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Waiting to Adopt

Advice for gifts/care package to birth mom


Hello- I’m new to this group. My husband and I have just been matched with a birth mother who is due in June. She has very few resources (was homeless so we are paying for her housing now).  I would like to send her a care package—which our adoption agency liaison says is a good idea—but I’d love your advice on what might be helpful to include.  We’re still getting to know her so we don’t know much about her likes and dislikes.  I also don’t want to cross any lines or seem like we’re trying to curry favor with her—but I admit that I’d like her to feel like we care about her and are invested in her.  Do we get her basic items (hygiene, clothes, food etc), or more “luxury” items (spa/body products), or maybe a little of both?  You may be able to tell I’m anxious about this smile  Thank you for your thoughts!

Replies

Hi - congratulations on your match! It’s a wonderful idea to send her a care package.

If you’re still getting to know her and perhaps speaking with her, you might want to let her know you’re thinking about her and would like the opportunity to pamper her a little. I think how you frame this is important so she doesn’t feel like it’s charity but more that it’s a reflection of how grateful you are to her and that her comfort is important to you.

Sorry that may not help you much. I hope others can share good ideas.

Posted by LeeLee on Nov 26, 2019 at 3:47am

Will you still care about her and want to pay for her housing and send her care packages after you have possession of her baby?

“but more that it’s a reflection of how grateful you are to her “—not the OP but a comment—and an apt one—why would you be “grateful” when this is a woman who is pregnant with her own child that in no way is yours just because you are “matched.” It’s an assumption that she has already relinquished. And if she is due in June you are talking about a homeless woman who is only about 2 months pregnant.

This pregnant woman is not your child’s “birth mom.” She is an expectant mother carrying her own child. She may or may not decide to allow you to adopt HER child. That will happen later.

Of course giving her stuff is currying favor. You are not her friend, you are someone who wants her child. Just don’t.

Posted by NoraT on Nov 27, 2019 at 6:34am

I understand NoraT’s concerns, but I don’t think a care package is a bad idea, especially if there are relatively inexpensive things that you know she needs. (if she has been homeless, she probably could use very basic things ). 

I do think you need to proceed with caution, though.  This woman is an expectant mom, not a birth mom, and she is considering adoption at a very early stage in her pregnancy.  Any woman who is considering placing a child for adoption has the right to change her mind, even if she has accepted support from a prospective adoptive family, but at this stage, this woman has not really had a chance to explore her options. You have to consider the very real possibility that she may change her mind.  You need to view anything you do to help her as simply that, helping someone in need, not as part of a contract.  Are you matched through an agency?  Have you discussed with the agency what will happen with you as a waiting family if, after a six month match, this woman decides to parent?  Are you able to absorb the loss of supporting this woman for six months, not as part of adoption expenses, but as just expenses? 

We have three children through adoption, and we had a few failed matches along the way.  We had two matches with expectant moms in early pregnancy; without going into details, one fell through, one did not.  That failed match was particularly difficult.  E-mom just stopped contacting us.  One of our failed matches was a baby born situation… the thing is, in adoption you just never know what is going to happen.  I know how exciting it is to think that you have found your match and you will soon be a parent, but that may not be the case here, and you need to understand that.  As a person who lived through the experience, I am trying to help you prepare for what may happen.  Again, I would proceed with caution.

Posted by jszmom on Dec 06, 2019 at 4:18pm

I gotta say I’m with NoraT on this one.  A match is no guarantee.  Matching fails happen regularly when an expectant mom decides to parent, ghosts, decides to place the baby with a relative or friend, etc.  Additionally, fraudulent “pregnancies” also happen.  At this early stage you should absolutely not be financially supporting this woman, nor showering her with gifts, and your adoption liaison worker should not be encouraging you to do so. 

I have no doubt that you are trying to be helpful, and that you want to do all you can to better ensure a less stressful pregnancy for the mom and therefore hopefully a better outcome for the baby, but I would encourage you to guard your heart (and your wallet) more closely.  Even if Expecting Mom is ENTIRELY on the level, and has no desire whatsoever to parent even if she was in a totally stable situation, SHE deserves to be able to make her decisions for her expected baby without the burden of “I have an obligation to give my baby to these people because they have been supporting me for the last 7 months”.  She may be absolutely positive that she does not want to and cannot parent at 2 months pregnant.  That could change by 5 months,  or 7 months, or she may not change her mind and she may be happy for you to adopt her child at birth! 
Especially at so early a stage, please do not spend any money that you will sorely miss if this match does not result in an adoption.  Offer her any assistance you can in connecting her with charities and resources.  If they are sparse in your area, lean on pro-life/pro-adoption churches and charities “this homeless mother is pregnant and is choosing life for her child and putting it up for adoption, so she needs halfway decent housing, nutrition, and regular medical care during her pregnancy!”  Advocate for her (and for other women in her situation), if you have any strings you can pull, by all means, pull ‘em, but go easy on the direct financial support.  Even if you happen to be quite wealthy and the amount you spend on housing, medical care, and care packages is trivial FOR YOU, it is not likely to seem trivial to her, and it will create an obligation. 

