Adoption Loss: How can I reduce the risk of a reclaim?

One of the most important services your adoption professional should provide is watching for "red flags." These are warning signs that indicate a birth mother is at risk of reclaiming or having a change of heart in her adoption plan.

file0001947622884Your adoption professional should begin with the initial screening of potential birth mothers. Most adoption professionals with years of experience will know the important questions to ask. By asking vital questions, they can find out precisely what she's looking for in her life, if adoption is a good choice for her and her child, and what she desires in adoptive parents.

They should be able to spot from the outset the warning signs of a woman not ready or willing to see the adoption through. It is difficult for adoptive parents to do this on their own.

The national reclaim rate varies greatly between professionals and can be as low as 4%, but some organizations have much higher rates of adoption disruption. I have seen one attorney claiming 25% reclaim as normal. This is not an acceptable reclaim rate.

The reclaim rate often depends on when the birth mother changes their mind: before the birth, at the hospital, or when the child has been in the adoptive parent's care. As hard as any change of heart is, it's much easier to have the birthparents make this decision before you've received the child in your arms.

A qualified adoption professional that properly screens, monitors and provides options for counseling or peer counseling for birth mothers should have a reclaim rate of around 4% to 6 %. At Lifetime our reclaim rate is very low, because we offer a great deal of services and attention to each client.

Extensive information on reclaims can be found in chapter four of my book, Adoption: Your Step-by-Step Guide (ISBN number 0-9705734-2-1) (ISBN number 0-9705734-2-1).

"I am amazed at how much good and practical information Adoption: Your Step-by-Step Guide contains, especially the sections on how to avoid bad adoption situations. It is good advice for anyone looking to adopt, and for anyone thinking about adopting, it's a MUST-read!"- Eric A. Stovall, Adoption Attorney

Mardie Caldwell

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally recognized authority on adoption. A Certified Open Adoption Practitioner, Caldwell is the founder of the nationwide adoption organization Lifetime Adoption Center LLC, established in 1986. Caldwell has assisted in over 1,800 successful adoptions. She was one of the first adoption professionals on the Internet.


Caldwell's life work has been dedicated to educating and helping birth parents and adoptive parents through teaching, speaking, and resources and as a radio talk show host. 


Author of a number of award winning books, Caldwell has appeared more than 150 times on various networks including NBC's The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, Dr. Laura, numerous national radio interviews, and is widely sought for print articles and speaking. 


Caldwell is CFO of Lifetime Adoption Foundation, a 501(c) 3 non-profit offering grants and college scholarships to birth mothers, basic necessities, and more.


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