Arizona Pregnancy Help

Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #92 – Adoption Match Choice Preferences

adoption choice

Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me Ron Rains, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:

Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:

I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:

Don’t have an abortion, give this child a chance.

 Ron Reigns:

Now we’ll compare those adoption choice preferences to the choices that hopeful adopting parents face. Also, according to adopt.com, these adoption choices are, the number of children they’re willing to adopt, the type of adoption as in domestic or international, or a foster child adoption. They, also like the birth parents, will consider open, semi-open, or closed adoptions, racial background of the child, education of the birth parents, agency or private adoption, age of the child, gender of the child, birth order, drug, alcohol, or cigarette exposure and exposure to abuse or neglect.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Going through the choices that adoption.com has identified the adoption choice preferances that each entity really focuses on is really fascinating because they’re very different yet you will find some similarities. I also think it’s interesting that the number of variables that the birth mothers and birth fathers tend to have when they’re entering into an adoptive match are much less in terms of number or quantity than the adoptive parents. So to me, that was fascinating, and having been with birth mothers, when they’re making the adoption choice and choosing an adoptive family, I will say this is spot on. This is one hundred percent spot on. These identified variables are what we see all day every day. Now they don’t always have all of these. I would say, from my experience, the number of children currently in the family, the family’s location, and the open versus semi-open adoption versus closed adoption. The racial backgrounds are the most important to a birth mother.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So I would say the top four adoption choice preferances are what I see their decisions based upon. In regards to the potential adoptive parents and their choice in terms of matching with a birth mother. The ones that I see in terms of being kind of their priorities are absolutely not the first ones. I don’t see that very often the number of children waiting to adopt, going into an adoption, the domestic versus international versus foster. Yeah, that is a primary issue that adoptive families do focus on. The open versus closed, versus semi-open is absolutely a priority I have seen as well. The racial background of a child, I would say in some cases, there are some families that come into adoption and the racial background of a child is irrelevant. Some of them are focused on that, but other ones are not.

Ron Reigns:

When they are focused on the racial background. Is it more often that they want the same race as themselves? Or is it more often that they’re like, I would like a mixed race or a particular race that’s not my own?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In my experience, it’s a very awkward and uncomfortable conversation that is had for the adoptive family because it is usually prefaced with, I’m not racist, I’m not prejudiced at all… However and then there will be a list of reasons. In the area, I live in we do not have very many minorities. I wouldn’t want the child to stand out. Our family does not have any diversity at all, you know extended family. So they will start prefacing as to why they have this adoption choice preference. I do think that in some situations adoptive families do want the child to look like them, for reasons such as they don’t necessarily want to stand out. They don’t maybe want the fact that the child is adopted to be front and center.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

They don’t want somebody to think that they’re fostering or they’re babysitting. They want to be looked at as a unit and I think that the fear is that if they have a child of a different race that that’s going to be different, than if they were to have a child that was not. As we’re progressing into 2020, and we’re going forward, that is lessening. I will say it is one hundred percent lessening.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I will say too, that black birth moms very much would like to place their baby also with an African American family, a black family, if that’s possible. Unfortunately, we don’t see very many… Very few, I would say if at all black or African American families that are looking to adopt out of the domestic program. So in that situation for birth mothers who really want their child to be in a family with another person in that family that is of color, they will often choose a family that maybe has already adopted a black child and so there is some continuity and someone to relate to color-wise. Another concern is one of the number one things I hear from moms that are black, that want their babies adopted by a black couple is they’re very worried about the skin and the hair. That is one of the number one things that they’re concerned about is they’re not going to know how to take care of their skin and take care of their hair.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We also have an international program where we adopt out of Haiti. So we explained to the birth parents that there are resources that we do give to adoptive families and I do travel all over the country and get to see a lot of the babies as they’re growing up and their hair and their skin looks great. So they’re doing an amazing job and I can tell you from my experience in looking at these children, as they growing up that, we’ll make sure that they have all the resources they need so that they’re… This child will have good skin and everything.

