In 2002, I began to chronicle my adoption journey and created Forever Parents, a supportive online community for adoptive and waiting parents. Over the next year, we grew our support forums to include an adoption shop and a blog. Forever Parents stayed active, helping thousands of people for over ten years. I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog, in the Forever Parents section. This post was originally published on April 25, 2008.
I asked our amazing adoption forum members what they wanted people to know about adoption, and here are their replies. I’ll share my thoughts at the end. If you’re a parent through adoption, please share what you want others to know about adoption, in a comment below.
What You Want Others To Know About Adoption
- I would say that people need to know that kids adopted from foster care are kids first. They were not placed there because they were delinquent or bad, they were placed there (for the most part) because their birth parents had difficulties. Because of their parenting problems, these kids have suffered.
- My child is my child. I love him just as much as any bio mom loves her child, or perhaps even more because I endured so much to be able to become his mother.
- My son’s birth mother made a loving decision to give him the best life he could possibly have. However, she is his “birth” mother, not his “real” or “natural” mother. I am my son’s mother in every way that matters. I am the only mother that he has ever known.
- No, I do not worry that his birth parents will come and take him away. They made the choice to place him for adoption. I did not coerce them into making it.
- Ask me whatever you want about adoption, but don’t ask me in front of my child. I wouldn’t ask you about the details of your child’s conception or C-section delivery in front of your child.
- Adoption is the manner in which my son joined my family, not who he is. This isn’t something to be proud of or ashamed of — it just is. What matters is the unique person he is.
- Don’t tell my son that he is lucky that we adopted him. We are the ones who have been blessed by him. He doesn’t owe us a debt of gratitude for making this decision for him.
- Don’t tell adoptive parents that they will now get pregnant. The odds are 1 in 8 whether or not you adopt. I adopted my child to become a part of my family unit, not as a fertility object. If I never get pregnant, that’s OK because I have my son.
- Don’t tell adoptive moms that they are lucky not to have had to go through labor and delivery. We also missed out on every single joy you experienced: the positive pregnancy test, hearing the heartbeat, feeling the baby move. We have our own labor and delivery, and it is just as painful emotionally as yours was physically (and a heck of a lot longer!!).
- I guess my number one thing that I would want people to know is that it is wonderful to be happy for and supportive of an adoptive family, but it is important to respect their privacy and the privacy of their children. Details about why their birth mom made an adoption plan or why they were in foster care are not available as topics for casual conversation.
- What I wish more than anything is for schools and educators to start preaching that there are many ways to create a family and no one is right or wrong or better or worst.
- We’ve often felt that ‘anyone can get pregnant’. Lots of people get pregnant all the time, without thought, without a thought of the responsibility of what it is all about. Babies are born every minute without parents that consider much about themselves or their lives. But people who choose adoption – people who choose adoption, consider raising children and building a family quite a serious matter. They open themselves up to question after question. They are forced to expose all of their vulnerabilities; every detail of their lives, from their first memory to the present, is scrutinized and evaluated. And this is a stigma that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. People who choose adoption will know insight about raising children that I believe bio parents will seldom appreciate. The work, sweat, tears, fears, and joys that come with waiting on a situation for so long, and waiting on the opinions and decisions of others; are well ingrained in the hearts of those who choose to ‘go the long and tedious path of adoption’.
- Adoption is how our son joined our family. It isn’t a state of being, and it doesn’t define who he is. He WAS adopted. He is our son. The fact that he was adopted rather than born to us is a mere footnote in the story of his life.
- Adoption is not second best, second choice or a last resort to parenthood. It is simply an alternate route I dreamt of adopting as a little girl just as I dreamt of being pregnant. Both of my dreams came true. Five times in fact.
- Our children are our children – birth or adoption does not make us love them less or differently! Adoption is an amazing gift – to us. Yes, we are providing a loving, stable home for the child – who might otherwise not have a permanent family – but we are being allowed to raise these beautiful kids – we are the lucky ones!
- Adoptive parenting is very similar to birth parenting, some concerns and issues are different, but we still have to set limits, send them to school, teach them values, etc.
- Not all adoptees are angry – many are happy, and well adjusted too – just like birth children, adoptees face challenges with identity, friendships, etc.
- Adoption is an amazing journey – full of things to learn, to cherish, and in the end, it brings a family together!
- Adopted children have a birth family (or family of origin), sometimes a foster family, or a family of caregivers from their orphanage, and their adoptive family – all are important!!!!
- Good question and love the responses. I would also say that my birth children and my adopted daughter are equally loved, equally cherished – my love for my adopted dd is just as if I had given birth to her. The other misconception is that adopting a baby through foster care is too big a risk regarding future developmental progress. In my opinion and experience, we just don’t have any guarantees on our children’s health. My birth son ended up with learning disabilities and not my adopted daughter. I did everything ‘right’ when I was preggo with him. We just never know – they are all a gift.
- That they are children born in my heart. That I love them so much.
The main thing I would want others to know about adoption is that it’s a beautiful option. There are children in foster care who need a family, just as there are babies born to mothers who can’t care for them. It’s not a second option or a backup plan. It’s our life.