When talking about adoption most people immediately think about those that are adoptive parents, but without birthmothers there would be no adoptions. More than 125,000 adoptions are completed in the United States each year, and these adoptions in turn affect millions of people, from aunts to uncles, grandparents to other children. Adoptive parents typically “their story” about the process and field questions from friends and family, but there is a set of questions that is often overlooked and I tend to feel they are the most important set of questions in the adoption process – the questions a birthmother asks a potential adoptive family.
Choosing adoption is a major decision, and selecting the adopting family can be a very stressful time, however if you learn as much as you can it may ease some of the stress during the selection process. Here are some important questions to ask when first meeting potential adoptive families.
1. Why do you want to adopt?
When comparing adoptive parents, you will likely want to know why each couple wants to adopt. This question can offer a great deal of insight into the emotional details behind each couple’s desire to adopt.
2. What do your friends and family think about your decision to adopt?
Knowing what the friends and family of adoptive parents think about their decision to adopt shows how much support the parents will receive after bringing the baby home. You want to be sure that the child will be fully welcomed and loved by the extended family of the adoptive parents.
3. Why do you think you will be a good parent?
Parenting is tough work and you want to be sure that the adoptive parents you choose are up for the challenge. This question will offer insight into the notions that the adoptive family may have regarding parenthood.
4. Do you plan to work and, if so, what is your child care plan?
If the child will be attending daycare, you want to feel certain that the adoptive parents have a solid plan in place for selecting a safe and loving daycare environment.
5. How will you explain adoption to your child?
Although explaining adoption to the child may not happen for several years, this is an important question because it will show whether the adoptive parents have planned for the future questions the child will likely have.
6. What kind of relationship do you envision with the birth mother of your child?
You want to be sure that your ideas of the adoption arrangement mesh with those of the adoptive parents and this question will offer insight on those ideas.
7. Can you describe your daily schedule?
Having a general idea of the adoptive family’s daily schedule will help you determine whether their lifestyle will fully allow for the demands of parenthood.
8. What type of housing and neighborhood do you live in?
Knowing the type of housing and neighborhood of the adoptive parents can help you be certain that the child will be taken home to a safe and loving environment.
9. Do you have other children?
Knowing whether the adoptive family has other children and whether those children are also adopted will offer additional insight on why the family wants to adopt another child. It will also help you learn more about their home environment.
You can learn a lot from reading or viewing adoptive parent profiles, but a conversation allows you to gain a greater sense of understanding and give a deeper sense of “is this the person or couple that I want to adopt my child”. Always remember that the decision is yours and yours only and continue to search until you have found the match that you are comfortable with.
You are not alone in your journey and we welcome the opportunity to speak with you if you are considering adoption.
I will never forget the first night that my wife and I started to go through the adoption process. There was a seminar at a tiny library that started at 7:00 p.m. on a Tuesday in the middle of February. A major snowstorm came through the area right at rush hour. The snow continued through the evening and the roads were terrible.
Determined to be parents, the thought of not going to the seminar was not even considered. However, we both thought that we would probably be the only people crazy enough to brave the weather for a seminar.
It was much to our surprise that when we walked into the library and went into the conference room that there was over 75 people in attendance.
That evening was the very first step on our long adoption journey. At that time, we felt like we were the only people discussing adoption. That night proved to us (much to our surprise I might add) that there were many other people with the same questions and concerns and having the same difficulties.
For whatever reason, people going through the adoption process seem hesitant to discuss it. My journey has taught me that this is the wrong approach.
The adoption journey will involve many twists and turns and many unique situations. Some will have adoptions that go through smoothly. Others will have adoptions that disrupt or will have a painfully long wait. During that journey one should always welcome the advice from others who have walked the journey.
As you go through your adoption journey, friends and family will always tell you it will work out in the long run. While this advice is well intended (and I believe accurate) the reality is that unless they have walked the journey themselves it is impossible to understand all of the variables that exist in a modern day adoption.
Furthermore, it is important to build a strong network of fellow adoptive parents. As our children get older it will be critical to their growth and development that they meet other adoptees and understand that they are not alone in this world.
There are local support groups for people considering or waiting to adopt. I would encourage all to attend and most importantly not believe that it is a sign of weakness to seek the help of others.
If you have any questions regarding the adoption process I would be happy to be of assistance. Please call me at the office at 636-797-2601 extension 124.
Where does one start the story of why they choose to adopt, or how the process went or what it felt like the first time you saw such a small person and knew that you could introduce the bundle of joy as “my son”. Each adoptive parents “story” has different places, people, obstacles and issues but for most they all start at the same place – the yearning to be a family – the want to help guide someone through life – the love – a love so strong that together you will sacrifice anything and everything for a chance to be a parent.
My story starts at one of our most favorite places, the zoo. My wife and I spent many a weekend walking, talking and just enjoying the opportunity to be together. In our early 30’s we had time to start to a family. At our parish someone had passed out a flayer about an upcoming adoption seminar so we decided to check it out – we thought we would have a child what many would call the ‘traditional way” and then potentially adopt a second down the road.
After a few years the road was not as straightforward as it is for many and our only option to have a family was to adopt. There were tears, anger, sadness but as with anything in life, the outcome is determined on the fight – the sacrifice – the will to do all it takes. My wife is the most amazing person I have ever met, and she, like me, was willing to take the road less traveled.
Not days, weeks or months passed but rather years faded into the past. We stopped going to the zoo as the reminders were too great to watch the families push their strollers to children in tow. Maybe our story would have a different ending than we anticipated.
We took a pause and decided to take an adoptive parenting class and our lives were changed forever although we did not know it at the time. The nurse teaching the class mentioned an adoption agency and told us to check it if we wanted to. For a few weeks we added it to the growing pile of 40-50 different agencies we had already spoken with. Nothing hard ever comes easy so we picked up the phone once again and after a few long plane rides we signed up and the wait started again. We had 12 couples in our orientation group and we were chosen as the first couple to be picked – I have to admit we were excited.
Months went by and the other 11 couples were matched and we were still waiting. Why?
One Thursday night at 11:15 p.m. we received a call that two birthparents wanted to talk to us – they wanted to talk right now. You think you know what you are going to say as you have rehearsed the conversation in your head for years but truth be told I remember nothing – it was a blur. The agency said that they would call us back after they spoke with some other couples – the wait started again. At 1:30 in the morning the phone rang again and our lives changed forever. This call I remember – where I was standing – what was said and what I said to my wife.
What you don’t know is that I had to stop writing for the last 10 minutes as the tears of joy returned once again and the story unfolded in my head like it was yesterday. The years of tears, heartache and wondering were replaced with a feeling of exhilaration that can never be duplicated…then chaos!
We had to be more than a thousand miles away within the next 15 hours to pick up our child. Funny fact – we had no idea what the child looked like – white, black, Hispanic, Asian…we forgot to ask, but also we decided early on that we would love any child that would enter our lives.
This is not the end of the story but only a chapter in our lives. We made it with 15 minutes to spare halfway across the country and we met our son.
To this day people always say he looks exactly like me and I always have the same response with a wry smile. I say of course he does…because he’s my son!
Your journey may be filled with ups and downs and twists and turns but the destination is life-changing. We have been given a gift by our son’s birthparents and we know the sacrifice that they made – their love for their child is beyond words and we could never thank them enough.
M + K + E = 3