Adoption involves a lot of documents. The paperwork is mountainous, and monotonous. It’s easy, as an adoptive family, to start signing without thinking. What’s another signature or another document to approve, right?


We know it can get tedious and overwhelming, but each document you fill out in the adoption process matters. Potentially none matter more than your Adoption Planning Questionnaire, or APQ.

Your APQ is your roadmap to adoption. It’s an opportunity to lay out what you feel comfortable with, and it’s key to finding the perfect adoption opportunity. Some of the questions it asks will be uncomfortable, but total honesty is required. This is what your adoption specialist will use to determine which prospective birth mothers to present with your adoptive family profile. The clearer you can be, the better opportunity for finding a prospective birth mother who is on the exact same page.

When thinking about your APQ, it’s also important to remain flexible. The world may appear black and white when you are filling it out — we do want this, and we don’t want this. Plain and simple. But life, as you know, is composed of shades of gray. What happens when an opportunity arrives that is just outside of the scope of your APQ?

Maybe it’s a medical condition you had originally said no to, or an opportunity that’s going to require you to increase your adoption budget by $1,000. What do you do?

Deciding how to handle an adoption opportunity that is beyond your APQ is a difficult and personal decision. American Adoptions has been serving adoptive families for more than 25 years, and over the course of that time we have helped many families work through this exact scenario.

Every adoption decision is personal. Here are some things to consider when you are trying to decide what’s best for your family.

Hear it Out

It might be easiest to jump to a conclusion, but it’s best to hear it out. Every situation is unique. Something that seemed major as a hypothetical — like, as previously mentioned, a budget increase — may in reality be less of an obstacle than you had imagined.

We’re not saying everything outside of your APQ is actually going to be good for your family; just that some things might be. You’re the judge here. But just like a real judge, you’ve got to take time to hear about both sides before making a call. Don’t land on an answer before seriously considering the new opportunity that has been presented to you.

Consider the Positives

Cynicism is a good escape hatch. You can choose to see the negative side of everything and believe in worst-case scenarios. But, in our years of experience, this isn’t very helpful and those scenarios are rarely accurate.

As simple as it may seem, making a conscious effort to see the positive side of things is important when you’re considering an adoption opportunity outside of your APQ. Let’s say, for instance, the child has a medical condition that you were not expecting and had specifically said “no” to in your APQ. Is this condition treatable? Are people with this condition able to grow up and lead happy lives? Do you have the means to provide the medical care necessary for this child to heal, whereas other parents may not have those means?

You may still decide that an opportunity is too far outside of your APQ for your family to handle. If so, that’s okay. But we recommend reaching that conclusion after considering all of the potential positives, rather than going straight to the negatives.

You Have to Be on the Same Page

Young woman talking to man holding coffee cup. Couple are communicating at home. Laptop is on table.Honesty and commitment. More than anything else, you need these qualities when deciding whether or not to accept an opportunity outside of your APQ. Be honest about what you can handle and be committed to each other.

It is vital — so, very vital — that both partners are on the same page with their answer. We have seen how bad it can turn out when one partner is charging ahead with the other dragging their feet. Not only can this impact your relationship; it can ultimately be harmful to the child.

If one partner is unsure, then the answer isn’t “yes.” Trust each other and have each other’s backs. The most important thing is to do what is best for your family, and you have to be in lockstep to do that.

Your Adoption Specialist Has Your Back

The last thing you should feel in this situation is pressure. You need to do what is best for your family. At American Adoptions, we have your back, regardless of whether it’s a “yes” or “no.” If you’re feeling pressure from your adoption professional, that’s a very bad sign. You should feel fully supported as you make this challenging choice.

If you have more questions about adopting outside of your APQ, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time to speak with an adoption specialist. You can also request more free information about adoption to learn more.