Adoption as an Option

As a couples therapist and marriage counselor in New York City, I see many couples who struggle with infertility. Fortunately, a variety of medical interventions have been developed in recent years that help some couples conceive their own child; however, these treatments are usually quite expensive, can be very stressful, and sadly, do not work for everyone. Some couples find themselves wondering what other options they have. One of those options is adoption.

Adoption is an option that works for many couples. Giving a safe, happy home to a child who otherwise would not have one can bring a sense of joy and satisfaction to a couple, as well as finally having a child to nurture and love. So many adoptive parents gratefully think, “What would have happened to our child, had we not adopted?” The benefits of adoption are many. But it’s important to be cautious and take a number of steps to determine if adoption is right for you. 

Deciding you’re ready to adopt

Before adopting, it’s important to complete the grieving process of not being able to conceive your own biological child. Your heart and mind need to be ready for, and excited about adopting your child after coming to terms with not being able to give birth to your child.

It’s normal for one spouse to be ready to adopt before the other. We all grieve differently, and we all have different ideas about what adoption is like. I often encourage couples to seek out people they know who have adopted. There are always bumps in parenting, whether your child is biological or adopted, so don’t be surprised by stories of complications in the adoption process. Talk to parents about how much their adopted child means to them, and you will likely discover great joy and gratitude for the child. 

Initial steps in adoption

When you’re both ready to adopt, start asking yourself questions. You will both need to agree on these decisions. I often recommend couples think about these questions separately and then discuss them together. Any areas of concern or disagreement can be discussed in a counseling session.

  • Do you want to adopt a newborn, a young child, or an older child?
  • Are you willing to adopt a child with disabilities?
  • Are you willing to adopt a child of a different race or religion?
  • Do you want a U.S. adoption, or are you open to international adoption?
  • Are you willing to have an open adoption arrangement, in which the birth mother has some contact with the child or is at least kept informed about the child?

Once you have answered these questions and any other questions that may arise as you talk, begin researching adoption agencies or looking into private attorneys who specialize in adoption. You need to determine which is best for your needs. You can also ask for recommendations from people you know who have adopted a child.

Be wary of unscrupulous organizations or individuals who take advantage of couples and birth mothers. Red flags include being unlicensed, not having sufficient answers to questions on screening of birth mothers, emotional manipulation, and mothers asking for money directly. 

Before you make any decisions about the best agency or attorney to choose, talk with a marriage counselor who has experience helping couples navigate the emotional and psychological aspects of the adoption process. Adoption can trigger a lot of emotional stress, and it’s good to have an expert support you with this important, life-changing decision. If you are in the NYC area, contact me to see how I can help you.

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