I’m a mom-by-adoption to three beautiful children, all of whom came to us shortly after birth. As a stereotypical Type A personality, I struggled with adoption more than some. Particularly, the lack of predictability, consistency and deadlines made me a tad bit, er, crazy. With each new child, I’ve learned to take it down about 25,000 notches and rest more easy, waiting to see where each journey would take us. If you are waiting to adopt, here are the five things you are going to have to give up along the journey.
Getting a home study (the preliminary paperwork necessary to adopt a child) is about as unintrusive as a pap smear. You have to let all your dirty laundry hang out and wait for the judgement from your social worker. Your finances, your criminal history, your past relationships, your intended discipline style, the nooks and crannies of your home and more will all come to light. Likewise, when you adopt and the adoption is apparent (like, hello, everyone knows you weren’t pregnant and now you are carrying around an Asian toddler), you’ll be asked all sorts of intrusive questions like “How much did she cost?” and “Why did his real mother give him up?” and “What country is she from?” To prepare yourself, stock up on boxed wine.
Adoption, generally, costs a pretty penny. There are application fees, home study fees, placement fees, referral fees, post-placement services fees, traveling expenses and more. But the real kicker isn’t the initial costs to adopt, but how much it costs to add a child to your family. I swear between hip hop class, gymnastics and art camp, the costs of “extracurriculars” meant to make my children athletic preschool superstars were more than our mortgage and car payments combined. And between all the extracurricular fees, the baby and kid gear, the newly purchased minivan payment, and all that boxed wine, you are bound to be broke. And then you start to consider adopting again…
Adopting a child involves very little personal control. You don’t get to decide when your child will arrive, which child will arrive, and what will happen once that child arrives. The adoption journey is pretty much like eating at Taco Bell while you are PMSing: It’s a gamble. Letting go of control now will save you a lot of heartache and credit card bills (after binge-shopping to make yourself temporarily feel better). You are more likely to enjoy the journey and have a good attitude if you recognize that Xanax is God’s gift to moms waiting to adopt. And wine.
Grab a fork and shovel in that humble pie, honey. Between your privacy being stripped away, the lack of control and your dwindling bank accounts, you will not be rolling like a Kardashian. But pride is a turnoff anyway and certainly not the best way to approach parenthood. Listen to those who have adopted before you and those who were adopted as children, join a support group (preferably one that encourages wine drinking) and condition yourself to learn, to change and to empower others. Adopting a child isn’t the season to work to be right; it’s the season to be willing, empathetic and teachable.
I’ve adopted three children, and not a single one of their adoptions went as expected. There were many surprises (the baby who came on our first day of waiting), bumps in the road (open adoption is not easy) and mountains to climb (delayed paperwork). Nothing about the adoption process is easy or simple. I don’t encourage families to have low expectations. Instead, I encourage them to have little to no expectations. The journey is unpredictable at best, and the sooner you pour yourself that glass of wine and start sipping, the happier of an expecting parent you will be.
Choosing to let go means having the time, mental energy and heart-space for the things that matter most. For parents-by-adoption, this means focusing on the joy of bringing a new person into the fold.