There are countless resources available for those considering adoption, though few can equip you completely for its reality. Many pursue pre-adoption counseling to help them sort through confusing feelings, while others opt to talk through the process with trusted friends and family members. How do you know if pre-adoption counseling is right for you? Here are some things to consider:
If You Are a Birth Mom Contemplating Adoption
The truth is that making an adoption plan for your unborn child will be accompanied by many natural, but sometimes overwhelming, emotions. A skilled counselor can help you process the feelings of grief and loss that may already be cropping up. He or she can talk to you about your own parenting values and how you can search for those in a potential adoptive family. A counselor can also help you decide how much contact you are comfortable maintaining after your child is placed and how often you would like to be updated with e-mails, photos, or social media messages. Negative emotions may also present themselves at milestones after adoption, such as birthdays or holidays, but a good counselor can prepare you to navigate them with strength and hope. You can also discuss your long-term goals, how adoption will help you facilitate them, and the care and opportunity your child will acquire in a loving adoptive home. An adept counselor will be affirming of your feelings, growth, and courage as you move forward in your journey.
If You Are a Potential Adoptive Parent
If you are like me, a fairy-tale fantasy about your adoption day clouded over any thoughts of potential snags while raising children. I was grateful that I had done some pre-adoption training when I realized that I had agreed to raising three strong-willed and beautiful children who did not want to listen and were desperate for love and attention. Pre-adoption counseling can prepare you and your partner to be on the same page when children misbehave or have emotional reactions to disruptions in their day. Adopted children also have unique needs in terms of giving and receiving affection and may take time to warm up and call you their own. They may have issues with food and sleep that need to be addressed with patience and compassion. As an adoptive parent, you are the warm light that shepherds your child through a world filled with uncertainty. Counseling can prepare you for the reality that you experience and give you a map for reaching your parenting goals in a way that will impress even you!
If You Just Need Some Validation
Both birth parents and adoptive parents struggle with feelings of sorrow, inadequacy, and a need for clear communication with their partners. Adopted children may need guidance through identity formation and trust-related issues. Most of the time, having a professional who can help identify the challenges and hopes of those affected by adoption can help clear a path toward resolution and positive outcomes. And that is the real fairy tale come true.
Rebekah Yahoves is a writer, mother, and music teacher from Long Island. In 2016, she adopted three school-aged siblings from Poland at the same time. When she isn’t constructing casseroles or tuning violins, Rebekah likes to go on tea binges and read.