Monday, December 12, 2011

Are You Ready to Adopt?

Adoption is a lifelong commitment to your child. However the adoption process may also seem to take forever! But if you are well-prepared for the journey and have realistic expectations, you can be sure of succeeding in finding the right match between your family and the adoptive child.

In many ways adoption is similar to pregnancy. How so? Well, just as a pregnancy is full of uncertainties, hopes, expectations, and limitations, so to is adoption. The more prepared you are for the adoption journey, the easier it will be to navigate through tough situations without losing hope or giving up on your dream of extending your family.

An important question to ask yourself is "Will you be ready to adopt when you get 'the call'"? What if you are faced with an unexpected situation? How will you handle such surprises? The answers are prayer and preparation!  As a prospective parent, you need the ability to focus on the adoption process and be prepared to find a match at any time.

Before you jump into the adoption process, be sure that adoption is right for you and your family. Not all couples are called to be adoptive parents. So how do you know you are ready?

For starters, understand your motive to adopt. Don't adopt simply because people around you are saying you “should”.  Infertility can be a devastating experience but adoption may not be the right solution for couples battling infertility.  It cannot erase the need to have a biological child. Couples may need to spend time grieving the biological child they might never conceive.

Feeling lonely or alone is also not a solid reason to begin the adoption process.  The desire to provide a life to a child takes a great deal of self-sacrifice.  Putting someone’s needs ahead of your own for years to come can become exhausting if the motive was simply not to be alone.

Also, if your spouse is hesitant to adopt, don't go through the process hoping he or she will come around.  What if he doesn’t come around even after the child becomes a part of the family?  Your commitment to a child is forever and needs to be shared equally.

Don't adopt for religious reasons or out of sympathy.  Feeling sorry for an orphaned child will wear thin, especially when they are a disobedient teenager.
 
In short, your motive to adopt must not be based on selfish or idealistic reasons. Make sure you want to adopt because you are ready to become parents.  Discuss how many children you want to adopt and if you will be able to deal with disabilities or special needs.

Once you begin the adoption process, mentally prepare yourself to deal with financial constraints as well as demands on your time and energy. The adoption process will require you to make important lifestyle changes and commitments in order to make it a success. You must be prepared to face a certain amount of 'red tape' during the process, whatever path to adoption you choose. In fact, your commitment level will be tested many times during the process. You must be sure that you are ready to meet all these demands and also prepared to give the child the love, attention, and security that he or she deserves.

Paul and Jan jumped right into a domestic adoption right after they got word from their doctor that a biological pregnancy was not going to happen.  They completed the paperwork, got the home study done, and began the process of waiting for the right situation.

When presented with a newborn baby that fell within their preferences, Jan found herself hesitating and feeling overwhelmed.  The baby was of a mixed race that they had agreed to be open to, but she was now having second thoughts.  Time was tight and they had to make a decisions yet Jan felt paralyzed, unable to say yes or no. 

Ultimately, Jan’s inaction led Paul to say no to the adoption, realizing that there were some things they needed to work on together.  In counseling together, Jan made the discovery that deep down, she wanted a child who would still look like them.  In their haste to begin adoption, they hadn’t taken the time they needed to explore all the possibilities for the future.  With narrower preferences, they were chosen and are now raising baby Jason, who fits in beautifully with them.

With anything in life, we sometimes begin before we are fully prepared to say yes to whatever it is.  Take time to have discussions throughout the adoption process.  Many couples have found that once they started, their hearts were softened and they became more open than they initially expected.  Every conversation about the future is preparation for the day you get “the call”.

When you are truly prepared and ready to move forward, adoption will be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life!

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