Is adoption a good thing? Does it make me a bad parent if I place my baby with an adoptive family? Will people think less of our family because we can’t have our own biological children? How do I navigate the adoption journey when no one else seems to understand?
Index: Adoption is a brave and loving plan! Although it can be emotional, difficult and scary at times, adoption ultimately provides a caring, loving family for children. Whether you are a birth parent or an adoptive parent, it is important to remember that you are not alone in this journey!
- Is adoption a good thing? YES – it’s a loving plan!
- Open vs. Closed Adoption and how it helps your child
- “Adoption” … it’s part of my story, not my label
- Talking to family and friends about adoption
- Selecting and talking to teachers, doctors, coaches, etc.
Is adoption a good thing? - YES!
There are so many reasons you might choose adoption for your baby. No matter the reason, making an adoption plan is a brave, selfless and responsible decision. It does not make you a bad person as some fear. It takes courage and maturity to assess your own situation and determine that an adoptive family would be better able to raise your child. Open adoption allows an opportunity for you to show your love and care for your child for years and years to come. Placing your baby with an adoptive family is completely free and you will be guided through the process by a kind and non-judgmental counselor.
No matter your story, you have the unique ability to bring a child into your family and love him or her just as if he or she had been born to you. Adoption allows you to provide a safe and loving environment for a child, including the opportunity to learn about and celebrate your child’s birth family. Adoption may come with a unique set of challenges and experiences, but it does not make you any less of a parent. Quite the contrary!
Open vs Closed Adoption
Open adoption allows:
- Birth families to choose an adoptive family for the baby
- Birth families to stay in contact with the child and his/her adoptive family through some or all of these means: emails, texts, letters, pictures, scheduled video calls or in-person get togethers
- Birth families to watch the child grow up and be a part of their life
- The child to ask questions and learn that their birth family loves them
- The child to benefit from knowing their medical and biological history
- The child and adoptive parents to see which of the child’s traits and tendencies come from their biological parents and which come from their adoptive parents (nature vs. nurture)
- Birth parents and adoptive parents to work together to provide the best outcome for the child they all love
Closed adoption means:
- Birth parents may or may not get the opportunity to choose which family adopts their baby
- Birth parents will have no contact with their baby after placing them with an adoptive family
- The child has no access to his or her birth family’s story or heritage
- The child will not be able to have his or her medical history updated as changes occur
The adoption journey looks different for everyone. Sometimes open adoption is not in the best interest of the child if the birth family poses a physical or emotional threat. In most cases, however, open adoption allows the child the opportunity to benefit abundantly from access to his or her birth family. Initially, the relationships may seem awkward while the two families are just getting to know one another, but as they feel more and more comfortable over time, they learn to work together for the best interest of the child. Beautiful outcomes result!
The Adoption “label”
While the adoption process is a loving, selfless option, it can also be very emotional. Whether you are a birth parent, adoptive parent, or adoptee, it is easy to feel like these titles somehow put you in a box and label you. Hear this, these titles do not define you. They merely tell part of your story.
Placing your child with an adoptive family is painful. The pain is what makes adoption such a selfless decision. You are putting your child’s needs ahead of your own comfort. Only a selfless, caring, loving person would be willing to endure such heartache for the benefit of someone else.
Some couples worry they will not be seen as the “authentic” parents when building their family by adoption. The fact, however, is the child’s birth family is trusting you because they believe you are wonderfully prepared and able to raise their child. You are 100% responsible for loving and nurturing your baby. No matter the biology, you are the parent that your child loves, trusts and needs.
Being adopted means you have family that loves you deeply. Your parents jumped through many hoops to bring you into their family. You were wanted and loved before they even knew you. You can grow up to be anything you want to be. “Adopted” is not your label, it’s simply an amazing part of who you are. You are a beautiful child of God.
Talking to Family and Friends About Adoption
People have an extremely wide range of interpretations of adoption. Some people think adoption is only international. Others think it is something to be ashamed of. Some people even think adoption is like choosing a puppy! It is so important to remember that adoption is a very good thing and these misinterpretations don’t control you. It can be exhausting to explain yourself and your story to everyone you meet. Remember that it is your story and you don’t have to explain it to everyone who asks. In fact, it is very wise to keep sensitive information private and let your child decide as they grow up how they want to share their story. Considering all these variables, telling family and friends you are adopting a baby or that you are choosing to place your child with adoptive parents can be challenging. Here are some conversation starters, healthy boundaries and tips to remember:
- “We have prayerfully decided to grow our family through adoption. Here are a few details we are excited to share about our process. Do you have any questions?”
- “Yes he/she is our child. We were blessed with the opportunity to adopt him/her into our family.”
- “I have decided to place my baby with an adoptive family that is able and excited to raise him/her and give him/her great opportunities.”
- “I am adopted and I have many families that love me.”
- “My birth mom chose adoption for me because she loves me.”
Sharing highs and lows of your adoption journey with trusted friends and family can be good. It is okay to lean into a small group of supportive people. However, remember that your adoption journey is a very personal one. Your friends and even extended family do not need to know every detail. Try making a list of things you are comfortable sharing and let yourself feel comfortable saying no when questions get too personal.
You have the right to make this decision. You are wise, qualified and able to make this decision. It is absolutely normal to be nervous before adopting your baby or to have conflicting feelings about placing your baby with an adoptive family. This does not mean that you aren’t ready or that it is a bad decision. It is a very emotional decision that requires much contemplation. Adoption is a loving plan.
Selecting and talking to teachers, doctors, coaches, etc.
While it’s always best to select leadership figures who are familiar with adoption, it is not always possible. However, this gives you an opportunity to educate and help spread awareness for this family-building method. Whether you are sharing with your doctor that you plan to place your baby with an adoptive family upon delivery, or you are dropping off your child at their first day of school, here are some things to consider:
- Filling out paperwork: Oftentimes there is no space on enrollment or medical forms to explain the adoption circumstances. This does not mean you should be afraid or ashamed to share. Communicating this information can be crucial for proper education, medical treatment, etc.
- Talking about medical history: Sharing as much as possible with professionals in the field is beneficial. This might mean sharing something like “we don’t have access to that information” and that is okay.
- Talking about mental health: It is important to communicate with influential adults in your child’s life (like teachers and coaches) who might walk them through stressful or frustrating situations. Make sure they are aware your child is adopted. Knowing this information will help them better understand and approach your child when they are having a difficult time.
- Representing the adoption process: In all of these circumstances you are setting the stage for your child’s adoption experience. Make sure to model positive adoption language and share the benefits of adoption. The way you communicate these can create a healthy atmosphere of aid and growth for your child.
Healthy adoption language:
- Place the child with an adoptive family (not “put up” for adoption)
- Birth parent (not “real parent”)
- Terminate parental rights (not “give up” child)
- To parent (not “keeping” your child)
- Expectant mother – what a mother is called before she relinquishes her parental rights. She is called a birth mother after she has placed her child with an adoptive family.