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If you are considering adopting a child, print out the following questions and write down your answers. Do not just glance over the questions. Instead, really think about your answers, being very honest with yourself about how you feel. You answers to these questions will help you to determine if you are ready to adopt a child. These questions will also help prepare you for similar questions during your adoption home study. [Top]
Do you have a history, such as a criminal record, that might raise a red flag in approving you to adopt a child? If so, how will you convince a social worker that your history will not affect your ability to parent an adopted child?
When will you tell your child that you adopted him? If your answer is "never" or at a particular age, what steps will you take to make sure someone else in your life does not let this information slip before you talk to your child about his adoption?
For married couples: How secure is your marriage? Are you in agreement about adopting? If one of you is reluctant to adopt, are you confident that both of you will embrace the adopted child as "your child" when the child joins your home?
After you have completed these questions, read over the articles below that correspond with each question. These articles are intended to help guide you in determining whether adoption is the best choice for your family at this time in your life.
Hopeful adoptive couples have a wide variety of reasons for wanting to adopt a child. Some people feel like they were meant to adopt a child. Others are unable to conceive a biological baby and turn to adoption as a way to grow their families. Still others want to provide a better life for a child who would otherwise grow up in an orphanage or foster care.
When you look over your list of reasons for wanting to adopt a child, make sure that "I want to parent a child" is included on your list. Underlying all of the other reasons needs to be a sincere desire to parent a child. Reasons such as wanting a sibling for your child or wanting to provide a better life for a child are fine, but they are not enough if you do not feel a strong desire to parent a child. Parenting a child is a huge commitment, and you need to really want to parent a child before you commit to adopt a child.
If your extended family and friends are wildly supportive of your decision to adopt a child, then you do not need to continue reading this article. However, if you have family or friends who are unsupportive, you will have some decisions to make before you decide to pursue adopting a child.
The first consideration is how deeply you care about your family's and friends' opinions about your family-making decisions. Some people are indifferent about the opinions of others while other people seek approval from their family and friends. How much do you care about gaining your family's and friends' approval of your decision to adopt? If you feel very strongly about gaining unsupportive people's approval, then you might want to assess whether you should proceed with an adoption before gaining this approval.
If you decide to adopt a child over the objections of family and friends, what measures are you willing to take to protect your adopted child from the negativity? While some unsupportive people might become more accepting after they meet your adopted child, others might not. Forcing your adopted child to spend time around people who resent (or even reject) him can be emotionally damaging to your child. Are you willing to distance yourself from unsupportive family members if this becomes necessary to protect the well-being of your adopted child? If your answer is no, then perhaps you are not yet ready to adopt a child.
Adopting a child can be very expensive, running upwards of $30,000 in some cases. (However, adopting a child out of foster care is free.) Can you afford to adopt a child? If you do not have a large sum of money in a savings account, how will you afford to adopt a child? If you must empty your bank account to pay for the adoption, how will you afford to pay for the expenses of raising a child?
You do not have to be independently wealthy in order to adopt a child. Many adoptive families are of modest means but manage to find creative ways to come up with the money to pay for the adoption fees. However, you will need to be able to answer questions about your finances in order to pass your home study. You will need to be able to show that you can provide the basics for your adopted child, such as a roof over the child's head, clothing for the child to wear, and food on the table. Showing financial stability is very helpful in being approved to adopt a child.
If you adopt a child, your child will (obviously) have birth parents (biological parents). How do you feel about your child having another set of parents?
Feelings toward birth parents can be all over the map. Some adoptive parents feel grateful toward the birth parents because, without them, the adopted child would not exist and the adoptive parents would not be parents. However, in other cases, adoptive parents might feel resentment toward the birth parents, particularly in the case of abusive or neglectful birth parents. Adoptive parents might also feel resentful when choices of the birth mother during the pregnancy resulted in physical damage to the baby, such as drinking during the pregnancy resulting in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Even in the case of birth parents who make a loving decision to place a baby for adoption, some adoptive parents feel competitive toward the birth parents, not wanting to "share" their baby with another set of parents. Insecurities about who is the "real mom" can cause issues for the adopted child, who does not want to see his birth mother and adoptive mother in competition with each other.
What role, if any, do you see the birth parents holding in your family? In the case of a closed adoption, the answer might be "none." However, in an open adoption, the birth mother might call or even visit with the child. How will you feel about this type of arrangement?
Your feelings about the birth parents can speak volumes to the child when you talk with your child about his adoption. If you feel positively toward the birth parents, your child will pick up on the love. If you feel negatively toward the birth parents, your child can infer that it is not okay to ask questions about his birth family. In situations in which the birth parents' actions have harmed the child, the adoptive parents can wind up walking a fine line between being angry about the way the child was treated and reassuring the child that he is not limited by his birth parents' bad choices.
In order to adopt, you must go through an adoption home study process in which a social worker will ask you a variety of questions to assess your readiness to parent an adopted child. The adoption home study process can be stressful, especially if you are a private person who is not used to talking about your finances and marital issues. Are you ready to open up your life to the scrutiny of a "stranger"?
By the time you complete your adoption home study, you will likely find that no stone was left unturned. You will have discussed many issues about your life, including the following:
• Adoption issues
• Extended family and friends
• Feelings about birth family
• Feelings about raising an adopted child
• Infertility grief (if applicable)
• Parenting philosophies
The social worker is not looking for a way to "weed you out." Instead, she is wanting to help prepare you for parenting an adopted child. She is also making sure that your home will be safe for the child.
