For anyone that is thinking about adopting a child there are things you need consider before starting the process. To help understand common mistakes people make when they are thinking about adopting and for things to consider before adopting, I have interviewed psychologist Ann Becker-Schutte Ph.D.”
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a licensed counseling psychologist. I specialize in providing support for those experiencing complicated loss or transition. This means that I create a safe space for those whose loss or change is particularly difficult or painful (suicide survivors, parents who have lost children, individuals surviving divorce, etc). I create an environment where my clients have permission to process difficult emotions and identify unhealthy patterns. Then I guide and support clients as they build healthy coping strategies that will help them face future challenges. In addition, I am a parent by adoption–so I have dealt with adoption issues on both a personal and a professional level.”
What are common mistakes people make when they are considering in adopting?
“I think that there are three main mistakes that potential parents make when they are considering adoption.
1. Pursuing adoption without having done your emotional homework: Many (but not all) parents who choose adoption have faced some degree of challenge in having biological children. Before proceeding with adoption, prospective parents should be certain that they have dealt with any grief or loss issues. They owe it to themselves and to their potential children to enter into adoption for the sake of creating a family, not to replace a loss.
2. Not doing your adoption process homework: Unfortunately, there have been some high-profile ‘adoption mis-fire’ court cases, which involved heartache for both parents by adoption and birth parents. Everyone has heard horror stories of potential parents who invest huge amounts of money, only to have birth parents change their minds after delivery. Most of these situations can be avoided by working with reputable agencies. Ideally, prospective parents should seek out agencies that provide comprehensive support to birth parents, regardless of adoption decisions. This reduces the chance that a birth parent might feel financially coerced into adoption, and the possibility that an adoption would be reversed. In fact, the agency that we worked with has been doing pregnancy and adoption support for over 50 years, without a single adoption reversal. For more details about doing your homework, I recommend ‘Adoption for Dummies,’ which provides an excellent overview of both domestic and international adoption.
3. Buying into negative birth parent stereotypes: During our adoption orientation, I was struck by how many potential parents seemed afraid of birth parents. There was a sense that birth parents might deliberately mislead prospective parents, or be unreliable about following through with an adoption plan. From my perspective, this misses a very important point: Birth parents, particularly birth mothers, have made several tough decisions already. They have committed to completing an unplanned pregnancy, with all of the attendant social fallout. They have considered an adoption plan, which requires significant sacrifice on their part. Birth parents need to be recognized as the heroes in an adoption story, not seen as prospective villains.”
What are some things to consider before adopting?
“I believe that the most important things to consider before adopting are choices about how you want or need your family to look. Are you open to having a multiracial family? Are you willing to adopt a child with special needs? Do you want an infant or an older child? Do you want the potential for open adoption that exists with domestic adoption, or do you have a strong connection with an international location? Are you committed to providing your child with connections to his or her birth culture, regardless of where that is? How involved are you willing to be with your child’s biological family? When and how will you talk about adoption within your family? Who within your extended family needs additional education so that they can be a good support to you and your child? If you have children already, how will you help them make the transition to a larger family?”
What resources or professionals are good to communicate with while considering adopting?
“I think that it is incredibly valuable to look for groups in your community of current and prospective adoptive parents. If you are planning a multi-racial/multi-cultural family, you should look for multi-racial or culturally specific support groups. I think that it’s helpful to interview more than one agency, and to attend adoption orientations to get a feel for what you might experience.
I already mentioned ‘Adoption for Dummies.’ It’s just one of many books that provide good resources for parents hoping to adopt. There are also great online communities. Sherrie Eldridge is an author and adoption consultant with a great website (http://www.sherrieeldridge.com) and Adoptive Families magazine has tons of resources on its website (http://www.adoptivefamilies.com).
It can also be helpful to seek out therapy as a support for the emotional challenges of an adoption process.
FTC Disclosure: I have no affiliate relationships with any of the authors or websites mentioned in my responses.”
Thank you Dr. Becker-Schutte for doing the interview on things to consider before adopting. For more information on Dr. Becker-Schutte or her work you can check out her website on http://www.healthybalancedlife.com.
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