Adoption is a complex process with few common denominators, and many adoptive parents wonder if their experiences are normal. These are some helpful facts about adoption and people who choose to adopt.
Adoptive parents get to experience parenting in a unique way, and are equally unique as individuals. People who choose to adopt are all capable parents, but their lifestyles, motivations, and adoption stories can be very diverse. Every adoptive parent’s situation is different, and so every adoptive parent experiences adoption differently. Adoption has so few common denominators that sometimes an adoptive parent might wonder if what they are experiencing is normal.
Here are some facts about adoption and the people who choose to adopt, to give you some perspective:
- People who adopt don’t always have traditional, picture perfect lives. Adoptive parents can be heterosexual, gay, lesbian, single, married, or in a committed relationship. People of all ethnicities adopt. People of all ages adopt. Some adoptive parents own homes, others do not. Not all adoptive parents are wealthy; some have just enough to support themselves and an adopted child. There is also no set standard for the education level, or life experiences of an adoptive parent.
- People adopt for different reasons. Many adoptive parents are unable to have biological children, but that’s not always the case. Some chose adoption over costly and uncertain infertility treatments, and others prefer to skip the experience of pregnancy altogether. A lot of people just want to grow their families. Some adoptive parents already have biological children when they decide to adopt, and some feel adoption is their calling. Adoptive parents can start as foster parents, or as a relative or stepparent of the adopted child. Some adoptive parents were adopted as children themselves.
- Not everyone’s adoptions are the same. Some adoptions are open, and the birth mother or birth father stay in contact with the adoptive family. Some adoptions are closed. Adoptions can happen within a family, or amongst unrelated people; they can happen across state borders, races, cultures, and continents. Sometimes adoptions can take years, other times weeks or months.
- Adopting isn’t easy. Adoptive parents take significant risks when deciding to adopt a child, and commonly have complex feelings about parenthood. Adoptive parents have more factors to consider and more questions to answer than a biological parent has before having a child. They face the possibility of disrupted adoptions, where a birth mother could change her mind, or the challenges of raising an older child or sibling group from foster care, who may have suffered from abuse or neglect. Adoptive parents also deal with a variety of unknowns, such as the genetic history of their adopted child, and often take on the challenge of raising children from another country, race, or culture.
Adoption means many things to many different people. It may be the relief that comes at the end of a long struggle with infertility; it might be the pride of being a first time parent; it could be the satisfaction of knowing that they helped someone in need; or the happiness they feel watching their children grow up in the right environment. But one thing all adoptive parents share is the growing love that they feel for their adopted child.