Image of couple with a child they put up for adoption

For a potential adoptive couple, it is natural to wonder if a birth mother will change her mind about putting her child up for adoption. Consequently, you and your spouse could be struggling with doubts about getting emotionally connected to a baby or the degree of excitement about a potential adoption. Such concerns are a normal part of the adoption process.

Adopting is an emotional journey.  One that is filled with an array of emotions such as hope, fear, excitement, worry, joy, and sadness. It is possible that a birth mother chooses you and then later change her mind and opt to parent.  This is a loss you need to be prepared for as best you can.

There are characteristics that have been identified in birth mothers who are more likely to change their minds about placing their child up for adoption.  It is important to understand that if a birth mother has one or more of these characteristics, it does not mean that she will change her mind.  She can have all of these characteristics and opt to place her baby for adoption.

And if you are a potential birth mother considering adoption, it is wise to examine the risk factors in the checklist to see how they might relate to you. It can be beneficial to follow up by discussing any risks with an adoption counselor.

For potential adoptive families, it is important to note that nearly every birth mother will have one or more of these characteristics. Some birth mothers might have all of these characteristics and still place her child for adoption.

This checklist is a guide that can serve to identify the number of characteristics that exist and how extensive they are in order to discuss them with an adoption counselor:

  • Birth mother is young (11-17 years old)
  • Lack of life experience/immaturity
  • First-time parent
  • Lack of family support or family not informed
  • Dysfunctional family background
  • Denial of emotions
  • Unwilling/uncooperative in seeking counseling
  • Inadequate time for counseling prior to delivery
  • Finances of utmost concern
  • An unknown/unsupportive/uninvolved birth father
  • Substance abuse (current or history of)
  • Strong Native American heritage
  • Birth parent has had a negative experience with adoption
  • History of mental illness or emotional problems
  • No future goals
  • Significant recent loss
  • Negative or poor relationship with adopting a couple
  • Lack of consistency in facts related to different parties involved
  • Lack of self-awareness and ability to communicate ideas and feelings well
  • Differences between adopting couple and birth parents on the meaning of “open” adoption

More helpful articles:


Compiled using information from the following sources:

1. Adapted from Lutheran Social Services adoptive parent handout