People choose adoption for a variety of reasons. Some people parenting children by birth adopt because of a wish to expand their families and/or provide a home for a child in need. Single people or same sex couples wishing to parent often adopt. Some people adopt because they feel that they are too old to pursue pregnancy and birth. And of course, both singles and couples adopt as a result of primary infertility and secondary infertility. Sometimes the decision to adopt comes easily for a family and sometimes the decision making process in adoption is quite difficult, emotionally challenging, and involves some “soul searching.”
Is Adoption Right for You?
There are many important questions that all prospective adoptive parents can ask themselves to help determine both IF adoption is the right option for them to build their family and WHICH OPTION they may wish to pursue (domestic, international, same race vs. transracial, open adoption, etc.):
- Can I accept and love a child that I did not give birth to, who may look nothing like me and who may be very different from me?
- Can I cope with little or no information about my child’s birth family, or with difficult information?
- How do my extended family members feel about adoption?
- What type of child can I love? Can I love a child of a different race? Am I prepared to incorporate my child’s race/culture into the family, ensure that my family has significant, meaningful connections with people of my child’s race/culture, and help my child/family learn how to deal with racism?
- Can I respect the significance of the birth parents to my child and provide an open atmosphere in which adoption is freely discussed, questions welcomed and feelings validated?
- How do I feel about relationships with birth parents and their families?
- Adoption is a one-time event with lifelong implications. Am I committed to my education about adoption to meet my child’s needs over time?
It is important to note that attitudes and feelings about adoption can change over time and with experience, confidence, and continued education. When people decide to pursue adoption and learn about the different options, sorting out the plan that is right for them can be complex. In addition to the above questions, prospective adoptive parents must evaluate how the options fit with each person/couple’s unique priorities, personalities, beliefs, and resources.
Adoptive parents gradually find that, although adoption may have been their second or third choice for building a family, it no longer feels like second best. Until placement occurs, however, feelings of ambivalence may remain because of normal anxiety related to the unknown. The belief that adoption is not second best may not come until after placement; consequently, many people experience the decision as a leap of faith. Connecting with other adoptive parents is extremely beneficial during the waiting period between the decision to adopt and actual placement.
Ambivalence about adopting can also surface in response to many aspects of the adoption process and adoptive family life. The decisions involved in determining which type of adoption to pursue, in addition to the home study process, paperwork, costs, time commitment, uncertainty, invasion of privacy, possible foreign travel, etc. can be daunting or overwhelming for people. Stories about people’s negative experiences with adoption can be frightening. Therefore it is imperative that prospective adopters learn as much as possible about adoption to dispel myths, misinformation, and distorted media presentations. There are many avenues to take to learn about adoption. We recommend:
- Read books and articles about adoption.
- Attend workshops, webinars, and adoption agency information meetings.
- Connect with adoptive family support groups – talk with adoptive parents, adopted adults, and birth parents.
- Consult with an Adoption Choices of Arizona specialist.
Adoption can be difficult, sure. But it can also be the most loving experience you ever endure! And a lifetime of family memories!