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What to Do When an Adoption Falls Through

How to Move on After an Adoption Disruption

It’s an undeniable reality of the adoption process: sometimes, an adoption opportunity just doesn’t work out.

At American Adoptions, we do everything we can to prevent these adoption disruptions from happening. Pregnant women considering adoption receive personal and attentive counseling to help them be sure that adoption is the right choice for them. Our adoption specialists are available 24/7 to address expectant mothers’ concerns in moments of doubt. And we carefully pre-screen prospective birth mothers to gauge their commitment to adoption before we connect them with an adoptive family.

However, there are still occasions when adoption fails and a woman who was making an adoption plan changes her mind and decides not to move forward with the placement. This is known as an adoption disruption, and it can be devastating for hopeful families.

When an adoption falls through like this, that disruption can leave you feeling shocked, angry, hurt, and — above all — disappointed. But always remember that it is not the end to an adoption journey. It is a difficult obstacle to overcome, but on the other side is your life as a new family.

If you find yourself dealing with an adoption disruption, here are some of the steps you can take as you look ahead:

If you're a prospective birth mother wanting more information on what an adoption disruption means, fill out this form or call 1-800-ADOPTION to connect with a professional today.

Step 1: Understand Why Some Adoption Plans Fail

As cliché as it sounds, it really is not you. In fact, most often it’s actually a lack of counseling for pregnant women that causes a failed adoption match. If you worked with another organization to make an adoption plan, do any of the following apply?

  • Pregnant women who contact the adoption professional are not provided with any sort of emotional support or counseling aside from legal counsel. A woman navigating her unplanned pregnancy options can be under a great deal of stress, and having someone to work with her and help her to understand all of her options can be invaluable, both for her sake and for yours when it comes to an adoption disruption.

  • Counseling was provided to the pregnant woman, but by someone who was not an expert. If a staff member is not a licensed social worker or some other licensed counselor, then he or she should not be counseling.

  • Counseling is not mandatory with that specific adoption professional. Maybe the pregnant woman thought she didn’t need it, or maybe she fell through a hole in the staff’s system.

If any of the above apply to your adoption professional, it may be time to consider a new one. If this is the case, please contact American Adoptions so that we can walk you through exactly what sort of counseling potential birth mothers should always receive.

However, a lack of counseling is not the only reason why some prospective birth mothers change their mind about adoption. While American Adoptions provides excellent counseling to birth parents and women considering adoption, it is inevitable that an adoption disruption will sometimes happen. Potential birth parents are going through a lot, and they have a legal right to change their minds where their child is concerned. A prospective birth mother may end up deciding not to place for any number of reasons, whether that’s a lack of support in her adoption decision from the child’s father, a change in her personal situation, or many other possible factors in her life.

Step 2: Give Yourself and Your Partner Time to Grieve

An adoption disruption is a loss, and like any other loss, you will need to cope with your feelings. Everybody grieves in a different way and at their own pace, so let yourself move through the process and acknowledge your emotions. It’s going to take time. You may have even gone through a similar grieving process after failed infertility treatments. If that is the case, you’ll already know you cannot rush the process.

Your partner will also grieve in his or her own way. Some people may share their emotions freely, while others may not want to communicate much at all. Allow your partner to grieve in his or her own way while maintaining open lines of communication. Before moving forward, you and your partner must be on the same page and want the same things. When adoption fails, not everyone is ready to immediately get back in the saddle again. If it feels like your partner is taking longer, consider entering counseling together.

When you are dealing with a failed adoption, support is vital. Friends and family can be a great source of comfort during this time. Do not be afraid to reach out to loved ones with whom you can share your feelings.

Step 3: Seek Closure

It’s okay to think about what you have lost. You can ask your adoptive family specialist to answer any questions you may have about the birth mother and her reasons for choosing to discontinue her adoption plan. Your adoption specialist can also provide support as you work through your feelings regarding the disruption.

At American Adoptions, you do not have to go “active” again immediately after a failed match. You can take your time and work to make peace with what has happened. This will mean different things for different people. Maybe for you this means making peace with God, or maybe it means making peace with the adoption process and the fact that a pregnant woman can always decide to parent her child instead of place. Do whatever you need to do so that you can be okay with what has happened.

Step 4: Decide When You’re Ready to Try Again

Sometimes when an adoption falls through, the most effective way to heal is to give yourself time. The heartbreak of an adoption disruption may not heal quickly, but as it begins to fade, you will be able to look forward and think about what your next steps will be.

Some hopeful parents are ready to become active again right away. Others may choose to take a break before looking for another adoption opportunity. When you work with American Adoptions, you have the power to decide how and when — or even if — you want to move forward with adoption. But that isn’t always the case with other professionals.

How Financial Protection Can Help You Move Forward

When you accept an adoption opportunity, you invest a great deal of time, energy and emotion into that potential placement. Your adoption dreams finally starts to feel like they’re within reach, and you start to let yourself believe that you will soon be bringing home the baby you’ve dreamed of for so long. That’s why it can be so emotionally challenging when adoption fails; that emotional investment in the process is necessary, and there’s no way to fully protect yourself from the pain that can come from an adoption disruption.

However, by working with the right adoption agency, you can protect yourself financially.

In addition to the emotional investment, adoptive families often also make a significant financial investment when they accept an adoption opportunity. They’ll pay for things like medical fees and living expenses for the prospective birth mother. But what happens if she changes her mind?

With most professionals, those funds are lost. Sometimes, this hit can devastate a family financially — and prevent them from ever being able to afford a successful adoption. At best, those funds might be “rolled over” into the next adoption opportunity — but that means the money remains tied up with that adoption professional. Adoptive families in these situations don’t have the choice to take a break from the adoption process or to reconsider their choice of professional.

Our agency does things differently. American Adoptions provides true financial protection against adoption disruptions, returning most, if not all, post-activation funds directly to the adoptive family.  This allows hopeful parents to take their time coming to terms with the adoption disruption, and to return to the adoption process if and when they are ready.

Our adoption specialists will be there when you are ready to resume your adoption journey. If you feel that you are ready to go active again, or if you’re wondering what to do when an adoption falls through with another adoption professional, please don’t hesitate to request more free information online.

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.