I have wanted to blog about the topic of "adoption fears" for some time. And although our circumstances have changed a bit, adoption is still a possible reality for us. So I thought I would go ahead and post this.
Many times when I've shared with others about my experience with infertility, one of the most common thing that comes up is adoption. "Why don't you just adopt?" or "What's wrong with adoption?" I want to be clear here, that I am not against adoption. I think adoption can be a blessing to many couples. It's just when I'm asked about it, I never know quit how to respond. All I know is that we are not ready to move that direction yet. We may in the future. Why I'm not ready yet? Well it's hard to say or explain to people the emotions involved with making this important decision. (Especially when they don't or will never fully understand.) I also feel like adoption has gotten a bad wrap by the media. I remember watching a Dateline episode of an adoptive couple, that was murdered, and it turned out to be their adopted son was the killer. Or a recent show on ABC, Once Upon a Time: The adoptive mother was portrayed as the "evil queen." This kind of media portrayal of adoption doesn't help either adoptive couples or birthmothers. It instills more fear. But even without the influence of media, fears about adoption are completely normal. The problem is that no one ever talks about them. Just like infertility is taboo to talk about, so is talking about adoption fears. To be perfectly honest, what is holding me back from adoption is my "adoption fears." So to help myself feel not so alone in this, and to help others understand my fears, I decided to make a little project out of this. I googled "adoption fears." I copied and pasted certain parts I felt were representative of my fears. (Though some "fears", I will agree are a little absurd; keep in mind I did not come up with these lists myself.) So here's what I came up with:
1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.
4. reverential awe, esp. toward god.
5. that which causes a feeling of being afraid; that of which a person is afraid: Cancer is a common fear.
COMMON FEARS OF ADOPTION:
1. FINANCIAL FEARS is this going to be affordable?
2. DECISION MAKING FEARS about adoption routing. How to we spend our money wisely and choose the right professionals for us? What about
using the internet? Advertising? Mass mailings?
3. LOSS OF CONTROL FEARS:
a. Fear a child will not become available to you.
b. Fear of openness/open adoption
c. Fear the biological parents will change their
minds and take the child back.
d. Fear the process will take too long.
e. Fear you will be too old to parent or be
- Fear of pressure to take "any" child.
4. DEFECTIVE CHILD FEARS:
a. Fear the birth mother will not take good care
of herself during pregnancy using drugs, alcohol,
or poor nutrition... also smoking.
b. Fear about the genetic background as being
inferior to your own.
c. Fear the child could be emotionally disturbed.
5. BONDING ATTACHMENT FEARS:
a. Fear you won't bond to the child
b. Fear you'll have doubts this is "as good as"
c. Fear you will later conceive- and should have
d. Fear your adoptive child may later choose
birth parents over you.
e. Fear the biological parents may seek contact
and disrupt your bond with the child.
f. Fear you won't love this child as much as one
6. FAMILY/FRIENDS FEARS:
a. Fear your family won't accept an adopted
child, especially if racially different.
b. Fear you will be stigmatized and others will
doubt your "real" attachment and parent role.
Fears stem from the pain of LOSS or possible LOSS.
Steps to healing and repairing: It is important not to be "victimized" by losses in life. Life always has "speed bumps" and "detours." Action steps include:
Grieving, Grieving, Grieving
Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge is power
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Support Groups, Therapy when needed, Rituals
Credits: Ellen Roseman
ADOPTION FEARS/ LOVE BUILDS FAMILIES:
- I couldn’t love another mother’s child the way I love my own.
- If I have an open adoption, the birth parents and grandparents will know where we live and will have more reason to return to take their child back in the later years.
- If I have an open adoption, the birth parents may feel like they have the right to discipline my child.
- If I admit my weaknesses as a parent and as a spouse, an expectant mother will think less of me and will never choose me as an adoptive parent.
- Being overweight makes me less appealing as an adoptive parent.
- One day my (adopted) child will tell me that she wants to live with her birth parents and she wishes she’d never been adopted.
- The birth father will contest the adoption.
- The birth mother will change her mind at placement and choose to parent.
- The birth grandparents will convince the birth parents to not place for adoption.
- My family/my husband’s family will treat our child different because he was adopted.
- I won’t feel a mother-child connection.
- An open adoption means that a birth mother can come by the house unannounced any time to see her child and expect to be given certain rights; we’d have no privacy; she’d want to live with us.
- A closed adoption means my child will have severe psychological issues of not knowing who he is or where he came from and be bitter because he didn’t know.
- An open adoption is giving my identity away to strangers whom I do not know or trust.
- No one will ever choose us because there’s something wrong with us (our child is too old, we have a biological child, we’ve been waiting too long).
- Our pass-through expenses (extra expenses we agree to pay if the birth mother needs it) will simply be too expensive.
- The age gap will be too large between kids
- Getting to know birth mothers and expectant mothers means I’m trying to be coercive and make myself look good.
