What to Know About Adoption
There are countless books, articles, podcasts, websites, videos, blogs and organizations all dedicated to the subject of adoption. There is no end to the amount of knowledge you could potentially gain about this colossal subject. If you were to Google the word Adoption you would get back tens of thousands of related websites on the subject. And while some of those sites would be about adopting fluffy little puppies as pets, the majority would be about adopting an infant, child, teenager or even an adult. The concept of adoption is nothing new - in fact, it's been around for thousands of years. We see adoption as a running theme in the ancient Christian scriptures. The point is, the subject of adoption is vast and not fully knowable by any one individual. So, if you are new to the concept of adoption and are considering pursuing adoption here are 10 things you should know about adoption before you pursue this journey. This list is far from exhaustive, but it will provide you with some broad concepts to consider as you head down this path toward adopting a child.
01. It's Not About You.
There are numerous reasons why a couple or individual may choose to adopt. Most of those reasons are very good and honorable - occasionally a person's adoption motivation may be less than honorable. But whatever your motivation is, it's still important to remember that ultimately it's not really about you at all. Yes, it will drastically impact your life, and yes, adoption may complete a picture of family you have held in your heart for years, but at the end of the day, again, it's not about you. Well, who is it about then? I bet you know the answer to that. Obviously, it's about the child. Every child that is available for adoption is in desperate need of a safe, loving and supportive family. Adoption fills that need in the child's life. That does not necessarily mean that the adopted child wants to be adopted. In fact, they may fight against you and against your love and against your authority. But regardless of what the child is saying he or she wants, you are still providing them with the family and home environment they need - even if they don't quite want it yet. So, as you think about your own personal motivations for adopting, just be sure to remind yourself that ultimately, adoption is all about the child.
02. It's Not Easy.
Adoption is not easy! Let me say that again . . . Adoption.Is.Not.Easy! Sometimes we have these visions of a perfect little family that adopted children into their home, and everything was easy and there were no significant issues. If that was your adoption experience, then thank God. For the rest of us, it's just not easy. It will stretch you in many different ways. You will have to learn about things you never knew before. You will begin learning parenting techniques that are completely foreign to how you were raised. You will have to make countless decisions while at the same time having decisions made for you. It will test you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Adoption is certainly not for the faint of heart. I don't say this to try to scare you away from adoption, but rather to help you go into it with your eyes wide open, knowing that you are going to be pushed hard, both prior to and after the adoption.
03. There are no Guarantees.
Most people who start out on a journey to adopt end up adopting. This is obviously a good thing, but . . . unfortunately, for many, their attempt at adoption has failed. There are countless reasons why adoptions fail before they are ever even official, and most of these reasons are not the fault of the pre-adoptive parents. So, it's important to remember that there are no guarantees in adoption. After you have completed all the paperwork (and there is a TON) and made all the trips and spent all the money and got everything in place, there is still no guarantee that the adoption will be finalized. An adoption is not final until its final. My wife and I learned this lesson first hand on more than one occasion. So let me just encourage you to prepare yourself for a long journey that may not end the way you were hoping.
04. There is a Great Need.
By some estimations, there are over 140 million orphans on the planet - most of them in desperate need of a home and family. These orphaned children and teenagers reside in every country on the planet - including the United States. Whether you are planning to adopt internationally or domestically, or through the U.S. foster care system, the need for safe, loving families is great. There are far more children in need of adoption than adults willing to adopt them. It's a sad reality, but unless there is a sudden global trend toward adoption, it's going to remain that way. So, as you are deciding whether to adopt or not, just know that there is a child out there that needs you - just remember that even though you probably can't help all 140 million orphans, you can help at least one and that can mean the world to a child in need. There is a common saying, "Do for one what you wish you could do for all." Be willing to invest in the life of one child in need of your help.
05. There is Plenty of Support.
It's good to know that you are not alone in your adoption journey. In most cases, regardless of the type of adoption you pursue, you will be working closely with an adoption or foster care agency that will help you through every step of the adoption process. They are always just an email or phone call away to answer any questions or concerns you may have. As your adoption journey progresses, you will get to know your agency worker very well and will grow to appreciate their help and support. In addition, there are numerous organizations, ministries and agencies set up to help pre-adoptive and adoptive parents. In many cases they can provide food, money, prayer, kids clothing, parent training, counseling and numerous other services. Become aware of the adoption friendly organizations in your city and don't be afraid to use them as needed. That's why they are there. And reach out to your agency worker, and they can connect you to various local organizations that provide support for adoptive parents.
