Is Adoption Right For Us?
This is an important question, which is attached to two equally important questions- “is parenting right for us and is it the right thing at this time in our lives?” Parenting, whether it is with biological children or adopted children will teach you, grow you, stretch you, bless you and challenge you in ways that nothing else in life will. It is not to be taken lightly nor is it to be feared. However, it is really wise to make sure that it is the right thing for you and at the right time in your lives.
Things that might create concern about whether adoption of a child is the right thing or that this is the right time might be:
- Unresolved grief (over lost pregnancies/babies, lost fertility, lost loved ones, etc.)
- Ongoing fertility treatments
- Unresolved trauma or abuse in your past
- Unresolved marital tensions
- Unstable financial condition or difficulty managing finances
- Significant people in your support system who are unsupportive of adoption
- Unresolved criminal or child abuse/neglect charges
- Unsound motivations for adopting
We have learned that individuals who have not had the time, opportunity or help to work through their grief are less able to withstand the roller coaster of emotions with the adoptive process, but also have an increased risk of not bonding well with their adoptive baby. Often this type of grief work is relatively short-term work and once done leaves the couples/individuals feeling much stronger. Our agency policy requires that couples not pursue fertility treatments while pursuing adoption. There are a number of reasons, one of which is that we have had couples become pregnant after being selected by a birthmom and then there is a dilemma with the birthmom. The most important reason, however, is that each child deserves to come into a family where the parents’ hearts are totally focused on welcoming and embracing that child. This is simply not possible when the couple is pursuing fertility treatments as well. It is like trying to drive down two roads at the same time.
Unresolved trauma or abuse in your past will come back to haunt you as you parent children. That is risky for the child and for the parent. Our desire for you is that if you move into parenting, you will experience great success but know that this is unlikely if there are unresolved past issues such as these.
Couples who are struggling in their relationship sometimes feel that if they can just have a family (children), those rough spots will smooth out. It never really works this way. Children are amazing but, honestly, very challenging at times. They do not reduce the stress on a relationship, they increase it. Then if the relationship deteriorates, there is a wounded child/children as well. Fixing a hurting relationship is an example of an unsound motivation for adopting. Any motivation where the child enters the family with a job to do, such as to heal a marriage, fill an empty hole in a parent, make a parent feel better about themselves, make a parent feel loved, be grateful for being “rescued”, make a family look better, is an unsound motivation and will likely set the stage for wounding and heartache.
What then are things that could mean that adoption is the right thing and now is the right time?
- Grief that is resolved (over lost pregnancies/babies, lost fertility, lost loved ones, etc.)
- A comfort with and a desire to adopt a child
- The ability to love a non-biological child as if they were your bio child
- Strong, stable, loving marriage relationship, if married
- Strong and stable financial condition
- Strong support system
- Resiliency and flexibility for the challenges of the adoptive process
- Sound motivations for adopting
Grief that is resolved can actually make a person more ready to receive and embrace another. It is important that both parents be willing to experience the challenges of adoption and to welcome a child as their own. It is not uncommon for one parent to be more motivated than the other in a couple, but it is important that one is not driving the adoption while the other is not committed to it. Children flourish when they have a stable, loving family environment with strong, solid relationships and they come in as “the child”. “The child” does not have the job of making others in the family feel good about themselves or be OK. The child’s job is to receive nurturing, training, love, correction, and protection from family members who have a lot of that to give. In time, the child will respond with love, participation, learning, mastering tasks, taking on more responsibility, and if you are very lucky- may one day be grateful- not that you rescued them, but that you loved them. The adoption process is not for the weak-hearted. The process itself is rigorous, but waiting to be selected is very challenging. We find that individuals who are resilient and flexible handle all the ups and downs better. Being motivated by the proper things, which are the desires to nurture, train, love, correct and protect a child also help with weathering the process and make the wait worthwhile for parent and child alike.