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One of the things you are going to be asked over and over again at different points throughout your adoption journey is, “What is your criteria? What are you open to in an adoption situation?”

What race, what gender, what substance exposures, what mental health background, are you open to? Anything you can think of, you are going to be asked.

This is a complicated question and one that takes some soul searching. And when you add a partner into the mix, getting on the same page and having these sensitive conversations can be quite difficult.

This exercise can help and get you started on having the hard conversations early on in the adoption process. It will take you just 30 minutes to do and can make all the difference later on.

  • Do this on your own first, even if you are a couple
  • Grab a stack of Post-It notes and a sharpie
  • Set a timer of 20 minutes maximum and maybe put on some good background music or a glass of your favorite beverage
  • Go for it! Write out your criteria—everything you can think out—race, exposures, questions that come up, how you could incorporate new cultures into your life. All of it!

I don’t want you to even think in non-negotiables yet. Deal?

Think through things like where you live, your family, community resources that are available to you, your support systems, etc. Now is a time to just write.

Then come back together with your partner (if you have one). Take your Post-It notes and organize them into categories: race, substance exposure, mental health, level of openness with birth family…

When you organize your Post-Its, you will begin to see where your level of comfort is as you begin this journey.

Now it’s time to get on the same page as your partner. Work together to see where your similarities and differences lie. It will give you a great deal of information on where you still need to learn more, where you are on the same page, and where you need to dig deeper into conversation to perhaps see something through a different lense.

Knowledge is power! Getting clear on your decisions now will make the process smoother later.

When you begin your adoption journey, you’ll likely start with a certain set of thoughts in your head—what you are open to, what you are not, what kind of relationship you want with your child’s birth mother…whatever it is.

That is great and you need a place to start, but things may change. You will learn so much throughout your adoption journey that things are bound to change, especially surrounding your preferences and criteria. It is because there’s simply a lot you don’t know that you don’t know.

It’s important to remember to keep an open heart and open mind throughout the process. Stay open to continuing to educate yourself because it will serve you well.