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How Adoption Matches Occur: Seven Families Brought Together
a blog by Ellen Glazer, May 29, 2013
Last week I began a series of blogs about the adoption process, acknowledging at the start, that it is incredibly confusing, even for someone like me who has worked in the adoption field for over three decades! Last week I wrote about WHEN people are matched. Now I’ll say a bit about HOW matches occur. Stay tuned in coming weeks for entries about OPENNESS in adoption and one on CONSIDERING ADOPTION IN THE MIDST OF INFERTILITY.
I worked with seven families who have welcomed babies home in 2013. I’m offering brief vignettes about how they connected with their babies. As you read them, keep in mind that no one waited more than a year and one half to adopt and most brought babies home after waiting less than a year. As I introduce them, I’ll change the parents’ and baby’s names to respect their privacy and when I refer to agencies, lawyers, facilitators, I will omit their names as my blog should not be an advertisement for any of them.
Martha and Carl signed on with a large, lawyer run agency that advertises throughout the large state where the agency is based. Martha and Carl waited nearly a year and one half before receiving a call that a birthmother had chosen them. She was due in two weeks. They spoke with her by phone several times before flying to her home state where they were present at their son, Jon’s birth.
Risa signed on with a small agency and as a single mom in her late 40’s, anticipated a long wait. Nine months later, the agency called and said, “We have a baby for you.” A birth couple had gone to a local fire station to participate in the Safe Haven program. They wrote beautiful letters to the baby and the adoptive parent(s) and asked the fire fighter to contact an adoption agency. They agency had the opportunity to choose a family for the baby and they chose Risa, who dropped everything and flew to meet (and fall head over heals in love with) her baby the following morning.
Naomi, another single mom, also signed on with a small agency that offered personal attention and care but most likely, not a fast placement. She waited for a year and got a call that she’d been picked by a birthmother. Naomi excitedly prepared for her daughter’s arrival only to learn, about a week before the due date, that the birthmother had changed her mind. The news was devastating but Naomi had a lot of faith in her agency and trusted they would do right by her. And indeed they did! She was matched with Ryan’s birthmother two months later. They spoke by phone and ten days later, Naomi flew out to meet Ryan and his birthmom at a hospital in the mid-west.
And then there is Diane and Brian, who signed on with a facilitator and received a call five months later that she had a birthmother for them. They were matched a month before their son, Connor was born. They spoke with their birthmother during the month they were matched and flew out West to be at the hospital when she went into labor. Their adoption was incredibly smooth sailing.
Not so for Jennifer, Elissa’s mother. Jennifer contacted a group of adoption lawyers about 9 months before she became a mom. No sooner did they have her profile then she was matched with a birthmother who sounded lovely. Jennifer flew south to meet her and encountered someone very different from the woman she had envisioned when they spoke by phone. After spending an afternoon with her, Jennifer was pretty certain the birthmother was not being honest with the lawyers. And by this time, they had—and had spent—several thousand of Jennifer’s hard earned adoption savings. A spunky person, Jennifer picked herself up from this “train wreck of an adoption” and signed on with another lawyer, again receiving a very fast match. This turned out to “train wreck 2,” and it was a lot worse than the first one in that Jennifer was nearby for the delivery and held the baby, only to learn that the birthmother wasn’t placing.
By this time you must feel that you’ve read enough...that Jennifer’s story is too upsetting and too worrisome. Don’t quit now—read on! A month after the second fall through Jennifer was back in the same state that had disappointed her twice, having received a call from a third lawyer that they had a baby for her. The baby, a boy, had been born and the lawyer had chosen Jennifer to be his parent. How did this lawyer even know about Jennifer? She’d mailed her profile to the office several months earlier “just on a chance they might have someone for me.”
Karen and Peter waited a year with a facilitator in a distant state who sent them profiles of a few birthmothers during the months they were waiting. None sounded right and so they passed on them trusting that the right baby would come along for them. Then they received a call from the facilitator telling them “I’ve found your birthparents.” Karen and Peter were puzzled—why was the facilitator sounding so certain when in the past, she’d asked them “are you interested in this birthmother?” They soon found out. The birthparents were everything Karen and Peter had hoped for and there was simply no question about saying “yes” to this match. They were Chloe’s parents one week later.
Ann and Kevin were waiting with the same facilitator as Karen and Peter and actually turning down some of the same birthmothers they turned down. Then I received a call from a lawyer who told me he had a baby girl free and clear for adoption. “Do you know a couple that can get themselves to (a far away state) tomorrow morning?” I thought of Ann and Kevin and tried to reach them. When they didn’t pick up, I left them a phone message saying, “There’s a baby in ___If you are interested, call ____Esq as soon as you can.” To my surprise I received a call from Ann the following morning. She was already with her new daughter, having left a business meeting to get there quickly. Kevin was flying from home and on his way!
So this is adoption. Seven families. Seven babies. Seven very different stories of how they found each other. I hope their vignettes help you see what I have learned over the years: there is no one way to adopt a baby. Adoption can happen in all sorts of ways. The good news is that once their baby is home with them, adoptive parents are certain that this is the match that was “meant to be.”