Birth mother screening is an essential step of the adoption process, as it ensures that pregnant mothers understand what they are committing to, provides adoption professionals with comprehensive information about pregnant mothers, and, in rare situations, promises families that they are not working with a possible scammer.
Most adoption agencies offer these birth mother screening services. And even if you found a birth mother on your own, you may want to consider working with an agency to ensure she has completed this essential step of the adoption process.
Why Adoption Agencies Screen Birth Mothers
The screening of prospective birth mothers is a very important and necessary way of protecting both adoptive families and adoption agencies from a variety of potential situations:
- Ensuring the birth mother is committed – Some women may think they are interested in adoption, but once the due date draws closer, they get cold feet. Or, some women simply commit to adoption, not fully knowing what they are agreeing to and that this is a permanent decision. The screening process helps “weed out” the women who simply aren’t yet ready to commit to an adoptive family.
- Decreasing the chances of a disrupted adoption – Furthering the point above, the more committed a woman is to her adoption plan, the less likely she is to change her mind. An adoption agency often provides counseling and support throughout this process to help her remember why she originally chose adoption.
- Ensuring proper prenatal care – Adoption specialists will help birth mothers by coordinating with medical professionals to get them the prenatal care they need. They can also encourage birth mothers to maintain healthy habits through their pregnancy.
- Eliminating scammers – Sadly, there are people out there who try to take advantage of people who simply want to become parents through adoption. While rare, these women may pretend to be pregnant to receive moneys from adoptive families. A reputable and experienced adoption agency can identify adoption scammers quickly, giving families peace of mind all of the birth mothers they work with are who they say they are.
How Birth Mothers are Screened
All adoption agencies handle screening in their own way. There is no home study that birth mothers must complete, so it is up to adoption professionals to ensure these women understand what they are signing up for and that they are indeed prepared for adoption.
Be sure that the adoption professional you choose offers the following screening services:
When a birth mother works with an agency, she will be asked to fill out a detailed medical history form, preparing the adoption agency and the adoptive family for any complications that could happen during pregnancy or in the child later in life. When you are chosen for an adoption, you will receive the pregnant mother’s and her family’s full medical history.
Finally, if the adoption specialist learns the pregnant mother has not yet received proper prenatal care, she will provide her the resources, including setting up a doctors appointment and providing transportation, to help her get the care she needs.
Some agencies also screen pregnant mothers for substance abuse. While this is a logical step in the screening process, it can also negatively affect the relationship between the agency, birth mother and adoptive family because it results in:
- A lack of trust – If the birth mother feels like an adoption specialist or adoptive family doesn’t trust her, she may become bitter or resentful toward them.
- An invasion of privacy – A birth mother’s relationship with her adoptive family can also be strained if she feels uncomfortable.
For the vast majority of pregnant mothers who are not using drugs, tell the adoption agency they aren’t using drugs, and yet still have to take a drug test, this can illicit negative feelings at the very beginning of their relationship, which can cause other issues later in the process.
Instead of screening for substances, an adoption agency or professional may educate pregnant mothers on the importance of being open and honest throughout this process, and that there is always a family out there willing to adopt her baby. They of course will educate her on the harm that substances may cause to her unborn child, and will offer her resources to get her the help she needs.
Ongoing Counseling and Support
A good adoption professional will always be available to provide counseling, support and education at any time during the birth mother’s adoption process. While giving her the help she needs, it also allows a social worker to stay informed on the woman’s commitment level, concerns, fears, and overall feelings of the upcoming adoption.
Most women in this situation have their bad days and wonder if they are making the right decision. A reputable adoption professional should always be there for her to continue support and assess her situation. If she begins having feelings of changing her mind, perhaps from pressure from outside sources, her social worker is there to remind her why she chose adoption in the first place.
This support, and the number of other screening services, improves the chances of a successful adoption and promises adoptive families that they will have a safe and secure adoption experience.