There are many reasons why hopeful parents choose adoption as the path to grow their family. Adoptive parents come from all different backgrounds and lifestyles, and no two families have encountered the exact same circumstances on their path to choosing adoption. Because of this, every hopeful parent’s motivations will be slightly different.
Even so, there are a few important things to recognize when you’re choosing adoption — and one of these is whether you are choosing adoption for the “right” reasons. While there are plenty of great and beautiful reasons that people wish to adopt, there are also misguided and even harmful reasons, as well.
Our adoption specialists will always discuss your motivations to adopt with you before you commit to our adoption program. This will help you determine whether adoption is really the right path for your family. In the meantime, keep reading to find out some of the most common misguided reasons that people think adoption is best for them.
1. You want to “save” a baby.
Adoption is a difficult, lifelong journey for all involved — adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees. If you go into adoption thinking that you will be “saving” a child from a disastrous situation, you need to learn more about the adoption process. The women who choose adoption are not monsters who would endanger their children; they are women who make the selfless and loving choice to give their child opportunities they may not be able to provide themselves.
Choosing to adopt a child is not a way to “repay a debt” to society or to indulge martyr tendencies. While altruism is certainly beneficial to the world, it will not sustain you and your family through all the difficult parts of raising a child.
2. You feel like it’s the only choice you have to become parents.
While adoption may not be your first choice to become a parent, it should not be something that you feel resigned to as your “last chance.” Adoption is a difficult journey and, if you choose this path because you feel like it’s something you “have” to do to have children, you won’t have the optimism and positivity to get through those difficult times.
Adoption should be a family-building process that you’re 100 percent excited for, rather than just your last option.
3. Your family and friends tell you that you should.
Only you and your spouse can decide whether adoption is right for you. And, while hopeful grandparents can be overwhelming, you should never be pushed into a family-building process (or even creating a family at all) unless you are sure that it is right for you. It’s natural for your loved ones to offer advice when you’re facing infertility or similar struggles, but how and when you choose to move forward will be entirely up to you and your spouse.
4. You want to save your relationship.
Infertility struggles can take their toll on a marriage, just as any other hardship can. To move past your infertility, you may wish to rush straight into adoption, believing a child will solve whatever other problems you have in your relationship. But, just as having a child naturally will not solve marriage difficulties, neither will adopting a child.
5. You want to take advantage of the federal adoption tax break.
If you know that adoption offers a tax credit, you may think that adopting a child can provide you helpful financial reimbursement. However, unless you choose an option like foster care adoption, your adoption process will cost you much more than you would receive with the adoption tax credit. That’s not to mention all of the expenses you will need to pay for at least the next 18 years to give your child the life they deserve.
It’s almost inconceivable to adopt for the money but, if this is you, don’t even think about it.
6. You don’t want to face an upcoming “empty nest.”
Parents whose children are growing up and leaving home can be frightened by the upcoming changes, especially if they are a stay-at-home parent whose job was taking care of their child for the last 18 years. To relieve these fears, they may consider bringing another child into their home through private infant or foster care adoption because they are unlikely to have another child naturally. However, an adopted child will not fill the hole left by older, independent children, and any adoptee will eventually grow up and move out, as well — leaving a parent to confront their feelings all over again.
7. You think it’s a “calling.”
Sometimes, people say they have been “called to adopt.” While this can be an okay motivation if combined with another reason, using this as your only motivation to adopt is dangerous. It falls into the same category of “saving” a child. Adoption is not always all puppies and unicorns; it is a challenging, lifelong journey that you should be 100 percent committed to — difficult aspects and all.
8. You’re lonely.
Adopting a child is a great commitment and not one that should be made if you feel stuck on your own or in need of companionship. A child is not there to keep you company; you are the one there to care for them. If you are lonely, consider joining a new activity or getting a pet before you decide to bring a lifelong member into your family.
9. Your child needs a playmate.
Similarly, if you have an only child, adoption is not the go-to answer for loneliness for them, either. Children have many ways to make friends and find companionship, like through school and other activities. Adding another member to your family should not be the first solution for a child who appears lonely.
It’s always wonderful to want your child to have a sibling, whether through adoption or another family-building process. However, it’s important that you are equally as excited for a new child to join your family, and not just making this commitment for your son or daughter’s sake.
10. Everyone else is doing it.
Adoption is more popular than ever — which is great! You see many people today (including celebrities) deciding to add to their family in this non-traditional way, breaking down the “normal” family stereotypes that exist.
However, deciding to adopt simply because it seems like “the thing to do” is a terrible motivation. Adoption (let’s say it again for those in the back) is a complicated journey filled with emotional ups and downs. It’s not a decision that should be made lightly and certainly not one to be made just because someone you know had a good experience with it. Adoption is more than a passing craze; it’s a lifelong commitment to your adopted child and to their birth parents.
If you’re not sure whether adoption is right for you, you can always speak to an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more about the process and discuss your reasons to adopt.
I was adopted at birth I was hours old when my mother handed me over to a stranger. I never gave it much thought until now. I lived my adopted parents, but never felt liked I belonged. I am 60 years old now and still have issues. Not sure where to go or how to ask for help. Trust has always be a major issue
Hi, Thomas — Have you connected with any other adoptees through support groups? They likely share the feelings you do and can help you through them. Here’s a list to consider: https://adoption-beyond.org/facebook-groups-adult-adoptees/ You might also think about finding a therapist who is experienced in adoption-related trauma to work through these emotions. We wish you the best of luck moving forward!
Could you provide examples of Good reasons to adopt?
Hi, Josephine — Here are just a few of the reasons why people choose to adopt: https://www.americanadoptions.com/adopt/why-people-adopt Hope that answers your question! Remember, you can always call our adoption specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more about our agency’s adoption process.
It’s confusing to look at that list of reasons TO adopt because many of them seem to directly encourage the savior mentality you (rightly, IMO) warn against in your list. In the list you link to, they use the word “help” instead of “save”, but to me it seems like basically the same thing. Am I missing something here?
Hi there! Thanks for writing this edifying list!
I am hoping for a little bit of clarification…
Did an adoptee write this post?
How many adoptees are on your staff / board?
We currently have 4 adoptees on staff, and an adoptee (myself) did write this particular post, yes.