No matter if you come to adoption from infertility or because of a faith calling, it involves the lives of not just the child, but the lives of the child’s birth family and extended family. Adoption has an impact on the siblings the child may have in either the biological family or the adoptive family, the community in which the child lives, and the schools the child attends. Entering into an adoption relationship should be done only after much soul searching and with an open and committed heart.
Keeping that in mind, as you find yourself in the adoption process, you should remember that as adopting parents you have both rights and responsibilities. Regardless of how you come to adoption – after experiencing infertility, having biological children, or through a sense of calling – these rights and responsibilities are an important part of the journey.
The rights include of adoptive parents include:
The right to be treated with respect and honesty.
The right to have emotional support before, during, and after the adoption placement.
The right to ask questions and receive answers about all steps of the process.
The right to review and understand all legal paperwork before you sign it.
The right to receive counseling services before, during and after the adoption placement.
The right to health information about the child you are adopting, including any prenatal drug exposure or communicable disease.
The right to refuse the placement of a child whose needs exceed your ability to care for that child.
Rights always come along with responsibilities. These responsibilities include:
Treating others involved in your adoption with respect and honesty.
Create a “go-to” person or team who is familiar with adoption issues who can help you answer your questions, and support you with your thoughts and feelings before, during, and after the adoption placement.
Request a copy of the legal paperwork before you file a petition for adoption with the court.
Process your infertility losses.Understand that having a child through adoption is not a “cure” or fix for infertility. Use the services of a counselor, pastor, or trusted friend who understands what you have been through and will help keep you moving forward.
Be honest if your plans change. If you become pregnant during your adoption journey before the placement of a child into your home, place your adoption plans on hold. Focus on one birth at a time!
Ask for medical records and review them with your child’s medical professional.
Be realistic about your abilities as a parent.
While these are general rights and responsibilities for adoptive parents, adoptive parents also have more responsibilities to their child that are unique to adoption and are key to developing a healthy sense of identity in the child.
These responsibilities include:
Being honest with your child about the adoption piece of their identity.
Speaking respectfully and lovingly of your child’s birth family.
Using positive adoption language.
Remembering your child’s story is their own and share it only with those with a true need to know.
No single list is all inclusive. Remember the Golden Rule as you meet expectant parents and develop a relationship with them as your child is growing. Above all else, you have the responsibility to understand the adopted child carries a piece of their biological family with them forever, and this should be celebrated!
Everyone knows that pregnancy lasts for nine months.
It’s divided into three trimesters, each with three months in it. Everyone knows that pregnancy lasts for nine months. Unless you’re pregnant and waiting to deliver. Then you remember it’s forty weeks from conception to delivery. And if the due date for the blessed event is set for July or August in humid Indiana, it seems as if those forty weeks turns into an eternity. It certainly doesn’t help when people start asking the expectant mom “so you haven’t had that baby yet, have you?” (Feel free to insert your own sarcastic response here…)
The emotional waiting time is different for those involved adoption.
For the potential adoptive family there are no visible signs of pregnancy. There is the uncertainty of not only the baby’s birth, but what will happen after the birth. Will there be a baby coming home with them or not? For the expectant parents, the emotional waiting time is complicated. Preparing to give birth and preparing to say good-bye all at the same time is not for the weak-hearted. No one can predict with 100% accuracy how they will handle any given situation until they have been in that situation.
For everyone involved in the waiting game, there are just as many people on the sidelines who also want to know what is going on. They want to know the timelines too!
Is the baby here yet? Do you think the expectant mom is going to follow the adoption plan? Will she be ok if she does? Are the adoptive parents ready? Have you all met each other?
All this brings up another question, and that is—do you answer these questions?
And if you do, how many times do you have to answer them? Does everyone you know deserve to be in on the action? Do you record your answer to the most frequently asked questions then just hit “play” when one of these comes up?
While those pre-recorded answers might be nice, another way handle them is to create your circle of support. The people in this circle are those who care about you and have your back. Face it, not everyone deserves to know all about your business. Once you have determined who is in your circle, create a group text or email chain. Let these people know they will have answers as you are ready to share them. Send out the information on your time table. And for those who don’t make the circle, be ready with your “mind your own business” answer. A simple “I’m not ready to talk about that” or some variation of this should be enough.
The forty weeks of pregnancy is a long time to wait.
The unknown amount of time for adoptive families is a long time to wait. Make the wait more bearable by sharing what needs to be shared with the people you know, trust, and love because you know they trust, respect, and love you right back.
Relinquishing a child for adoption is an emotional experience, with stages of grief that are experienced differently amongst birth mothers. It’s normal to have doubts in the middle of the process, and feelings stemming from your doubts are normal and shouldn’t be viewed negatively. Several organizations and support services exist to help birth mothers process and work through these emotions during the adoption process.
Coping with Grief
The process of grieving is never pretty, but working through emotions of grief and loss, both positive and negative, is the only way to progress past them in a healthy manner.1 Avoiding feelings of grief only serves to foster negative feelings, preventing you from living a productive life.
When these feelings arise, seek support from your adoption agency. Most adoption agencies have counselors on hand to help you process your feelings of grief in a healthy way. Consulting a counselor with your agency also allows them to become familiar with your needs, which they will balance with the needs of the adoptive parents and child to ensure all parties are receiving the care they require during this time.
The most important thing to realize is that you’re not alone in this experience, as millions of birthmothers are trying to process these same feelings.
Join a Birthmother Support Blog
It helps to share your experience, and joining a birthmother support blog not only allows you to work through the process, but can provide support and comfort to others just like you. Discussing and sharing adoption experiences can help you make formative choices during the adoption process and can prepare you for the moment you relinquish your parental rights to your child. Learning how other birthmothers coped with the process may be able to teach you lessons about dealing with your own grief. Remember, everyone experiences grief differently, but you may discover valuable strategies that may help you.
Sharing your own unique experiences on a support blog can help other new birthmothers going through the same experience. Your guidance can prove vital, and your story may be the key to getting them through it. If you’re looking for empathy and compassion, a support blog community may be a good source for inspiration and hope.
Support You Can Count On with Adoption Support Center
At Adoption Support Center you can get the help you need within a safe, friendly space where you can talk openly and honestly about whatever issues you’re facing during the adoption process. We have adoption coordination and support lines open 24/7 to answer your call the second you need us.
We provide coaching and counseling services regarding how to balance your living expenses, what your relationship options are with the adopting family and whether you want a closed or open adoption process. Contact Adoption Support Center today to get the answers and help you need when you need it.
Our office hours are
Monday - Friday 8:30 - 4:30 EST.
We’re located just north of the canal in Broad Ripple.
Active, new and inquiring families please call during normal business hours.