If you’ve been following us awhile, you’ll notice that a lot of our Purl families have recently been chosen as prospective adoptive parents by an expectant family considering adoption for their child. But what does chosen really mean? The expectant family has usually reviewed family profiles and selected a family she is interested in, and usually that is confirmed by a call or even an in person meeting, if distance allows. But what it doesn’t mean is that this child is not the prospective adoptive families yet, and it may never be. The expectant family will typically have a few days after birth of the child before they can sign consents to the adoption, and in many cases, the expectant family will choose instead to parent the child, or allow the foster care system to intervene and try and reunify with the child at a later date, if they aren’t able to parent under the circumstances at the time. If the expectant family is able to parent, it needs to be celebrated, even if it is admittedly painful and difficult for the prospective adoptive family.

Being “chosen” is a necessary step in adoption. But if it comes before the time consents are signed, it is just one step in an adoption plan that doesn’t come to fruition. For that reason, I am always very cautious about what a prospective adoptive family does when they are chosen by an expectant family and I always cringe when I see prospective adoptive families taking certain steps once chosen. In fact, here are some things I DO NOT think you should do once you are chosen:

  • announce this child as if it is your child already, or act in any way entitled to this child. In fact, I’d recommend keeping details of the adoption scenario you’ve been selected for very small, and definitely make clear to anyone you tell that this child may not be yours. I think you can indicate you are chosen generally if you’d like, but it should always be accompanied by an acknowledgement that this is not your child until the expectant family has the baby and elects to continue with the adoption plan, and until that happens, this is not your child. Keep in mind that this could be your child, so I would always remember to protect the details of your child’s story, more on that here.

  • pick a name for this specific child. It is totally appropriate to discuss naming the child you have been chosen for with the expectant family in advance, however, you need to be prepared that if she parents this child she may name the child what you’ve selected together and still elect to parent. That may impact your decision to use the name later, so be prepared for the uncertain process that is yet to come when you have those discussions. For more on naming the baby in an adoption setting, check out our blog here, or a great blog by Absolute Love Adoptions, here.

  • have a baby shower for this specific child. I don’t believe that a baby shower should be held for a specific child before that child is born. Instead, here’s some guidance as to when and how a baby shower should be held in an adoption setting.

I think it is appropriate to be excited about the connection you have made with an expectant mom over the love of a child, but it needs to be done within reason, and understanding that child is still the expectant family’s child and will always be! You have been chosen to play another important role, but that role isn’t solidified until after consents have been signed. Try and keep your expectations in line with that reality, and please love and support that expectant family making one of the most difficult decisions they will ever make!

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