- Being an adoptive parent means I’m a baby snatcher.
- Being an adoptive parent means I think I’m entitled to another mother’s child.
- We will never adopt.
- The birth parents will live too far away for an open adoption.
- The birth parents will live too close and the adoption will be too open.
- Using an adoption agency means that I’m trying to buy a baby, and the caseworkers are coercive and try to lure expectant mothers in.
- All adoptees are bitter.
- All birth mothers eventually become bitter.
- If I take a gift to an expectant mother when I first meet her, it will look like I’m bribing her. If I don’t take a gift, it will seem like I don’t care.
- I won’t know how to be myself around a birth mother.
- Being myself will turn an expectant mother “off.”
- Networking on the internet will surely lead me to scams.
- Advocating for adoption will mean that all the adoption “meanies” will attack my blog and my family.
AND ADOPTION FEARS FOR BIRTHMOTHERS:
Women will express the fear of "not knowing" where their child is. This fear is often perpetuated by movies and dramatic stories of children ripped away from their mothers never to be seen again.
The terms of adoption are drawn up by you and the adoptive parents you have chosen for your child. These terms will give you as much or as little contact with your child as you both agree upon. Knowing where your child is will depend upon how open or closed you want your adoption to be.
Placing your child does mean that after finalizing the adoption, you cannot, by law, turn around and demand your child back. It does not mean, however, that you will never have contact again.
Reading the real-life stories of women who have actually placed their children in modern-day open adoption agreements will alleviate, to a great extent, this fear.
To read these stories, click here.
2. Fear of Child Abuse
Consider that children living with their own biological parents have not had them screened for suitability. Most couples who have their own children will never go through the grueling quality controls and screening that couples seeking adoption will have to go through. Nor will they pay the huge legal fees that adoptive parents will have to come up with. Adoptive parents cover the entire cost of the adoption process, even if the birthmother changes her mind at the end of the process and decides to keep her baby.
The demand for newborn babies and the risk of legal liability is so great in Canada today, that fear of abuse doesn't need to be a concern in your decision to adopt.
3. Fear of Rejection
Many women fear that their child will be angry at them for "giving them up" to adoption. Today, however, birth mothers have the opportunity to explain their decisions to their child, either in a letter or in person.
When given detailed reasons why adoption was chosen, a child can come to an understanding that all parties involved in the process acted out of love and the desire for the child's happiness.
This kind of openness and dialogue is extremely important in the child's development and often leaves them with a profound sense of being loved.
Testimonials from adopted children show not only their depth of understanding about why they were placed for adoption, but they demonstrate an immense gratitude for the sacrifice that their birthmother made on their behalf.
To read some of these testimonials click here.
4. Fear of Unbearable Loss
Many women express the fear of suffering unbearable pain and loss after the long nine-month journey with their child. One cannot deny the fact that there will be pain and that the mother will grieve for the loss of her child. But there is loss with parenting and abortion as well.
A young mother who chooses to parent will also suffer loss. She will lose her ability to live without the responsibilities of parenthood. There are many sacrifices that a single mother will have to make, including financial sacrifices. She may lose the friends who do not have parenting responsibilities, and who can live a more carefree existence than herself. She may suffer the inability to spend her money and her time as she chooses. There are many losses and joys to consider with parenting a child.
Abortion also brings about a deep sense of loss, that is often unanticipated by the birth mother. Many women suffer for years following an abortion. They may suffer from feelings of guilt, anxiety, anniversary grief, reoccurring thoughts of their child, or of the abortion procedure itself. Many women feel a deep sadness that their child is not alive and wonder what the child might have grown up to become.
So with each choice comes a closing of the door to other possibilities. Again, reading the stories of birth mothers who have placed for adoption might help to alleviate the concern about pain and loss.
Experience shows that women who have made a carefully thought out decision to adopt, who have acted for the right reasons and who have received good counseling will not regret their decisions. In fact, in cases involving successful adoptions, many women see their situations as incredibly enlightening and are extremely grateful and humbled by the experience of having made such a difference to so many lives.
Check out the stories from these women yourself.
5. Fear of Painful Pregnancy
Many women fear having to go through nine months of pregnancy. How will the pregnancy change their bodies? Will they gain weight that they will be unable to shed? Will they have stretch marks or other medical problems resulting from birth and delivery?
And then there is the gossip factor that can be paralyzing. What will people say when they find out about the pregnancy? These fears are a reality, but they can be worked through with the help of a skilled counselor and with peer support from other women in a similar situation.
It is true that pregnancy will affect the woman's body. It is true that people might whisper and talk about an unplanned pregnancy, especially if the woman is still in high school.
This is where good counseling becomes crucial. Finding a pregnancy care center with programs and an active support group is essential. Counselors can help a young woman through all of the stages of the adoption process and give her the tools she needs to deal with the possibility of gossip and the fear of pregnancy and birth.