When people think of the word “adoption,” I believe they have the TV vision of a child being placed in a loving home from a place where he or she was not wanted. They envision the child as now having the perfect, loving, forever home. They may have a vision of the court room as presented on TV and the cordial responses of the parties and the happy parents taking pictures of the day they officially become family. Or maybe they think of animal rescues and adoptions from shelters.

While all of these “visions” may be true to an extent, there are many other areas that need to be considered, one being “the ugly areas” of adoption. One of these ugly areas is grief. Many people, usually those trying to adopt, have experienced or may currently be experiencing grief because of their inability to conceive. Children adopted domestically at birth experience grief. Children adopted internationally experience grief. Children adopted through the foster system experience grief. Birth parents experience grief. Adoptive parents experience grief. All members of the adoption triad experience grief, because at some point, they have experienced a loss. The children are placed in an environment with noises, smells, sounds, and people that are all different from their known previous environment. Their culture may even be different. The birth parents experience grief and loss when they sign their parental rights away and place their child with another family. They may feel remorse and question their decision as they process their grief. The adoptive parents experience a loss by possibly not being with the child from day one of their new child’s life or perhaps the overwhelming grief they experience when the birth mother changes her mind about the adoption.

Another ugly area that many people don’t talk about with adoption is the emotional strain, financial strain, and stress that the adoption process is. The process is not a quick and easy decision. Families wanting a family through adoption need to make that commitment before even considering the process. They need to realize it is a long process, a stressful process with emotional ups and downs. They need to realize it is an expensive process that can cause strain on families financially. Also, there will most likely be a setback or two throughout the process—perhaps paperwork approval, miscommunication, or unpredicted additional financial expenses.

Adoption is not for the faint of heart. It is not like many movies depict, where a family decides to adopt or foster a child and the next scene is a social worker dropping off a child at their home. However, it is a system designed to provide a lifetime commitment of love and care to the child you are adopting, to a child that is becoming part of your family.