The most important thing you will do in preparing for the complicated adoption process is to gather and research the most current information available.
Adoption is Extremely Complicated. Don’t do it (without doing your homework)!
November is National Adoption Awareness month. With that in mind, I decided I should write about the extremely complicated adoption process. As you may or may not know, our family was built by conventional biological means and by adoption. Our adoptions have involved adoptions from the U.S. and internationally. We have adopted children who have special needs and those who excel in almost everything they do. The youngest child to join our family was Jack. He has Down syndrome and had a very serious heart problem when we got him at a month old. He is now nineteen. The oldest child to join our family through adoption was Emily. She was fifteen when she came home and she is now twenty-three. Some of our children come from traumatic pasts and reflect the damage caused by those environments. I tell you all of that to show you how broad and complicated adoption is. The adoption process is just as complicated.
The first thing I will tell you is that the adoption process is constantly evolving. That is the reason I decided not to make this article a “how to do it” piece. Almost all “how to do it” adoption articles or books you will find are outdated. For those that are current, they will soon be outdated. The most important thing you will do in preparing for the complicated adoption process is to gather and research the most current information available. This article will be about what you need to study for the adoption process. Google will help you to find current information no matter when you read this article.
Please understand that everything you learned about adoption when you were growing up is medieval thinking. Forget everything you ever heard. Many adoptees have been very vocal about everything they disagreed with in their own adoptions. Birth mothers (who I like to call First Mothers) have been no more silent. That is good. It has forced reforms in adoption and the adoption process that will make life better for all children that need to be adopted. There is also much information available from these groups that will never make it into law, but that will help you to understand the feelings that your adopted child may well experience so that you can make plans before-hand on how to best help your child. Remember that you do not need to agree with someone and you do not need to appreciate their delivery to learn from them. Some of the things I have learned that help my children who have been adopted the most come from some of the most outspoken in what I call the Anti-Adoption Camp. So, that is your first assignment for preparing for the adoption process. Read as much as you can about what people who have been involved in adoption are saying. Study information available from all camps, especially the ones you disagree with.
Heather Kelly, once said that every adoption is a special needs adoption. Those are very wise words for anyone in the adoption process.
The next thing you need to consider and study while preparing for and traveling through the adoption process is what conditions you will allow into your family. This should include the age of the child. Please understand that in today’s world any healthy infant that needs a home will get one. And if you are tired of waiting for your child, a five-year-old, or a sibling group is even more tired of waiting for parents. Race is also something you need to consider. In that realm it isn’t just about you. How will your child fit in with your family, community and friends? Are you willing to bring their native culture into your home?
An adopting friend of mine, Heather Kelly, once said that every adoption is a special needs adoption. Those are very wise words for anyone in the adoption process. You will not be able to go out and adopt an infant who grows up with no issues concerning their adoption. And speaking of Special Needs… Jack, our son who has Down syndrome, has been one of our easiest children (ignoring the open-heart surgery as an infant). When you sign up for adoption, you are signing up for a lot of hard work that would not be present in a parent-child relationship that didn’t involve adoption. Knowing that you are entering a difficult path makes it easier to consider children who have “defined” Special Needs.
Consider your resources. I do mean financial resources but that’s not all. Do you have neighbors and friends who can help? Is your family helpful and supportive? Do you have people in your support network who are already experienced with types of Special Needs you might consider? Do you, your partner, or other family members have talents or skills that could be considered as resources for adoption involving specific or general types of Special Needs? Again, don’t forget… Consider older children. Any child, no matter how young, will have issues with their adoption. Adopting an infant won’t get you out of that situation.
Preparation for the adoption process should involve where your child might come from. Will they come from Family Services in the U.S.? Will they come from your state or another? Are you considering International Adoption? Some people are furious that parents would consider adopting from another country. Lots of people in the U.S. believe that people in the United States have a responsibility to help people in the United States, first. I don’t share those beliefs. What if prior generations thought like that? I simply don’t believe in borders when it comes to children who need families.
As you consider where your child will come from, keep the future in mind. Any child will want to know why they were removed from their home country. If they would have had an opportunity to have a family, there, it makes it difficult to explain in practical reasons why it was better for them to leave. Once a child leaves their native country, it becomes extremely difficult and expensive for them to find out about their history. Not having access to this type of information is very troubling to many people who have been adopted. With our own international adoptions, we gathered lots and lots of information about where our children came from and why they were not in their first families. We also gathered information about the possibilities of them getting families in their home countries. Those possibilities were all but non-existent.
So, there are the first four things you need to begin to research before entering and while you are in the adoption process. 1) Study what all applicable groups (pro-adoption, anti-adoption and adoption reform) are currently saying about the pros, cons and circumstances of adoption. 2) Determine what conditions and from what circumstances you will consider adding to your family. 3) Consider and make an inventory of your resources. 4) Determine where you will accomplish your adoption. If you are considering international adoption, choose one preferred country and one back-up country in case something happens.
Next week I’ll continue with other things you need to do while preparing for the complicated adoption process.
Often, readers receive as much help from other readers in the comments section as they do from the blog article, itself. Please be generous with your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. There are lots of people who need what you have to share. This is your chance to help them.
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