The Chaos in My Head Also Known As The Matching Process

OK- I admit the title here is a wee bit dramatic- but to be honest my life has been a wee bit chaotic the last few months and I think it’s a good fit for how I am feeling- plus it probably grabbed your attention (so let’s hope I can keep it now- because this is a long one!!)

The last time I shared the chaos in my life, I gave you a “day in the life” rundown of my job duties. I got amazing support and feedback along with a ton of funny comments about how people were tired just from reading what I do in a normal day; and while most days are like what I described in that blog post there are some days where I actually have time to breathe too! {though not too deep and not for too long--- no meditation time here}

The last few months have been no exception to the crazy, busy, bedlam we are accustomed to around the agency- December brought 17 placements, January brought 14 more and to be honest, I don’t even know how many happened in February yet (I think 12??) as it has just been that busy!

As I reflect on the last few busy months, I think about all the expectant birth parents we worked with that wanted to see profiles of hopeful waiting adoptive families. Seeing as, on average, I show 3-5 profiles of available families to each birth mother – (sometimes more, sometimes less, and sometimes none if it came in as a matched case) then that is a lot of profiles being pulled and getting exposure!

Pulling all these profiles got me thinking about the matching selection, and I wanted to delve in a bit deeper. Hopefully, this will give both expectant birth parents and hopeful waiting adoptive parents a glimpse at the process and all that goes into deciding which profiles are shown.

  1. First, we look and see what an expectant birth mother is requesting in an adoptive family. i.e.
    1. Does she want a family with or without children?
    2. Does she want a mom and a dad, a single parent, or a same-sex couple?
    3. What level of post placement communication is she desiring?

Once we know what she wants we narrow down the waiting families that meet her comfort levels.

  1. The next thing we do is look at the possible options of hopeful waiting adoptive families. We look and see if they are comfortable certain things like:
    1. the level of communication the birth mother is requesting
    2. the race,
    3. medical history
    4. health status of the baby, i.e. could there be withdraws after birth due to drug exposure, are there known medical issues that could be passed to the baby whether genetic issues

 

  1. Once we have narrowed it down to prospective adoptive families and expectant birth mothers that appear within each other’s comfort levels we then present3-5 profiles of the longest waiting families to the expectant birth mother. If an expectant birth parent doesn’t like these initial profiles, we will show her the next longest waiting and so on.

Exception:

Sometimes we don’t have families that meet what a birth mother is requesting. Other times we don’t have hopeful waiting adoptive families that are open to the birth mother’s situation.  In times like these, we will first speak with waiting families and see if they want to be considered anyway though they never have to say yes.  After that step, we will network with other agencies or consultants to get profiles for the expectant birth mother to view.

Our goal is to get a profile to a birth mother that she connects with, feels comfortable and confident in her decision about selecting, and ultimately having a sense of peace and confidence in her selection.

While getting profiles shown is obviously key to getting exposure and therefore resulting in a match and ultimately placement, there are many things to consider when deciding on comfort levels for both the expectant birth parent as well as the hopeful waiting adoptive families. Things to consider include resources for the future you may need, your own abilities such as work demands, personality, knowledge of needs of the child, and even desire. These are just a few but definitely important factors to consider.

The second part of the selection/match process is a birth mother connecting with what she sees in a profile and wanting to proceed with that hopeful waiting adoptive family.

One of the questions I get asked the most by hopeful waiting adoptive families is, “What it is the expectant birth mother liked about our profile?” or “What feedback did she give regarding disliking/not selecting our profile?”  I am very honest with hopeful waiting adoptive families and tell them that expectant birth mothers, at least in my personal experience, either really love a profile and can name all of the reasons they connected or they really don’t like any of the profiles they viewed and therefore want more but they typically can’t name a specific “thing” they didn’t like about a specific profile.

So how does this help hopeful waiting adoptive families when creating a profile?? There are specific things we have found that expectant birth parents want to know when in the selection process and they are as follows:

  • General information about the hopeful waiting adoptive family such as:
    • likes and dislikes,
    • hobbies,
    • careers info

 Be honest here as this is where your personality comes through most often. Do you have a dry sense of humor? How about a sarcastic one? Easygoing and laid back or the Type A that plans everything for the family? {don’t be shy here- every family needs a planner! I speak from personal experience} 

  • Extended family- you don’t have to have a large family or a small family- as expectant birth parents like both types of families- they just want to know the information so they can relate- whether it is similar to what they had growing up, what they wish they had, or what they desire for the child for whatever reason- they still want this information
  • Home & community- an expectant birth parent wants to try to picture the lifestyle a child will have:
    • does it include neighborhood events?           
    • does it include lots of space for a child to run around and explore or are their neighbors close that may offer playmates?
    • is it close to the beach, mountains, or dessert?

Remember, you don’t have to live in a McMansion- as many expectant birth parents don’t see this as reality- but they do want to see where you spend time such as around the kitchen or snuggled on the couch.

  • Honesty- this may be the number one thing birth parents are looking for. They don’t want to see professional photos throughout as they want to see more day-to-day life, so they can imagine a child in these activities. They also want to know that you are ‘camera ready’ and take a lot of spur of the moment photos as this helps them to think about post placement photos they may receive in the updates.  
  • Sincerity- Let’s be honest- a profile is probably the hardest thing you will do in the adoption process- you have to market yourself(selves) without coming across as conceited and pompous. Being sincere goes a long way. Don’t ‘over promise’ what you can’t or won’t follow through with. Don’t give false or misleading information, and don’t try to be something you aren’t. The right situation will come along, and you will get selected, matched, and placement when it is right.

Important things to remember as you are on the journey of adoption.

  • Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s
  • Every adoptive family has different comfort levels
  • Every expectant birth parent has different desires when selecting an adoptive family
  • No two adoption stories will ever be the same

Have faith in the process and keep an open line of communication with your agency connection, i.e. adoptive parent coordinator, home study coordinator, or any other caseworker you have a connection with.

Discuss comfort levels and trends the agency is seeing when you can. Remember to do research and connect with pediatricians to stay up to date on recent developments regarding medical issues. Consider reaching out, if possible, to other adoptive families to build your support network.

I am sure the upcoming months will be much the same mayhem that the last few months have been- and to be honest, I love the fast paced, often chaotic world of private adoption and wouldn’t change what I do for anything.  While there is definite heartache throughout the process there is also joy and getting to have a front row seat to watch a family grow through adoption and often times even playing a part on this crazy, beautiful team is the best thing in the world.