The Matching Process: An Overview

Erika Moore

Commonly in our work, we face questions about the “matching” process, and how it works. Adoptive parents might wonder, “why has our file not been shown?” or “why has our file not been shown more frequently?”, while birthparents might inquire as to how the files of adoptive parents are selected for their consideration. 

Below represents an overview of the matching process, inclusive of the birth and adoptive parents’ individual and overlapping experiences in OPEN ADOPTION.

Birthparent / Expectant Parent Process

1.    When expectant parents approach Adoption Options, they are met with a neutral and non-judgmental source of support.  Together, the expectant parent and counsellor will:

  • engage in OPTIONS counseling
  • explore supports and resources available to the expectant parent for all options being considered
  • discuss stressors, challenges, and barriers present in the expectant parent’s life
  • educate about Open Adoption

Through counselling, the expectant parent may come to the conclusion that adoption is not the right option for them. 
THIS IS OKAY!  If this is the case, our social workers do their best to refer and connect the expectant parent with resources that are suited to their individual decision.

It is our goal that NO ONE will leave Adoption Options unsupported, disconnected or alone.

2.    If, through counselling, an expectant parent concludes that making an adoption plan for her/his child is what they feel is best, the expectant parent will:

  • be supported in considering what type of family she/he hope their child will be placed with. This may include (but is not limited to):
              o   where the family lives – i.e. location in the province, farm, town, or city
              o   sexual orientation of the family
              o   education level
              o   religion
              o   number of children in family already
              o   lifestyle factors
              o   any other areas of significance for the birthparent
  • provide information about their own health, family background, and pregnancy health history
  • birthparents will also be asked to consider what type and frequency of contact they desire with their child, and his/her adoptive family.  This may range from regular in person contact to very little or no contact (and everything in between!).

3.    The above information gathered by the birthparent is used to select the files of adoptive parents that may be a “good match” for them and their circumstances. These files consist of letters and pictures put together by the adoptive parents, highlighting themselves, their interests, their relationship, and their lifestyle.

It is integral to the process that birth and adoptive parents are “matched” based on similar expectations, mutual comfort, and celebration of one another’s circumstances. 

How many files the expectant parent views is up to them. They may find a family who they are interested in right away, or they may request more files to look at.   

Adoptive Parent Process

1.    All Adoptive parents must go through a process of education, and approval before joining the active waitlist to adopt.  This process involves:

  • Attendance at an educational pre-adoption seminar where they learn about the law, the process, and the values of open adoption
  • Submit extensive application documentation, including medical reports completed by a doctor, criminal record check and child intervention record checks, reference letters, etc.
  • Have a homestudy assessment completed by the agency.  This process is in-depth and is necessary to evaluate the safety, stability, and suitability of all applicants to be good adoptive parents

2.    All adoptive families must carefully consider and educate themselves about a variety of health, developmental, and social considerations in a child’s background PRIOR to approval for such considerations.

3.    An adoptive parent’s profile is ONLY shown when it “matches” the criteria they have identified as a comfortable fit in terms of the birthparent and child’s information, AND when the adoptive family matches the criteria highlighted as a priority for the birthparent (as above). 

4.    While we ALWAYS begin showing adoptive parent files in order of the longest waiting families and down the list towards our most recent waiting families, this does not mean that the longest waiting family is the right “match” for every child.  The unique considerations of both birth and adoptive families (as highlighted above) are prioritized.

The matching process is NOT one of numbers.  Rather, it is driven by emotion, shared values and personal connection.

The Match

When a birthparent(s) has selected the viewing file of a family they feel connected to, they may be offered the HOMESTUDY of that family. This document provides further information to the birthparent to support their determination as to whether that particular family is the right one for them and the child. If not, they can always return to looking at more files of waiting families.

When a birthparent has found a family who she is interested in, a “MATCH MEETING” is often arranged. A match meeting is:

  • An opportunity for birth and adoptive families to meet in person
  • An opportunity to discuss mutual hopes and dreams for the child
  • Often the next step in planning, and topics such as naming the baby, desired contact, etc. are usually discussed in this setting

The Relationship…

When a match meeting has occurred, and all parties identify a commitment in moving forward together, birth and adoptive parents are considered “MATCHED”.

This is a time of preparation for baby, getting to know one another, and developing the relationship that feels right for all involved.

Each relationship in open adoption is unique.  There are no two exactly alike!

All parties continue to receive the support and guidance of Adoption Options staff throughout this time, and onwards…  


Erika Moore  Dip. SW, RSW
Erika is passionate about her role at Adoptions Options; one that encompasses both birth and adoptive parent support, providing options counselling, homestudy assessment and placement facilitation.