Recently I came across a list of ten questions to ask yourself if considering adoption on How Stuff Works. I thought I would go through the questions here, tell you what I think about them, and explain how these questions played into our decision to adopt.
1. Why do I want to adopt?
I think this is a great question to ask, but also a pretty hard one to answer. For us, the decision to adopt just felt right and was something we had discussed for many years. I can’t say I ever felt a “calling” to adopt, but somehow we just knew this was the best way to grow our family.
2. Can I handle the commitments that go along with adoption and parenthood?
This wasn’t much of a consideration for us. We already had our daughter, so we knew the kind of commitments involved with childrearing. We considered the impact of a second child, of course – especially the financial impact – but overall this aspect didn’t require any extra thought than it would if we were trying to have a second biological child.
3. Can I handle not being biologically related to my child?
An interesting question and one I think is very important to be honest about. Honest with yourself, I mean. No one wants to think they might think less of an adopted child, but we all know people out there who do. Hopefully, you would figure this out early and not make it far into the adoption process.
4. What kind of adoption do I want?
This question did not apply in our situation. Adoptions through the foster care system are closed. No options.
5. What age child do I want?
This one is a biggie. We didn’t enter the process wanting a baby – and because of that we were far more likely to be connect with a child quickly. Everyone wants babies. In the foster care system especially, there are so many older children waiting for families. In our case, we wanted a child under the age of five. This would make him younger than our daughter and allow us to avoid transferring and adjusting to a new school situation.
6. Do I want a child of a certain race or culture? Do I want a special needs child?
It is absolutely ridiculous that these two questions were lumped into one, as they are so incredibly different. I’m going to answer them separately.
6a. Do I want a child of a certain race of culture?
Our answer to this was no. From the beginning we were open to transracial adoption. I realize this can be a controversial subject in the adoption world, but we knew that in our area young Caucasian children were easy to place. We were open to welcoming any child into out home.
6b. Do I want a special needs child?
My husband and I discussed this question at length and our final answer was no. We didn’t feel like we were prepared to take on the massive challenges of raising a special needs child. For this reason, we asked for a child older than 1 1/2 or 2, so many of the early issues would have already appeared. DHS doesn’t really listen to what you request though and when our worker showed us a photo of a four-month-old baby born with cocaine in his system . . . well, it was just right.
7. How will I talk about adoption with my friends and family?
It is just a fact that some people are not supportive of adoption. Some people are supportive of adoption, but just not in their family. Other people are supportive of adoption, but couldn’t imagine a child of another race. You need to be honest with yourself about this. Regardless of whether you agree with the naysayers or not, if they are a big part of your support system you need to be prepared for the fallout. Or accept that you cannot handle the fallout. Interestingly, the issue I run into most with friends and family is not a lack of support, but the tendency to raise us up on a self-sacrificing pedestal. I’m constantly fighting the image.
8. How will I talk to my child about his or her adoption?
We always intended to tell our adopted child about his past and what we know of his biological family. Once we accepted an African-American child placement, it was 100% clear that we could never hide it if we wanted too.
9. How would I feel if my child wanted to learn about his or her background?
I think I am prepared for this and, overall, I am very much against hiding their background from an adoptive child. Now, I understand this is a delicate situation. In the little man’s case, his biological mother is . . . not a good influence. I will not tell him the details I know until I feel he is ready to hear them. I do not know if the little man will ever be able to comprehend the concept of adoption, so much of this is still up in the air for us.
10. What support network do I have in place for problems that may arise?
Support, support, support. I cannot stress the importance of a good support network for a parent – any parent at all. Raising children is hard. Raising special needs children is hard. Adoption is hard.