No matter where you are in the adoption process, here are a few pieces of advice from someone who was sitting right where you are, walked where you are walking, and survived to tell about it.
1) It’s not about you
Yes, you want a child and are going to great lengths to bring one home, but the adoption process isn’t about you. Every background check, doctor visit, home study, or talk with a social worker may make it seem like the process is all about you, but it isn’t. Adoption is finding safe, loving, forever homes for babies, children, and teens. All the hoops you jump through before bringing that child home is so those placing the child know that the child is indeed going to join a good family.
2) Regulation and requirements
Every state and county has its own set of adoption regulations and guidelines. Navigating these can be tricky, but you can check your state’s online websites to see what the general requirements are. Social workers or adoption lawyers will know what their state and county will ask to be done. It is also important to understand that an inter-state adoption will require meeting the requirements of each state involved. Do not let the massive amount of information overwhelm you. Rely on your social worker or lawyer to help you along. Trust them, and learn all you can about the process, because one day, you might be able to help other hopeful adoptive parents.
3) It is going to be tough
From paperwork to placement, it can be hard. There is a crazy amount of paperwork that you will need to read and sign. The decisions that you will need to make prior to being approved to adopt will blow your mind. Take a long look at your preferences and know what you can handle. Do not let anyone guilt you into changing your preferences. You alone can determine what you can handle. The wait for a potential match can seem terminal. The matches that aren’t made and the interrupted adoptions can cause much heartbreak.
Some people are not going to understand. There are always those people who just do not get why you want to adopt. When you know that God is calling you to adopt and you know method he is wanting you to adopt, do not let anyone try to sway you. Cling to the calling like a dog clings to a bone. You will most likely face adversity from people you least expect to be unsupportive. Put your hand to the plow and do not look back.
4) Other Family
Be aware that sometimes there are more people involved than just you and your adopted child. Usually, there is a birth family who may want to retain some form of contact with the child, whether it be letters and pictures or actual in-person visits in neutral locations. The level of contact is usually discussed prior to placement of the child. While this agreement is not usually legally binding, it is always best to try to honor any prior agreements with the birth family as long as it healthy for the child. It is important to understand that once the adoption is finalized, you are the child’s legal parents, and you have the right to decide what is in the best interest of your child. If the relationship becomes unhealthy or unsafe, you as the parents have the right to pull back. Regardless of any situation, you should always try to refrain from negatively speaking about the child’s biological family
5) Tell the Truth
It is always right to tell your child that they are adopted. From the time they come home, speak positively about the concept of adoption. If the child is very small, keep their story in the most basic terms. There are many ways to positively spotlight adoption even though the child may come from a hard place. As the child grows, add in more details to their story, saving the hard stuff for when they are old enough to understand. Do not shy away from your child’s questions about how they came to be and how they came to join your family. Honesty is always the best policy.
6) You are not alone
The adoption journey can be grueling. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Hundreds of people before you have navigated the adoption waters; do not be afraid to call upon their expertise. The adoption community is vast and varied. You may not need to look far to find someone who has been touched by adoption, and you can find support from the adoption community.
Hopeful Adoptive Parent, do not be weary in well-doing. Eventually, you will reap the benefits of all your hard work if you do not give up. Consider all this to be like contractions and birthing pains. One day, it will seem a distant memory…and it will be worth it.