Ron Reigns:

I see that as a weird kind of deterrent because if you think about it before you have a baby, you don’t know how to breastfeed or change a diaper. I mean, maybe you do from life experiences on a diaper thing, but there’s a lot of things that once you have a baby, whether it’s adopted or whether it’s, you know…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Ron, we’re going to… Go back real quick. Breastfeeding is natural and has been done since the beginning of time.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You know, animals breastfeed. So it is a natural thing.

Ron Reigns:

So is learning how to take care of a child’s different needs, whether it’s their hair or their skin. It’s things that you will learn, it’s not things that all of a sudden you’ll just be completely taken back by. You figure it out, right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes, absolutely you figure it out, and like I said, there are so many resources out there.

Ron Reigns:

Mm-hmm.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We have staff members that have children of different colors. They can speak to some of the birth moms and some of the families and talk with them about what that’s like and how beautiful it is and then you’ve got celebrities that people say, well they’re celebrities, it doesn’t matter. Well, actually people do look up to them and it does make a difference and I think that when there is somebody that you look at as credible. Angelina Jolie, for instance.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You know, you look at her and she’s adopted children of all different colors. I think that has actually helped people in the adoption world, whether it be birth moms or adoptive families, to see that blending families is beautiful and it is looked at very differently than it was 50 years ago.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Adoptive families’ adoption choice preferences, have not, in my opinion, seemed to focus on the religion of the birth parents. Special needs is definitely a focus. Gender is a big one and it’s one that as an agency that we have struggled with in the past for a number of reasons and I find this interesting, and I really hope that this information kind of sinks into our listeners because it’s something that I have watched over 16 years now, evolve and change regarding gender. When you are having your own biological child, you don’t get to choose. You don’t get to have a boy or a girl and the combative argument when I’ve used this is, well, there are certain things you can do so that your chances are higher that you may have a boy or a girl.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Ultimately, you don’t really get to choose. With regards to adoption choice, the majority of people who are adopting want to, if given the preference, adopt a girl, 80% of adoptions used to be girls because of all the adoptions that were done through China, you could only adopt girls from China. So those numbers were skewed way up on the female side and now that China has changed drastically the types of adoptions they’re doing, they’re focusing more on special needs and there are some boys in the special needs category that you can adopt through China. Meeting and accommodating a family with regard to gender and then you hear every story from, well, I have four boys and I really want a girl, or I have three girls and my husband really wants a son and I understand that and I appreciate that. I often let families know then we’re not the agency for you because of enough… There are a couple of factors.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

One, we used to do gender preferences very early on in our agency and what happened is it just bottlenecked our program. 50% of the women when they came into the agency did not know what they were having. So that 50% could not be shown to a particular family. The other 50% half were having boys and half were having girls. So we were only able to show one quarter of the potential birth moms as an adoption choice for this family, to this family. The other thing is that ultrasounds even today in 2020 are not always correct. You will be told, it’s a girl, it’s a girl, it’s a girl. Surprise, it’s a boy and so there are no guarantees. People will say, well, have you had that happen?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes, yes. We’ve had families show up doused in what looks like Pepto-Bismol, waiting for a girl and out hops a little guy and that happens. I understand that going into the adoption choice plan, journey, you really want to control as many aspects as you can and that’s one aspect that as a potential adoptive family looking at you think, well, that’s one thing I can control is to whether or not I adopt a boy or a girl, not really. With any agency, you would wait longer. We do have families that kind of sneak in the back door because we don’t allow the gender preference and so when you send out profiles of ones that are looking to be shown, they will obviously opt for the ones that are known to be having a girl and again, there’s no guarantee. There’s no guarantee whatsoever.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

There was an agency years ago, in Arizona that was actually sued because the baby came out the wrong gender and I don’t think the lawsuit was… I think it was dropped and it wasn’t found substantiated, but it was… Again, there are no guarantees. It’s not, there’s no crystal ball. There’s no fortune teller that can tell us this is for sure a girl, but gender is definitely a big issue. Another big issue when considering adoption choice preferances for adoptive families is alcohol and drug use. Some families really used to be worried about whether or not a birth mother was smoking regular cigarettes. I actually haven’t heard a family be concerned about that in a very long time.

