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Private adoptions have changed considerably in the past two decades, resulting in birth mothers having a majority of control in the adoption process. Today, birth mothers are not only empowered to choose the type of adoption – closed, semi-open or open – but also the adoptive family that best fits their adoption plans.

Do you see your child living in the city or on a farm? Will your child have older brothers and sisters? Is the family dedicated to their religion? You, and only you, answer these questions by selecting a family that perfectly matches the ideal situation for your son or daughter.

Choosing the right family for your adoption plan is now possible because information about the adoptive families has become increasingly open since the 1980s. Your main source of information about the families are adoptive family profiles, which are a way for couples to tell you about their lives and why they are excited to be parents.

The creation of the adoptive family profiles begins with the adoptive parents sending the adoption agency written descriptions and photos of their lifestyles, hobbies and home, which are received by the agency’s media specialist. The media specialist then selects the most appropriate aspects of their lives and organizes them into an adoptive family profile for you to receive online or through the mail.

The profiles include the couple’s first names, home state, employment and education. Furthermore, they may also include their extended family characteristics, neighborhood, past vacations, their willingness to adopt a child of another race, and other miscellaneous information such as their favorite author, color, musician or movie.

Viewing the profiles gives you a peek into the adoptive families’ lives, but it is the purpose of the adoption home study to ensure you that every family’s home is safe and that they are clear of any legal problems and serious medical issues. Every active family of an adoption agency whose profile you read will have already completed their adoption home study, which includes two main components.

The first stage of the home study is the collection of documents and criminal background checks by the home study provider or the adoption agency itself. These documents guarantee the adoption agency, and more importantly you, that the adoptive parents are free of any serious or recent criminal activity, are financially stable and are physically and mentally healthy enough to raise a child.

The second stage consists of a social worker visiting the family’s home to make sure it is safe for a child to be raised in. During the home visit, the social worker will interview the parents as a couple and as individuals, depending on state laws, to assess their parenting knowledge, personalities and excitement toward the adoption. Once the home visit and the interviews are conducted and all of the documents and background checks are collected, the home study is complete.

Because of the home study process, birth mothers can take comfort in knowing that every step has been taken to guarantee that the child will be placed in a safe and loving environment.

So, you know the family’s basic characteristics, and you know that their records and home have been thoroughly checked, but how do you know that they are the family for your child? To help your decision, many adoption agencies allow the birth mothers to speak with the adoptive family via a conference call mediated by a social worker. This lets you ask them additional questions that were not answered in the adoptive family profile.

For example, during the conference call you can ask questions pertaining to how the family plans on telling the child about you and the adoption, why parenting is so important to them, and what kinds of opportunities the family will provide the child.

Finally, if you are interested in an open adoption, you can get to know the family personally before, during and after placement. This relationship isn’t for everyone, but some birth mothers and families find open adoptions beneficial in many ways, particularly in the area of increased communication.

Adoption is more transparent today because most people believe a lack of information usually helps no one, except for in certain situations where a closed adoption may be more appropriate. Most birth mothers, adoptive families and adoption professionals agree that semi-open adoptions are generally the healthiest for all parties involved. This allows enough information, as well as pictures and letters, to be shared without compromising the relational dynamics of the adoptive triad (birth mother, adoptive family and adoptee).

Whichever type of adoption you choose, and hence the amount of information about the family you receive, the decision is completely up to you and should reflect your goals in the adoption plan.