What it Means to be a Waiting Family in our Infant Adoption Program
You stumble across an adoption website, happy, smiling faces with photos of a couple’s home, their favorite hobbies, their pets. Maybe you’ve seen a profile shared on social media, or see an ad for a family that is waiting. What does this mean? What is a “waiting family”?
For families in Good Shepherd’s infant adoption program, a “waiting family” is in the process of adopting a baby. These families have completed their home study, have been through mountains of paperwork, and have passed all of the requirements to be approved. In this stage, they are waiting for an expectant mom to choose them to parent her baby.
For some, the wait may be longer than others. We have had families that have been matched with a birth mom in a matter of weeks after being approved, and we have had families who have waited more than a year – sometimes longer – to meet their son or daughter.
There are a number of factors that impact how long a family waits to be matched. Families can choose what kind of adoption they are comfortable with: such as an open, semi-open, or closed adoption (LINK). Families can also choose if they are open to a baby and birth mom with a history of substance abuse, physical or mental health, or other issues. The more limited the parameters of a family’s adoption, the more limiting it can be to be match with a birth mom.
The main factor in the wait that an adoptive family has is the number of babies available for adoption. Only 4% of women with unwanted pregnancies place their babies for adoption (CITATION). There are estimates that for every expectant mother considering adoption, there are 36 families waiting to adopt her baby.
Though there are a small number of babies placed for adoption each year, we work hard to connect expectant moms with our services and counsel them through making an adoption plan. When expectant moms are ready, we present them with the profiles of waiting families, help with communication between adoptive and birth families, and advocate on their behalf in the adoption process.
What can we do as a community to support our families who are waiting to be matched? We think the most important thing is to promote adoption as a loving, brave, and life-giving decision. Share the news that adoption is not what it used to be in the 1950s and 60s, that birth moms can choose the family they place with and how involved they would like to be in their baby’s life. Consider praying for the families waiting to be matched (LINK) and for the women who are making the brave decision to place their babies.