If you considering adoption, you are considering a lofty goal. It is not minor decision and will not only change the life of a child but will change your life, as well. So, how do you prepare? It should go without saying that if you want to adopt, you will need to prepare your home, have a clean criminal record, have sufficient income, and meet minimum health standards. However, many families are not mentally and emotionally prepared for all that is involved in adopting a child. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself to know if you are ready to adopt.
- Am I ready to put the child’s needs before my own?
Motivations for adopting vary from person to person. Infertility, kinship adoption, a passion to serve God, and a need to serve the community at large are all good motivations. However, kids that are placed for adoption come with needs of their own and may have experienced deep trauma. If you are seeking an international adoption, keep in mind that orphanage life can be very traumatic and these children may have difficulty attaching. If you adopt through the foster care system, many of these children have experienced abuse or neglect. Are you prepared to help a child who has some challenging behaviors? Of course, not all adopted children have trauma or attachment issues, but it is better to be prepared to meet the child’s needs than to be surprised.
- Am I willing to adjust my expectations?
Your adopted child may be the next Steve Jobs or Babe Ruth. On the other hand, he may not. Your adopted child may excel past your biological children. On the other hand, she may not. What will you do if your child does not meet your expectations? A word of wisdom: Change your expectations. Of course, it is tempting to compare your adopted child to your biological child. But that is unfair and may be detrimental to your adopted child because he did not have the advantages that your biological kid did. Rather, focus on your adopted child’s strengths and focus your energies there. Rather than comparing her to another person, compare the small victories and growth your child is making every day.
- Is my family ready to adopt?
If you already have biological children, they need to be brought into the conversation. Are they ready to share a room with an adopted child? Are they ready to share Mom with another child? Don’t underestimate the danger of jealousy in your family. These are important questions because the addition of another child will change the family dynamic. Small things like where the new child will sleep and where he will sit at the dinner table or in the car should be thought out ahead of time.
Of course, there can be major life events that can affect your preparedness, as well: illness in the family, the loss of a job, a major move, and others are important factors. Being mentally and emotionally prepared is just as important as being physically prepared. Perhaps adoption has been a dream of yours for years. If you don’t feel ready, don’t rush it. Postpone it until the time is right. The time will never be perfect, but there may be better times than others. Adopting a child is one of the most important things you will do in life. Isn’t it important to be prepared?
Derek Williams is an adoption social worker and has been in the field of child welfare and behavioral health since 2006, where he has assisted families in their adoption journey. He and his wife started their adoption journey in 1993 and have 8 children: 6 of which are adopted. His adoption children are all different ethnicities including East Indian, Jamaican, and Native American. He loves traveling with his family, especially to the East Coast and to the West Coast and is an avid NY Mets fan! Foster care and adoption is a passion and calling for Derek, and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.