This is one of the biggest decisions a family must make during their adoption journey and one that you will be discussing and continuing to discern with your social worker throughout the home study process. As you discuss this as a family we know having a heart for adoption comes with a great deal of compassion. But discussions also need to be balanced with a realistic discussion about the needs a family is equipped for and able to bring into their families. Below are three recommendations I give families when we discuss this during the intake process.
- What are your family’s strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your family’s individual personality traits? What is your family’s personality? Do you consider yourselves a very active family, or a more “laid back” family? Which activities during the week are “absolutes” and which are flexible?
- If adopting a child with medical needs, what are the areas of expertise your family already has? For example, knowing how to care for a child with a heart issue?
- In what areas do you as parents spend most of your energy, and what can you take on and still be able to meet these needs with the same energy?
- What medical resources do you have easy access to? You will want to make sure you will be easily be able to access the types of care, specialized or general, that your child may need.
- What does your insurance cover for an adopted child?
- What is your financial situation in regards to potentially paying for the child’s needs for the rest of his/her life? Costs could include specialized health care, surgeries, counseling, residential care, heritage trips or tutoring.
- What does your existing community look like? What cultural resources are available to you?
- Do you have a support system that understands adoption and the issues specific to international adoptions?
- What resources do you have at your school? Are there any specialized educational opportunities if your child is behind or having troubles?
- How flexible are your employment situations? Will you be able to take leave after the adoption? How flexible is your work place regarding child care needs? Can you afford to have parent stay home if the child needs additional attention?
This is a big decision, but also remember there are no guarantees for children born biologically either. Part of being a parent is learning to meet your child’s needs. While you do need to be wise about the child you bring into your existing family, there are always bits of unknown and a learning curve that goes with having children, biologically and adopted, that requires flexibility.
Speak with other families who have adopted, or have children with needs you are thinking of adopting. This will allow you to hear from families who have been where you are and/or know what life with that particular need looks like. There are many parent website and blogs specific to various special needs, and lots of resources out there that can help you discern as well as prepare your for the child you bring into your home.
Seek wise counsel. The last piece of advice I give families is to pray and seek the counsel of wise and trusted friends. The adoption journey is a faith journey. Just as you sought God’s peace about your decision to adopt, seek His peace in the child request. Seek out and speak to those who know you best as they will help you answer some of the harder questions above especially when it comes to strengths and weaknesses. We often do not realize our own potential as well as some of our own flaws.
- Jennifer Van Ee
Director of Intake