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Preventing Adoption Disruptions

And Why Your Choice of Professional Matters

An adoption disruption is every hopeful adoptive parent’s biggest fear. After all, prospective birth parents can change their mind about adoption at any time until they legally sign their consent — and when that does happen, it can be extremely difficult for the adoptive family that has invested so much hope and energy into the adoption opportunity. While adoption disruptions are not incredibly common, they do happen. It’s easier to not think about it, but it behooves anyone considering adoption to prepare for the possibility.

One of the best ways to prepare is by finding an agency that is committed to preventing adoption disruptions in the first place. Many families considering adoption may be surprised to learn that the way an adoption agency operates can have a direct impact on limiting the possibility of a failed adoption. You can and should choose an organization that takes the necessary steps to prevent adoption disruptions. 

How can you find these agencies, and what proactive steps do they take to prevent a disrupted adoption from occurring? We’ll cover that and more in this guide to preventing adoption disruptions.

If you're a prospective birth mother, you can learn more about what an adoption disruption means by completing our online form to connect with a professional today.

What Is an Adoption Disruption?

An adoption disruption sometimes called a “failed adoption,” is when an adoption process is stopped at any point before the placement is legally finalized. In some situations, like foster care adoptions, a disruption may happen after a child is already in his or her adoptive parent’s care. In a domestic infant adoption, an adoption disruption can occur before or shortly after birth if a prospective birth mother decides to parent the baby. This can happen even after an adoptive family has been chosen, which is part of what makes disruptions so difficult for families to handle. 

What Percentage of Adoptions Fail?

Because of the emotional and financial risk involved, it is common for hopeful parents to wonder how many adoptions fail. The rate of disruption in adoption depends on the type of adoption.

  • Older children adopted through foster care experience a higher rate of adoption disruption than younger children.

  • Failed adoptions in the private domestic adoption process have not been studied or tracked as thoroughly as foster care adoptions, so those failed adoption statistics can be a bit less clear.

  • It is generally estimated that the adoption disruption rate nationally for domestic placements is around 15-20%. This rate accounts for many different types of adoption professionals and may not be indicative of any single adoption agency.

What Causes Adoption Disruptions?

An adoption disruption could occur for many reasons. Every adoption is unique because the situations of the adoptive parents and prospective birth mother are unique. The specifics of her situation will determine the likelihood of an adoption disruption, but there are other factors. Adoption agencies can provide support and services to help decrease the likelihood of a disrupted adoption.

When disruptions do occur, it is most often the result of a lack of counseling and conversation with pregnant women. Below are reasons why adoptions fail with some adoption organizations:

  • Counseling or case management is provided by staff without counseling or social work degrees.

  • Counseling is provided by a counselor who may be experienced in adoption but who doesn’t have much experience working with prospective birth parents.

  • The adoption professional is only available during business hours and cannot meet the serious needs of the prospective birth mother outside of a typical work day.

  • The adoption organization doesn’t make counseling or case management mandatory. Some adoption professionals only offer counseling “if the birth mother needs it.” A better process always assumes that counseling will be needed during this emotional journey.

Effects on a Family When an Adoption Fails

For reasons listed above or due to other causes, some adoptions do fail. A family whose adoption failed is left trying to piece together a difficult situation. First, there is the emotional loss of an adoption disruption. Families often need time and counseling to process this. Second, there can be a financial loss when there is a disruption in adoption. Sometimes it can feel wrong to think of finances during such a personal, emotional time. However, it is something that families whose adoption failed will need to consider, and adoption agencies protect families from this financial loss in different ways. At American Adoptions, we take away the risk of financial loss from a failed adoption so that a family can focus on recovering emotionally and continuing their adoption journey when they are ready.

Why Counseling Helps Prevent Adoption Disruptions

Every prospective birth mother experiences a range of emotions during the adoption process. Choosing adoption can be difficult. Even when an expectant mother knows parenting will be impossible and adoption is the best choice, there is still extreme loss associated with the decision. Adoption comes from love, and that love is still strong even as the baby is placed with the adoptive parents. Anyone navigating these complex emotions will benefit from the support of professional counseling.

Unfortunately, not all adoption professionals can provide this support. Due to a variety of reasons — lack of trained staff, a focus on the legal aspects of adoption or ignorance to the importance of counseling — some adoption professionals do not work closely with prospective birth mothers in this way. This is a shame, because it not only increases the possibility of a failed adoption, but it also harms everyone involved. The adoptive family is at greater risk of a disruption, and the prospective birth mother misses out on the vital support she needs in the process of making this brave decision.

American Adoptions understands that any prospective birth mother is dealing with a lot of difficult thoughts and feelings, which is why our excellently trained and certified social workers dedicate massive amounts of time and resources to counseling potential birth mothers. We put the needs of prospective birth mothers first, which benefits the pregnant women and adoptive families we serve.

We offer our counseling services 24/7, and each prospective birth mother is assigned a licensed adoption specialist who oversees her case from beginning to end. Our social workers truly understand the needs, concerns and hopes of each prospective birth mother. This support leads to better treatment of birth mothers, more successful adoptions and fewer adoption disruptions.

If you’d like to learn more about how American Adoptions prevents adoption disruptions, and how we protect families from the financial risk of adoption disruptions, you can request free information online. No matter where you are in the adoption process, our adoption specialists would love to answer your questions.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions does not allow gender specificity in adoption. Any family who wishes to be gender-specific in their adoption should contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION and ask about the possibility of an exception waiver before taking any other steps toward adoption with our agency. Any families who do receive an exception to be gender-specific may also incur an additional fee, which helps cover the additional advertising costs of such a request.

Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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