“We definitely want a closed adoption.” My husband and I nodded in agreement, assuming this was one of the main choices when regarding adoption. Embarrassingly, we hadn’t done much educating ourselves by the time this statement was declared, so we didn’t even know the gravity of what we thought we were choosing.

The research continued and we narrowed down our route of adoption from international or domestic or foster care to domestic infant adoption. These were the first few choices we faced. We soon decided to also hire an adoption consultant; this is unnecessary but felt like a safe and smart option for us.

Papers were signed, boxes were checked, and we were officially announced to the world that we were adopting. We ended up checking boxes for semi-open and closed, in regards to openness. The days stacked one after the other and I read countless books and articles from all points of view regarding adoption.

Soon enough our hope for a closed adoption was shed and we ached for openness. As we educated ourselves and heard from adoptees, birth families, and adoptive families, our initial choices began to really change. What we thought to be true initially was wrapped up in assumptions and a point of view that was distant; as we entered into relationships and heard from the hearts of human beings, we realized the choices we were making were more about us and our comfort and less about what was best for our future children and their first families.

Our choices quickly changed in nearly every single area of adoption.

Deciding to grow your family with adoption is a big decision within itself. Once you’ve said “yes!” to choosing adoption, you are met with a multitude of other choices, many of which you may not realize until you come head to head with a situation and are forced to make a decision.

Some of the choices you have to make and think about when you adopt are:

    • Level of openness. Will communication be entirely closed, solely through the agency with letters and pictures on a schedule, or open? Will you have direct contact with your cell phones and even social media?

      • If you decide to have visits with your child’s first family: How long of a drive are you from your child’s first family? Will traveling for visits be expensive and complicated?

    • Route. Will you adopt domestically, internationally, or through foster care?

    • If domestically, will you use only an attorney (independent) or an agency?

    • Will you hire a facilitator or consultant? Will you pay for advertising? Will you work with multiple agencies to optimize your exposure?

    • If internationally or through foster care, you have to decide what age or up to what age. Will you adopt a sibling set? Up to how many?

Substance exposure prenatally. What substances, if any, are you open to your future child having been exposed to? How much?

  • Special needs. There is a giant spectrum of special needs: what special needs do you feel equipped to bring into your home and parent well?

  • Mental/medical history of your future child’s biological family. Are you open to potentially having HIV or HepC passed through your child’s first mother?

  • Gender.

  • How you will incorporate the conversation of adoption into your family? My greatest advice is to just talk about it and bring it up. Break the ice and invite your children into conversation frequently–where things remain hidden there is often unintentional shame.

  • Race. Will you adopt transracially?

    • If so, are you ready to accept that your child will have a different experience growing up as a different race than you? Are you willing to be sure that your child has role models in his or her life that reflects his or her race and culture? Are you willing to add a culture/race into your family? Are you in a diverse city, offering your future child racial mirrors? What about your community of friends or church? The schools? Are you willing to learn about skin and hair care if your child has different needs than yours? Are you willing to move if necessary?

    • Are you willing to become a listener and quiet everything you thought you knew?

  • Fees. You can set a budget and hope to not go over that.

    • Are you willing to fundraise? What about taking out a loan? Apply for grants? Ask your employer if there are benefits?

  • If you have a failed match, you are faced with the decision to continue on or not.

  • Are you going to set up a nursery or bedroom before you are matched?

  • Are you going to tell family, friends, the world? When? At what point? How?

The decisions are endless not only as you prepare to adopt and be matched with your future child or children, but as you move on into parenting. These choices are ongoing and usually made with intention. No one is making me print out pictures, make little crafts, and send them to our son’s first mom–I have to choose to do this. I choose so with joy.

The choices you have to make when you adopt are more about what is best for your [future] child or children; their story is so much more than you. Their story begins before you enter. Their story is wrapped up in an entire world of two different histories and families other than you.

The main and most important choice you have to make when you adopt is: are you willing to set aside your comfort for the sake of your child?



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.