This Is What Adoption Feels Like
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?
Be honest with yourself and do research before making your decision. If
you're considering the adoption of a child with special needs, or a transracial
adoption, explore your resources. Do you have access to services that a child
with disabilities requires? Do you live in a multicultural neighborhood, or
would you move to one? If there are multiracial families in your community,
especially those formed by adoption, consider asking them for their
"People worry that their children might be confused by an open
relationship with the birth parents," says Brenda Romanchik, director of
Open Adoption Insight, a nonprofit organization in Michigan that provides
resources and support for people involved in all sides of the adoption
equation. "But if you're not confused about the roles and
relationships, then your children won't be either."
Have I come to terms with my infertility?
"Infertility is a grief that's revisited many times throughout life — for
instance, when you see the birth family and know your child looks like them,
not you," says Romanchik. "Can you handle that? You have to be able to
accept that adoption isn't the same as having a child born to you." To get
to that place, first understand that feeling ongoing pangs of loss over
infertility doesn't mean you love your adopted child any less. Find support
among parents who have adopted or are trying to — many have been down this