9 January 2023

What happens in a ‘fall through’?

While we take our responsibility in doing all we can to ensure a positive outcome very seriously, there are inevitably times when things don’t go the way we hoped or planned. We generally refer to a failed match between adoptive and expectant parents as a ‘fall through’. There might be several reasons why these occur.

From the beginning of our relationship with the expectant parents we do all we can to educate them on what adoption planning means for them, for their baby, and for the adoptive family. From the first contact when we hear from an expectant mom that she is pregnant and considering adoption, we encourage careful deliberation and understanding of the facts before deciding on adoption. We want to ensure that expectant parents know their rights and have full autonomy in making the plan that is right for them. We hesitate to involve an adoptive family if there is uncertainty or indecisiveness, because once there is a match, we want to be confident that everyone is on the same page about adoption.

But we all know what an emotional and tumultuous experience having a baby can be. Birth parents are often overwhelmed with feelings of joy, sadness, happiness, and grief. To place baby for adoption is a unique experience. Sometimes they’re feeling new pressures from others to parent their child, which might come with new assurances of help and support if they take the baby home. Whether or not they have a relationship with the adoptive parents, they might change their mind about the adoption plan before or after the baby is born. Birth parents have the right to change their mind anytime up to the termination of their rights in court.

As difficult as it is to imagine having a baby in your arms and then saying goodbye, we want to urge you to think about this possibility now. We encourage you to put yourself in the birthparent’s shoes as they struggle with this decision. Remember how difficult it must have been to first find themselves in a situation that led to deciding adoption was what they should do for their baby. When she was first pregnant and considering adoption, that initial decision was fraught with feelings of being overwhelmed, not feeling capable to parent the child, and not having the support they needed. Yet now there are even more overwhelming feelings and pressures, and as a result, they cannot follow through to place baby for adoption. There will surely be heartbreak for you, but it’s important to recognize the agonizing experience of the birthparent too.

As an adoptive family, even now before you’re matched, it’s smart to think through how you’ll handle a fall-through. Who will you rely on for support as you’re grieving? How will you share information with others about the experience? What do the days and weeks following a fall through look like for you? There are a few things that might help:

  • Be realistic in how you talk about adoption with your friends and loved ones now; prepare them for the possibility of a fall through too, so that they can be there for you if it happens.
  • When you are matched, keep the mindset that this is the ‘baby we hope to adopt’. Use language like this with others, including your other children, and your friends and loved ones.
  • Make connections with others who have experienced a fall through. Ask them how they handled the loss and moved on afterward. If it happens to you, know that you’re not alone.
  • If you are religious, rely on your faith, and your faith community, to guide and comfort you. If you experience a fall through, lean on your trusted sources of wisdom in making decisions about your next steps.
  • Be prepared to enter an adoption relationship with birthparents with open hearts and minds. Know from the start that the emotions they will experience along the way may be new and different and may be unexpectedly difficult.

We often say that our work is based in human relationships, and as with any meaningful relationship there’s the risk of heartbreak. But we believe it’s a risk worth taking, because we remain forever hopeful that each child that we do place for adoption will find his or her way to just the right family.

Of all the adoption agencies in Michigan, you can trust Adoption Partners of Michigan. No pressure. No judgment. Just facts.

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