People ask us dumb adoption questions all the time.
“Where did you get them?”
“What happened to their real parents?”
My personal favorite…”are they adopted?”
I’ve Always Wanted to Adopt, BUT…
The dumb adoption questions don't bother me as much as they used to because most of the time, they're coming from a kind (albeit often clueless place). And while “just curious” isn't justification for me to spill all the details on our family's adoption, I can usually say the equivalent of “MYOB” without coming off as rude. Usually. But, there's one people say about adoption and it isn't a question and it does bother me.
“I've always wanted to adopt, but..” insert reason why they haven't adopted or why the timing isn't right for them to adopt.
It honestly puzzles me why people say this because sometimes, it seems like they aren't really interested in adopting but feel they have to justify why. I don't know. I don't pry or cross examine anyone who says this to me but I always wonder if people think I think adoption is something everyone should choose, just because we chose it. And no, I don't think that. I've never asked anyone “Well, why don't you adopt?” so it's a little bit of a head scratcher to me that people say this.
But, they do say it. Here are some of the (unsolicited) reasons people have given me on why they haven't adopted.
We can’t afford it
Adoption doesn't have to be super expensive. We adopted from China and I can tell you international adoptions are more expensive because there's more paper work. You're dealing with the requirements and procedures of two different countries and more than likely, there's some travel costs are involved. Our adoptions were expensive, no doubt about that.
We used savings, got a couple of grants and did a small amount of fundraising. Being able to use the Adoption Tax Credit after the fact was also very helpful. If you adopt from foster care, the expenses are considerably less…sometimes non-existent. Your costs will vary from location to location, but generally speaking, private domestic adoptions and international adoptions will cost more. If you truly want to adopt and you think finances are standing in your way, check out adoption from foster care or research the actual costs of what type of adoption you think is the best fit for you. Don't say “Oh, I can't afford it” when you don't know how the fees are broken down and what the payment timelines are.
We don't have the room
It might sound cheesy, but I love the saying “If there's room in your heart, you can find room in your home.” You can.
We're too old (or too young)
As someone who adopted a two-year-old at age 45, I got the “Wow, at your age” a lot. That was super fun. China's minimum age for adoptive parents was 30 and their upper age limit was 55 at the time we adopted our boys. The upper age limit is waiverable and I personally know people older than 55 who have adopted from China. Age minimums and maximums will vary from program to program. As far as too young goes, most states allow you to become a foster parent at 21.
If you truly want to adopt, you are probably not too old or too young to do it. There's definitely some pros and cons with being “the older mom“but bottom line, my husband and I didn't feel we were to old to take on parenthood and the rules of our program were in line with that.
Making a conscious decision to become a single parent is a personal choice, but many people who haven't met “the one” who still want to be parents or add to their family choose adoption. Choosing to have a child without a partner, however you go about it, is a huge decision. But, if you really want to adopt, being single isn't going to hold you back. Unmarried people can adopt from foster care in every state and some overseas programs also have provisions for single-parent adoption.
I have a friend who is in the Navy and adopted three girls from China (not all at the same time) on her own. She has a wonderful and supportive mom but being single didn't prohibit her from building an amazing family. And, I think if she can do it, pretty much anyone can.
My partner and I both work full time
You don't have to be a stay-at-home parent to adopt a child. Unfortunately, the adoption leave policy at most companies leaves a lot to be desired. Your company's policy is definitely something to learn before jumping into the process. If your company doesn't offer adoption leave, start banking your regular vacation days and use that. Does your company have a system in place to allow others to donate their leave days to you? These are things to find out and plan for.
And, while not a great option, adoption does fall under the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you work for a company that employs 50 or more people, your employer must allow you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. While this would present a financial hardship for most people, it is something to possibly consider and prepare for. You can also ask your employer about remote work options during your transition period.
We want to adopt…after we have our own children first
This one makes me want to spit fire and I've heard it more than I care for. I usually just clench and don't say anything. I made one very strong “but these are my own children” retort once and it was awkward. People have their own rationale for wanting to have biological kids before they add to their family through adoption…I guess. It's not for me to second-guess someone else's plan to build their family, but this comment comes off as making adoption second best or a backup plan.
We're worried about bonding with someone else's child
The child you adopt is your child but I understand this is a worry for some people and I actually think it's something to be aware of before jumping into adoption. Most people think it's going to be love at first sight, and sometimes it is, but real bonding can take some time. I had zero issues bonding with our first adoption but had some issues with our second adoption, which were made more difficult because I wasn't expecting to have issues.
We are fine now but it was a difficult time period for me, mentally and I wish I'd been a little better prepared. Most families do bond in time…and there are plenty of resources and sources of support if you are struggling.
I think if you really want to adopt, you can find a way. And, if you really do want to adopt, there's probably never going to be that perfect time. In that respect, I think adoption is pretty much like having kids the “regular” way…the stars are never going to align to show you the perfect time to add to your family. Sometimes, life just happens and you just roll with it.