Do you have anything in your personal history that might raise a red flag in approving you to adopt a child? If you have a history of abusing a child, then you are not going to be approved to adopt a child. However, if you were arrested for driving under the influence twenty years ago and have been sober for ten years, then the social worker will want to talk with you about your history of alcohol abuse in detail before deciding whether to approve you to adopt a child.
Many people who have seen a therapist fear that this will be held against them in their quest to adopt a child. Remember that social workers see therapy as a good thing. Having seen a therapist, in and of itself, will not preclude you from adopting a child. However, the social worker will need to know why you saw a therapist to make sure that you do not have any mental or emotional issues that will affect your ability to parent an adopted child. A letter from your therapist stating that your reasons for seeking therapy will not affect your ability to parent is often enough to continue with the adoption home study. In addition to this, you might need to discuss the issue with the social worker.
How important is it that your child looks like you? It is normal to dream of parenting a child who has your nose and your husband's eyes. That dream must be replaced by another dream if you plan to adopt a child. Your adopted child might not look a thing like you. Can you still love and embrace an adopted child who does not look a thing like your family? If not, then adoption is not the right choice for your family.
How important it is to you for your family name to continue through someone who is biologically related to you? For some people, the biological connection is very important. For others, a biological connection is irrelevant. If you choose to adopt a child, you are choosing to allow your family name to be carried on by someone who might not look a thing like you and carries none of the same DNA. How do you feel about this? If the loss of this biological connection bothers you, then you might not be ready to adopt a child.
If you have biological children in the home, how will an adopted child fit into your family? Will you distinguish between the children, viewing some as "my children" and the adopted child as the "adopted child"? If so, then you are not ready to adopt a child. The adopted child needs to be embraced as your "own" child.
Adopted children will have their own needs that are different from issues experienced by biological children, but all children need to know that they are forever members of your family, whether they joined your family through birth or adoption. The adopted child needs to be embraced as a full member of the family, not as a second-rate member just because of how he joined the family. If you cannot love an adopted child as deeply as you love your biological child, then you are not ready to adopt a child.
How long are you willing to wait to adopt a child? Unfortunately, no method of adoption is fast. Even a "fast" adoption generally takes several months, and a "slow" adoption can take a few years. Are you willing to wait this long to adopt a child?
One of the big challenges in waiting to adopt a child is that you must "choose" adoption over and over again. When you conceive a child, the baby is on its way. There are no more choices to make. Your job is to prepare yourself to parent the child. When you wait to adopt a child, you can change your mind at any point, which results in being repeatedly asked to "choose" adoption. This can be stressful, particularly if you or your spouse is reluctant about adoption to begin with.
Not every planned adoption goes through. Some expecting mothers choose to parent their babies after the baby is born. Some countries suspend adoptions for a period of time. Some judges repeatedly give the birth mother "one more chance" before terminating parental rights. No matter which method of adoption you choose, you risk facing an adoption plan that falls through. How will you handle the disappointment (or devastation)?
Is your desire to become a parent through adoption strong enough to get you through the stress of an adoption plan that might fall through?
During the adoption home study, the social worker will ask you when, if ever, you plan to tell your child about his adoption history. If you plan to adopt a child, you need to think through this issue now so you will be prepared to answer this question during the adoption home study. What are your reasons for telling (or not telling) your child about his adoption?
If you plan to wait to tell your child about his adoption at a particular age, what steps will you take to make sure he does not find out about his adoption from someone else first? If you never want your child to know about his adoption, how will you answer questions about your "labor and delivery" and the child's birth?
These questions might seem overwhelming when you are only considering whether or not to adopt a child. These are the kinds of issues that you will face as an adoptive parent, so you need to make sure that you can handle making these decisions before you decide to adopt a child.
If you are married, then the social worker will want to know how stable your marriage is as part of the adoption home study. While no marriage comes with a guarantee, a social worker prefers to place an adopted child into a home that is stable and unlikely to break up in the near future.
If your marriage is rocky, then you are not yet ready to adopt a child. The adoption process is stressful and is taxing on the strongest of marriages. If you are unsure whether your marriage is going to last, then adopting a child at this time is not a good plan.
Some marriages are strong but experience some friction over the issue of whether to adopt. Having a reluctant spouse is a common issue among hopeful adoptive couples, so if you are in this situation, rest assured that you are not alone. You owe it to your adopted child to make sure that your reluctant spouse will commit to the child and embrace the child as his or her "own" child when the child joins your family. Oftentimes, the reluctance is about the adoption process itself rather than about parenting a child.
Why would an adopted child want to join your family? What do you have to offer? Don't "over-think" the question. If you can provide your child with a safe home, food on the table, clothing on his back, and lots of love, then you have what an adopted child needs.
If you are coming to adoption after infertility, have you resolved your feelings about your infertility? Adoption cures childlessness, not infertility. Even after you have adopted your child, you will still not have experienced pregnancy. How do you feel about this?
Grieving infertility loss is a process that happens over a period of time, but you must be willing to begin letting go of the dream of the baby with your nose and your husband's eyes before you are ready to adopt a child. Your adopted child needs to be loved and embraced for who he is without being compared to who you wanted him to be.