GUEST BLOG POST: Is Adoption Right for Me? by Leah Campbell
Adoption, as with parenting, is not for everyone. Some couples and single parents are great parents, while others struggle at it. This brings up the question for a lot of people looking into adoption: is adoption right for me? I can’t predict the future for you, but what I can do is provide you with a list of questions that you must answer honestly and decide for yourself if you think this is something you’re up for.
Am I financially capable at this moment to care for a child? A lot of prospective adoptive parents say they are financially capable, but in fact they are not. What they think in their minds is that they are not capable at the moment, but they will be. You don’t know for sure if you’ll get that job, that promotion, or that raise. When making a decision as life-changing as adoption, you should be positive of the future of you and your child. You should do some in-depth calculations to determine whether or not you actually can support the child.
In order to calculate how much it would cost to care for a child financially, you should take into account a many factors, such as:
Food, Clothing, Education, Home (including a new bed, lights, any renovations that need to be done to a room, etc.), Medical Expenses, Transportation (you’ll be driving your little one everywhere you go!)
Why am I adopting? A lot of prospective adoptive parents have already asked this question, but it’s still a vitally important one. You should be honest with yourself and ask why you’re adopting. If you don’t know how to answer this question, you should re-think your plans. When you adopt a child, you’re accepting him/her as your own and will raise them as such. This question does not just apply to adoption, it also applies to parenting overall: why do I want a child?
A lot of families that go through an adoption agency will say that they feel like they are ready for the next stage of their life and feel like something (or someone) is missing from it.
How will your family feel about adoption? This is one of the more difficult questions to answer and is often why parents won’t adopt or have a hard time raising their child. Your child’s life is dependent on the resources you hand them at an early age. Your family is a large chunk of the framework that shapes your child’s future. Some adoptive parents are unsure about what their families will think initially, but are sure they will come around and support the child fully. Other families are more accepting and will immediately give you whatever it is you need to raise the child properly. And unfortunately some families are just way too harsh and unaccepting. But which family sounds like yours? It’s always a good idea to ask them before you begin the process just so you and your families know what’s happening.
What’s the current condition of your relationship? It’s often said that children strive to be just like their parents. True or not, your child will take after you in some ways and, in order for them to be raised in a loving environment, you have to be loving as well. If you believe the relationship between you and your partner is strained or will not last long, then re-think your options. It’s also important to note that a new baby will always add stress to your life, and some stress, strain, and disagreements are okay. But do not adopt a baby if you’re in an unstable relationship; it’s not fair to the child.
What will I do when my child asks about his/her biological parents? An important question and a common concern among adoptive parents. At some point, most adopted children ask about their biological parents. It may be out of curiosity, or they really want to meet them. Regardless, you should know how to answer this question and address your own emotions. It’s not really a big deal, so don’t turn it into one!
Will I have support? This is a combination of a few of the other questions. Supporting your child is important for raising them in a loving, caring environment. But if you don’t have support, then it will difficult and nobody wants that to happen for the child. Ideally, you want support from your family, partner, and outside resources as necessary. Going through the adoption process itself is difficult, but there are counselors available to talk to about what you’re thinking and feeling and together you can come up with a solution. For a full list of adoption support groups, see the National Council for Adoption’s website here.
In the end, make sure you are focused on providing the best life possible for your child. Talk with an adoption counselor and weigh your options.
Leah Campbell is an associate of Adoption Makes Family, an adoption agency in Maryland. She has travelled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption, and parenting. A single mother by choice after a serendipitous series of events led to the adoption of her daughter.