When considering an adoption plan for my son, I often found myself fraught with worry over questions and concerns. The answers to some of those questions may take years—or may never appear at all. As I got to know more people in the adoption community, it was apparent that some fears are common among those considering placement. For those hoping to adopt or who have adopted, getting a glimpse into these worries and concerns could be helpful in empathizing with the expectant family’s situation. And for those considering an adoption plan, I hope to address some of your concerns.

How Can I Be Sure I’m Choosing Somebody with the Right Parenting Values?

Someone who places a child at birth has less than nine months to consider the options and find a family to match with. I personally had much less than that: My pregnancy was confirmed at 18 weeks, and I had an emergency delivery at 34 weeks. Imagine having to put your faith and trust in someone after a few conversations and a government assessment. Naturally, it would cause you some worry that these people aren’t who they say they are and you could possibly be making a huge mistake. Luckily for me, that wasn’t the case.

Will the Parents I Choose Do Right by Me?

After the birth parents sign over their parental rights, a huge responsibility is placed on the adoptive parents: to uphold the promises made before placement, to honor the birth parents as a part of the child’s story, and to honor the child by being the best parent they can be. In most states within the United States, after parental rights have been relinquished, birth parents have no recourse for remaining in contact with their child, and the adoptive parents have nothing more than a moral obligation to continue contact if they so choose. Knowing this can add additional worries that you won’t be sure how your child is doing.

How Will My Child Feel about Me If I Place Him or Her?

This is one of the questions you can’t know the answer to for a really long time, if ever. Every adoption starts with loss. Some people can make peace with their loss, and others cannot. It was, and still is, a huge worry of mine that although I placed my son to give him the best life I possibly could, he will not understand or appreciate my reasons for doing so, even though he has wonderfully loving parents. I can’t know or determine how he will feel, so I have to mentally prepare myself for however he does. Because there’s no easy or quick fact sheet on this worry, it can be hard to reckon with.

Will I Ever Find Comfort or Peace in This Decision?

While your biggest worries relate to how your child will feel about being adopted, it’s okay to worry about how you will feel too. Making an adoption plan is one of the hardest things a person can do; it is filled with a lot of what-ifs, grief, and other emotions that we as people aren’t always prepared to handle. A lot of people, deal with postpartum depression, as I did, on top of the complex feelings that are already commonplace. I can’t tell you whether you will or won’t find comfort or peace, but I can give you some ideas to make it easier.

Allow yourself to indulge in your feelings. Do not dismiss them and try to carry on as if nothing happened. Let yourself have periods of time where you and your feelings are paramount. Practice self-care; you can’t pour from an empty cup. Find your tribe. There’s a whole community of people out there who can understand what you’re going through, if you give them a chance. Allow yourself to love your child fully, even if you don’t parent him or her. It can be scary to put love out into the world and be vulnerable, but in my experience it has been extremely worth it.

It’s completely natural to have worries when thinking about placing your child for adoption. By acknowledging your concerns, though, you can begin to feel more secure in making a decision. And if hopeful adoptive parents understand these concerns, they can better help you and start to build a relationship. Adoption is a highly emotional journey; do not be afraid to seek advice or help and to talk out your options. Good luck on your journey!

 

Written by Samantha Alkire