adoptive couple discuss preferencesYou hear us talk a lot about adoption preferences in regards to a child. Yet even though we stress the importance, many families will still put off the simple act of sitting down and having a conversation.  However, it comes into play in your profile, your advertising and networking, and in speaking with a birth mother. If you don’t know what you are willing to say yes to, it is hard to do the initial screening.  It is especially difficult if you are someone who takes time to make decisions.


Take Rob and Amanda…  They wanted a baby. They both were in agreement that “We’ll be happy with a purple one with six fingers, we are that open!”  And so, they did not narrow on race, age, substance exposure, level of contact, anything.  They wanted to be wide open.  And so they were.


They were contacted via their Facebook adoption page by a woman who was carrying a baby due soon, named Harmony. She’d had no prenatal care and her 6 year old was autistic.  She was Caucasian as was the father and she admitted that she had been abusing some prescription drugs (Xanax and Percocet) throughout her pregnancy. She wanted pictures and letters.


Rob and Amanda eagerly said “Yes!” and move forwarded to contact an attorney and get everything in place.  Harmony met with the attorney and signed all the papers she could prior to delivering. She had the baby with Amanda in the room and soon checked out of the hospital without letting the family know.  The baby appeared to be biracial, not full caucasian.  Rob and Amanda were surprised but seemed to accept this easily.  The baby soon began experiencing withdrawal symptoms due to the ongoing abuse of the medications – they were not prepared for that. To watch what their child was going through broke their hearts, yet they perservered.


After two weeks of detoxing in the hospital, the baby was ready to be released.  The attending doctor advised them to be open with their pediatrician about the issues they had experienced here as well as the history of autisim in the birth family. He was concerned that had that child also been born with the same drug exposure, the diagnosis of autism may not yet be correct and both children may actually have future diagnoses that are more related to the heavy prenatal drug exposure.


At this point, Rob and Amanda realized that they had committed to this child without fully understanding what they were in for.  They had faith that they could be good parents, but were starting to realize that perhaps they should have done a little more homework to be better prepared for what lay ahead, rather than just blindly saying yes to any situation that came along.


Today, they are thriving as a family but Ben, their son, has ongoing issues and has yet to be diagnosed with anything of note.  They are pursuing another adoption but, while confident in their abilities to provide all the help their son needs, they are searching this time for a woman who is not actively using drugs through her pregnancy.  They are also limiting their search to a bi-racial or African American child so he or she will have something more in common with their son.


Take the time to begin your preferences. Modify them as you learn more. Don’t be afraid of drug use, but know what your limits are.  Remember, if you are ever contacted by a woman who is outside your preferences, your coordinator will gladly call her to let her down easy and provide information on other families who ARE open to what she is seeking.