Adam Pertman, a father of two in Boston, adopted because he and
his wife couldn't conceive. Kathryn Creedy, a single mom in Vermont, chose
adoption because she wanted kids, but didn't want to be pregnant.
Just as there are a multitude of reasons for adopting, there
are also many ways to go about it. For those first setting out to adopt, the
choices are often bewildering.
Every family has that one kindly aunt and uncle who "never had any
children." And, until you yourself have struggled with infertility, you probably never
wondered why they had no children; you just accepted it. Well, if that aunt and
uncle of yours are now seniors, in their day they could have adopted from a
wide assortment of newborns. But they didn't. Today, they probably live
comfortably in a small condo somewhere, travel a great deal, are enjoying their
retirement, and dote on a large selection...
Should you pick an infant from a Beijing orphanage, or an older
American kid out of foster care? Would it be best to work with an agency, or
retain a private attorney? How open a relationship, if any, do you want to have
with the child's birth mother.
"The most simplistic answer at the beginning is, educate
yourself," Pertman says.
In addition to having adopted twice, Pertman is the author of
Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution Is Transforming America,
and he heads up the Evan B. Donaldson Foundation, an adoption policy,
education, and research group based in New York.
But he wasn't an adoption expert before he adopted his first
child, Zachary, now 9. Like most people are when they first consider adoption,
he was in the dark.
Before making a big commitment, like marriage or pregnancy,
Pertman says, "We get some sense of the landscape before we jump in."
Adoption ought to be no different, but it is. Approaching most of life's
milestones, we already have some sense of what's involved. "In adoption,
because it's been a whispered secret for so long, we haven't developed those
instincts," he says.
Owing to this history of secrecy, you may have negative
feelings about adoption, so the first step is to confront that.
Although adoption is "often a second choice," Pertman
says, "it's not second best."
"The vast majority of adoptive parents come to adoption
through infertility, but there are many of us for whom adoption was our first
choice," says Creedy, executive director of the Institute for Adoption
Information, in Bennington, Vermont. Like Pertman, she became an adoption
expert and advocate as a result of her experiences -- and love for her adopted
"We keep secrets about things we're ashamed of,"
Pertman says. "I'm not ashamed of how I formed my family. I love the way I
did it. I love my kids. We should be proud."