The adoption process is often compared to riding a roller coaster with many ups and downs along the way. As you work through the adoption process, you and your partner might uncover some areas of disagreement. Do not panic. Just as disagreements are common in many aspects of relationships, the adoption process is not immune. It’s important to work through these differences while you go through each step along your adoption journey.
Talk with Others
“At first when I brought up the idea of adoption my husband was unsure that he would be able to love a child that came into our family through adoption the same way he would a biological child. Over time, by speaking to other men who became fathers through adoption his fears and worries subsided.” Karen S. an adoptive mother.
By speaking to others who have gone through or are going through the adoption process, it can help bridge the gap in some of the more common differences you and your partner might initially start out with in regards to the adoption process.
Talk with Your Social Worker
Anytime you have questions or concerns, it’s important to be open with your social worker. Talking to your social worker about the differences you and your partner are feeling is important and your social worker may be able to help bridge the gap.
Times to Compromise and Times NOT To
Compromising is a key ingredient to any strong relationship and it will be important when you undergo the adoption journey together. However, there are times to compromise and times it’s best not to.
When disagreeing on which photos to include or what to write in the profile, working together and making comprises can go a long way. If adopting as a couple, it’s important that the profile reflects BOTH parents so that expecting parents can get to know each of you.
There are time when it’s best NOT to split the difference and meet in the middle. For example, while completing your profile key detailing the placement situations you are open to, you may uncover some differences. Maybe it’s about the level or type of prenatal drug or alcohol exposure, it could be about the level of openness, or possible the racial background of the child. Whatever you disagree about, it’s important to first make sure you are open to truly listening to the other person’s concerns. Now is not a time to dig in and shut down. Figuring out where your partner is coming from is important. This is a huge lifelong decision that should not be taken lightly. Doing research about the things you disagree about can be helpful and will give you factual information to then base your decisions from.
A general rule of thumb for couples when completing their profile key is to select the option in each section that matches the highest common denominator which both people agree on. For example, you may be open to 3 visits with birth parents a year and your partner is only comfortable promising 2 or your partner is open to alcohol use throughout the entire pregnancy, but you are only open up to the first trimester. The recommended selections for your profile key would be 2 visits and alcohol use in the first trimester that way it falls in each of your comfort zones.
You may miss out on some placement opportunities but the focus of the agency is to place a child in the home best suited for them and so being really honest with yourselves about the situation you are ready for is vital. Social workers would not want to place a child in a home where a family quickly says yes to the situation presented without truly thinking it through thoroughly and later find they are both not fully comfortable with the placement.
Different Responses to the Wait Time
The waiting can be one of the hardest part of the adoption process and each prospective adoptive parent handles it differently. Some people want to nest and get ready for baby by buying a few items each month during the wait while others do not want to have that buildup for something there is no set time frame for. Some waiting families want to know about every situation they did and didn’t match for each month while others find having that information makes the wait harder.
Keep in mind, you and your partner may experience the wait differently. You may find that you need to soak up as much time as possible with other waiting families so attending the support groups, education classes, and online communities are a great way to do that. Your partner, on the other hand, may prefer to let the waiting just be while they throw themselves into work until the time comes when you are matched. Your partner may be triggered by things like family celebrations or birth announcements while you become excited thinking that one day that will be you too. Whatever way you manage the wait, keep your lines of communication open with your partner as well as your social worker. Empathy and understanding go a long way.
Just the Beginning….
The adoption journey is just the beginning of a whole new type of disagreements and compromises that come with being a parent. You will find what works best for you as a couple and for your child and how you navigate those differences as a parent.