Deciding To Adopt
Deciding to adopt takes time, or at least it should - because it's one of the biggest legal and emotional commitments you can ever make. It's a cruel fact of life that people who haven't really thought about becoming parents have babies all the time; whereas some people who really want children are not able to have their own. They therefore have to consider other options for starting a family. Perhaps you're in this situation, and you're thinking about adopting after failed infertility treatments. If so, it's clear that you want kids. But are you ready to adopt right now?
In the United States, a key criterion for prospective adoptive parents is emotional stability. Infertility can leave both men and women feeling depressed and vulnerable - although of course this doesn't apply to everyone. If you are feeling sad and down about your prospects of becoming a parent, it may be best to take a break, recover from the fertility treatment process, and seek help and support if you need it to feel better. When you're mentally strong again, your chances of being approved to adopt a child will be higher. Remember, just because you're not emotionally ready for the adoption process now, doesn't mean that you won't be in six months' time.
Can I Handle It?
There are so many factors to consider before deciding to adopt a child. Adoption agencies will look for evidence that you can identify these issues, and that you have thought about them. Even if you don't know the answers to some of these questions now, don't panic. You have time now to think, to talk to your partner and to your extended family. If you're worried that you won't meet an adoption agency's requirements, perhaps you can make changes in your lifestyle, living arrangements or working routine.
The kinds of things you need to think about include:
- Can you accept not being biologically related to your child? Can your partner accept it? Can your parents accept the child and treat him or her just like the other grandchildren?
- Can you imagine yourself talking to your child about the fact that he was adopted? How would you explain? How would you reassure him of your love?
- How would you feel if your child expressed a desire to meet his birth parents when he's older? How would you support him? What kind of support would you need? What if you have no information to give your child about his biological parents - how would you try to help him to accept that he won't get any answers?
- Could you adopt an older child? Or are you absolutely sure you want to adopt a baby? If you are, could this be because you view the adoption as a "second best" option for having babies? If so, do your feelings have any potential consequences for the child?
- Can you prove that you're financially capable of caring for a child? Does your work leave you with enough time to care for him or her? Will you need to change your job or reduce your hours?
In the United States, a home study has to be carried out before a couple can be approved as adoptive parents. This basically involves a social worker interviewing them, and looking at their lives, probably quite extensively and over a period of at least a few months. There are professionals who can help you to prepare for this homestudy process. It's important to remember that the social workers aren't looking for perfect, textbook parents. They're looking for people who will genuinely love and nurture children.