When you’re getting started in adoption, you don’t just wake up one day ready to jump into the process. There are A LOT of things to consider and do your research on before beginning.
Whatever path brought you to adoption needs to be fully shut in order for you to walk through and fully embrace the next chapter. If you’re coming to adoption after struggling with infertility, you will want to take time to grieve. Take a moment to breathe, process and then close the door. Treat adoption as a new door opening—a separate journey rather than a backup plan to the previous one.
The other part of it is being honest with yourself. Are you grounded and committed in your decision to adopt? There will be people who question you. If you’re truly ready to adopt, then those questions will not make you question your decision.
Once you’ve formed this outlook on adoption, you need to really prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Here’s a list of 6 things you NEED to get clear and educate yourself on:
1. Open Adoption. It is a relationship in which a birth family may have some form of initial and/or ongoing contact with an adoptive family. You must be 100% comfortable with the idea of an open adoption and understand that it is truly the best for both you, your future child and his or her birth family.
2. Your Adoption Criteria. You need to get clear on what you’re open to in terms of race, substance exposures in utero, and mental health family history. This will require you to have some difficult conversations with your partner (if you have one) and your family. Consider if you would be willing to do the work it takes to adopt a child outside of your own race. Do your research on the effect of drug use during a pregnancy or reach out to an adoption medical professional for guidance. The sooner you can be certain of your criteria, the smoother the process will be.
3. Finances. Adoption is expensive. It ranges anywhere from $40-50K. That amount doesn’t need to be sitting in your bank account on day one of your journey, but you need to know where that money will be coming from before you begin.
4. Your Support System. It’s important to let a few people who you trust and care about “in” on this journey with you. There will be a lot of highs and lows…you will want friends or family there to cheer you on or help pick you back up when things get tough. Having an adoption competent therapist or counselor is also highly encouraged because it’s not a matter of if issues will arise, it’s a matter of when.
5. Timing. Once you’ve completed the first few steps of the adoption process (i.e. your home study and profile), things may move quickly. In order to really be ready, you must be willing to take an adoption opportunity (if it feels right and meets your criteria) in a moment’s notice. That might mean hopping on the next flight to another state if you expectant mother chooses you. Be prepared to throw your own timeline out the window and expect the unexpected.
6. The Lifelong Process. The adoption journey doesn’t end once you bring your baby home. Before beginning this process, you need to understand that it includes continued education and discussion of adoption for a lifetime. You need to be telling your child their adoption story from the moment you meet him or her. You need to continue learning about adoption and parenting through podcasts, books and social media. It’s about committing to the long view.