Parents say: What I wish I'd known before starting the adoption process

Parents say: What I wish I'd known before starting the adoption process

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"How long will it take?" is often the first question families ask when they're adopting. The answer is that nobody knows. Agencies can give you estimates, but an adoption can take longer (or less time) than predicted.

Read on to find out how other our site parents dealt with this and other unexpected obstacles of adopting, and what they wish they'd known about the process from the beginning.

How long will it take?

"It can take a very, very long time to adopt. In our case, we started paperwork one summer and we got our baby two summers later. Lots can change in that time. Be prepared to continue to evaluate whether this is something you want."
— Linda

"It seemed to take forever to get to the point of matching with our child's birth mother, and then things happened much faster than they do with a typical birth. Things didn't seem real until about a month before the babies were born, then we became instant parents. The end result was that it felt like we didn't get the nine months to prepare that parents usually get – even though the time from our decision to adopt to the day our babies arrived was about a year."
— Patrick

"Each of our three adoptions took a different amount of time. Our first two happened much more quickly than the agencies expected: We got to bring James home in four months, and David in less than six months. We went into our third adoption with the expectation that we'd be waiting 10 months – and it took two years. Every case and country that you're adopting from is different. There's no such thing as a typical adoption."
— Lynn

It's a difficult yet rewarding journey

"Adoption isn't for the weak-hearted. Our agency director said this in a small workshop for waiting families, but I wish I'd known exactly what that meant. I didn't understand it until about three weeks before our child's birth mother was to deliver. We had our own labor pains as we processed all the emotions, and our child's birth mother had her own grieving to do and made decisions that were different from what we had discussed. We went on a rollercoaster ride, but some go through a haunted house. Every adoption is different, and you won't understand that until you're rolling with the punches yourself!"
— Deborah

"The adoption process had a lot of ups and downs, and many things were beyond my control: Papers were held up at the INS office, adoption rules changed (and changed again), computer glitches delayed some of my paperwork, and so forth. Anyone who enters into the adoption process – either domestic or international – must be prepared to be thorough and diligent about doing what's asked (which at times can seem redundant and excessive). But they must also be prepared to let the process unfold according to its own timetable. In other words, there are some things you simply can't control. It helps to try and relax and have faith that things will work out eventually, one way or another."
— Laura

Get support from others who are adopting or have adopted

"Even though any adoptive parent will tell you that every bump or curve you hit in your adoption path is part of the road to the child that you were ultimately meant to have, the wait can be discouraging and exhausting. If a waiting couple can build a support group or have access to one through the agency they're using, it's well worth their time to go. It's nice to talk to people who are in the same boat. It's also great to celebrate the arrival of your baby with that group, as they know how magical it is. I believe anyone who cares for you will be happy for you and see the magic, but people tend to express their fears as well. Have a safe place to talk about yours and share your happiness."
— Janice

"Look into the online groups for adoptive parents. They have such a wealth of information."
— Sharyl

Don't be afraid to state your family's preferences loud and clear

"Don't feel that just because you're adopting you can't state your needs. I'm on the board of a local support group, and so many prospective adoptive couples seem to feel guilty when they check a box that states they don't wish to deal with special needs. Take time, decide what's important to you, and then shamelessly pursue it! It's about the only element of control you have. Choose the race that works for you, the country that works for you, the age and the program that work for you. People may feel entitled to criticize your decision, but the reality is that they don't have to live your life."
— Janice

Ask every question you have

"Figuring out what type of adoption's right for you is another step on your journey. My best advice is to never be afraid to ask a question. Experienced adoption professionals know how difficult it is to sort through all the adoption information. Good professionals are there to help you and ultimately want to see families formed. If people aren't open to your questions or aren't responding in a reasonable time, move on."
— Melissa

"I wish more information had been available about adopting transracially. Agencies and other parents online explained the process itself very well. However, the challenges of raising a child of a different race weren't really discussed by experienced parents or social workers. I want to raise our daughters to be confident and secure and to have an appreciation for their birth culture. I want to prepare them for the challenges ahead, such as adoption bias, teasing in school, racism, and dealing with the loss of their birth parents."
— Sandi

Expect the unexpected

"When we adopted our son David, we were expecting a 4-year-old. But he looked much littler than 4. We had a bone density test done, and the radiologist determined he was closer to 2 1/2. We had done all this reading about development and stocked our house with toys appropriate for a 4-year-old! Needless to say, we had to catch up on what to expect from a younger child. Some countries count children's ages differently than ours. And because many children are foundlings, sometimes their birth date can't be known. If you have to guess an age for your child, err on the side of younger, as these children are often developmentally behind. And never cast a birth date in stone."
— Lynn

Consider international adoption

"We chose international adoption because by the time I was ready to give up on getting pregnant I just wanted a baby in my home as quickly as possible. And I knew while international can be a roller coaster ride, 99 percent of the time you will end up with a child. I was afraid the same might not be true for domestic. Five years after we began our adoption journey I have two beautiful baby boys. The first was 9 months when we got him and the second was 14 months. With the first one, we accepted the referral of a newborn boy. Our second was already 5 months old when we started the process. Both processes had their share of ups and downs and gut-wrenching moments when we longed to hold the baby in the photo, but we never once worried that the boys wouldn't eventually be ours."
— Darcy

Watch the video: Top 10 Kids Reactions To Being Adopted (July 2022).


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