Even under the best of circumstances, adopting a child can be a complicated, expensive and frustrating process. Laws vary from state to state and from country to country, making interstate or international adoptions particularly exasperating for many adoptive parents. Legal and financial issues aside, there are many emotional issues to deal with as well. It is our belief that being prepared will help you keep your sanity until your bundle of joy comes home with you. (Keeping your sanity afterwards is a topic for another post.) If you are thinking of adopting, or are in the process of doing so, here are five things you should know.
Yes, parents have emotional needs too, and no, they shouldn’t be expected to just take any child available, without consideration as to whether this is truly a good “match.” But children are not objects or accessories, nor are they surrogates for your own hopes and dreams. Don’t be so stuck on your notion of the “perfect” child that you overlook one who really needs you and whom you could love just as profoundly as you would love some blonde, blue-eyed, “perfect” newborn. And make sure that giving a child in need a good home is your primary purpose for adopting and that you’re not just doing it to fill your own unmet emotional needs.
5 Rules to Remember During Adoption
Watch out for adoption scams.
Prospective parents pursuing a private adoption can use an agency, a lawyer in states where it’s legal, or – again, in states where it’s legal – a combination of the two. (Note that adoptions via a lawyer are illegal in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware and Massachusetts.) But adoption scams are everywhere, and the loathsome hucksters who run them have crushed the dreams and decimated the bank accounts of many prospective parents. Due diligence is extremely important here. Only used licensed facilitators and make sure you ask for references. Be particularly cautious about any requests for payment from third parties; your agency or lawyer should manage all transfers of funds. For that matter, make sure the agency or lawyer you are considering screens the birth mothers so as to ensure that the mother in question is actually pregnant.
Be prepared for personal questions from just about everybody.
You should expect to be vetted by the adoption agency and other parties involved in the process. If you’re a real stickler for personal privacy you may be a little uncomfortable about the number of questions you are asked about yourself, your health, your lifestyle, and your family. Just know that the purpose of asking these questions is not to invade your privacy but to look out for the welfare of the child. But there’s something else for which you need to be prepared: the moment that word gets out that you are trying to adopt, you may also find that relatives, friends, and associates will be asking you all sorts of questions too. Most people are well intentioned and merely clueless about the fact that they have invaded your privacy. This doesn’t make their questions any less intrusive, of course, and you have a right not to answer any questions that will intrude on your privacy, or that of the birth mom or your child. You don’t have to be impolite, but you can explain that it is a private matter. However, if someone seems genuinely interested, particularly if that person indicates that she or he is considering adoption, perhaps you will want to share some useful tips or refer the person to your adoption agency, attorney, or other helpful resources. Just be prepared to be asked lots of questions, and learn to deal with them patiently and graciously.
Put yourself in the adoptive child’s shoes.
You may be going through a roller coaster of emotions, but always remember that there is another person involved in the turmoil of adoption too: your prospective child. Of course if the child is an infant or very young toddler, he or she will probably have no awareness of what is going on, but an older child will be aware. Understanding some of the things the child may be going through will help you make the best decisions for her or him should the adoption be successful. Your adoption agency or lawyer should be able help you find support and counseling to aid in understanding the unique emotional needs of an adopted child, particularly one who has come from a troubled background.
Don’t be too attached to the outcome.
Adoption can be a long, complicated procedure and something can always go wrong along the way, at any stage of the process. Maintaining the proper detachment will help you avoid being crushed if things go wrong, but like most wise advice, this is easier said than done. Complicating matters is the fact that, as indicated above, there is so much emotion involved – after all, the desire to be a parent is, if not hardwired in our biology, nonetheless quite profound in most people. Family and cultural pressures to be a parent play a part too, of course. Just remember that if it does fall through, it is more than likely not a reflection on you, and it doesn’t have to mean the end of your dream to be a parent. Try, try again. But, again… don’t be too attached to the outcome.
Once adoption is successful, be sure you get plenty of post-adoption support. Your agency can guide you in that direction. And if it doesn’t work out and you don’t want to try again, or if you decide – for whatever reason – that adoption is not for you, you can still consider fostering a child, or simply being an advocate for children in need. There are many ways to be a “parent” and show your love for children besides having kids of your own, either by birth or adoption. For more information on adoption and fostering in the United States, check out http://www.adoptuskids.org/.
About Our Guest Author
This post, 5 Rules to Remember During Adoption, was written by guest blogger Sarah Brooks from People Search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger for FreePeopleSearch, which many in the adoption industry use. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.