Sarah Baker | August 12, 2013 | 02:42 PM
One of the first steps in moving forward in adoption is setting your preferences. This guideline will allow you and your agency to help find you a match that will be best for everyone involved. It is a difficult process though. There are so many things that come into play when adding an adopted child to your family. The first piece of advice I have is, be realistic.
In being realistic, you must know that the expecting mom may not have the income or knowledge to care for the pregnancy as if you were the one carrying the child. She may have limited prenatal care. She may smoke. She may have a poor diet. She may use drugs. She may drink alcohol. You have the option and the right to limit what you will accept in an expecting mother that chooses you though. Every box you check “no” to, limits you to the number of expecting mothers your profile will be shown to.
Do your research, understand what each thing could mean for your baby and if it is something you are capable of dealing with. For instance, smoking can cause low birth weight and future allergies or asthma. Is that something you can handle? The checklist will usually allow you to even narrow down what drug exposure you will accept and what you will not. It may even ask if you wish the baby to be tested at the hospital for drug exposure so you can properly care for the child. Alcohol can cause series delays in development and brain function, so this is the one I urge you to pay the most attention to and learn about to see if you are able to handle a baby that may be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Sometimes the expecting mother may know that she is carrying a child that may have some needs that will require medical attention from the beginning. It could be cleft palate, heart defects, short or missing limbs, Down Syndrome, etc. Talk it over with your partner and your family. How much can you afford, what will your insurance cover, are you emotionally prepared for these cases? Just keep in mind, that not everything can be detected in the womb. It is no different than if you were pregnant yourself and sometimes our babies are born with challenges or medical needs.
This process allows you to also chose a gender if you wish, the races you are open to, the amount of medical history you want, known allergens, and level of openness in your adoption. It is important to take time filling out this form and fully understand it. Research things you are unsure of so you can either prepare to possibly deal with it in the future or have the knowledge that it is not something you can handle. This process is not just about getting a perfect baby, but getting the child that is meant for you. No one can blame you for understanding your own limitations if you set your preferences to include some things you will not consider. Most adoption agencies will also allow you to re-evaluate the preferences down the road. A lot of couples will be overwhelmed with all the possibilities and later realize that those things may not have any effect at all on the baby or your ability to parent the child and you can ask to make the preferences less defined.