When my husband and I were considering adoption, we had several discussions, but finally decided on infant adoption. Here’s what we learned along the way.
1. It’s easier to make a plan for a hypothetical baby than a baby you’re holding in your arms.
When you begin the process of infant adoption, you aren’t meeting your child right away, instead you are meeting your child’s birth parents. You have no real way of knowing or understanding where they might be coming from or what their journey has looked like up to this point. All you know is they are considering adoption, but it’s not a for sure thing yet because an “inside baby” is much easier to talk about than an “outside baby.”
Please understand these parents need love and time . . . they’re scared and anxious, and might even change their mind several times before the baby is born. Be gracious and understanding.
2. There is still loss.
Even though you will be the only mother your child remembers parenting him, he did have another mother, and that’s important to both of you. While it may not be as apparent as in older child adoptions, the grief of losing a birth mom (even if it was very early on) will manifest itself in different ways as your child grows. Keep the lines of communication open. Answer questions honestly and age appropriately, and let your child grieve how he needs to as he grows.
3. You might not bond right away.
Every new baby you bring home is a stranger for a while, whether you were pregnant or adopted, and that’s okay. Give yourself time to learn about your new baby’s habits and personality. Let him be the teacher and you the student, and if you don’t bond right away, don’t worry. I promise you, the bonding will come.
4. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing.
Please find me a parent who has all of the answers, and I’ll find you some oceanfront property in Kansas. No one has all of the answers; we’re not supposed to. Trust your instincts as a parent and do the best job you know how. Lean on your village to help. Don’t be afraid to call your doctor, your mom, or your Mom BFF, and (only if you’re feeling desperate) use Google. (But be forewarned: sometimes that leads you down a rabbit hole that will force you to call all of the people mentioned above!) Trust yourself. You’ve got this.
5. The nature verses nurture debate will keep you up at night.
There’s some sense of pride parents get when they hear, “Oh, she looks JUST like you!” I’m not sure why because it’s not like you have any choice in what your child looks like, but something about the bond of children being or looking like their parents is very personal and very real. I often look at what my son does and wonder if he would act the same way or be the same kid if a different adoptive family was raising him or if his birth parents were raising him. Expecting answers from these questions is futile, but you’ll ask them anyway. Take comfort in the fact that he is your son and regardless of nature verses nurture, you will do the best you can to ensure he grows into a kind, responsible, caring adult.
6. You might wait a long time.
This is SO HARD. The waiting is awful, and, unfortunately, there’s really no indicator of how long you will wait to have a child placed with your family. Infant adoption is one of the most saturated types of adoption. (When we adopted my son, the agency we used closed the applications for infant adoption for a few months since they had so many applicants.) You could wait a month or you could wait 3 years. There’s no timetable. You have to hold onto the thought that when you are chosen to become parents, it will be the right baby for your family. I cannot imagine my life without my son; I know he was always supposed to be a part of it.
7. You will love and protect that little baby for the rest of your life
Maybe this one you already know, but I will give you a different perspective. By some miracle I got pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl after we had already adopted our son. My son is 2, and my daughter is 8 months, and these two are already thick as thieves. They are each my children, one hundred percent, no questions asked, and I would do anything for either one of them. I love them both uniquely because they are different people, but it is true that love doesn’t divide, it only multiplies. This baby you adopt will quickly become your world. Be prepared to have your heart walking around outside of your body the minute you take him home.