In recent years, the adoption community has experienced many changes. Some of the changes have brought about positive repercussions, while others have opened up a dialogue about the need for even further changes. Now, as society is beginning to not only promote but educate about adoption, there is a need to focus on the future of the adoption community. As an adoptive mother myself who has endured a long, difficult adoption road, I can honestly say that I have seen the best and worst adoption has to offer. This is not to sound gloomy, but simply to acknowledge the reality of adoption.
My hope for the future adoption community deals with five important components. However, when someone thinks about the future, they are often hopeful and positive, and I believe that the future for the adoption community is a positive one. In order to achieve that positive result, the adoption community must encompass these five components. While this is not an exhaustive list, I believe that these five components, if implemented, would greatly enhance the positivity of the future adoption community.
Not Pursuing Adoption as a Means To Heal from Infertility
People begin the adoption journey for numerous reasons, but I would say that one of the most common reasons is a result of infertility. As one might assume, infertility changes people. It is traumatic, exhausting and a significant benchmark in the lives of those who experience it. My husband and I really struggled with infertility, and to this day the door to a biological family is not open to us. Before pursuing adoption, I had to obtain counseling and grieve biological children in my own way with professional help. I did not want to pursue adoption as a “quick fix” to growing my family. This is of no credit of my own, but rather a result of the wise counsel adoption professionals provided me with. And they were correct.
When families pursue adoption as a means to solve their infertility, they miss the entire point of adoption. Adoption is so much more than hurrying up and getting a child. While the desire for children is important, satisfying infertility should not be the only objective. When a family pursues adoption as a result of infertility, they tend to ignore the complex concepts that accompany adoption such as transracial issues, trauma-informed parenting, and special needs that may likely be part of the adoptee’s life. Hopeful adoptive parents must face these potential challenges head-on and be fully aware of what it will require from them as parents. For example, in transracial adoption, hopeful adoptive parents must be ready to expand their communities if need be for the adoptee’s exposure benefit. And when it comes to trauma-informed parenting, most hopeful adoptive parents do not realize that even if their adoption is perfect, the adoptee will still experience trauma from the sheer fact that they are separated from the mother who carried them.
If after research and education, you determine that adoption is not right for you, I encourage you to trust that feeling. Do not allow people in your life to guilt you into pursuing adoption. It is okay if adoption is not right for you. Again, it is not a quick fix, but a commitment and in many cases complicates parenting. So, trust yourself, and do not feel less than or guilty because you do not choose adoption.
So, in terms of adopting as a means to heal from infertility, it is my hope for the future adoption community that hopeful adoptive parents will thoroughly search their hearts and minds and ensure that their desire to adopt surpasses a selfish quick fix of obtaining a child. It is important to note that adoption should not be viewed as quick because it is a tedious process. I am using “quick fix” as a way to explain that seeking adoption because you can’t have a child biologically is only wise if you have properly grieved and processed everything that accompanies infertility.
Adoption Is Not a Business
Adoptions transpire in many different ways, and although there are business-like components to an adoption, it is critical to note that the premise of adoption is not a business. There are many adoption agencies that seem to highlight or advertise how many children have been placed for adoption. This makes me uncomfortable because I have seen the heartache of a birth parent for myself. It is my hope that the adoption community will not highlight these deeply heartbreaking stories but lead with tender grace and understanding. While I understand that adoption must follow specific steps to implement best practices, my hope is that the focus remains on providing hope and opportunities for families with children in need. My hope is that expectant birth parents will not be coerced, pressured, or misinformed as they seek to make an unthinkable decision. The paramount needs and concerns should always be the expectant birth parents much more than the hopeful adoptive parent. My hope for the future adoption community is that it does not maintain a business-like approach, but instead, ensures that compassion and empathy reign paramount.
Open Adoption Is Not Scary and Post-Placement Is Vital
When families begin exploring adoption options, they are typically taught that there are essentially three different types of adoption: open, closed, or semi-open. While a hopeful adoptive parent may not be able to predict what a potential expectant parent may prefer, they should be open to all options to accommodate the expectant parents. As an adoptive parent who believes that open adoption is the best option for the adoptee, it is my hope for the future adoption community that open adoption becomes the norm, the expectation, and the desire.
