He’s just a little kid. But Mommy, I just ate 15 cookies. She just hurt me one time. Why didn’t that girl just place her child for adoption? Why didn’t that couple just adopt a kid?

Just. It’s a four letter word in the adoption community. A four letter word that carries a lot of weight. When you read the sentences in the introduction removing the word “just” they don’t pack quite an emotional punch. That little word can make the difference between asking an innocent question and offending a large population of people.

Adoption is a choice, but it’s a hard choice no matter how you come to it.  For birth families, adoption means allowing someone else to raise your child—the child you have carried inside of your body for nine months. A child you love more than life itself. Choosing to place your child for adoption affects not only the birth mom and dad but their entire family and circle of friends as well. You have to think beyond what is going on in your life right then and look towards the future. Sometimes you have to look into your own life and ask yourself hard questions about parenting and what “forever” means in terms of the life of a child. This decision is, quite possibly, the hardest decision someone will ever have to make.

For adoptive families, whether adoption comes into your radar because of infertility, personal experience, or any other reason, it’s a way they are choosing to grow their families. A way they are planning to unconditionally love and raise a child they did not give birth to. Choosing to adopt a child affects not only the adoptive mom and dad but their entire family and circle of friends as well. You have to look into your heart and ask yourself tough questions about the future and raising a child who might not necessarily look like you. You have to ask yourself what “forever” means in your life and the life of this child. It’s much more complicated than the word “just” implies.

Also, would you say to someone struggling with infertility, “Why don’t you just get pregnant?” Would you say to someone in financial trouble, “Why don’t you just get another job?” Would you say to someone who has plans for their future, “Why don’t you just put those on hold for a little bit?” I doubt it. Now, by no means am I advocating that you must walk on eggshells around every person you meet in hopes that you don’t offend them. I’m saying that a little bit of sensitivity and forethought goes a long way.

Adoption is not a cut-and-dried choice. It is not the answer to infertility or unplanned pregnancy. It is an informed, well-thought-out choice by both birth and adoptive families that just may change the course of their entire lives.

Are you ready to pursue a domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with an adoption professional who can help you start the journey of a lifetime.