Once you have made the decision that adoption is your best option for starting or enriching your family, you will face the often daunting task of choosing an adoption program and an agency. Note that the basic procedure is similar in most adoption situations involving a licensed, non-profit adoption agency.

To Adopt or Not to Adopt

Many parents come to adoption after years of the fertility roller coaster. The effects of infertility can be devastating on your heart, your marriage, your wallet, your mental health, your friendships, and ultimately, on your desire to parent. We encourage those of you dealing with infertility to fully explore your grieving process before starting the adoption process. It may take a while for the full effect of your infertility to take its place within you. You, your child, your partner will be best served if you do not rush into adoption until you’ve worked to accept your fertility situation. Adoption should not be seen as a cure for infertility.

Adoption may be another option for starting a family, and for the vast majority of those who adopt, it is a wonderful solution. Nonetheless, adoption cannot replace the desire to carry a child in your womb, nor should it. Adoption is an ancient and glorious way to form a family, and a child you adopt may very well take on many of your habits. Your child may soon walk and talk and even act like you. You may believe you were meant to love and raise the child you adopt. If you believe in destiny, you may have no trouble with the idea that this was the only way you were meant to have your child.

Many parents come to adoption having already given birth to one or more children. We applaud these parents equally as we do the others. And yet we ask parents considering adoption out of humanitarian duty to think and proceed with caution. A child for life is not best addressed as a humanitarian endeavor. A large part of raising a child should be selfish, fulfilling your desire to be a parent. Another large part should be child-focused. Adopting a child should have less to do with good deeds and more to do with the specific child.

The following are some questions we encourage you to ask yourself before you begin the adoption process:

Why do I want to be a parent?

For some, parenting is a life-long dream. The impulse starts in childhood and continues to grow throughout adolescence and early adulthood. For some, parenting is a desire that comes later in life, or may be triggered with the arrival of a partner with whom you wish to share a family. We encourage you to think carefully about the origin of your desire to parent, and what that parenting role looks like for you. Think about your role, your partner’s role (if applicable), your extended families’ roles, and the role of the child. How much of your dream to be a parent is connected to your desire to see your own progeny and carry on a family legacy? If this is the case, will your adopted child fit into this world comfortably? Will you and your family be able to accept your new child with all the mystery and richness he or she brings?

What kind of child do I see myself raising, and why?

This question is important as you should make sure that your vision of the child fits the reality of the children available for adoption. Rather than focusing on certain details, try thinking about the general joys of parenthood and raising a child. How does it feel to be open to all the unknown joys and challenges your child will bring?

What are my expectations of and for this child?

Of all the questions you might ask yourself, this is the biggest and the one that either helps or hinders adoptive parents. How fair is it to have expectations of a child that you’ve never met, and who you have not yet had the pleasure of loving? What do your expectations have to do with the specific needs of your child? We encourage you to expect lots of hard work and rewarding changes to your way of life, and we encourage you to expect to be amazed every day by how much a child can bring to your life.

Falling in Love on the Internet

The decision to adopt is best made carefully and with great time, thought, and research. We advise against beginning the adoption process as a result of “finding a child” on the Internet. Parents who fall in love with adorable photos on the Internet may be ignorant of the harsh realities of a child’s long-term emotional, developmental, medical, social, and educational needs. The age of the child now, the time of relinquishment to an orphanage or foster care, and the child’s unique constitution and personality all play vital roles in the child’s ability to cope with the stressors of adoption, and are in no way predictable.