As I began the first part of my adoption journey, everyone (friends, family, neighbors, and store clerks) had things to share with me. Some comments were said with a smile, some in a whisper, and some with raised eyebrows. Some people shared their love and concern for me, some shared a misunderstanding of adoption, and some were helpful.
I tried to use the questions I was asked and the comments that were shared as a way to prepare myself, and to educate others about my decision.
Becoming a parent means your life will change for ever.
That’s why I’m doing this. I WANT my life to change. I enjoy work and travel and being single, but now I want to be a parent. Isn’t it great that life is full of so many options?!
As a single parent, how will you do this?
I know there are lots of successful single-parent families. Hopefully, I can learn from them. Also, I’m fairly resourceful and I’m confident I can figure it out.
What if you get your child home and she wanted a mom and a dad, and she only gets you?
I will teach my child that there are many kinds of families of all different sizes, and many are created in different ways. Also, my feeling is that having one parent is better than living in an orphanage with no parents.
What will you do with your child when you travel for business?
I hope to find a variety of situations including overnight babysitters and friends who will help out in a pinch. I don’t have answers to every challenge that may arise, but I’m confident that I’ll figure them out as I need to.
I just saw a show on 20/20 (or other TV news show). All those kids from Russia…bad news…be careful.
Yes, I saw that show, too. I’ve tried to educate myself about the possible issues and challenges. Hopefully, I’m prepared, and I hope you’ll support me and my child. I hope you will respect her strengths and challenges.
Why are you thinking of adopting such an “old” child? Don’t you want a baby?
I enjoy other people’s babies, but I want a child old enough to be somewhat self sufficient and able to join in my interests, like biking, rollerblading, and going to museums. Isn’t it amazing that when you adopt you get to make these kinds of choices?!
How will you communicate with your daughter? Is she being taught English at the orphanage?
I’m getting tutored in Russian and am learning basic phrases such as: Are you tired? Are you hungry? This is our house. I’m your mommy. Good girl. Don’t touch. Are you scared? No, she’s not being taught English. Russian orphanages are generally lucky to get enough food on the tables. They don’t have the resources to teach their children special skills and subjects.
What if you don’t like your daughter when you meet her? Doesn’t this scare you?
Oddly, this is not even a little bit of a worry. I can’t explain it, but I already know we’re meant to be together. Many people talk about the spiritual aspects of adoption; maybe this is one of those examples.
As you travel on your own adoption journey, try to answer people’s questions in a way that will educate them about adoption and different types of families. At the same time, be knowledgeable and strong about your choices and decisions.
Susan M. Ward, an older child adoption specialist, provides parent coaching and resources for adoptive families. Susan’s training has focused on adoption issues relating to attachment, grief, and parenting. She’s also the adoptive parent of a child healed from RAD (reactive attachment disorder). Her website is www.OlderChildAdoptionSupport.