Consequences of a Denied Referral


You have dreamed of the child that you would like to add to your family, the one that will "fit" in, and complete the picture in your mind. You imagine how you will spend your days together and grow to love each other. Over time, the image becomes fixed in your mind. What happens when reality collides with that picture in your head? What can you do to ensure that a collision doesn’t occur?

During the home study visit, your home study coordinator will ask you for the characteristics of the child that you would like to adopt. This is the time to reflect long and hard on what will and what won’t work for your unique family situation. You will be asked to define the child’s age, gender, nationality, and physical needs. You will need to be brutally honest with yourself about the child that you hope to adopt and how that child that will fit into your current family.

When matching a child to a family, the country you have chosen to adopt from relies heavily on the family to describe the child they would accept. The countries that MLJ works with, take great pride in the care that they take to make the best potential match. If a family has not been truly honest, they will potentially be placed with a child that is a wrong fit and they will be placed in the uncomfortable position of having to deny a referral.

Many problems arise if a family denies a referral for a child that is within the family’s outlined parameters. Some countries will only allow up to two denials. After this the process can be suspended. To deny a referral for a child that the country feels is a good match raises many concerning questions.

  • Is this family really willing to parent a child?
  • Is this family clear on what child they are open to adopt?
  • How prepared is this family to adopt?

The consequences to the family of denying a referral are significant both emotionally and financially. Emotional stress occurs with possible guilt, and often shame over not accepting the child or having to say “no” to a child. Some countries may require updated paperwork to reflect the readiness and willingness of a family to adopt. This can cause a delay in your process. Other consequences can potentially be monetary. If a family travels to the country and chooses not to move forward, it can result in additional travel expenses and additional adoption fees.

All families need to think long and hard and be brutally honest about their expectations. Establishing realistic expectations at the beginning of the process is easier than making the corrections necessary if you receive a referred child that doesn’t fit into your family.

Photo Credit: Quang Minh

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.