Most parents-to-be are typically filled with anticipation and excitement (among many other emotions!) at the prospect of adopting a baby.
However, many forget a significant aspect: they are not “getting” a baby. Instead, they are being matched with a child for whom the arrangement is best suited for their needs.
It’s an important lesson that just about every parent learns quickly—it’s not about you, it’s about them.
If you are considering adopting, here are some thoughts about the adoption process to keep in mind.
Recognize That This Will Take Time
An early reminder that the adoption process isn’t about you is the time commitment. In other words, adoption takes time. This fact is true whether it’s a private adoption or through a government agency, such as your county’s social services department.
The extended timetable exists for many reasons. For one, birth parents who have been separated from their child by social services often have the right to petition to get their children back. In international adoptions, even if you are working through a private agency, that country might still have many regulations and stipulations that need to be followed.
The red tape can be incredibly frustrating. However, it’s also a reminder that the best interests of the child come first.
Check Your Savior Complex
Another trap that potential adoptive parents fall into is that they are “saving” their baby. Granted, many adopted children have had backgrounds and histories that are very troubling. Understandably, you would want to take them away from all of that and start fresh.
However, the savior complex can backfire. Mainly because you develop this mindset that your adoptive child “should” love you or be “grateful” for all that you.
Even though they may still be a baby, you plant those seeds now. In turn, as your child grows up, those seeds may cause resentment and division. Yes, you adopted your child, but that doesn’t mean you “deserve” anything from them.
Learning How to Be Parents
A big part of the adoption process has nothing to do with the child. Instead, it’s about adoptive parents learning how to parent.
Sometimes adoption agencies offer classes and training. If not, it’s still vital for you to learn all you can about becoming a parent. Of course, there are mounds of information on the internet, podcasts, and local libraries.
Remember to start small. Reading one book or visiting a few websites is the best idea to avoid information overload.
Help Throughout the Adoption Process
Regardless of where you are in the adoption process, it helps to participate in adoption counseling. A counselor can’t tell you which decisions to make in your adoptive journey. However, they can provide insight and guide you in the right direction.
For example, a counselor can help to make you aware of any signs of a savior complex that they notice during the session. Or, they can recommend books or websites specifically on adoption issues.
Finally, a counselor or therapist is an excellent resource for talking about all the feelings and emotions you have surrounding adoption, both positive and negative.
The adoption process is life-changing for both the baby and the adoptive parents. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and energy of adoption. After all, it offers the hope of helping potential parents complete their families.
However, it’s essential for parents to stay grounded and to remember the real focus of the adoption.
If you are either considering or in the middle of adopting, please visit my page on adoption counseling. Or, contact my office today to receive emotional support as you navigate this new journey.