Pursuing adoption is a huge decision. For most couples, it comes after years of struggling to have biological children or having biological children and then growing a family further through adoption. Adoption is not a decision to arrive at quickly or a process to take lightly. Even under the best circumstances, adoption is expensive and comes with a lot of emotional baggage. The following factors are reasons you may not be ready to adopt yet.
I add (yet) after reasons you may not be ready to adopt because many couples face one or more of these factors at some point along their journey to adopt. You may not be ready to move on from fertility treatments or you may not be sure how you feel about open adoption right now. That’s totally fine. It doesn’t mean you’ll always be in that place.
1. You’re still in the middle of or planning to continue pursuing fertility treatments.
Pursuing fertility treatments and adoption simulatenously isn’t a good idea. Both paths to growing a family are expensive and highly emotionally charged. In order to be committed fully, you must pursue one or the other. Don’t start contacting adoption agencies and getting your ducks in a row for a home study until you’ve wrapped up your final fertility treatment.
Some people encourage couples to wait until they’ve finished grieving their infertility to pursue adoption. Personally, I don’t think that this is realistic and should be on a list of reasons you may not be ready to adopt yet. Until I feel like our family is complete, I won’t be able to move on from my infertility past fully. The same is true for numerous couples.
2. There are general life circumstances that would make an adoption very difficult for you right now.
I make this point with care. Of course, there is never going to be a time in your life when everything lines up perfectly for an adoption. There are also no guarantees in life. You may adopt a child and then immediately lose your job or have your dad get really sick. However, when you’re working through a rough place in your marriage or you’re in a tough spot financially due to an expected medical expense, adoption may bring more stress than blessing.
3. You and your spouse aren’t on the same page with adoption.
It’s important that both you and your spouse feel great about pursuing adoption and are ready to move down that path to grow your family. No, you don’t have to agree about every single aspect of adoption or have everything figured out ahead of time. No one does. But if one partner still wants to pursue fertility treatments or is unsure about a major aspect of adoption (i.e. the financial burden, open adoption), it may not be the right time.
4. You’re tired of the social pressure to have kids and don’t want to answer any more questions about why you don’t have kids yet.
As soon as you’re married, there is so much pressure to have kids. Like, right now. Why aren’t you trying to make babies already? Some people will even start pushing this topic before you’re married. There’s something about pregnancy and babies that makes people incredibly nosy, soliciting a lot of inappropriate questions and comments.
It gets old, I know. But ultimately, growing your family is no one else’s business. You need to pursue adoption when you and your sponse are ready. Not when everyone else in your life is ready for you to have kids.
5. It’s the cool thing to do.
You’re wrapped up in the latest story about a hot celebrity who just adopted a baby. You can’t stop Googling all of the details about said celebrity’s baby. Everyone you know who was facing infertility five years ago now has a beautiful adopted child. You can’t get enough of their adorable pictures on Facebook and Instagram. No matter who you know (or whose celebrity life you’re trying to live through vicariously) who has adopted children, adoption has to be the right path for you and your spouse.
6. You want to adopt a child because you’re trying to save the world.
There’s a common misconception that most couples are trying to adopt because they want to save the world. Instead of having a biological child, they’re choosing to “rescue” a child, which is so noble. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Most couples pursue adoption because they want to grow their families. Period. It may not sound very romantic or glamorous. But it’s the truth. And it’s a much healthier perspective.
7. You’ll do whatever it takes to adopt a child.
Many couples who pursue adoption have been trying to have children for many years. It’s tempting to say yes to every single profile opportunity that comes your way. It’s also tempting to pursue every path possible to adopt a child as quickly as possible. You need to pursue the adoption opportunities that make sense for you and your family, which includes being realistic about your limitations. When you say yes to a profile for a child with known significant health issues, you need to feel prepared to handle those needs appropriately. If you do feel prepared, that’s great. But don’t say yes just because you’re willing to do anything it takes to adopt a child.
8. You are prepared to wait until you have the opportunity to adopt the perfect child.
On the flip side, some couples approach adoption with the notion that there is a perfect baby out there for them. They will wait as long as it takes until that adoption opportunity presents itself. There are never any guarantees that you’ll be able to adopt within a certain time frame. However, when you see couples sit in the waiting pool for five or six years, they’re often being extremely selective about having their profile shown.
Adoption comes with a lot of risks. Even under the best of circumstances, there’s a lot you won’t know in advance or there are things you would have done differently. You should feel good about saying yes to having your profile shown to an expectant couple considering adoption. You shouldn’t have to feel like it will be a match for a perfect child.
9. You’re not willing to consider the possibility of open adoption.
Encouraging open adoption is relatively new concept. As such, most people understand very little about open adoption. There are also a ton of misconceptions about open adoption, only made worse by frequent inaccurate portrayals of open adoption in popular culture (TV, movies, books). It’s completely understandable why most couples, even those who have always thought about adoption to grow their family, aren’t considering open adoption initially.
Despite all the pushback, when you put yourself in an adopted child’s shoes, it should be clear immediately why open adoption is so important. We all know people who are adopted and know absolutely nothing about their birth families. They would give anything for a name or a photo. Having an open relationship with your child’s birth families is one of the best gifts you can give them.
10. You don’t plan to tell your child he/she is adopted.
Children deserve to know where they come from, right from birth. Waiting to tell children until they’re “old enough” to understand or not telling them at all leads to so many more questions, confusion, and hurt feelings. Pushing away your adoption story and leading the world to believe that your children are biologically related to you isn’t healthy. No, you don’t have to tell everyone you meet that your children are adopted. But your children deserve to know the truth. And you should feel comfortable sharing their story with others as it’s appropriate to do so.
Are there other reasons you may not be ready to adopt (yet) that should be on this list?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment.