To Adopt or not
Many families and couples in the United States consider at some point
in their lives
whether or not we would like to adopt a child or children.
Does this fit your situation? There are many questions and scores
of concerns about
adopting. Some of the concerns people acquire may be
developed out of ignorance. Now don’t get too
nervous or get too defensive, I’m not saying that ignorance
is stupidity or a lack of intelligence, ignorance is just a lack of
know how! No one is born with the knowledge of how to drive a
car, we are taught that skill. No one is born with the
knowledge of how to have a successful marriage and frequently we are
not taught that! Likewise, no one is born with the knowledge of how to
prepare for and carry out a successful adoption.
It’s just a lack of know how. Though some people
seem to be just natural adopters – some may think that a
certain person or type of person just has the adoption gene in
them. Rather, it is an acquired skill. Successfully
adopting is accomplished by developing the know how and finding out
from those who do know how. If it really is an acquired
skill, it is a skill you can develop with a little more know how.
The purpose of this article is to identify some common fears or
concerns that perspective adoptive families or couples may have and
address how to answer those concerns. This will aid families
in better understanding adoption and more fully assist them in making
a more informed decision to be able to answer the question
– to adopt or not to adopt?
With so many potential concerns, unanswered questions or even fears
about adoption it can cause a person, couple or family to just give up
and not pursue a course in adoption. However, many of the
fears and concerns about adoption can be corrected or eliminated with
the proper know how.
A lack of answers can turn from confusion into personal fears or
worries that may even cause a family to forever abandon the idea of
adopting. Listen, adoption is not for the weak and the weary
but it may be just right for you! Remember, it is an acquired
skill. Here are five typical questions that people
considering adoption have frequent trepidation regarding.
Will I bond with an
adopted child? Besides, they’re not
Question number one; will I bond with an adopted child? Besides,
they’re not really mine is a typical and crucial question
that merits an answer. Having participated in almost 500 post
placement visits, I have seen the miracle of adoption touch hundreds of
families. “Their” baby is the best one,
the cutest one, the most adorable one. During a post adoptive
placement interview, often people will say something like,
“Really, even if I was unbiased, if this was not my baby I
would think s/he is the cutest baby I’ve ever
seen!” I also hear frequently: “This baby is so
much better than our biological child(ren).” And
“s/he even looks like our family don’t you
think?” Ask yourself for just a moment, do these
statements sound like a lack of bonding to you? Bonding is a
natural thing that takes place between two people that have a desire
for it and a desire to love and be loved. Often the placement
of a child represents the culmination of so many steps and such a
roller coaster of emotion and difficulty for the adoptive couple that
they become instantly bonded to the child. In part, this is
because of their hopes and dreams about receiving a child.
This is particularly the case when the baby is a couple’s
first child. Lack of bonding is rarely an issue in adoption
and I’ve never had a couple give a baby back! As to
the issue of “this child’s not really
mine.” This child really is yours, the law says so
and God says so because He intended it this way. I have seen
His hand in so many adoptions that it becomes obvious that He is
involved. The more I’m involved in adoption, the more I
strengthen my conviction that children are supposed to go to certain
What about the legal
issues, if she changes her mind, can she come back
and get the child?
Question two; what about the legal issues, if she changes her mind, can
she come back and get the child is also a common question which almost
always leads to fear. This stems in part from a tremendous
fear of the “what if?” What if I bond
with the child, s/he is a part of our family and the birth mother
decides she wants the baby back. Though different states vary
in their laws, Utah is a very adoption friendly state. In
Utah, when birth parent(s) decide to relinquish their rights, upon
fixing their signature on the document, the relinquishment becomes
permanent and irrevocable. Birth fathers can relinquish their
rights at any time during the pregnancy and birth mothers can
relinquish their rights at any time after 24 hours following
delivery. This law has been challenged several times and
judges always consider the best interest of the child. Rarely
is a child placed back in the birth parent’s care.
What is that six
month waiting period for anyway?
The answer to question number three catches some by surprise.
What is that six month waiting period for anyway? Some people
have developed the erroneous belief that the six month period from
placement of a child in their home to court finalization is a time when
the birth parent(s) can change their mind and come and get the
baby. This is false. Though many steps are taken to
ensure that the adoptive family is fit and proper to meet the needs of
a child, the purpose of the six month waiting period is to ensure the
family’s fitness to care for the child permanently.
During this period one to three post adoptive placement visits are
completed by a licensed social worker to determine the
child’s progress, health and development. This
wonderful time of bonding with parents passes rapidly and the court
date comes quickly for families. The court date is a
highlight in the adoption because of the permanency of the court
findings. A child would only be removed from a home if there
was evidence of abuse or neglect. In such an unusual case,
the child would not be returned to birth parents since the
relinquishment is permanent. The child would be placed in another
home. As one might imagine, this only happens in extreme
cases and is very rare.
Am I good enough to
Question four am I good enough to adopt comes sometimes out of fear of
not passing the home study – maybe there has been a divorce
or maybe the family thinks that a professional person will come in to
their home and judge them, and that thought can be very
scary. It may be news to you to find out that when the home
visit is done, the worker is not there to find all of the reasons to
deny you, but rather, all of the reasons that a child should be placed
in your home. There are many children out there and we are
looking for good, nurturing and loving families to place children
with. If there is a concern or problem discovered in the
process of completing the home study, you will have the opportunity to
correct it. There are no secrets here. Of course you are good enough to
adopt and if there are changes you need to make about your home or
family you will make them!
What if I adopt a
child of a different race than my own?
Question five, What if I adopt a child of a different race than my own
is a common question in particular if a family is considering a mixed
race child or when the family is of a different race than a child they
are contemplating adopting. The answer to this is not so easy
because it tears at ones very identity and values. To make
this decision, you must search your own heart and mind to consider what
you really believe and be honest with yourself. To thine own self be
true said William Shakespeare. You must also consider how your family
will respond. Generally, you will be placed quicker if you
are open to a child of any race. But this is not reason
enough. Do not adopt a child of a different race than your
own if you have problems with this.
Since so many of consider adopting, these questions and many other
concerns about adopting should not turn into fears. Rather,
recognize that you might just need to develop more know how and find
out from those who do know the information you need.
Perspective adoptive families do not fear! There are
professionals available to help you through the process and they will
help to alleviate your concerns. This can dramatically help
you along the path of your adoption journey. To adopt or not
to adopt? That certainly is the question but there are answers too!
Alan Saunders, Ph.D., LCSW
an adoption advocate, father of four, licensed
and registered in Utah as an Adoption Professional.
2013 ©, Alan Saunders. No portion of this article may be
reproduced in part or in whole without express written consent from the
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