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Adoption Blog: Improv Mom
6 Adoption Questions from Hopeful Adoptive Parents
Now that I’m seven-plus years into parenting a child who was adopted from infancy, I intimately know the complexity of being an adoptive family. Although I’m positive I’ll never stop discovering, I definitely have advice for Hopeful Adoptive Parents (HAPs) when they come asking. Here are some of the most common questions I’ve been asked, and my typical responses.
“How do you know if the birth mother will go through with it?”
After gently correcting the HAP that a pregnant woman considering adoption is an “expectant mom,” and becomes a birth mother only if she terminates her parental rights, I say, “You don’t know and it’s important to know in your heart that this is not your pregnancy. This is not your baby. Until he or she is your baby. It doesn’t matter how often the expectant mother says she is committed to placing her child. It doesn’t matter that you paid for this expense or that expense, or that the expectant mother has told you she wants you at the hospital, or that you’ve discussed baby names together. It could work out, yet, please, repeat—‘Not my baby. Not my baby. Not my baby.’ Until he or she is your baby.”
“What if I don’t want to adopt a baby, uh, that isn’t like me?”
There is no simple “all I want is a healthy baby” kind of talk for hopeful adoptive parents. HAPs need to discuss race and ethnicity and ask themselves if they’re prepared, or even want, to adopt a child who’s different from them. What about gender, is that important to you? Then there are the questions such as, what kind of disabilities or special needs do you feel you can handle? You will feel awful for even THINKING about having to talk about any of this…yet talk you must. You need to be brutally honest with yourself and with your partner. This is not a conversation to be shared amongst friends or family. This is just for you.
“How do you know if the baby will be healthy?”
You can never be 100 percent sure. You will receive medical records. You can do your best to have a caring, honest conversation with the expectant mom. Hopefully you’ll be able to see a sonogram. Hopefully your OBGYN can speak to her OBGYN. Yet a medical history might not be accurate, a sonogram can’t reveal something that might or might not crop up in the future. At some point, you’ll have to just let go and make a decision to proceed, or not, with a particular expectant mom based on the information you receive and your gut response.
I liken choosing an adoption professional to choosing a doctor if you needed to have surgery. You want someone with expertise in the field. You want someone you trust and with whom you have a good rapport. However, at any time during the process, if something doesn’t feel right or sound right to you, it probably isn’t. So if something feels “off” then by all means seek out a second opinion, speak to another adoption attorney or agency, an adoption therapist, or post your question or concern to a reputable adoption community that is supportive of all members of the adoption constellation. You may not have the extensive adoption experience going for you, but you have your gut; you have your moral compass. Remember, just because something is legal in the adoption process doesn’t mean that it’s ethical.
“What are good online adoption resources?”
AdoptiveFamiliesCircle and Adoptive Families e-mag (no surprise there, right?). I particularly like that, in order to comment, you must create an account/have a subscription to the e-mag. I’ve found the commenters, representing adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees, to be thoughtful, respectful, and constructive in their advice and criticism. I also like Creating A Family and its Facebook group. The group is closed, well-moderated, and its members are adoptive parents, birth mothers, and adoptees. Another Facebook group I like is Open Adoption, Double the Love! which was started by an adoptive mom and birth mom.
“What can you tell me about open adoption?”
Probably way too much for a HAP to truly take in at this point, so I try to keep it simple—that it’s important to your child’s identity. That it is a relationship, one that will change and evolve over the years. That as an adoptive parent, you hold all the power, so use your power for good; don’t overpromise, and keep your promises. Embrace the fact that your child’s birth family is, because of adoption, now your family too. I tell them to read books and blogs reflecting all sides of the triad, such as The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, You Don’t Look Adopted, God and Jetfire, and Lost Daughters.
As an adoptive parent, what questions have HAPs asked you? What was your advice? As a hopeful adoptive parent, do you have a question? I’ll do my best to answer it.
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