I have been putting off this post because it’s a heavy topic, but it’s an important one. And one I know so many families and adoptees struggle with at one point or another.
I wanted to start by sharing an article, written by a woman who is an adoptee raised with other adopted siblings and also one biological sibling. Her perspectives are so valuable. The article is- The Problem With Saying You’ll Adopt After Having Biological Kids.
Nearly daily I get messages from people who say they want to adopt often followed with “after I have biological kids”. Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing this, as so many families do. But I think taking the time to ask yourself why and really understand your own motives and feelings is important. I know a lot of women want to experience pregnancy or want to see what their biological child would look like. While these feelings are normal for so many families, the part of Angela’s article that really stabbed me in the heart was- “When people say “I’m going to have bio kids first,” it prioritizes having “your own” – as though adoption is a good and charitable thing to do, but it’s just not the same as having biological kids.”
I think it’s extremely important to check your heart and make sure that is not your mindset.
Becoming an adoptive family is not charity. Adoptive children do not feel more gratitude to be chosen for your family than biological children. Someone recently asked us if we thought Nova would be extra thankful to have a home this Thanksgiving and our honest answer was, “no”. Not that she won’t feel thankful for us one day, but that’s not the point right now. Nova is three years old and we took her from everything she knew and loved just one year ago. She’s adapting and thriving, but she doesn’t owe us anything. She’s not a charity project and we are not heroes. If anything, we still have a lot of trust left to earn. If anything, she is our hero.
If there is even a tiny bit of hero mentality in your hearts- make sure you take care of that before moving forward. It’s to exact opposite of what you or your adopted child will need- especially in our first months together.
Many of the questions people send me are about how we knew that we wanted to adopt instead of continuing to try to have biological children. For us it was a spark we felt one day as newlyweds. Then years later when it came time to potentially begin an adoption we realized that we felt totally at peace ending our attempts to become pregnant and choosing adoption as our path to become parents. Our choice to adopt never felt forced and it never felt rushed. We knew we wanted to adopt and once we started down the path our feelings only became stronger. Midway through our first adoption paperwork we already knew we wanted to be an adoption-only family. It changed our lives in the biggest way, but it really started small with just a simple conversation.
Getting informed and educated is a great first step. All information is good! It may help clear a lot of feelings up, especially since there’s a lot of misguided info about adoption out there. I recommend learning about adoption from families who have adopted and people who have first hand experience with adoption.
One of the trickiest questions people send me is something like- “I really want to adopt, but my husband isn’t sure. Was Jeremy always on the same page or how did you help him get there?”
I sympathize so much with this because it’s the worst in marriage when you aren’t on the same page. That said, we feel SO strongly that each step of an adoption both parents must be on the same page. Even if that means it’s time to pause, change directions or even stop.
In our first adoption we had moments where we weren’t on the same page when it came time to choose our program and then again when it came time to choose what medical conditions we were open to. Ultimately it didn’t matter- we didn’t need to be open to all the same things, we just had to follow the path we BOTH felt comfortable on.
As much as it hurts, I don’t think it’s ever in the best interest of a child to pressure a spouse into adopting if they are not ready. The most important thing is what is best for a child.
Bottom line- if you are planning to adopt you need to think from the child’s perspective and do what is best for them. A lot of people try to make “rules” for adoption- but these rules are all imaginary. You cannot follow any rules to guarantee a good outcome. You really do have to take it one step at a time and check your heart every step of the way. It’s just one more part of the parenting roller coaster!
Considering adoption? Our agency, Holt International, is happy to talk you through different options for adoption (it’s free and there is zero commitment). Holt has adoption programs for China, Korea, Vietnam, Colombia, Thailand, the Philippines, Haiti and India. You can get in touch with them by clicking here.