Over the past few years, I’ve had the joy of talking to many families who are considering adoption—both close friends who I know well and blog readers I’ve never met in person.
I will never tire of having these conversations because adoption was the best choice my husband and I made in our lives! Nova changed our lives in the best ways. We clearly remember the questions, the fears and the challenges we faced as we began our adoption journey. So today I wanted to take the time to compile a lot of the advice we’ve given out into one big blog post! If you’re even 1% considering adoption in your future—this post is for you!
How did you know you wanted to adopt instead of having biological children?
My husband and I always felt open to pregnancy or adoption. They both seemed scary and challenging to us. We weren’t a family who had a very strong first choice toward having biological children, but we did try to conceive for a couple years (on and off) before we began our first adoption. When we decided to move on and pursue adoption instead of pregnancy, it was not a painful choice for us—it was honestly more of a relief. I think the planner in me liked that I could actually begin to plan toward something rather than waiting and not knowing. Very soon after we began Nova’s adoption, we were so happy with and excited about the process that we knew we would like to adopt exclusively and we’ve prevented pregnancy ever since.
I think it’s normal for women to want to experience pregnancy or to be curious what your biological children would look like. But it wasn’t something that was such a big deal to us.
Adoption has its own magic! When women say pregnancy was the best experience they ever had and that to not experience it they see adoptive mothers as “missing out,” I think that’s fine—that’s their experience. And to be 100% honest, after my adoption I feel that those who don’t adopt are “missing out.” There is SO MUCH magic in every different path to becoming a parent—that I’m sure of!
Where do I begin? What program do you recommend?
There are so many amazing programs. We loved adopting from China, but I never want to send the message that that is the best or only great program.
My advice is to look into all the options. Almost every agency and adoption lawyer and program do free informational calls. Do as many as you can! We talked to so many different agencies, lawyers and adoptive families before making our choice.
Each program will have its pros and cons and it’s really just a matter of finding the right fit for your family!
What if my family doesn’t support me or is disappointed in my choice to adopt?
This is painfully common, and I have very strong feelings about this subject.
When we first told our family and friends we were adopting, there were people who were visibly disappointed. There were a few times we had to answer awkward questions. In some cases, people tried to warn us or protect us. I promise—THIS IS NORMAL. It may be awkward and a bit sad, but it’s incredibly common and if it happens to you—you are not alone.
Since meeting Nova, every single member of our family loves and adores her and supports us 100%. They got on board really quickly.
What I’ve learned is that many people (of all ages, but especially those from older generations) have a lot of fears and misinformation surrounding adoption. A shocking number of people still don’t really know anyone who is adopted, or who has adopted. I feel very strongly that as adoptive parents we are ALL advocates. This is the main reason I share so much of our adoption story is to normalize adoption.
Sadly, the bad stories get passed around more quickly than the good ones. A lot of the common myths about adoption are super outdated or very uncommon. Yes, adoption has risks, just as becoming a parent does in general. But to avoid adoption out of fear of the unknown is so sad to me—and ignorant.
If you’re thinking of adopting, it’s important to understand that there is still a lot of bias and misinformation that needs to be corrected in the world. Every adoptive family can be a part of spreading the beauty, love and power of adoption!
If you’re thinking of adopting, here’s my pep talk for you!
People are going to have opinions, but the only thing that matters is that you and your partner (or just you if you’re a single person adopting!) are on the same page. People will catch up. You can’t worry about pleasing every single person in your extended family or circle of friends. But I truly believe that for couples it’s essential to be on the same page every step of the way.
Adopting Nova was the best choice we ever made. We had normal fears just like any first time parents and adoption-based fears as well. It’s scary! It’s normal to feel fearful. Just don’t let fear make your decisions for you.
Adopting a child with special needs was a great decision for our family! I could probably write a whole post just on that subject. For now, I will just say that if you feel your heart opening up, listen. You only have to take one step at a time. Based on my experience, it is a complete myth that adoption agencies will try to get you to adopt a child with greater needs than you feel comfortable with. Our agency was always very cautious and clear with us that it was OK if we said no. We made each decision on our own terms, together, and at our own pace.
Looking back on our story, I always cry when I realize just how close we were to never being matched with Nova because we initially were not open to her specific medical condition. My advice is to leave your heart as wide open as you can. If you begin to feel open to something new, work through it together.
As a mom to the most incredible little girl with non-correctable special needs, I always want to advocate for this type of adoption. It’s obviously not for every family (and that’s OK!), but we have benefitted from being Nova’s parents far more than she has benefitted from us. We feel so lucky. OK … I’m crying now.
I hope this post is helpful to someone out there who is considering adoption! Every story is different and yours will be too. Thanks so much for reading! Elsie