So, it wasn't much of a break from writing about adoption, was it?
I go back and forth about the issue of pre-placement matching between pregnant mothers and adoptive parents.
On the one hand, in my situation it was definitly coercive. Once I met them, I couldn't dissapoint them. I couldn't dissapoint their son. In the end, I made the decision for them.
An adoption decision must be made independant of the needs of the pre-adoptive parents. Their needs and emotions shouldn't even factor into it. The decision to place must be made solely on the emotions and abilities of the birthparents. Anything else is coercive.
It's impossible to make a decision before the birth of the baby. While one may be exploring options, it's impossible to know how you're going to really feel until after the baby is in your arms. Many women, by the time they meet their babies, have already committed to an adoption plan to the point where they feel it would be impossible to reconsider.
I had no idea that I would fall so in love with my baby. I had no inkling of that kind of moving-mountains kind of love. #1 I thought it was a myth. #2 I thought I would be exempt from that. I thought my "unfitness" would have me keep my distance. I really thought that she would come out looking kind of like a large red raisin, and I would wrinkle my nose and hand her over. What a shock I had.
When I was making my plan, I worked very closely with the agency. They strongly encouraged me to choose parents and develop a relationship before the baby was born, although they gave me the choice not to. It was thought that I would be able to consider parents more slowly, interview them more thoroghly, and get a good idea whether they would be a good "fit" for the kind of adoption I had in mind. They thought it would foster more permanent openness. That might be true. But I can't say I found out so much about C. and J. that made the pre-placement matching worth it. Clearly, I didn't find out that much about their views on open adoption. I wouldn't have chosen someone for whom openness was simply an obligation. But how much can you really tell about anybody in a few weeks under conditions like that? An hour of interviewing would be just as good, for all you really find out.
On the other hand, I can't imagine having a baby and picking parents and planning the adoption all in a few days. Although I heard of people who didn't request profiles until they were in the hospital. Looking through binder after binder of waiting couples was so overwhelming...I can't imagine what it must be like to do only a few hours or days after giving birth. It was possibly the most demoralizng experience of the pre-adoptive period, wading through pile upon pile of parents more deserving than me, and choosing the one I would bless with my child, and feeling guilty that I could not help them all.
But there are times when the pre-adoptive relationship flowers into something really special. Like Dawn's. And that's open adoption at it's most beautiful. There are a lot of risk worth taking for that kind of environment for a child to grow up in.
A mother needs to have a strong advocate if she is going to meet adoptive parents before the baby is born. She needs to have someone to constantly whisper in her ear, "You don't owe anyone your baby. You can always change your mind".