Parenting comes with a unique set of worries and fears. Even before there is a child, there is anxiety. Will I be a good mom? Can I handle being sleep deprived? Should I work on cutting down my swear word usage? Am I ready for this?! However, becoming a parent through adoption involves a few additional questions. Will we ever be chosen? Will the birth mother like us? Am I going to be able to bond with the baby? Open or closed adoption? Am I ready for this?!
I can answer one of those questions for you, and that is that no one is ever 100% prepared for parenthood. Whenever and however parenthood finds its way to you, you will have fears and find yourself unprepared. Adopting a child has particular fears that come with it. While there are undoubtedly endless concerns, I’m going to focus on three that I feel are common among adoptive parents.
1. Will we ever be chosen?
This is the most vocalized fear I have heard from hopeful adoptive parents throughout the years. After putting in so much time and effort with the paperwork, the profiles, and the approval processes, it’s comes down to a prospective birth mother’s choice to place. As you hone your patience skills, there are a few things you can do to feel productive and active in finding your child’s birth mother and, in turn, calm this particular fear. Spread the word that you are hoping to adopt. Create a signature for your emails. Create a Facebook page, a blog, and some pass-along cards. Be open and willing to start a dialogue about adoption with anyone who asks. Invite your family and friends to spread the word, as well. Unfortunately the Magic 8 Ball doesn’t have an answer to this fear, but being active and open about your hope to adopt can help keep you hopeful and faithful until you are chosen.
2. Open or closed adoption?
Even though adoption is becoming more prevalent and more easily talked about in society, little is known about how an open adoption works and how beautiful it can be for all involved. While some adoption plans may require a closed adoption for the safety of the child or at the request of the birth parents, most adoptions that take place today have some form of openness. I have heard many adoptive parents voice fear about open adoption because they think it means the birth parents are allowed to visit whenever they want, be co-parents, require daily updates, etc. This is simply not true. An open adoption plan can vary depending on what the adoptive parents and birth parents decide. Some birth parents may only want a few photos every month, or perhaps a blog set up for them to see the child grow. Some adoptive parents and birth parents feel comfortable with visits once a month, whereas some may have visits once a year. Some may want phone calls, some may like Skype, and some may just want an email now and then. Open adoption is customizable to the needs of both the adoptive parents and the birth parents.
3. Will I bond with my child?
This is a fear that I struggled with on our journey to adopt, and as we are hopeful to adopt again, it has resurfaced. As an adoptive parent, we don’t have the experience of carrying our child of having those nine months to form a bond before the child is even born. Sometimes you can’t help but wonder if you will feel the deep love a parent has for their child when you are handed this little human. I can’t answer this for anyone, as every person is different, but I can tell you that you will surprise yourself. I am a firm believer that there are tender mercies scattered along the road of adoption, that your capacity to love is so much deeper than you realize. There are many resources you can call upon to help ease this worry. Ask other adoptive moms about their experiences, seek out an attachment therapist, and learn ways to encourage bonding between you and your child.
Fear comes with the territory of parenting. Some fears will come and go, some will stay, but in the end, it’s all worth it. Don’t try to handle it all on your own. Use your family, friends, and community to help ease the anxiety, and most importantly, trust yourself!