This is the follow-up piece to When the Glass is Dark: A Mother’s Struggle With Infertility from our guest contributor, Jennifer Clark. In this post she discusses the complexities of adopting and questions you should ask before making the decision to adopt.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Couples who are struggling to have a baby will, at some point, most likely be asked this question-why don’t you just adopt?
It’s not an unkind question, but it is inappropriate. Deciding to have a child, either through pregnancy or adoption, is a deeply personal decision. Adoption is a serious commitment. It is not the same as ordering a baked potato after discovering a restaurant is out of french fries.
After trying, and failing, to get pregnant, I was heartbroken. I had to put aside my dream of having a biological child and give myself permission to grieve that loss. It was important to me to begin the adoption process in the right frame of mind. I had to confront my pain and not use adoption as a way to escape it. It took months of counseling and prayer before I was ready to move on.
Once we committed to adopting, we felt overwhelmed by the process. It can be daunting, another reason I think it is important to make sure you have a clear mind and the right attitude before you begin.
There are many decisions to make and questions to consider.
Foreign or Domestic Adoption: The most basic decision you have to make is whether you prefer a foreign or domestic adoption. This is a question without a right or wrong answer. If cost is a consideration, foreign adoptions are typically more expensive. Do your research and pray about what you feel is best for your family. My husband and I chose a domestic adoption, and I have several friends who have adopted internationally. Think about talking to some families who have adopted so they can give you their perspective and share their experiences. I did, and I found it to be very helpful.
Adoption Agency or Private Adoption: Once again, this is a question without a right or wrong answer. The most important thing to remember, with either option, is to make sure you are dealing with people who have a reputation for honesty and integrity. Expect either an agency or a lawyer to be upfront about cost and risk. Be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true, because it probably is.
Closed or Open Adoption: The most difficult question for me to answer was how much contact I wanted between my family and my child’s biological family. Not so long ago, any contact between the biological mother and the adoptive family was rare. Now, it is much more common. You have to decide how much contact is right for you. It can be tempting, when you want a baby so badly, to agree to conditions that you don’t feel comfortable with. I was tempted to do so myself, even though I knew in my heart that I didn’t want an open adoption. Be honest and don’t make promises that you don’t intend to keep.
Risk: An adoption that fails is called a ‘disruption’. You must accept that the adoption process is a risk, both financial and emotional. You might be expected to pay for a biological mother’s expenses during the pregnancy. If the birth mother changes her mind, you are unlikely to ever get that money back. Even more difficult is coming back from the hospital with an empty baby seat. We spent several days in the hospital with a birth mother who was trying to decide whether to place her child for adoption with us. In the end, she decided to keep her baby. We were luckier than most couples in that situation. We didn’t know about the baby before he was born, and we didn’t (on the excellent advice of our adoption agency) hold the baby or bond with him while she was trying to make up her mind. Other people are not as fortunate. In the state of Arkansas, a biological mother has ten days to change her mind after the baby is born, although she can voluntarily waive five of those days.
When we want something so badly, it can be hard to trust God. I urge anyone who is thinking of adopting to pray and seek God’s will. I believe that God had a plan for each of us. I think that God’s plan for me was to adopt the special little boy that I am lucky to call my son. It may have seemed like there were many obstacles in our path to our becoming a family, but now I know that God was in control all along.
And I am grateful.