Perhaps you’ve been waiting for months to finish the adoption process. You may have completed your home study, the background checks, and you’ve created your family profile for birth mothers to learn about you. Now, you’re eager to welcome a sweet baby into your family. Yet, although it should be a happy time, you may struggle with fear. Perhaps a little voice in your head is saying, “What if the birth mother wants her baby back?”
You’re not alone in your fears. Many hopeful adoptive parents wonder what happens if the birth mother wants her baby back. For instance, an adoptive couple recently asked this question.
“My wife and I have just started to look into adopting after failed fertility treatments. However, since she’s already been through so much, I’m feeling wary of adoption. What if the birth mother changes her mind about adoption? What if she wants her baby back?”
These are normal concerns held by many hopeful adoptive parents. Sadly, the media often sensationalizes situations like this, so you may feel it’s a common thing that often happens in adoption. The truth is adoption reclaims aren’t common, and they don’t happen that much. Here is some information that will help ease your fears and help you understand the adoption process better.
Before the Baby is Born
During her pregnancy, a birth mother can change her mind about adoption. A birth mother changing her mind during the adoption match happens sometimes, and it’s within her rights to do this before her baby is born.
Lifetime offers ongoing counseling from a licensed therapist, an important resource for birth parents who choose adoption during pregnancy and after. When she has the opportunity to speak with a professional counselor, it helps her decide if adoption is the right choice during her pregnancy. This dedication to supporting birth mothers is one of the reasons Lifetime Adoption has one of the lowest reclaim rates among adoption agencies, of around 3-4%.
After the Baby is Born
After the baby is born, most states require the birth mother to wait for 48 hours before consenting to the adoption of her child. When she’s chosen you as her baby’s adoptive parents, she will sign paperwork consenting to the adoption. Signing this paperwork means that her parental rights are terminated, and she’ll sign it before at least one witness and a notary public.
Once your adoption is final in court, the baby is as much yours as if you had given birth. You are the baby’s parents. You will have an adoption lawyer who will ensure all legal documents are filed and in order and schedule your finalization hearing in court.
Most birth mothers are confident about their decision to place their child through adoption, especially if they’ve received counseling services. Choosing an open adoption also reduces the risk of a reclaim. When a birth mother understands that the open adoption allows her to stay in contact with her child and will enable her to have a part of the child’s life, she’ll have peace about the adoption.
Please keep in mind that this blog post does not serve as legal advice and is not meant to take the place of an adoption attorney. Be sure to ask your adoption attorney what the legal process is for the state you are adopting in.
Work With a Trusted Adoption Agency
It’s important to hire a reputable adoption agency. Adoption professionals can watch for signs showing that a birth mother is at risk of reclaiming. Your Adoption Coordinator’s vigilance starts with screening potential birth mothers. They can often spot birth mothers who fit the profile of a woman who won’t be able to place her child in the end. We also know the questions to ask to find out what a birth mother wants in adoptive parents. A good match and a good relationship between them reduce the risk.
As you do in all things in your life, be sure to trust God to work His will for your life. Remember that if God has ordained for you to adopt a particular child, nothing can stop it. So trust that any child meant for you will come to you.
Other than praying and trusting God, there are few things adoptive parents can do to prevent a reclaim. We’re dealing with human emotions and a major life decision on her part, after all. Therefore, it’s essential to prepare for a reclaim as a possibility and trust in the process.
What If a Birth Mother Wants Her Baby Back?
We realize how difficult it is, so we work hard to prevent it, but we cannot predict all outcomes. Sometimes we see a red flag before the placement, but the adoption goes through. Other times a reclaim may surprise us.
If it happens to you, take some time off until you are ready to start again. Pray to God for healing. If you don’t give up, you will find your child because most adoptions succeed.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 1, 2018, and has since been updated.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”