Ron Reigns:

So they’re just more realistic now? Or?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think because drugs are so much more prevalent now than we used to see in the past and there’s so much more information and education out there about drug exposure, that it would be like if you’re going to clean an entire house, whether or not the cup has a dirty spot in it. Is it going to be the focus when you’re looking at the bigger picture.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So don’t focus on something small when there is something potentially much larger. So for considering adoptive families adoption choice preferances, drug use absolutely paramount. There is concern about mental illness on behalf of the birth parents. Again, mental illnesses is very similar I would say in terms of finding out actually… Mental illness can be fluid in the sense that one doctor can diagnose somebody with this diagnosis and then another doctor can perceive the diagnosis as something different and give a different diagnosis and then, did somebody exhibit symptoms warranting this diagnosis 10 years ago, but those symptoms are no longer being exhibited today. So again, mental illness is very hard.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Some of it is to be considered genetic and possibly passed down and others they’re saying there’s less of a chance. So that’s a hard one too and then when you also have drug use and mental illness, it is very hard to distinguish is this true mental illness, or this drug induced psychosis. So again, differentiating between the two, is very hard. Adoptive families, again, really want to focus on open versus closed. There is still that fear of the birth mother who lovingly placed a baby with an adoptive family.

Ron Reigns:

Coming back.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Crawl through the back window to take her baby back and I’m very much hoping to dissipate because it’s very hurtful to the birth family that that thought would enter into an adoptive family’s mind when they themselves are choosing adoption.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And they want the baby to go with this family, not to crawl through a window a year later to take the baby back.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. To help dispel this, over the several years that you’ve been working in the field, how many times has that happened?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In my experience, with Building Arizona Families, never.

Ron Reigns:

It’s never happened once?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Not within the confines of our agency. No.

Ron Reigns:

Okay, and you’ve been through several thousand adoption processes and this has never happened once in the 16 years you’ve been doing this?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Several thousand. I would say hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.

Ron Reigns:

At least a thousand?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Okay. Yes and no.

Ron Reigns:

Not once.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No.

Ron Reigns:

So this is somewhat of an unfounded fear that they have?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Correct.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. See, like I said, just to help dispel the worry from potential adoptive parents.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You could look at it as I think a similarity and this may be a little extreme, would be for those of you listening that watched Friday the 13th and because of that movie, won’t go swim in a lake.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Ron Reigns:

Well, if it’s named crystal lake, I may avoid it myself, but That’s exactly it because you’re afraid of some undead zombie-like person coming and getting you, it’s not likely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s not likely.

Ron Reigns:

All right. Very good.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think another important thing is when you’re looking at the differences between what is drawing a birth mother to choosing an adoptive family versus what is choosing an adoptive family to a birth mother? It’s fascinating to watch sometimes the magnetic connection between the two when you have that really solid good match. It is like harmonious and everybody feels it. It’s that chemistry that when you’re in high school and you know, you’ve got your first crush and it’s just this chemistry that everybody can feel in the room. You know what I mean? It’s that same, that same draw, that same magnetic appeal to each other.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When a birth mom is looking at a profile of a family for adopion choices , she’s got the book’s in front of her and she looks at one and she puts it aside and then she picks up the cover and hands it to me and says, no, and won’t even open the book and then she’ll pick up one and she’ll go through it and she’ll go through it for maybe 45 minutes to an hour, and then she’ll put it down and then she’ll go through it again and there’s still maybe one or two books over here that she’s waiting to look through and she’s done. This is the family.

