There are many sides to adoptive parents while waiting to adopt. Many joyfully go through the process, as patiently and proactively as possible. Others struggle with jealousy and frustration that adoption is not an easier journey to parenthood. Through the waiting, most adoptive families may question the adoption process with thoughts of:
- Why did that family get chosen and not us?
- We would have taken that baby. Why didn’t they offer the adoption to us?
- Why is it taking so long?
- Why are they taking new families when we’re still waiting?
These thoughts can cause you to doubt your adoption plans and your adoption professional. They can even cause you to question what you have to offer a child. What you do with these thoughts will directly impact your peace of mind, for better or worse, while you wait to adopt. Let’s break down each common question and find some adoption truth:
Why did that family get chosen and not us?
In adoption today birth mothers choose adoptive families for all kinds of reasons. We’ve seen families picked because they looked familiar, fun, nice, or kind. Birth mothers have picked families based on geography, hobbies, and pets. There is no right or wrong, or predictable, reason birth mothers may prefer one family over another. The truth is she can only choose ONE adoptive family for her baby, which makes her decision a difficult one as she learns about many wonderful people who would make amazing parents for her child.
We would have taken that baby. Why didn’t they offer the adoption to us?
There are many factors in play when an agency chooses a family for a baby, including the birth mother’s personal preferences. Even when she wants her adoption coordinator to select the adoptive family, a birth mother may have certain requests. Also, adoptive family preferences, budget, and readiness are always carefully considered. Adoption coordinators are diligent when helping birth mothers and adoptive parents connect. The truth is due to confidentiality you won’t always know every detail that went into a particular adoption match, and you cannot compare what you do see about the adoption to what happened behind the scenes.
Why is it taking so long?
Let’s face it, adoption is a very unique journey. If it were easy or fast, more people would pursue adoption. It’s difficult to predict with precision how long your adoption journey will be. At Lifetime, each adoption relies on a birth mother’s choice (of adoptive parents, the timing, and other aspects). It is vital to follow the recommendations your adoption professional makes to maximize your exposure to women considering adoption. Similarly it is important to keep your preferences for a child as open as you are comfortable. Every time you are presented is another opportunity to be chosen. The truth is sometimes there are reasons why some families wait longer than others, such as delays with the home study or adoption profile, or when they have passed on opportunities within their preferences. However, sometimes the truth is it’s just a matter of time for families who have stayed ready and been proactive from the start.
Why are they taking new families when we’re still waiting?
It is a common to assume that adoption agencies should hold off welcoming new families until currently-waiting families have completed adoptions. This argument assumes that with less selection available, the longer-waiting families are more likely to get chosen. This also disregards the truth that every month families ARE completing adoptions and there is a continued need for adoptive parents who are open to a variety of situations and opportunities. Another surprising truth is that potential birth mothers are less likely to consider adoption when she doesn’t see adoptive families that interest her; she may seek a family elsewhere or give up her adoption search altogether. When she has a true choice of who adopts her baby, meaning more than two or three available families, she’s more likely to feel confidence moving forward with an adoption match when she’s ready.
Most adoptive families will tell you, from hindsight, that perspective is everything while waiting to adopt. When these questions come to mind, focusing on the truths involved, rather than the fears or frustrations, will help waiting-families find joy in the journey and stay more positive and hopeful. The best way to combat feelings of jealousy or discouragement is to celebrate the victories of other adoptive parents and to focus on what IS happening while you wait. If you find the adoption journey pressing on insecurities or areas of growth, reflect and take action to tackle those while you wait. Every step of your adoption path may not be a milestone, but it’s a necessary part of leading you to the child you long to add to your family.
“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.”
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.