You have thought and thought about adoption, but in the back of your mind, you cannot help but carry a bit of fear about it. When friends around you are encouraging you to “just do it,” you notice a slight pause in your desire, but also a strong pull towards the journey of bringing a child into your family through adoption.
Friend, these feelings of hesitation mixed with a sliver of fear are very common. I suspect most families formed through adoption have faced them, and even continue to deal with some fear even after adoption.
Here are a few adoption-related fears and ways you can address them:
1. What if I am never matched with a child?
Even though this could be a possibility, the truth is if you never try, then you will most definitely never be matched. A way to handle this fear is by putting forth your best effort in communicating and building relationships with others (social workers, attorneys, various adoption services) who are helping you in the process. Networking with others will help you connect with potential opportunities for adoption.
2. What if the biological parent(s) change their minds?
For domestic and private adoptions, this is also very much a possibility. With domestic and private adoption, the biological parent(s) have the right to make an adoption plan, and they have the right (until termination occurs) to change their minds. Although difficult, try and put yourself in the position of the biological parent(s). You would want every opportunity, piece of knowledge, appropriate legal advice, and unwavering support for the difficult decision you are considering.
3. What if I try and adopt from foster care, become a foster parent, take in a child, fall in love with the child, and the child leaves?
This is probably the number one reason people do not ever take the first step to consider the potential of adoption from foster care. There is a federal law (US) that mandates the states to work towards reunification with biological parents within set timeframes. There is also a push towards placement with extended biological family members or someone who has had a significant relationship with the child. Foster parents must abide by and support this, but it can be extremely difficult when the love of a child is involved. One way to handle this fear is to remember that if the tables were turned, you would want every opportunity to rectify the situation that separated you from your child. Another way is to remember that the foster care system was never designed to be an adoption agency. With that being said, foster parents have been able to adopt children in their care. If you desire to adopt a child from the foster care system, please consider the thousands of kids who are currently legally free for adoption in the system.
4. What if my child ends up leaving and searching for his or her biological parents?
It is natural for adopted children and adults to wonder about their biological family members. This should not be a threat to you as the adoptive family. Not everyone who has been adopted will seek information, as it is a personal choice and desire; however, as the parent, you need to open with communicating to the child about his or her birth family and life story as early as possible. his sets up a trusting relationship that will hopefully help if/when the time comes that your child wants to search for biological family.
5. What if my family does not accept my child?
Adoption is not for everyone, and that is okay. There might be family members or friends who do not understand why you are seeking to adopt, especially if you can and have had biological children. One way to combat this is to begin open conversations with your loved ones about your desire to adopt. Share knowledge about adoption, how it works, the challenges of it, and what their roles will be in it. In essence, bring them along for the journey.
6. What if I cannot handle any issues that my child might have?
Nothing about raising a child—whether biological or adopted—is guaranteed. We all know parents who have struggled with challenges and issues their children have faced. An adopted child may have increased risk factors for social, emotional, and behavioral issues based on trauma, genetic issues, medical problems, and history; however, being adopted does NOT automatically mean a child will have issues. You can handle this fear by learning all you can about your child’s life before you, even though this might be hard in situations where little to nothing is known about the child’s history. Be resourceful, connect with other adoptive families, know your limits, and advocate for your child.
Adoption is not black and white. It is not simple, and there is a lot of gray. However, parenting is not black and white, either. Parenting is not simple. If fear is keeping you from adopting, then I would encourage you to use your fear as a motivator to search your heart, seek knowledge, and trust the journey. Adoptive parenting has many ups and downs. It also has lots of moments of joy and love, and that is something you should not fear.