Whenever we counsel women who are pregnant or recently gave birth, we talk to them about all of their options, including placing their child with a family member. But even though we always ask them whether anyone in the family might want to adopt the baby – and sometimes there is someone who wants to do that – women don’t always choose that option. Why?
Too Close for Comfort?
Most women tell our birth parent counselors that they don’t want to place their baby for adoption with someone they know for two main reasons. The first is that placing a child for adoption is extremely painful even when it feels like the right choice, and many birth parents feel that seeing their child at every family event they attended would be difficult. The impact of an adoption decision doesn’t end after placement, but it is important for birth parents to return to their daily life and find their “new normal,” which can be tough to do if their lives are still very much intertwined with their child and that child’s family.
The second main reason that most women give for not wanting to place with someone they know is that they worry that the boundaries of their relationship with their child and with the family member would be too blurry. After a birth parent places their baby with a family unrelated to them, they are not responsible for that family’s well-being; but what if a birth parent placed their baby with a family member, and then that family member got into financial trouble? The birth parent might feel like they had to help out, even if it meant straining themselves financially. Birth parents also tell us that it would be stressful to regularly see someone else parenting their child because everyone has a different parenting style, and if they found themselves disagreeing with any of their family member’s parenting methods, they wouldn’t know whether or not to speak up.
A Perfect Solution?
All of that said, placing with a family member is a wonderful option for some people, particularly if they want to have an extremely open relationship with their child and their child’s family. In a typical open adoption with Adoptions Together, birth parents see their children once or twice a year; if a birth parent feels strongly that they want to be able to see their child every month, speak with them on the phone regularly, or spend holidays with them, it is unlikely that we would be able to find an adoptive family who felt comfortable with that arrangement. In cases like these, where the birth parent really wants to have a level of openness that won’t work for most parents looking to adopt through an agency, placing the child with a family member can be a great way to make sure that everyone’s needs are met.
Did you consider placing your baby with a family member? What did you decide?