Adoption is an emotionally charged experience.
No matter if you come to adoption from infertility or because of a faith calling, it involves the lives of not just the child, but the lives of the child’s birth family and extended family. Adoption has an impact on the siblings the child may have in either the biological family or the adoptive family, the community in which the child lives, and the schools the child attends. Entering into an adoption relationship should be done only after much soul searching and with an open and committed heart.
Keeping that in mind, as you find yourself in the adoption process, you should remember that as adopting parents you have both rights and responsibilities. Regardless of how you come to adoption – after experiencing infertility, having biological children, or through a sense of calling – these rights and responsibilities are an important part of the journey.
The rights include of adoptive parents include:
- The right to be treated with respect and honesty.
- The right to have emotional support before, during, and after the adoption placement.
- The right to ask questions and receive answers about all steps of the process.
- The right to review and understand all legal paperwork before you sign it.
- The right to receive counseling services before, during and after the adoption placement.
- The right to health information about the child you are adopting, including any prenatal drug exposure or communicable disease.
- The right to refuse the placement of a child whose needs exceed your ability to care for that child.
Rights always come along with responsibilities. These responsibilities include:
- Treating others involved in your adoption with respect and honesty.
- Create a “go-to” person or team who is familiar with adoption issues who can help you answer your questions, and support you with your thoughts and feelings before, during, and after the adoption placement.
- Ask questions!
- Request a copy of the legal paperwork before you file a petition for adoption with the court.
- Process your infertility losses. Understand that having a child through adoption is not a “cure” or fix for infertility. Use the services of a counselor, pastor, or trusted friend who understands what you have been through and will help keep you moving forward.
- Be honest if your plans change. If you become pregnant during your adoption journey before the placement of a child into your home, place your adoption plans on hold. Focus on one birth at a time!
- Ask for medical records and review them with your child’s medical professional.
- Be realistic about your abilities as a parent.
While these are general rights and responsibilities for adoptive parents, adoptive parents also have more responsibilities to their child that are unique to adoption and are key to developing a healthy sense of identity in the child.
These responsibilities include:
- Being honest with your child about the adoption piece of their identity.
- Speaking respectfully and lovingly of your child’s birth family.
- Using positive adoption language.
- Remembering your child’s story is their own and share it only with those with a true need to know.
No single list is all inclusive. Remember the Golden Rule as you meet expectant parents and develop a relationship with them as your child is growing. Above all else, you have the responsibility to understand the adopted child carries a piece of their biological family with them forever, and this should be celebrated!