The young mother who came to our office to discuss all her pregnancy alternatives listed the very last one as “adoption: undecided.”
She was too far along to consider abortion. She had too many children already to realistically consider parenting another by herself. The baby’s father had too many family violence charges to be able to take the child. Their families had already cut them off.
And yet, to voluntarily place a child for adoption seemed almost too daunting to consider.
“What if the baby hates me for giving him up? What if my other kids hate me for keeping them? What if the baby’s dad finally changes someday? What if the adoptive parents are ever abusive? What if I win the lottery and want my child back? What if open adoption makes it harder to live with this decision?”
We assured her that these are important questions for every parent to consider when they’re deciding whether or not to consider adoption: undecided parents have every right to explore all their options and the ramifications of each well in advance of making any final decision(s.)
If you are adoption undecided, then welcome to the club! There are far more people who “think about adoption” than the number that ever actually do it, and this is not a bad thing.
Whether you are considering adoption for your baby or you are considering adopting a child, adoption is a permanent commitment, so it’s essential to keep three basic points in mind:
Adoption means sacrifice, with no guarantees of satisfaction.
Whether you place or if you adopt, you are making a lifetime commitment on behalf of a child, and just as life offers no guaranteed outcomes, neither does adoption. Adoptive families are not automatically better (or worse) than bio-families. Birthparents do not automatically bond or parent any better (or worse) than adoptive parents do. Kids who are adopted are not guaranteed to turn out better (or worse, nor any more appreciative of their parents) than kids who grow up with the families they’re born into. Neither a homestudy nor an adoption decree warranties a perfect outcome for any child, nor can any adoption professional accurately predict any adopted child’s potential.
Adoption requires the child’s interests take first priority, no matter what.
Traditionally, the public’s perception was that children “belong” to the parents that raise them, and that all the power over that child belongs to the parenting parents, as well. Birthparents today who expect that forfeiting parental rights means they won’t owe the adoptee anything are bound to be surprised in years to come that the adult once adopted does feel entitled to answers to their questions, at the very least. Adoptive parents who expect a healthy adopted child to just “fit into” their lives (and expectations) are equally surprised to learn that good parenting instead means adjusting their lives to accommodate their child’s needs, at every age. Parenting is not for sissies, and whether you place or adopt, you are entering into a sacred vow on behalf of that child, for better or worse: that child’s needs come first.
An adoption experience will transform you in ways you cannot imagine.
Adoption changes everything. It’s not only changes family trees, it changes the very fiber of every branch, in ways that can be both good and not-always-good. Every adoption is borne of loss, and every loss in life has the capacity to grow us or to break us, depending on what we do with it. Becoming a parent is a lifetime responsibility, whether or not you choose to parent. Being adopted is a lifetime weight, depending on how you balance the burden. Expanding your family means having to make room to expand your heart. The hard part about this is that adoptees have no say in whether or not they wish to participate in this transformation, so it’s essential that parents understand why adoptees may not see adoption as having been an asset in their lives– even when the outcome has been positive.
If you’re adoption-undecided, then take advantage of the opportunity to learn all you can about adoption before you commit. Talk to other parents who have placed, adopted, and decided not to. Listen to all the adoptees you can. Learn from adoption experts; not those who “do adoptions,” but particularly, those who care for those touched by adoption afterwards. There’s a lot of anti-adoption propaganda out there, but there’s also of really good information available to help you make a well-informed decision.
And while there’s no “perfect solution” to any imperfect life circumstances like infertility or unwanted pregnancy, if you’re adoption-undecided, take the time to examine all your options, think them over, and if Abrazo can be of service, keep in mind: we’re just a phone call or an email away.