Ron Reigns:

She found the one.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s the aha moment. This is, yeah, she has found her match. It is amazing when they first connect and they find out more about each other because we had one where both sides were nervous. The adoptive family very much wanted the birth mother to like them and the birth mother was very afraid that the adoptive family would judge her, which is a common feeling among birth moms and they’re not being judged. We try to reassure them the best that we can, but until they hear it for themselves and she started finding out more about the adoptive mom and about how they had similar preferences and they liked the same things and these things weren’t even in the book. It was one of those aha moments where you’re like, this was supposed to be, this is what was supposed to happen. I think that that’s just beautiful and that is why people who are in the adoption world stay in the adoption world because those moments are priceless.

Ron Reigns:

Well, those moments make it more than just a job or a career. It makes it a lifestyle for anybody working in this field and it becomes such an essential part of what gives them reward and meaning. Yeah, I totally understand. I’ve seen those moments myself, so…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah, just absolutely euphoric. Just unbelievable. Yeah, like I said, you live for those moments. With birth mothers, they’re looking and yes I have had a birth mother choose a family because she liked the dog. I have had a birth mother who kind of had a hard time deciding between two families and the birth father was not as involved in choosing, but looked over and realizes that one of the adopted parents was wearing a jersey from his team.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And that was, that was his dude.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And that’s where his baby was going and there was no more discussion.

Ron Reigns:

Now have you ever heard of a potential, birth mother and birth father looking at these and seeing a picture and going, Patriots? Not them, anything like that?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes actually, not that particular team mind you, but yes, absolutely. Yes, I have. [crosstalk 00:21:48] that’s funny that you say that.

Ron Reigns:

I’m not putting a baby in that house.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah, no, I have had them look at something and they see something in one of the pictures that they were like, no, no, no. It can be everything from, oh, they have that type of dog, I got bit by that kind of a dog.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Nope. Or it can be some moms are very nervous. I had one mom that was very nervous about water. She was very worried and none of the families had a pool, but she didn’t want any bodies of water. So she didn’t want the baby…

Ron Reigns:

Near a lake.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Near a lake or living by an ocean, so again, everybody has their own preferences and their own right to their preferences.

Ron Reigns:

Certainly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I mean it’s their biological child. They definitely get to choose. Some birth moms, we have to talk with and explain that if you’re living in the state of Arizona and you are looking at a family that is living in Nevada, or you’re looking at a family that is living in North Carolina, pretty much, they both require plane trips.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Obviously, Nevada’s a little bit closer, but if you like the family better in North Carolina versus in Nevada, then that’s where… Because people move, just because you’re choosing a family in one state doesn’t mean they’re always going to live in that state, and Southwest flies to both. So go with the family that is the right family, maybe not just focus on the location, that’s more realistic. Then for both sides, once they have their adoption choice preferences and they have learned to be open-minded and understanding with birth mothers. If they have been using drugs throughout their pregnancy, they may not have as many adoptive families that are ready to jump in and be presented and for a birth mother, that’s very hard to understand, because this is still a baby and this is her baby and she loves her baby and she wants her baby to have the same adoption choice and advantages that somebody who’s not using drugs would have. Again, it is education and explaining that you want to make sure that the family that adopts your baby is equipped to handle whatever comes their way.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So, in a lot of cases, the babies come out and they’re fine. Should the baby come out and the baby’s not fine, we want to make sure that we have an adopted family that is resolute and is going to stand by your side and your baby’s side, no matter what happens. That’s really important than the number of adoption choices. I think with regards to understanding the differences between birth families and adoptive families in what they’re looking for in an adoptive match.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think the most important thing to remember when considering your adoption choices is to keep an open mind, to keep as many doors open as you can, because the more doors you have, the less time that you’ll wait to become a family. To be realistic in what you’re looking for, and to understand that babies are placed for adoption because a mother is choosing a life for her child, that she cannot provide for herself and there’s so much bravery in that. There’s so much heroism that I think that we as a society should definitely look at the match situation and celebrate both sides of the adoptive family and the birth mother and I just think it’s a beautiful thing.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency available twenty-four-seven by phone or text at (623) 695-4112 that’s 6-2-3-6-9-5-4-1-1-2. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at AZpregnancyhelp.com. Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song “I don’t know” as our theme song for Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us, we’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at BirthMotherMatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns.

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