After our heart break with not being matched with the twins, we decided to look through our parameters to see if there was anything we wanted to change to increase our options for adoption. One area that our adoption agency said would be worth considering was how stringent we wanted to be with Exposure During Pregnancy.
If you are going through a domestic adoption, a major factor you have to deal with is a birthmother’s exposure to drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Our agency told us that 70% of the birthmothers they work with have some sort of exposure during their pregnancy. We’ve researched other agencies around the country and we’ve found this to be fairly common. This does not necessarily mean the birthmothers are taking hard drugs (cocaine, heroin, etc), however, it is common for them to be smoking tobacco or marijuana, and/or drinking alcohol. Typically once the birthmothers realize they are pregnant, which is around 12 weeks into the pregnancy since they typically aren’t tracking their cycles, they will stop doing any kind of drugs. However, a majority will not stop smoking since it is so addictive and a few will continue doing marijuana as well. Some birthmothers will stop binge drinking but will have a few beers or wine coolers a week throughout the pregnancy.
Our agency has found that children who have been exposed tend to do well; however, it depends on the severity of the exposure and you can never be sure whether the birthmother is upfront with her addiction problems. There are birthmothers who are not exposed to drugs, alcohol and tobacco, however, they are not the majority.
We’ve found the March of Dimes website to be a great resource to understand the health risks associated with exposure during pregnancy.
Typically the lives of birthmothers aren’t perfect which is why they are considering to put their child up for adoption. They may have a few children already and cannot afford to keep another, they may be single mothers finding it hard to make ends meet or they may not find the time for prenatal care. These are the risks you have to understand and expect if you adopt. However, on the flip side, the birthmother could be a high school or college student who is healthy throughout the pregnancy to ensure a healthy baby and is giving their child up since they are not ready yet to be a parent. The agency will not force you into a situation you are not comfortable with, therefore, you must understand the risks and decide what is the best option for you.