If you’re a hopeful adoptive grandparent, we know that you’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of your new grandchild. You’ve probably spent plenty of time getting familiar with adoption and imagining what your future with them will look like, and we know you can’t wait to meet them.

But, if you’re reading this article, there’s probably one aspect of adoption that you weren’t prepared for: a disruption.

Adoption disruptions are an unfortunate reality of adoption. But, if you’re a hopeful, soon-to-be grandparent, you probably don’t know exactly what they are or why they happen. While adoption disruptions are rare, they are possible — and you should be prepared, just in case.

If your child is currently in the middle of a disruption or if they’ve already experienced one, this guide will help you understand this situation a little better.

Why Do Disruptions Happen?

A disruption can happen for any reason.

Some women realize that, after months of planning for adoption, their heart just isn’t in it after the birth of their child. Other women come to this realization much earlier in their pregnancies and take the steps to choose parenting instead of adoption.

Another expectant mother might feel concerned about what her family and friends will think of her decision, and she may factor their opinions into her decision. And still, in other situations, a child’s father may step forward last-minute, providing the support the expectant mother needed to parent.

Any one of these circumstances could occur during an adoption, and each one is a valid reason for a pregnant woman to change her mind.

Why Would Our Child Turn Down an Adoption Opportunity?

If your child was the one who ended an adoption match, you’re probably having a harder time wrapping your mind around the reasons why. But, there are some situations where it’s normal for an adoptive parent to have second thoughts.  Ultimately, they have to do what they are comfortable with and, sometimes, that means turning down an opportunity they previously accepted.

If your child chooses to disrupt an adoption, it could be because of:

  • A history of drug use by the prospective birth parent(s)
  • Something in the prospective birth parent’s medical history
  • A situation the adoptive parents weren’t open to in their APQ
  • A lack of funding for the adoption opportunity
  • Open adoption preferences that the adoptive parents are not open to (such as yearly visits)

Try to be understanding of and support your child’s decision. Choosing to disrupt their opportunity doesn’t mean that they’ll never adopt again. It just means that they’re still looking for the right fit.

Is There Anything We Can Do?

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to stop a disruption from happening. Adoption is a very personal decision, and as such, it’s up to the prospective birth parents or the adoptive parents to make the best decision for them.

Even though you understandably want answers as to why the disruption occurred, the most important thing to know is that closure isn’t always possible. The last thing your child needs is to be hounded with questions and opinions. Remember: They’re grieving this loss, too.

If your child has experienced a disruption, one of the best things you can do to support them and help them move forward. Your encouragement will mean more to them than you know.

How Can We Be Supportive?

There are many ways to show your child how much you care during this tough time.

Remember to listen to them and put their needs first. Let them know that, even when it’s hard, they can always reach out to you whenever they’re ready to talk.

Don’t just assume that you know what they need. Instead, wait for them to come to you with their concerns.

You should also focus on spending quality time with them and participate in some of their favorite hobbies and activities. While some families understandably want to be alone with their thoughts, try to get them out of the house, if they are comfortable doing so. It could be just what they need.

In addition, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Experiencing an adoption disruption can be quite a shock for extended family, as well. Take as much time as you need to process your own emotions as you move forward.

What are the Next Steps?

After a disruption, it’s up to your child and their partner to decide the best course of action. They will likely need to time to grieve their loss before they can move forward.

Some adoptive families need very little time to process their emotions and decide to pursue adoption again right away. Others need more time, and it could be months or years before they’re ready to go active again.

Either way, the best thing that you can do is stick by your child and let them know you’ll support whatever decision they need to make. Remember to be patient and give them plenty of space. When they’re ready to begin the process again, you’ll be the first to know.