You’ve thought about adoption for quite some time, haven’t you? Some friends are telling you to just “go for it” while others may be expressing concern. Regardless of how others feel, the decision is yours to make and is one that should not be made hastily.
There is a lot of information out there about adoption–positive and negative. Adoption is very complex and there are various ways to which a family can adopt a child. Regardless of the avenue to adoption, here are some questions to consider.
Are you patient? The timeline for adoption can be very drawn out. Just ask anyone who has adopted. Often, the process can take years. Are you ready for that? Once you do adopt, how patient are you with children who come from hard places or who may not initially attach to you? Patience with the process and people is a must!
Do you understand how systems work? Regardless of the type of adoption, there is a lot of paperwork that must be processed as well as state, federal, and international laws that dictate policies and the system set in place for adoption matches. Dealing with any of this can be frustrating. The more you understand about how systems and adoption networks function, the better off you will be.
Are you prepared to handle strong emotions? Adoption can bring out the very best of us and it can also force us to admit some things that we may not like about ourselves. Emotions can run high and come from a variety of sources–biological parents who are either voluntarily placing or ones whose rights are being terminated by the courts, adoptees who feel torn between two families, friends and family members and yourself. Be prepared and understand that this is natural and expected.
Do you have a sense of humor? Get a group of parents together who have adopted children and you will hear lots of laughter in the stories they tell. Finding humor in challenging situations is an important part of survival as an adoptive family. There are moments that need to be addressed with great sincerity; however, it is important for families to laugh with each other during struggles.
How comfortable are you with answering questions the child might have about his or her biological family? When a child asks you, “Where are my birth parents?”, it can punch you right in the heart and make you unsure of how to answer your child’s questions. Being honest in the most age appropriate manner is always best but these questions can catch you off guard. Your comfort level with these discussions is important to consider.
Do you have an image in your head of the ‘perfect’ child for your family? Some people choose to adopt because they want to add to their family and feel a calling for adoption. Others have navigated their way through infertility and understand that adoption is the path they need to take to build a family. Regardless of the reason, having a fantasy child is something that you should avoid. We are all human. No one is perfect and this includes children! A lot of kiddos who find themselves in need of adoption have gone through traumatic experiences, lived a good portion of their lives in orphanages or have been exposed to less-than-ideal experiences while in the womb (drug usage, parental stress, etc). Instead of focusing on finding the right child for your family, switch to thinking how your family can be the right fit for a child.
Can you accept rejection and are you resilient? Being a parent requires resiliency and understanding that you are not always going to be appreciated. With adoption, there is the potential to face crises with your child as he or she develops. Are you prepared to hang in there? Can you accept the unknowns? Nothing hurts more than a child that says, “You’re not even my real Mom!” or “You probably regret adopting me.” It is easy to act like these statements do not affect you, but when they come out of the mouth of a child that you have loved on, prayed for, and would give anything to; it does hurt.
Do you have a strong support network? In other words, are there others who understand what you are going through as an adoptive family? If so, are they willing to jump in and help, if needed? Finding a support group or a way to connect with others who have adopted is vital. The connectedness and support you will find in these groups will help sustain you through difficult times.
Do mental, physical, emotional, or behavioral issues scare you? Having a biological child does not guarantee perfect health or no behavioral issues. However, there is something to be said about how trauma affects the development of children. Adoptive parents need to learn as much as they can about the effects of trauma on children. Also, a key to understanding any potential issues your child might face is to learn as much as you can about your child’s biological family members. In some situations, this is next to impossible, but don’t be afraid to ask and do your research!
What does adoption mean to you? When you think about adoption, what words come to mind? Do you see adoption as fulfilling your needs or as an avenue to fulfill the needs of so many children in the world? Is it a calling on your life or are you in a position that adoption is the only means to being a parent? These questions are important to reflect on as you consider this life-changing path.
Adoption is a gift and a challenge. Adoptive families share many joys and heartbreaks along the way. Do you think you have what it takes to be an adoptive parent? Friend, I sure hope so.
Are you ready to pursue a domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with a compassionate, experienced adoption professional who can help get you started on the journey of a lifetime.