When your dream is to become a parent, you’ll do anything to make that dream come true. You want to take tangible steps forward.

But adoption is one of the most emotionally vulnerable experiences that birth and adoptive parents can share. And while birth parents are in full control of their adoption process, adoptive parents are often alarmed to discover how much is out of their control.

This lack of control is frightening for many hopeful adoptive parents. This wasn’t part of their plan, after all! But, of course — that’s parenthood for you.

Remember that everyone involved in your adoption wants to help you become a family, and your adoption specialist is always there to talk at 1-800-ADOPTION.

It can feel overwhelming at first, but adoption means embracing some unknowns, including some of the following:

You can’t control… When you’re placed with a child.

Some families who’ve worked with American Adoptions have been called about an expectant mother who’d chosen them the same day their adoption profile went active. Other families may wait several months or more than a year.

While 75 percent of families who adopt through American Adoptions are placed with a child within 12 months, there’s no telling exactly when it’ll happen for you, because there are many factors at play.

You can control… Your openness to different adoption situations.

Having a very open Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ) will typically decrease your adoption wait time. Being open to different kinds of adoption situations means that your adoption specialist is able to pair you with a broader range of expectant parents who have the same adoption goals as you do.

You can’t control… The emotions of expectant parents.

Expectant parents who are considering adoption are facing an enormous decision, and they’re likely experiencing a barrage of emotions as they reflect upon this decision. It’s difficult when you’re going through your own emotional struggle, but stay supportive of the feelings of expectant parents and birth parents.

We can’t always control our own emotions, let alone the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others. This is when waiting adoptive parents and expectant parents/birth parents should turn to their respective adoption specialists for emotional support. Nobody can or should control the feelings or decisions of expectant parents, but adoption specialists can provide a listening ear while they sort through their emotions and make whatever decision is right for them.

You can control… Your own attitudes about adoption.

Before, during, and after the adoption process, your feelings toward adoption are important. It will affect your child and their birth family. It also helps you stay sane during the adoption wait, even when staying positive seems difficult!

You can’t control… Genetics.

Sometimes, hopeful adoptive parents will worry about the biologically inherited traits of a child, like potential medical history. But it’s important to remember that you can’t control your own genetic traits. Nobody’s medical history is spotless, and if you were to have a biological child, he or she would inherit your own genetic health risks and traits.

Your child may have their birth father’s smile, or their birth grandmother’s sense of humor. You may not always see reflections of yourself in your child, while at other times, you will see your parental influence in their personality. Every adoptee is their own unique blend of nature and nuture, and that combination is to be celebrated and embraced!

You can control… Post-adoption communication.

Although birth parents are the ones who decide how open they want their adoption to be, you can control your side of the relationship. By reminding your child’s birth family that you will support their decisions regarding how much or how little post-adoption contact they feel comfortable with, they’ll never feel shut off from your child’s life.

For example, if you promised your child’s birth parents that you would send photos twice a year, then always stay faithful to that promise. Even if you don’t always hear back, you can control your side of the relationship by upholding your promises to birth family.

You can’t control… The bureaucratic steps of adoption.

Adoption takes time. There’s a lot of paperwork, ICPC clearance, home study approval, and a lot of waiting around for documents to be processed! It can be frustrating. Unfortunately, this is out of your hands. Just know that everyone is doing their best.

It can be tempting to call your adoption professional and ask for updates, or to ask if there’s something more that you can be doing. But you’ll be contacted if someone needs anything from you, and you’ll be notified when it’s time to move on to the next step in the adoption process. Your mountains of paperwork need to be reviewed by many people in many different places. It can take a while, but the main goal for everyone is the safety of children, so please stay patient.

You can control… Your child’s upbringing in a home that celebrates adoption.

From talking about your child’s adoption from the day you bring them home, to maintaining communication with birth family, and listening to them as they grow and explore their own adoption story, your child will thrive when raised in a home that acknowledges their adoption as a cherished part of their family’s beginning!

Share now to encourage other hopeful adoptive parents to embrace the unknowns in adoption.