There’s no denying the adoption journey is a long and complicated one. If you choose to build your family this way, you and your spouse will often have to turn your lives upside down to make it happen. But, in the end, it will be worth it — and not just because you will finally have the child you’ve dreamed about. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself along the way.
In our experience, we’ve seen adoptive parents develop a few common strengths from choosing this family-building path. Yes, adoption can be hard, but it can also provide a great many beneficial changes to a person’s daily life.
We’ve listed some of them below:
When most people talk about selflessness in adoption, they talk about a birth parent’s decision to place their child. And, while that is a truly selfless action, it should not diminish the selflessness that adoptive parents show, too. They must accept the sacrifices of this family-building path — forgoing their desires to be pregnant and have a genetic connection with their child — to be the family they want to be. They must be accepting and encouraging of a relationship with their child’s birth parents, no matter how much it may hurt at the start.
Yes, adopting a child can be self-serving in becoming a parent, but there are selfless parts of the journey that must not be overlooked.
When a hopeful parent chooses adoption, they must learn about a process that is often entirely foreign to them. They must put themselves in the shoes of a prospective birth parent, even if they can’t imagine placing their own child for adoption. In doing so, they learn empathy for the prospective birth parent — whether they choose to place their child or parent their child after matching with adoptive parents. It’s an impossible situation to be in, but adoptive parents must see the circumstances from the prospective birth parent’s perspective before anything else.
3. Comprehension of Complex Situations
In learning about prospective birth parents’ situations, adoptive parents have to view parenting in a new light. Adopting a child is complicated, and it comes with many ups and downs. But, when an adoptive parent can successfully navigate this process, they can carry that new understanding with them for equally complicated circumstances in the future.
An adoptive parent has to go through a lot to be approved for adoption. They must do thorough research and pull together all the necessary paperwork for their adoption home study. They must stay on top of their adoption journey, communicating with their specialist, while also maintaining their everyday life and routine during the wait. These organization skills carry over well to their future as a parent.
5. Communication Skills
Something else adoptive parents have to juggle, both during and after the adoption process? A relationship with their child’s birth parents. It’s a complicated one, for sure, but it’s important for every member of the adoption triad. As they develop this lifelong relationship, adoptive parents learn communication and relationship skills that only come from direct experience.
6. A Sense of Perspective
Before adoption, many parents are (understandably) only focused on one thing: building a family as quickly and efficiently as possible. But adoption is about more than that — it’s about finding the best match for everyone and building a healthy foundation that will last a lifetime. After the challenges and joys of the adoption process, adoptive parents often look at life in a different way. The small things don’t stress them as much, and they remember that everyone in the world has their own personal challenges to overcome — just like their child’s birth parents did.
7. An Open Mind
It can surprise adoptive parents how open they must be when first choosing adoption. Unlike they would with their own pregnancy, they cannot control exactly how a prospective birth mother is taking care of herself. They may also find out that a match that’s perfect on paper may not be the opportunity that’s right for them. That’s why many adoptive parents end up opening their minds (and their adoption preferences), trusting that the right situation will come to them at the right time.
Adoption also teaches adoptive parents to go with the flow. It’s tempting to want to control every aspect of your family-building journey, but there are many aspects of adoption that move on their own and in their own time. When hopeful parents become a waiting family, they learn to be flexible on their adoption preferences. And, when they navigate an open adoption relationship in the future, they learn to be flexible when it comes to exactly through which channels and how frequently contact is shared.
Of course, there’s always the adoption wait. It’s an unavoidable part of the infant adoption process. While most of our agency families adopt 1 to 12 months after activation, there are families who wait longer. Most adoptive families also have a number in their head and, when they surpass that time, they start to doubt themselves. So, a parent simply cannot get through the adoption process without learning patience.
Fortunately, your specialist will always be there to support you during your wait.
10. An Increased Capability to Love
Going into the adoption process, many waiting parents anticipate the love they will have for their future child — but many don’t consider the deep love they will have for the birth parents, as well. When you build your family through adoption, you get many more family members than just a new child. You get their birth parents, too. Many new adoptive parents are surprised at how deeply and how quickly they can love their adopted child, and they’re often surprised at the depth of their feelings of gratitude and love for the birth parents that made the whole process possible.
What strengths have being an adoptive parent given you? Let us know in the comments!
Stay tuned for our series on birth parent strengths, or read about unique adoptee strengths here.