After making the decision to adopt an infant, searching for a birthmother is not always easy. Some people get lucky and stumble into a great situation, but it doesn’t happen often. I know of one couple who found a birthmother when the nanny for their first child accidentally got pregnant. I also know of another couple who knew a pregnant nurse at their doctor’s office who wanted to give her child up for adoption. In these cases, it was an easy choice for the adoptive couple because they knew the birthmother and understood her lifestyle. They were confident about the birthmother’s decision and were reasonably sure she wouldn’t change her mind.
The first step in the adoption process is finding the right birthmother. In most cases, including ours, people need to search hard to find a birthmother they feel comfortable with. Choosing the right birthmother (or making sure she chose us) was critical to our family’s future happiness and was one of the biggest decisions we would ever make. There are so many complicated legal, financial and emotional issues surrounding adoption that we reached out for help.
We started with a lawyer in California who knew all about adoption and claimed that potential birthmothers called him frequently looking for placement help. But our case was very specific (we wanted a girl) so instead of relying on his local newspaper ads, he suggested a facilitator who was listed under “Adoption” in every yellow pages across the country as “A Loving Alternative”. I loved the woman who owned the business, Cindy, from the first moment we spoke on the phone. She had adopted a daughter years before and started this business because she found it so difficult to find a birthmother. She knew how hard it was to wait and wait for someone to call. Instead, she successfully attracts birthmothers to her website and 800 number listed in the yellow pages and now birthmothers from all over the country are accessible to her waiting couples.
Cindy, who had vast experience with adoption cases, understood how much support both the adoptive couple and the birthmother need throughout the pregnancy and adoption process. She has a comforting demeanor, but she’s also a realist about the potential disappointment involved in this type of transaction. Cindy doesn’t do adoptions; she merely supports everyone involved emotionally and sometimes logistically. Couples fill out a detailed questionnaire about who they are and exactly what they are looking for in terms of a baby. Then they submit a “Dear Birthmother” letter which describes their relationship, plans for their family, and parenting philosophies, as well as their desire to love and care for her child. When a birthmother calls, Cindy sends her ten letters to choose from, which usually include photos.
Our experience was wonderful and amazingly brief, although our lawyers told us it could be a two-year wait. Instead it was only 45 days. Cindy had our letter on January 15th and we got our call about a birthmother on March 1st. Fortunately for us, the young birthmother was nine months pregnant and knew she was having a girl! Cindy was extremely helpful to both sides of this loving transaction (a detailed account of our experience is described in my soon-to-be-published memoir). She supported our birthmother through the medical, legal, and logistical quagmire required by her state, as well as helping us at our end. There were times when I didn’t know what to do or how to proceed with the woman who was willing to give me the greatest gift in my life. Cindy was completely honest, supportive to both women involved, leading to one of the happiest moments of my life.