How to Make Decisions for Your Own Family
Regardless of your role in the adoption constellation or what part of your adoption journey you’re in, learning to make decisions for yourself and your family can be a challenge–especially if you’re facing pressures from others. In the adoption world, stress can come from many different angles:
– As an expectant parent, you can face pressure to place your child for adoption.
– As potential adoptive parents, you can face pressure to change your appearance to make your family appear more attractive in your profile.
– As an adoptee, you can face pressure to conform to how the rest of the adoption community thinks you should feel or act about your adoption situation.
When you’re going through the adoption process, dealing with these pressures can interfere with your ability to make a rational decision. If you are beginning to consider adoption, make sure that you are putting what is best for your child and family first. In this article, we’ll go through the decision-making process and how you can learn to make decisions during the adoption process.
The Decision-Making Process
Believe it or not, there is an entire process that our brains go through when we make a decision. When we have a choice to make, we have to navigate through a whole host of thoughts and feelings such as:
– Unconscious personal bias: “blind spots” that we don’t recognize we have.
– What we already know about the situation.
– Costs and benefits.
– Information we need to make an informed decision.
– Alternatives to the current situation.
– The level of control we have over the outcome.
Because there are so many things that our brains have to sort through, making a decision isn’t something that can happen overnight.
Why Making Your Own Decisions is Important During the Adoption Process & Journey
Adoption, by nature, is filled with complexities. The decisions you make regarding an adoption journey will affect not only your life, but all those involved. While this isn’t meant to sound scary, it is essential to acknowledge the weight that comes with placing, adopting, and potentially raising an adoptee (or navigating your own adoption story as an adoptee). Deciding to choose adoption, no matter what role you will play in the process is a big deal and is a decision that requires a lot of thought and planning.
While many of the things that were mentioned earlier about the decision-making process may factor into your decision as an expectant parent, potential adoptive parent, or even an adoptee, the perceptions of how people view you and the pressures that come with that can influence your ability to make a decision–even when they shouldn’t. Friends, family, and other people in your life may try to sway you one way or the other, especially if they are a constant presence in your life. But, despite the fact that they may be trying to help you, they may be causing more harm than good. While it’s perfectly okay to take advice from people, don’t let outside influence take precedence over what you feel is right for you and your family.
Here are a few things to consider and look out for when you’re making a big decision about adoption:
Among the many common misconceptions around birth parents, one of the most discouraging is the perception of the “unfit parent”. If someone doesn’t look like they have the resources or the means to provide for a child, or if they don’t match the stereotypical “parent” mold, they could face more pressure to place their child for adoption. This is harmful because it could influence someone to do something that they aren’t ready for–whether that is parenting or placing a child for adoption. This could cause a birth parent to experience more trauma than would be experienced otherwise. If you are faced with this pressure, please remember that your feelings are valid and that you can make your own decisions even if it is contrary to the influences around you.
Potential Adoptive Parents
If you are considering expanding your family through adoption, you’ll probably be asked to create a family profile with all the important information that an expectant parent can find when selecting a family. Often, there is pressure to try and make your family look perfect by embellishing your profile. This could be misleading and build an insecure foundation for your adoption relationships (with the birth parents and the adoptee). There is nothing wrong with being yourself; the best matches happen when an expectant parent and a potential adoptive family can bond and have a healthy relationship through honest and personal connections. This also creates an environment of transparency for all parties involved in the adoption, which is much needed in the adoption community. Staying true to who your family is–your preferences, beliefs, and values–is the best option when going through the adoption process.
As an adoptee, there’s nothing we can do to change our story. However, one thing we do have control over is who we get to call family. Whether reuniting with our birth families or setting boundaries with our adoptive families, we get to choose who we call family. That doesn’t mean that both of these things are easy to do, though. Sometimes, trying to cultivate a relationship with a member of your birth family can be one of the hardest things to do as an adoptee. There may also be tension in adoptive families that are out of your control. Making decisions that are best for you and your mental health should be your priority, especially regarding family.
What can you do about this?
At the end of the day, making a decision on whether to choose adoption for your child, bringing a child into your home through adoption, or any decision you make about who you choose to call your family is up to you. No one can force you to choose something you don’t feel comfortable with. Keep this in mind as you navigate through your adoption journey, however it may look. Staying faithful to your decision-making process is essential.
For more information on adoption and making decisions, visit Adoption.com.
My name is Morgan Bailee Boggess, and I am originally from Owensboro, KY, (where I was raised) and was adopted from Henderson, KY. I currently live in Lexington, KY, with my fiance, our Yorkie (Heidi), turtle (Sheldon), and a variety of saltwater fish. Beginning in 2016, I sought out and met most of my biological family. At the end of my searching, I discovered that I have, in total, 8 brothers and sisters, 20 nieces and nephews, and one godson. I graduated from Georgetown College in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and am currently working towards getting my master’s in Social Work (MSW) with plans to get my Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology a few years after that. I am a psychometrist and clinical research assistant at Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky. My research focus is looking at how forms of complex trauma (particularly intergenerational) affects the cognition in older adults. In my spare time, I write and read spoken word poetry at events to help benefit local nonprofits. I am also involved with several national diversity organizations and serve on the Board of Directors for Adoptees Connect, Inc.