Sometimes in our culture or in the modern media frenzy, adoption is portrayed as a type of fantasy or rescued love story. We see adoption romanticized in movies or recognized in articles, a person’s personal family-building decision made public because of their fame or fortune. Unless you have been through the adoption process, you are probably unaware of almost anything besides the YouTube videos where an overwhelmed mom and dad first meet their adoptive child and embrace for their first tear-filled memory. This emotional moment is neither the beginning of their journey nor the final scene of their adoption.
It’s difficult to make realistic decisions about adoption if you don’t have a realistic understanding of how the process works. In a series of upcoming blogs, many steps of a real adoption will be addressed, beginning with the very first: deciding to adopt. As we go through some of the questions to be answered as you decide if adoption is the path you want to pursue for your family, carefully and honestly consider one of the biggest decisions you will seek, not only for you but for the one brought into your family.
How do I know I want to adopt?
For almost everybody that is considering adoption, they have come to this conclusion as a result of something else in their life. Maybe infertility is your why. For others, adoption is a means to be a mom or a dad without waiting for a spouse to be in the picture. Some families want to add children after traumatic experiences with past pregnancies. Whatever motivation you have that has led you to contemplate altering the lives of two families, you must trust in that reasoning with as much confidence as you have in the very air that will fill your lungs with each breath you take. If you see it as just a whim or charitable adventure you have hastily planned out, you may need to rethink your impulse.
You also want to be certain, whatever led you to seek out an adoption, that you fully understand the emotional associations you have for wanting a child. If you have suffered through years of infertility, have you grieved that loss before pouring your heart now into a new path to parenting? Our initial sentiments about becoming a parent may not have included adoption, but if that is where life is leading you, be firmly secure in that position before moving past a wound that is not yet healed.
Will I be able to handle all that adoption requires?
Adoption is certainly not for the faint of heart from either side of the picture. But all that it requires can be so worth it if you know you are ready for what is to come. The mounds of paperwork to muddle through can deter many good intentioned families on its own, much less the home study scrutiny and questions that accompany its process. Then there are so many other aspects to consider, such as the finances associated with adoption, the type of openness that your family welcomes from a birth mother, family adjustments when a new child is brought home, questions from outsiders about adoption, among many other things to think through. Knowing your stance on all these issues will make for a smoother decision.
How long will it take?
You have to be ok with knowing that the answer to this question is, “I don’t know!” Once all the required steps have been completed in order to begin actively pursuing a match with an adopted child, there are no guarantees. Patience will be something you not only endure, but you’ll learn to study how to wait with grace. It could be months to years, and there is no way of knowing specifics. In adoption, surrendering our control over this process is humbling and sometimes challenging, but in the end, two families are forever changed.
What are the financial responsibilities of an adoption?
Research what type of adoption you want to pursue. International or domestic. Private or foster-to-adopt. There are several opportunities to be informed about when seeking adoption. And they all bear the weight of financial responsibilities to complete the adoption process. Starting with paying for the application fees and home study costs that every adoption will require, you will also find other expenses such as rates for the lawyer, birth mother necessities, legal documentation, and more. Find out if your family can take on any adoption expenses with money from savings, fundraisers, loans, or other options for providing for these expenditures.
Am I willing to continue education about adoption?
Many of us go into adoption thinking we have a good grip on what it will be like, and then we also are blindsided by how the process differs from our expectations. Some of the best things to do for our understanding is to attend trainings, do research, listen to other adoptive families, and ask questions of adoption professionals. These things will be imperative to the sensibility of anyone jumping into an adoption and wishing to be as prepared as possible.
Do I have a good support system?
No matter how much you know, how secure your finances are, or how ready you are to tackle the stacks of papers to be completed, if you are in it alone, your journey will feel much more demanding. Having support and encouragement from those around you has to be one of the most valuable pieces of the puzzle when deciding whether to adopt. There will be long days when you will need sustaining. Some moments will be emotional, requiring the sentiments of a loved one. On a tough journey, you will need to glean strength from others who have it to spare. As you are researching details and combing through finances, bring your family and friends in on your decision, not for approval, but for support. Know that you have a tribe of others who walk this road with you and provide what you need even when times are unknown. Cling to these people, and you will be forever grateful.
This is the first in a series of posts about decision-making in adoption. You can read Part 2: Domestic vs. International Adoption here.
Jill is a 32-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.