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What makes a Good Match?

by Marge Snider

This month, November, we will discuss matching the families with the children. What makes a Good Match? The goal of a careful matching process is to ensure the most appropriate fit between the needs of the child and the strengths of the family.  In the case of domestic infant adoption, or the placement of children from foster care, matching is the task of reviewing the assessments of prospective families along with those of available children to determine the best family to provide safety, permanency, and well-being for a specific child or sibling group.

The selection of a potential adoptive family should be a collaborative effort between the social worker, the foster parents or current caretakers, the adoptive family’s assessment worker, the adoptive parents, other professionals, and, in some instances, the birth family and even the child.  In seeking families for children, workers first explore families to which the child already has some attachment like relatives or current or previous foster caregivers.  This can be particularly important for older youth.  If no appropriate previous attachments exist within the child’s current network, then “matched” families (non-relative families unknown to the child) are next considered to meet the child’s needs for adoptive placement.

With inter-country adoption, there are often fewer opportunities for matching by the adoption worker.  In some cases, the selection and matching may be done in the child’s birth country rather than by the U.S. agency.  Some agencies provide referrals so that the U.S. agency selects the child to be offered to a family.  The family then accepts the referral or waits for another referral.

What Makes a Good Match?

  • Does the family have the skills, abilities, knowledge, and desire to parent the child?

  • Does the family possess the emotional and financial resources to meet the child’s needs and do they know how to access them?

  • Is the family’s lifestyle compatible with that of the child?

  • Does the family have specific experience with needs similar to those of the child or are the parents willing to learn more about caring for this child’s needs?

  • Does the family feel that this is the right child for them and that their existing structure can grow and adapt to meet the child’s needs?

  • Does the family have a network of family, friends, and professionals to provide emotional support for the adoption?

There is a range of possibilities between a good and a poor match.  In most matches, the family is a good match for some of the child’s issues, a minimal match for some, and a poor match for others.  The family must be a good match for the child’s most critical needs or issues.  Additionally, prospective parents should be highly motivated to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to meet all the child’s needs.

Next month we will explore the Legal Considerations in Matching. 


Share your Story with us…

Real stories are a powerful way for families to understand the benefits of foster care and being adoptive parents. Whether you are a birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee, adoption changes you. Each time you share your story with someone, you will be reminded how all the pieces of your adoption or foster care journey came together.