Every once in a while, I hear from friends of friends, random strangers and acquaintances as they mull the prospect of adoption. Some have done their research and their questions have to do mostly about process. Some begin at the very beginning and are looking for resources to read. Then there are the few that have done all they can and are keen to hear about experiences as it might relate to them.
Several times, I wish I had a handy compendium of questions and answers to direct them to. Here is a fledgling attempt.
1. Why do you want to adopt?
This is what I counter with when someone tells me they are looking into adoption. More often than not, infertility leads them there. Sometimes, though not rarely, they are there because adoption seems like a noble thing to do. Very rarely, I see people start down the path with clear reasons as to why they are thinking of adoption.
There are no right answers but if the idea of being a savior is what drives you towards adoption, then you must take a long, hard look at whether you are equipped to deal with the trauma and other crises that adoption brings with it. If you are specific about the child you want to adopt (think no health issues, specific race, specific ethnicity), then are you really sure you are in the right mental space to adopt? Even if the child *looks* like you, the hard truth is that the child has another family. They will always have other families. Adoption is not a way to pick and choose babies you want to raise. It is about being a family for a child that needs a home. That is all it is about and should be about.
** I know this feels like sermonizing but the past six years have humbled me.
2. Have you done your research?
If you are thinking international adoption, have you met with agencies? Have to attended open info sessions? If you know which country you want to adopt from, have to familiarized yourself with their government rules on adoption? Have to looked into the immigration part after the adoption? Knowledge is power. Research and read until you can no more.
When that is done, read adoptee blogs, read birth parent blogs, read adoptive parent blogs with an honest voice. The ones that do not sugar coat problems inherent in adoption. Read till you have quelled all dissenting voices in your head. If you still feel you are ready to adopt, only then consider yourself ready.
3. Agency research
Once you are ready, look up agencies and use resources on the web that tells you what an ethical adoption looks like. Look around to find agencies that put the expectant parent first. Peruse their websites to see how they solicit and woo adoptive and expectant parents. Read up about their policies regarding birth parent expenses. Ask around to see how early the pre-birth matching starts. Trust your instincts and be prepared to wait a long time to bring a child home.
Before your start on your journey to expand your family through adoption, consider if immediate family are accepting of your choice. If you fear they will not be, think ahead about how you will put the child’s needs first. Are you prepared to restrict contact with dissenting family in order to support your child first?
5. Adoption is lifelong
As you start your process, please keep in mind finalization of the adoption does not shove adoption in the past. It is a lifelong process. Adoption will be a part of your life and your child’s life. It may not need to be the only identity you carry but it will become an important part of yours and your child’s.
Adoption also means much like marriage, you are expanding your family to include two or more families. You may not see them all the time but they are as important as your siblings and parents and in laws.
I have discussed open adoption, how to adopt etc many times before so I will not go into that. If you have specific questions, please send them over and I will expand this post.