If you’re starting the adoption journey you might not realize that the rest of this journey WILL NOT be about you. You might have endured a lot of pain to get here, infertility, failed IUI or IVF cycles, failed embryo adoption or surrogacy. Really, really tough stuff. But I’m going to tell you something difficult to hear, most likely if you are here now and pursuing domestic infant adoption: your mindset will now have to immediately shift and all your decisions from here need to be about your future child through adoption (the adoptee) and what is best for them. You need to be able to justify every decision you make, and feel comfortable telling your future child the decisions you made and steps you took to adopt.

unsplash-image-DARWLJGAkj0.jpgWhat does that mean in practice for your adoption journey if you are a prospective adoptive family? You will now be making decisions based on what is best for your future child through adoption (the adoptee), not what is best for YOU! You will need to make decisions for the good of your child, and often some things might (and likely will) feel uncomfortable for you! That means:

  • preparing for an open adoption, even if it feels uncomfortable for you, if that’s what is best for your child and the circumstances. But know that openness can also change a lot over time and based on how a birth family is feeling about adoption at any given stage. You could want and expect an open adoption based on how it was during the pregnancy or soon after the birth and then have the adoption be much less open, so be prepared and open to whatever situation presents itself and support your child through it all. Read more from a guest blogger and adoptive mom here and from our founder here.

  • you need to have grieved your infertility or whatever inability you have to have children biologically and grieved the failures/losses you have had that led you to adoption, if any. More posts on infertility here.

  • educating yourself and preparing yourself for the trauma and pain in adoption from all members of the adoption triad (but particularly adoptees and birth parents) and focus on how you will help your child endure that, even when it is natural to want to defend or focus on the positive aspects of adoption. There’s such an amazing adoption community on social media to learn from, if you plan to adopt.

  • you will interact with people who question your decision to adopt. Do not disregard them or their opinions, learn what you can from them too to make them feel that way. But sometimes it will mean just giving them grace to have a different opinion than you.

  • choosing your adoption preferences and your professionals in your adoption journey with your future child in mind, even if it means your adoption might take longer than it would have otherwise.

  • choosing different schools than you might have absent adoption, different neighborhoods, churches, even cities, if that is how to show your child their culture and people that look like them. Read more on that here from the amazing Torie DiMartile of Wreckage and Wonder. Keep in mind that may also mean supporting causes that make sense for your child’s race/ethnicity, even if it isn’t the opinion of your political party, family or friends. Keep in mind that might mean sometimes breaking ties with friends/family not willing to support your child and your child’s race/culture.

  • choosing your child’s name with the birth family, or having the birth family name your child and you honoring that choice, even if it means forgoing a name you have picked out for years. Read more on the intricacies of naming a child through adoption here.

  • supporting your child in connecting with and spending time with their birth family, even if it may feel at times like a rejection to you and your family. Know that it is completely possible for a child to love two families and there is always more room for love. Support your child through this process, it is bound to be very difficult for them and you want them to see you as an ally, and not have to worry about protecting your feelings as they navigate theirs.

  • talk openly and honestly to your child about adoption (in age appropriate ways), even if/when it feels awkward and forced. Start young when they won’t know what you’re saying yet to gain practice, use children’s books, and always be honest as you include more detailed information as they age.

  • having respect and empathy for expectant mothers, including supporting a woman who made an adoption plan with you during your journey, only to decide to parent at birth, even when it absolutely breaks your heart and even means a loss of money. Your future child will appreciate that you supported family preservation where possible, and it just means you needed to keep going to find the child meant for your family.

  • providing your child access to counselors and other adoptees, so that your child doesn’t have to struggle through some of the questions and identity issues that come with adoption alone.

  • love and honor your child’s birth family even if there are things about their actions you can’t understand or that hurt your child. Read more on that here.

  • protect your child’s story at all costs, leaving details for your child to share with whomever he/she wants, even if it means being almost rude to the nosy lady in the Costco line. Read our founder’s view and experience here.

  • LOVE fiercely!

I’m sure I left some out, please contact us to share any we may have missed!!! Just know, it is okay and honorable to decide to quit before you proceed to an adoption if you can’t accept these realities, not everyone is meant to adopt. But if you decide to proceed, make sure you are prepared for this as well as you can! Parenting is hard in and of itself and adoption does add another layer…

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