch! Ann

  5. We had two situations like these presented to us (both by the same attorney). It’s SO hard to turn down a potential situation because you want to believe it could be the one, and what if you make a mistake by turning it down. But I think everyone has their own level of comfort when it comes to a situation that presents as somewhat risky. There were times in our process where I felt that by having limited funds, we may have actually saved ourselves some problems becuase we simply didn’t have the means to take certain situations on. I often felt like the more money being requested, the more likely the situation could be a scam or have potential to go wrong. Granted there are many adoptions with high expenses that are legitimate, but the money thing often raised red flags to me.

    When we finally matched with our daughter’s birthparents, they did not want a penny. Our attorney had to convince them to at least take a little money as we wanted to help with expenses(they finally agreed to very small amount, at least in the world of adoption).

    I think so much of this journey is having to follow your heart and your head. There were situations that my heart was ready to jump on, but my head could not deny the warning signs. We also had some really good friends who had adopted twice, and were there to act as reality touchstones for us. That helped a lot, to have someone who had been there and done that, play devil’s advocate so to speak.

    • That is so true, Christi! I think you are right, as well, about the budget aspect, since it forces you to be more selective in terms of risky situations.
      It’s also great that you had friends who acted as “reality touchstones” (love that term!) That really helped, I am sure! Thanks for joining the conversation! Ann

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