Finding the Child You Are Going to Adopt
The adoption process can be an emotional whirlwind. It is a long journey, and the end goal is something you have dreamed of for a while. During the process, hopeful parents often feel excited, nervous, joyful, worried and everything in between.
For families in the early stages of adoption, there is one question that can bring up all of these conflicting emotions at once. When adopting, can you choose the child?
This is what it’s all about, after all. It’s about the child — the new life that will radically change who you are as people and fulfill your dream of becoming parents. Of course you have questions about if you can choose the child you adopt, because you want your baby to be just right for you.
The truth is that there isn’t an easy answer to this. Adoption is complex, and the type of adoption you choose will significantly change your experience in the adoption process. Additionally, the adoption professional you work with will determine if you do get to choose the child you adopt.
Regardless of whether this decision is made by you, a prospective birth mother or a child-placing agency, one thing remains true: you do get to choose to love this child. Many adoptive parents have found themselves in a process that is different than what they’d imagined, but the end result is the same. Adoption is an opportunity to cherish, love and support a beautiful child. No matter how this child comes to you, they are yours.
Can You Choose the Child You Adopt?
More often than not, an adoptive family does not choose the child you adopt, at least not in the way you are likely imagining. If this scares you, take a deep breath. It may be unexpected, but it doesn’t have to be scary. That being said, the type of adoption you choose will likely determine if you can choose the child you adopt.
Can You Choose Your Adopted Child in Domestic Infant Adoption?
Domestic infant adoption is one of the most common types of adoption in the U.S. In this process, an expectant mother voluntarily places her baby for adoption. In most cases, this is a newborn adoption, with the mother creating her adoption plan before giving birth. In a domestic infant adoption, the prospective birth mother chooses the adoptive family who she would like to adopt her baby.
As an adoptive family, there are some things you can control about this choice. You will work with an adoption specialist to define which adoption situations you are comfortable with. Based on your decisions here, your adoptive family profile will be shown to prospective birth mothers who fit within the adoption situations you outlined.
This may feel overwhelming, and, honestly, it could be. Adoption isn’t necessarily easy. But thousands of amazing adoptive parents will tell you that it is worth it — the moment you are placed with your baby changes everything. In that moment, it doesn’t matter how you came to this placement. It only matters that, in this moment, you are choosing your child for life.
Can You Choose the Child You Adopt from Foster Care?
Foster care adoption is different from domestic infant adoption in a variety of ways. In this process, you work with your local branch of the foster care system to become foster parents. Once you have become active foster parents, you may be placed with a child whose biological parents’ rights were terminated by a court, which means the child is in need of a family through adoption.
In most cases, children who are adopted through foster care are slightly older, ranging on average from 2 years old to over 8 years old. This is important to take into account when deciding which type of adoption to pursue because, in the vast majority of cases, you will not be able to choose the child you adopt from foster care. There are foster care photolistings for some states, and foster parents can occasionally request to be placed with a specific child. However, foster care adoption requires flexibility and an open heart. You will be able to set certain boundaries — maybe you are only comfortable bringing a child in to your family up to age 4 — but many factors in foster care are outside of your direct control.
This is again an opportunity to choose love, even when you cannot specifically choose the child you adopt.
Do You Get to Choose the Child You Adopt in International Adoption?
Of these three primary types of adoption, the international adoption process gives parents the most specific control over choosing the child they would like to adopt. Unlike domestic infant adoption, where there is a birth mother to choose a family, or foster care adoption, where there is a state department to place a child, international adoption often involves children whose parents are unknown. Since there is no known biological parent to make this decision, most international adoption agencies give adoptive parents more of a say in their placement.
This will vary depending on several factors, like which agency you work with and which country you are adopting from. It is common for international adoption agencies to have child photolistings that hopeful parents can look at. If you see a child and something inside you says, “That’s my baby,” then you can request more information about that child from the agency.
In any case, as adoptive parents you are choosing love. Regardless of whether a birth mother chooses you or you choose the child you adopt, you do have the opportunity to choose commitment, care and compassion for the baby who comes into your family through adoption.
The adoption process requires openness and flexibility from you. Things may not go exactly how you planned; in fact, they probably won’t. But that isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a part of this journey, which can be truly amazing.