Like most parents, prospective adoptive parents usually hope for a healthy child. If they were to carry a pregnancy themselves they would likely eat right, avoid alcohol and drugs and make sure to get prenatal care. But when adopting you lose control over the gestation process and you may feel powerless when learning about prospective children’s medical histories. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the ability to adopt a healthy child. Google searches will lead to plenty of photo listings of children who are available for adoption, but most have special needs. These needs can range from the need for minor intervention to those requiring lifelong care; It can feel overwhelming.

If you choose to adopt through foster care you have some ability to learn about the child’s needs during the foster process. But if you choose to adopt internationally or domestically the amount of information ranges from full disclosure to unknown parentage due to abandonment. If you adopt domestically you will be given a multiple page list of things to consider. You will be asked to decide what race(s) you are open to and if you are open to rape or incest situations. You will be asked to choose what physical disabilities you are open to, such as dwarfism, missing limbs, and hereditary concerns. And usually most stressful are the decisions concerning how open you are to alcohol/tobacco/drug use during pregnancy and the mental health history of the biological family.

For those hopeful adoptive parents who are honest with themselves, in looking at your own family tree you will likely find a litany of ‘concerning’ family traits

For those hopeful adoptive parents who are honest with themselves, in looking at your own family tree you will likely find a litany of ‘concerning’ family traits. In truth some wouldn’t even consider their ‘biological’ child if they were to look at the possibilities for health concerns on paper! But even so, it still feels overwhelming. If you were to get pregnant you may be concerned about an uncle who was bipolar, but chances are you wouldn’t obsess over it. When you are adopting you are inundated with so much information surrounding children at risk that it can feel like there is no chance of adopting a healthy child.

In order to ‘speed up’ the adoption process some hopeful adoptive parents will say they are more open to situations than they may really be. And it is very easy to do when you are faced with some of the long wait times for adopting. It is important to try to be as honest as possible with yourself, especially since many conditions will not appear until later in life.

Chances are the baby you adopt will be healthy. But when health concerns do arise it is important to remember that if you were giving birth to the child, you would love that child no matter what. The same thought process needs to be had when adopting. There are no guarantees in life. People get cancer, have accidents, and develop mental illnesses even with no family history. No matter how ‘healthy’ a child appears on paper there is always a chance of future issues. When you adopt a child, you promise to love and care for them, no matter what happens down the road.