There tends to be some apprehension when it comes to being part of open adoption. Most adoptive parents feel unequipped to interact and build a relationship with an adoptee’s birth parents. For the benefit of the adoptee, it is worth the unknown to build an open adoption relationship with an adoptee’s birth parents so that the adoptee has all information available to him or her and to provide the space to grapple with their own adoption story. No matter how perfect the circumstances, an adoptee will always be heavily impacted by their adoption because of the monumental weight it carries. So, having an open adoption among their triad can assist them in their identity, questions, and overall emotional and mental well-being. My hope for the future adoption community is that it will advocate for open adoption even when there is initial apprehension.
Post-placement refers to how each member of the triad functions after adoption finalization. While training is important for hopeful adoptive parents initially, it should continue after finalization. Adoptive parents should never stop learning, asking questions, and learning how to best parent their adoptee in light of their story. It is my hope that adoptive parents don’t just stop at becoming parents, but that they seek to be the best adoptive parent they can and provide resources and space for their child to process their story in their own way. It is my hope that birth parents receive beneficial post-placement care and that adoption professionals advocate for that and ensure it happens. Post-placement care for birth parents is vital and should be a top priority for adoption professionals. Ensuring this occurs will aid adoption professionals in leading with compassion and empathy instead of a business approach as mentioned previously.
Ethical Practices Are the Norm
Anytime an entity is run like a business, there are risks for unethical practices. Businesses are run by humans, and sometimes humans make wrong decisions. It is my hope for the adoption community that ethical practices are the norm and that there is no tolerance for coercion, persuasion, financial misdoing, or trafficking. These are sad and disturbing topics, but they must be discussed and rejected when practiced. If you are part of an adoption journey that seems to be unsettling or if you notice something does not seem right, speak out and ask questions. Make a commitment to ensuring your journey is a journey of ethical practices.
Positive Adoption Language
The way society perceives, relates to, and understands adoption is mostly a reflection of all of us who are members of the adoption community. Perhaps one of the most influential ways we can add positivity to the future of the adoption community is through positive adoption language. There are several resources for this, but using positive adoption language does not just include what comes out of our mouths. It also includes speaking up when there is negative adoption language used. Usually, this occurs as a result of someone being misinformed, but it is our job to be a consistent advocate for positive adoption language. It is my hope that through positive adoption language, birth parents are held in high regard and that adoptive parents use great care when they discuss their adoptee’s birth parents. Also, in terms of an adoptee’s story, it is also important to note that it is wise to protect the story of your adoptee. After all, it is their story to tell.
A Prognosis of the Future
As adoption continues to change within society, we are all charged with great responsibility as members of the adoption community. Now more than ever, people speak out when they see something wrong or off within adoption. Thanks to social media platforms, this is now easier than ever. But, with the ease of highlighting and sharing information, comes great responsibility. Use your platforms, in whatever capacity that is, for good and for the good of adoption.
In a perfect world with no hurt or wrongdoing, there would not be a reason for adoption. But, since we live in a fallen world, there is a need for adoption. If you are the birth parent or the adoptive parent, the adoption is not about you; it is about the adoptee. I still have so much to learn as to how to best parent my son who was adopted, but my husband and I try to make every decision based on his benefit and what honors his story and his birth parents the best. Although the components discussed in this article are critical for the future of the adoption community, it is also about adoption not being about yourself. It is my hope for the future adoption community that you get educated regardless of your role. Adoption is not a fad or social status, but a lifelong commitment and a commitment that takes work every single day. If you are an adoptive parent, be educated on your child’s story and leave the door open for their birth parents, even if it makes you feel apprehensive at first. Work with your trusted adoption professionals to provide the best framework for your child to flourish.
Lastly, adoption does not come with an instruction manual. Yes, there are countless resources, but at the end of the day, there is no perfect guide that will align perfectly with your situation. As a result, it is my hope that the members of the adoption community will be there for one another and that whatever role you play in the community will be one of positive influence and passionate advocacy. In a world that seems to get more complicated all the time, let’s work together to ensure children have a safe place to land within adoptions. Every child needs a solid parent, but adoptees need so much more, and you have to be ready and willing to provide it. Adopting our son was a benchmark in our lives. We have never been the same. Our son came to us after six disrupted adoptions. Our adoption journey was the most difficult thing we have ever done, but the reward and joy from our son are worth it all and more.Are you and your partner ready to start the adoption process? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to begin your adoption journey. We have 130+ years of adoption experience and would love to help you.