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An Adoption Disruption is NOT a "Failure"

Sometimes, women in your position will be in the middle of an adoption plan when they change their minds and decide to parent their child. In many cases, this can happen after a woman has already selected an adoptive family, or even when she is in the hospital. This is known as an adoption disruption, and it is also referred to as a “failed adoption.”
Woman leaning against window
The phrase itself has blame written all over it: if an adoption has failed because the mother decided to parent, then the mother has failed. While an adoption disruption can be emotional and disappointing, it is not a failure.
This is not an argument over semantics, but a crucial reminder to prospective birth mothers that they are always in control of their adoption plan. It doesn’t matter how far in your pregnancy or adoption plan you are; until your rights are terminated, you always have the right to change your mind.

Deciding to Parent

You can’t always predict when or if you’re going to decide to ultimately parent your child. Sometimes, circumstances change later in a pregnancy, and women find that they’re in a situation where parenting is possible. Sometimes, they see their baby after giving birth and realize that they simply can’t part ways. Adoption professionals do their best to make sure that you are committed to adoption, but they can’t eliminate these occurrences completely; the emotions surrounding pregnancy and adoption are simply too complex.
Your decision to choose adoption or parenting should not be about guilt. It should not be about making the adoptive family or a significant other happy. It should be about what’s best for the baby – and in the end, you are the one who knows what’s best.

Dealing with Emotions

Parenting may be the best choice for you and your child, but your decision may also be emotional for the adoptive family you’ve chosen, and possibly your own family. Communicating with the other people involved in your decision can make the situation easier for everyone.

Talking to the Adoptive Family

An adoption disruption can be very upsetting for an adoptive family. When talking to them, keep some of the following in mind:

  • Help them understand your decision – If you are deciding to parent your child, it likely does not have anything to do with the adoptive family. Let them know that they are not the reason for your change in your plans,
  • Give them space if they need it – Sometimes, an adoptive family may simply need time to be alone and recover from their disappointment before they can pursue their dream of adoption. You may have developed a strong relationship with the family you chose, but understand if they need space.
  • Seek help from your specialist – Your adoption specialist has likely experienced disruptions with other adoptive families and is trained to handle such situations. Don’t be afraid to speak with your specialist for help on how to proceed in this situation.

Talking to Your Support System

Your family and friends, even if they are supportive of your decisions, might be caught off guard by your change in plans. When you are talking to your loved ones:

  • Keep them involved – Although you may not be pursuing adoption anymore, you may need your support system around you – maybe now more than ever. Let them know how much their support means to you.
  • Let them know where you’re coming from – Your support system is there for you because they want to do everything they can for you and your baby. Help them to help you by letting them understand why you’ve made this decision.
  • Don’t hide your emotions – You may be certain you want to parent, but that does not mean that you aren’t anxious, confused, or even scared. Talk with those close to you and navigate your feelings.

Talking to the Father

If the father of the baby is involved in your life, then letting him know your intentions is important, too. Whether or not he is supportive of your choice will affect how you handle the situation.

  • If he is supportive – The two of you can determine the next steps of this new journey. Talk about your reasons for your decision and how you plan to parent the baby.
  • If he is unsupportive – If the father of your child supported adoption but does not support your new decision, speak to your adoption specialist. Keep in mind that while the father plays an important role in this stage in your life, the decision to choose adoption or parenting is ultimately yours.

You Have Not Failed

When adoption disruptions occur and expecting women start to hear the phrase “failed adoption,” it is all too easy to them to start thinking: “Does that make me a failure?”
The answer is a resounding no. Feelings of guilt or obligation should never hold you back from a decision that you feel is right for you and your child. If you want to raise your child, then you have the right to make that choice, even if it’s late in an adoption plan. You have not failed your adoption; you’ve simply chosen a new option.