I totally get it…matching is incredibly exciting and may well indeed lead to your dream of adoption!  But keep in mind that a match is not a guaranteed placement, and that this is not your baby yet, and will not be until it is born, adoption papers are signed, and the take-backsies period is over.

I am also giving your adoption agency liaison some side-eye here.  It seems to me they should be making all this abundantly clear.  Encouraging this as a good idea, especially this early on, makes me wonder if they are inexperienced or if they are up to something.

Posted by NPNFEEF on Jan 11, 2020 at 7:00pm

“I am also giving your adoption agency liaison some side-eye here.  It seems to me they should be making all this abundantly clear.  Encouraging this as a good idea, especially this early on, makes me wonder if they are inexperienced or if they are up to something.”

Exactly this. The agency is encouraging the OP to think of this woman already as a “birth mother” and to support her financially and give her gifts precisely because they know this will encourage the woman in crisis to start thinking about herself as a “birth mother” and to feel obligated to the OP.
It’s not rocket science—it’s a well-documented tactic. I understand the HAPs with the best intentions believe that they are being given good advice by their agencies, but think about how they make the money that keeps them in existence.
NPNFEEF is totally right to give this agency the side-eye here.

Posted by NoraT on Jan 17, 2020 at 10:55pm

There needs to be a charity or government organization, independent of the adoption agency, to help women in a crisis pregnancy situation sign up for Medicaid, help them with shelter and food, and transportation to prenatal appointments, as well as counseling during and after pregnancy.  Getting help in that situation should not be conditional on one agreeing to give up their baby. 

I read a book about “unwed mothers homes” of the mid-20th century,  called The Girls Who Went Away.  The situation was horrific, the girls and women were treated as though they were dirty, sinful, and shameful, and they were generally forced or coerced into allowing the babies to be adopted. 

I do wonder, though, if a kinder, gentler “soft place to land” type of maternity home/ women’s shelter might be helpful.  Not a place for judgment and punishment and hiding her “shame”, but a place where women in crisis pregnancy with few resources can stay, receive nutritious meals and medical care,  counseling, and are encouraged to make an informed decision about whether to parent or place the baby for adoption.  Family counseling if possible and appropriate, liaison with whatever resources are available in the state, and referral to adoption agencies would all be good services.  But the important thing would be the separation between the adoption agency/prospective adoptive parents and the services/support available to the expecting mother.

Posted by NPNFEEF on Jan 18, 2020 at 4:09pm

there are places that offer free prenatal care counseling help pregnant women sign up for services such as food stamps WIC etc. One in Cleveland is Womankind but it is a charity funded by donations and fund raisers. Other areas also have such places.

My friend works for an adoption a agency and she says many placements now are married couples both working minimum wage jobs who have children but simply can’t afford another. Birth control failed and they do not want to abort.

Obviously the plight of the working poor is not a big agenda item to the government but they do have some programs to help.

No simple answers.

Posted by Regina on Jan 18, 2020 at 5:08pm

HI Arpi,

Congratulations on your match. I know from experience that is a time of hope for adoptive parents. This is a good site to come on to share concerns and hear lots of thoughtful replies.

I agree with the concerns Nora raised, and others voiced above. First I know it seems nit picky to talk about terms, but it really is important to think of the mom to be as an “expectant mom”. Someone who at this point has made a tentative plan to give up her child for adoption after birth. (That is, she deserves to be taken seriously but also you should know this may or may not be what she decides to do in the end, and this is her right.)

It’s up to you to simultaneously hold in your mind the hope of adopting and welcoming a child and also the knowledge that it may or may not be this one.

There are many reasons why people choose adoptions. If this is someone who is unsure, it is only decent to refer her to or pay for independent counseling. If she would like to keep her child if something changed that could (ie she was able to get a low income apt, someone in her family was able to help her raise the child, etc.) it is also the ethical and kind thing to do to refer her to resources that might help.