06. It is Frequently Misunderstood.
Unfortunately many people who have not adopted nor have had any real exposure to adoption in their life, don't really understand the concept. Sure they get that a set of adoptive parents have brought a child into their home, but they want to know what the role of the "real" (aka birth) parents is in the adoption. Some don't understand why a couple would adopt internationally when there are "plenty of good kids' ' here in the United States. Others even appose interracial adoption and believe that children should only be raised by parents who share the same skin color. There are stereotypes that adopted and foster kids are bad kids, or even that it's the child's fault that they have to be adopted. Unfortunately there are many misperceptions about the subject and many people who buy into unfair stereotypes and beliefs about adoption. My encouragement to you is to take the time to do the research and educate yourself. Learn the adoption "language" and certainly don't embrace the idea that adopted kids are somehow bad kids.
07. It Will Test Your Faith.
If you are a person of faith, be warned that adoption may very well test your faith in a significant way. During the entire pre-adoption / post-adoption journey, it is essential that you stay close to God and lean on him for comfort, for guidance and for support. When things begin to go wrong, or if things begin to completely fall apart, your faith will be tested. Will you remain close to Him or will you begin to lose your faith in God? Be ready to be tested and commit now to regularly spending time in intentional prayer for the process you are going through. God is at work, even when it may not seem like He is. So stay close to Him.
08. It can be Intrusive.
The process of getting approved to adopt can be quite intrusive. You will be asked to provide financial records, health records, employment records and criminal records. Several background checks will be conducted. You will be asked personal questions about your family life and professional life. Your entire home will be inspected at least once and will be expected to comply with the home safety standards. You will be asked to disclose gun ownership. You will be asked about your habits and hobbies. You will be asked to disclose if you smoke, chew or drink. You will be asked if you take any prescription medications or illegal drugs. You will be asked about your mental and emotional health - both now and in the past. By the time you are approved for adoption, there is very little the adoption agency doesn't know about you. The point of all of this is to make sure that the child is being placed in a safe and appropriate home and family environment. So while it may feel intrusive, it's ultimately looking out for the best interest of the child.
09. It can be Expensive.
Depending on the type of adoption you will be pursuing, it can be quite expensive. Many adoptions can cost tens of thousands of dollars by the time you add up all of the expenses. You will want to know those costs upfront so that you can make an informed decision. Thankfully, there are many fund raising options, as well as grants, loans and scholarships available from various adoption friendly organizations that will help to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. There are even tax breaks, depending on the situation. In a foster-to-adopt situation, the cost for adoption is virtually nothing - in fact, in most cases, foster parents receive a daily stipend during the foster period and even after the adoption. So regardless of what type of adoption you are planning to pursue, be sure to calculate how it will impact the finances of your family.
10. It's Worth It.
At the end of the day it's worth it. It's worth the struggle - the time - the energy - the money - the hardship - and the commitment. Because at the end of the day when you finally adopt a child into your home, you will be providing that child with something that they so desperately need - a safe and loving home and family environment. As my wife frequently told our foster kids, "There is good on the other side of hard." This applies here so well. Adoption is hard - really hard - but on the other side of that hard is good. It's important to remember that when you are struggling or when things don't seem to be going the way you thought they would. It's worth it.
So hopefully you have not been scared off by this list. While I don't want to push anyone away from adoption, I do want to offer you the chance to really think through these important issues as you decide whether or not to adopt. Understanding these 10 concepts will provide you with a general foundation as you consider adoption. Would you take the time to think through, talk through and pray through each of these concepts? I think you will find it will provide much needed clarity to you as you move forward on the path toward adoption. May God bless you on your journey.
by Arthur C Woods for Adoption.com
Need Help Talking To Your Adopted or Foster Teenager About God? Check out the latest video & discussion series by Arthur C Woods, called Trusting The God of The Gospel. This 8-Session course will help you as a parent or youth worker walk through the Gospel message with your teenager, in light of their past. Available at: www.TrustingTheGodOfTheGospel.com