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This Is What Adoption Feels Like

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No one I know who has adopted would say that the journey came without heartache. And we all recognize that a lot of heartache is also experienced by the birth parents, and understand that just because they weren't able to raise their kids doesn't mean that they don't love them deeply. But even though growing our family has been a lot harder than I ever imagined when I made that simple life plan back in high school, I wouldn't change a single step on our path to parenthood — because each one led us to our daughter.

Redbook Adoption Collage

Why do I want to adopt?
There's one reason above all others to make this choice: You should do it, say experts, because you want to be a parent and love a child. If a personal concern for less fortunate kids is part of your motivation, then that may affect how you adopt — but it shouldn't be your driving impulse; adoption is about creating a family, not "saving" a child.

Can I handle an open adoption?
Twenty years ago, virtually all adoptions were "closed" — meaning that records were sealed and birth parents never had contact with the new parents, or with their children, after the adoption. Some professionals thought this preserved privacy for birth parents, secured the role of adoptive parents, and ensured that adopted kids didn't feel "different." In fact, many states still deny adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

Today, most domestic adoptions are "open" or "semi-open," meaning there's some contact between the adoptive family and birth parents. A growing number of experts now view openness as healthy for several reasons: It reassures birth parents that their child is doing well; it gives adoptive parents information about their child's history as well as a sense of security (studies have shown that adoptive parents in closed arrangements are more anxious about losing their child than those in open ones); and it allows adopted children and adults to have longed-for connections to their biological family and roots.

What kind of child am I ready to adopt?
This question can be a very uncomfortable one. Does seeking a child of your own race mean you're a racist — or does it mean acknowledging that it can be tough for a child to look different from her parents? What would adopting a drug-exposed child or a child with disabilities mean to your family?

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