Try not to think of her as someone you are “investing in”. It’s not a business proposition, and she is not having the baby for you. Not saying this to be mean but to prevent her from being treated as a breeder and not a person, and you from being hurt if she changes her mind.

But all of this said, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea to give her a care package. Think about what you’d do for a new friend at work or a distant relative, that you knew didn’t have a lot of money. Maybe as you get to know her a little more you will have an easier time choosing. Don’t give anything that you’d resent later if she decides to keep her baby. And if you can since housing is an issue for her, do what you can now to refer her on to resources that can help her with housing after the pregnancy ends.

Also if you do end up adopting this child, unless the mom wants a closed adoption, you will end up being connected, via your child, relatives of a kind. So other than help with housing, food and medical care if necessary during the pregnancy, to benefit the child, remember that you need to feel comfortable with continuing whatever level of commitment and friendship you now have with her.Good luck!

Posted by Happy Camper on Jan 20, 2020 at 7:00pm

“but I admit that I’d like her to feel like we care about her and are invested in her.”

Happy Camper makes a good point here that I missed :“Try not to think of her as someone you are “investing in” It’s not a business proposition, and she is not having the baby for you.”

Actually, caring about her and being invested in her are, if you are honest and think about, two entirely different things.

Posted by NoraT on Jan 21, 2020 at 1:34am

To me, the salient point here is that this is a woman who is in an early stage of pregnancy.

As Regina points out, there are government and charitable programs to help this young woman get medical care and housing, and, I agree, the agency that is working with this woman should be helping her with these things.  My concern for both the e-mom and the PAP is that the baby is not due for another 6 months.  I do agree that the term “birth mother” should not be used to describe a woman who is considering adoption.  I don’t think the OP meant “investing in” as a business proposition, but it is not wrong to be careful about the language we use, words are important.  I don’t believe that a simple care package is coercion, and I don’t think the agency is wrong to encourage the OP to send a simple care package. 

What concerns me is that both the e-mom and the OP are being pressured to accept a “match” which may end up not being a match at all.  I did read a birth mother’s account of how being in a long-term match helped her know the adoptive family and feel comfortable with her decision, perhaps that will be the case here, but I think that this e-mom deciding to parent is also a real possibility.  Before anyone objects, I am not saying that the e-mom doesn’t have the right to parent, I am only saying, as a PAP who went through this, you can respect the rights of the e-mom/bio-mom and still be devastated by the outcome.  And, before anyone says that this is all because agencies do pre-birth matching, we had a failed match that was a “baby born” situation (bio-parents did not contact any adoption professional until after the baby was born).

Any match between bio parents and PAP’s could end up being a failed match, you never know until the end.  I think the OP needs to be cautious and consider whether emotionally and financially they can afford a long term match that fails.

Posted by jszmom on Jan 22, 2020 at 1:52pm

“many placements now are married couples both working minimum wage jobs who have children but simply can’t afford another. Birth control failed and they do not want to abort.”

Are hopeful adoptive parents really OK with this?

Posted by NoraT on Jan 23, 2020 at 2:13am

My first-parents were married.  I was my mother’s 3rd child and my father’s 2nd.  My dad didn’t want to give me up but he felt railroaded.  He regretted it almost immediately.  My mother regretted it when I found them when I was 16 and told them that “wonderful couple” I was placed with was actually a pedophile and his clueless wife.  I would have fared so much better if they had kept me…..no designer clothes and no private schools but I would have been loved.  I hated being adopted.  I’m opposed to pre-birth matching as well.  If the mother decides to parent at the last minute the PAPs can put incredible pressure and guilt on her.  I’ve seen it happen several times. And a mother isn’t a “birth mom” until she signs the papers and the adoption has been finalized.  Until then she is the mother.

Posted by Lorene on Jan 23, 2020 at 3:30am

I agree with Nora.
Will you still send her care packages when you have her baby in your home?  If not then it feels like a bribe to me.

Posted by Lorene on Jan 23, 2020 at 3:36am

Nora, it’s pretty horrific, honestly. 

I myself think it would be a good investment for every woman who wants it to be provided free long-acting reversible birth control (implant or IUD).  No rewards or penalties for getting it done or not getting it done, just having it available if they want it, no cost.  If long-acting reliably reversible birth control for men is approved here, it should be provided too. 

There should absolutely be help available for people who don’t really want to place their baby for adoption, but feel that they have no choice because they can’t afford another child.  Poverty should not be the only factor in splitting up families.

Posted by NPNFEEF on Jan 27, 2020 at 2:32am

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