Facts You Need To Know Before Adopting

“Just adopt.” Right?

Rachel Galbraith December 07, 2016
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“Just adopt.” Right?

How many times have you heard that? It’s as if the minute you decide to adopt, a child will magically appear. To those on the outside, adoption looks so easy. But all they ever see is the end result – your smiling faces as you announce your new addition. What they don’t see are the months (possibly years) of frustration and tears that got you to that point.

I think we’ve all been on that end of things though, in a different lifetime when adoption wasn’t quite on our radar yet. There was probably a time when adoption did seem “easy.” But now we know better. We know the challenges, the heartaches, the frustrations, and all the ups and downs that “just adopting” brings. We know that there are some absolute facts about adoption that people need to know before they start the process.

Here are just a few of them:

Adoption is NEVER easy.

Even for the situations that look “easy.” There are so many emotions that come along with adoption. Of course there are your own emotions as an adoptive parent, which can range from excitement to devastation in a matter of minutes. Sometimes those emotions can happen in the same instant, and believe me that is not easy. But putting your own emotions aside, there are the emotions of the parents considering the placement of their child, and there are also the emotions of the child being placed.

No matter the circumstance, all adoptions come from loss. Biological parents and children are being separated from one another. It is traumatic. Even if a child is placed a few days after birth, there will most likely come a time when he/she has to deal with that loss. Some deal in big ways, and some deal more privately, but it is something that every adoptee will work through at some point in his/her life. Dealing with a triad of strong, conflicting emotions between you, the biological parents, and the adoptee is NOT easy. So, be prepared for a lifetime of navigating those emotions as they come.

You don’t have to be open to every type of situation.

Agencies will tell you that the more open you are to all potential situations, the faster things will happen. BUT, I’m here to tell you, that you need to do your homework. Love is amazing, and wonderful, and healing, but it isn’t always enough.

If you are open to transracial adoption, you need to understand what that really means. You need to be comfortable confronting racism and changing the way you see this world in order to properly care for your children. If you are open to drug exposure or special needs, you had better be committed to providing the lifetime of medical, behavioral, and/or psychological treatment that your child could possibly require.

These are not negative things, but they are things you have to consider before checking all the boxes. You need to make sure you find a good fit for your own situation. It wouldn’t be fair to bring a child into your home if you weren’t prepared to properly care for him/her.

Adoption scams are real.

Just ask any adoptive parent. Most will have some interesting stories to tell. For every real inquiry by an expectant parent considering adoption, there will be five scam-ish contacts.

Adoption scammers play these games for different reasons. Some are working to get money from hopeful adoptive parents, but others just crave the emotional bond that hopeful adoptive parents form with prospective expectant parents. They like the phone calls, the check-ins, and the feeling that somebody cares for them. If you know what to look for, scams can be easy to spot, but some scammers are so good at what they do, it can be difficult to know for sure. Be careful! If something doesn’t seem right, do some investigating. Don’t ever send money directly to an expectant parent, get a legitimate proof of pregnancy first, and always use an attorney. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Chances are, it will.

Women who place their children for adoption are real people with real feelings.

Please don’t ever treat them like anything less. Don’t ever forget how much they love those children. Do not make any promises you know you can’t or won’t keep. Be true to your word. These women are entrusting you with their precious little ones. Uphold that trust. Keep your promises. Do what you said you would do. Be empathetic, supportive, and loving. Nurture the relationship you have with them. Someday your child will thank you for cultivating a loving friendship with his/her birth mother. It is always worth it.

Not all agencies and attorneys are ethical.

Before signing up with an adoption service provider, do a lot of reading about their fees and the services they provide. Talk to your adoption community, including women who have already placed children. Ask them questions about the agencies you are considering. It is especially important to ask birth mothers how they were treated by certain agencies. Consider asking these questions:

  • Did they feel supported throughout their pregnancy, during the relinquishment process, and after placement?
  • Does the agency provide the option of birth parent counseling post-placement?
  • Did they ever feel pressured or coerced into placing their child for adoption?
  • What about fees? Do they seem a lot higher than other agencies?
  • What is their cost breakdown? Where is the money going?

If you don’t like the answers they give, move on to another agency.  If the money is mostly going to line the agency’s pockets, then it is probably best to look elsewhere.

Expectant parents have the right to change their mind about their adoption plans.

Placing a child for adoption is the hardest thing a parent can ever do. It is full of fear, sadness, and anxiety, mixed with moments of peace and resolution. During the time between being matched up with an expectant mother and the actual birth of the baby, please don’t act as if this baby already belongs to you. Until papers are signed, that baby is not yours. Please be considerate and understanding of this. Of course you are hoping and praying that things will go according to plan, but often times, they don’t. Even when an expectant mother is fully dedicated to placement, she will have to make that decision all over again once the baby arrives. Just prepare your heart: Nothing is set in stone.

And the last adoption fact:

In the end, it will be worth it.

The truth is, you’ll never have it all figured out. Adoption does not end when a child is placed in your arms. That is when the real journey begins. Just trust your heart, be good to those who have come into your life because of adoption. Keep your promises. Communicate your needs, and be flexible with the needs of your child and their biological family. Your heart will grow and change in ways you never expected. You will learn the meaning of unconditional love, and you will be a better person for it.

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Rachel Galbraith

Rachel Galbraith is a busy mother of five children, one of whom was adopted at birth. She has a Bachelors Degree in social work, and has worked as a medical social worker, specializing in the field of women and children. She was privileged to play a small role in the adoptions that often took place on her hospital unit. Writing has become her own personal form of therapy, and she is excited to combine it with her love of adoption. In her free time, she has a love-hate relationship with distance running. She readily admits to doing it only so she can eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.


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