Adoption can be a beautiful way to build a family, but it’s not always an easy way. There are plenty of fears that can creep in as hopeful adoptive parents consider and pursue this journey. Here are a few common fears parents face as they approach adoption and some ideas of ways to help overcome them.
Can I afford adoption?
Adoption can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be financially out of reach. If you are just beginning your adoption journey, research all the ways to build your family through adoption. Adopting through foster care generally doesn’t involve much financial investment. Additionally, there are companies and charities that provide adoption grants. And there are lots of ways to cut costs, raise income, or fundraise to help finance an adoption. If you think that adoption is right for you, don’t let a lack of finances hold you back!
Can birth parents take a child back after adoption?
The short answer to this one is no. If an adoption is completed ethically, a child becomes a permanent member of the family at finalization. The slightly more complicated answer is that adoption should always be about creating families for children, not “finding” a child for a family. This means that birth parents should be given an opportunity to thoroughly consider all of their options, and that sometimes, a mom or dad who had made an adoption plan instead chooses to parent their child. In foster care, reunification is almost always the first goal. So is the road to adoption a guarantee? No. But is it a risk worth taking? Absolutely.
What if my child and I don’t bond immediately?
Then you are in good company. Some parents (adoptive and biological) report bonding instantly and completely with their children. Many others do not. Bonding and attachment can take time. Additionally, children who experienced early trauma may face challenges that make attachment hard. Reactive attachment disorder and prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs can also complicate the bonding process. My advice is to learn all you can about attachment and bonding before you bring your child home. Read books and articles, talk to adoptive parents, and think about what professionals may be able to help you and your child if you struggle with attachment.
How will adoption affect my kids?
No one can predict this. But we can’t predict how having a biological child will affect our kids either. I was worried about continuing down the road toward adopting another child after finalizing my daughter’s adoption. But she already knew that the world isn’t’ always a safe or kind place for kids, and she found a lot of satisfaction in knowing that we were trying to make it just a little safer and more kind. She adapted beautifully to having a baby brother, and they are the “realest” kind of siblings: the bickering, wrestling, snuggling, singing, and ganging-up-on-mom kind!
How long will I have to wait?
This is another one that’s impossible to predict. Maybe a few months. Maybe a few years. But, no matter how long it is, you can make good use of the waiting time. Do all the things that will be hard when you have an infant (or toddler or child or teenager) in tow. Learn all you can about adoptive parenting. Join a support group. Read books and articles about attachment and bonding. Gather information about community resources and professionals that may be able to help once your child is home.
What if I have a failed adoptive placement?
If I’m honest, this is one of the biggest fears that I had along my adoption journey. I know amazing families who experienced failed adoptive placements. And here’s the truth: in each case it was an incredibly painful, grief-filled experience. It took time, support, and professional intervention for them to grieve their losses, deal with their feelings of perceived failure, and reach a “new normal.” But they did. I can’t tell you that you won’t have a failed adoptive placement. But I can tell you that if it happens, you won’t be alone. There is hope. There is help.
What if my child has special needs that I wasn’t expecting?
Then you will become an expert and an advocate. Just like you would if your biological child had special needs that you weren’t expecting. Life is not a guarantee. Adoption is no different. But once you commit to loving a child, you will do what is necessary to give her the very best life possible. Because that’s what parents do.
Adoptive parents, what would you add? What was your greatest fear of adoption? What did you do to overcome it?
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