You’ve pictured it a thousand times: You sit holding your child, and, as he or she stares up at you with innocent eyes, you vow to love and nurture him or her until your last breath. There’s no doubt that your desire to adopt burns strongly! But it’s important to ask yourself, “Is adoption right for me?”
This self-exploration is good! Adoption is forever, an irreversible process that requires a lifelong commitment from everyone involved. You should be questioning yourself. In doing so, if you choose to adopt a baby, you’ll know that you do so for the right reasons.
So, how doyou know if adoption is right for you? Adoption Choices of Missouri compiles a list of important questions to ask yourself. We hope they help guide you in determining if adoption is right for you.
- Why do I want to adopt?
At first glance, the answer to this question seems easy: You want to adopt because you want a child. But it goes a lot deeper than that! Some people choose to adopt because they can’t conceive a biological child and still feel a strong desire to experience parenthood. In many cases, they’ve tried for years to conceive and explored various fertility treatments but were ultimately unsuccessful. Others want to adopt regardless of whether they can conceive a child. Many adoptive families include both biological and adopted children. Your motivations behind adoption also go beyond whether you can have a biological child — adoption isn’t for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you want to adopt because you truly enjoy children and want to be a parent, adoption may be right for you.
- Can I handle not being biologically related to my child?
To some people, the idea of adopting a “stranger” and raising him or her as their own child just isn’t something that they’re interested in. They can’t imagine that they would feel a family bond with someone who isn’t related by blood. Others are less extreme on the subject, but find that the pull to go through the experience of carrying and birthing their own child, or just to have a child that carries their genes, is undeniable. It’s important before you start the process of adoption to think about whether you’ll feel sad that your child won’t be a biological part of you and your family. You won’t go through the journey of pregnancy, labor and delivery. Not being biologically related to you doesn’t make an adopted child any less your own; it’s just different. Look at it this way — if you’re married or have a partner, you’re not biologically related to him or her, but you still formed a bond. If you decide that you can’t deal with the idea of having a child who doesn’t share your genes, however, that doesn’t say anything bad about you. It’s far more responsible to explore these feelings now than wait until you’re in the adoption process!
- Have I Grieved My Infertility?
If you’ve experienced infertility or pregnancy loss, be certain you have resolved your feelings about this before beginning the adoption process. Adoption doesn’t cure infertility, so if you’re suffering from significant grief, depression, or anxiety, you might want to hold off on your decision to adopt until you’re emotionally ready to move forward. Grieve your loss first. If you consider adoption to be “second best” to having a biological child, think about how that attitude would make an adoptive child feel. And if you think that adopting will heal your troubled relationship or marriage, think about the pressure that you’re putting on a child who deserves to have parents who are in a healthy relationship.
- Am I okay with birth parent contact?
When you become a parent, your whole life pretty much revolves around what is in the best interest of your child. Teaching him or her to read and write, deciding when and where he or she should take swimming lessons, choosing a preschool – the list is pretty much endless. And when it comes to the concept of open adoption, there is a growing awareness in the adoption community that the child benefits from establishing and maintaining a connection to his or her birth family. It helps the child to understand “Where did I come from?”, “What is my medical history?”, and “Why did my birth parents place me for adoption?” Having answers to these questions can have a huge impact on a developing child’s sense of identity and provide him or her with a greater sense of wholeness.
- What support network do I have?
“Baby blues” don’t just happen to parents who have just given birth. Adoptive parents can also experience depression after their child comes home. The adoption process can be so long and exhausting that perhaps they neglected to focus on what life would be like once a child was finally theirs. While some adoptive parents describe a “love at first sight” experience with their child, that’s not always the case. It may make you feel guilty, but it’s normal to build that relationship slowly. Sometimes, it takes years to create a deep bond. You may find yourself with mixed emotions over your decision to adopt your child and feel anger toward the birth parents. This is why it’s important to build a support network before adopting. If you anticipate a lack of support from family or friends, seek out groups for adoptive parents. Some of them are very specific — for parents who adopt from specific countries, for example. You may also need the services of therapists who are experienced in working with adopted families. If you decide that adoption is right for you, now’s the time to make those decisions and begin your journey. Parenthood, no matter how you get there, is a truly amazing experience.