I have had several people ask me about adoption lately, or have said that they are thinking seriously about adopting. If this describes you or your family, I have to first say that I am thrilled! Adoption is amazing. Here are some things that I have learned along the way for you to think over, pray about, or chew on.
I wrote this on a Facebook group page earlier today, but also wanted to post it here and expand a little upon it.
Quick Adoption Rules of Thumb:
A. Put your marriage/current children's needs first. Be in absolute unity about what is right for your family. Follow God's leading.
I mean this with my whole heart. If your spouse is not on board, then this is NOT the right thing for your family. Period. If this is what God has for your family, He will put the way to go on the hearts of all of you. Listen to one another. Really, really listen. God gave you to one another as a safety net.
B. Best not to adopt out of birth order or older than your oldest current child. Especially if adopted child is SN or has behavior issues. Best not to artificially twin children.
There are cases where it works out fine, but as a rule of thumb, try to avoid it. It's common sense, really. And older child who has had enough trauma to lose his or her family is going to be emotionally or behaviorally needy. Wait until your family and current children are old enough to handle these needs.
C. Recognize that the adoption process has grief involved. Approach realistically and prayerfully. You are adopting not just a child, but a past, a birth family, a culture, etc.
When I first began the process, I saw this as a discouragement. Who wants to choose grief? Now, I don't see it that way at all. So, if this discourages you, put it on the back burner, and pull it out when you are ready.
D. Do your homework! Read lots of stories, talk to lots of people. Don't let the horror stories discourage you, but do learn from them. Get as much info as you can from as many sources as you can.
I did this. I read everything I could find on the internet or in books like The Complete Adoption Book. Of course, I came across a lot of information that was incomplete, inaccurate or discouraging, but given the choice to go back and do it again, I would. Knowledge is power!
E. Find a mentor, an adoptive family who has done the process you want to do who can encourage you and pray for you along the way.
I cannot stress this enough! My mentor, Niki, has gone before me, encouraged me, and most of all, let me call her up sobbing to pour out my emotions as I went through the process with our first adoption. She has six adopted kids and a HUGE heart for adoption, as well as a heart for helping other families to adopt. If I can pass on a tenth of the support and encouragement she has given me, I will have put some good into the world!
This cannot possibly cover everything, of course. But it is stuff I have learned along the way of many years involved in the process, and having our experiences and talking to many other adoptive families. God bless you and your family!