birth mother brick wallDear Mardie,
We have been speaking with a birth mother and are starting to get the impression that she is only choosing adoption because she can get financial help.  Should we decline the match because of that?
There may indeed be some women whose primary motivation for adoption is financial gain, but how do you know for sure?  I have worked with many women who that thought crossed my mind, but later I realized it may have been a coping mechanism on her part to help prepare her for the inevitable grief and loss that comes with empty arms after delivery.
Let’s look at the facts…
Financial help is allowed in most states.  This consists of help with housing, transportation, medical care, food, clothing, and medication.  State laws set limits, and usually around $5,000 is considered the upper end for reasonable and allowable pregnancy related expenses.
The costs of being pregnant, for most women, exceeds $5,000 in physical, emotional, and financial costs, especially when you are pregnant without a firm plan of how you will be parenting the child you are carrying.
Add to that cost, the emotional toll of your friends and family members letting you know that they don’t agree with your adoption plans, as is the case for many women who choose adoption.  And then there is the father of the baby.  If he is around, he may have an opinion about adoption, but many women are going through their pregnancies without a partner.
After delivery, birth mothers are left to go home with empty arms and battered, bruised bodies from delivering a baby.  They fight the usual hormonal baby blues, but it is coupled with a grief unique to adoption.  Even in the most open of adoptions, a birth mother will grieve. She will celebrate her child’s birth day and Mother’s Day differently every year. She will remember a baby, and hopefully have glimpses as he grows into a young man.
Typically a few days after they’re discharged from the hospital, a birth mother will have to meet with the attorney and sign the adoption papers.  During this time, and in some states a time period after they sign, they have to battle with the decision to change their mind.  Sometimes that is just a few days, in other states it may be up to 30 days.  It’s not just about changing their mind, but in many cases they have to affirm their choice over and over again.
So, with those facts in place, does $5,000 seem worth going through all of that? Does that amount of money make up for a life changed forever?  Does it make up for rifts in personal relationships, sometimes that last a lifetime?  I don’t think so.
As a side note, when you are working with an ethical attorney, he or she will help in making your determination if this is a situation that sends up red flags. Because let’s face facts, some cases may indeed have other factors that may be troubling.