Considering Adoption? Here’s Some Advice for Couples

Adoption advice for couples

The excitement and joy a couple feels when they have just received the news that they will be able to adopt a child is a euphoric feeling. Aside from the grief and loss the couple may have shared, the addition of a child can fulfil the dream the couple has had since marriage. But there are a few things to consider prior to adoption process.  This article will briefly describe a few of these considerations.

First, the journey to the decision of adoption is different for every couple

 Some couples may have tried to conceive on their own without success.  Other couples may have been able to have their own children and pursued adoption to add to their family.  If a couple fits into the former, it is important that both partners do their grief work. For many couples, part of their happily-ever-after dream is sharing children together.  Not being able to conceive children on your own is a loss; it is the loss of a dream.  Grief work needs to be done on this loss.

Other loss of dreams could pop up once the adoption has been completed.  Not being able to carry the infant in utero or not being able to nurse the infant are examples of other dreams.  I would recommend that the couple become a part of support group who can relate to these losses and support the couple through any difficult times when these losses pop up, especially after many sleepless nights when the parents are not fully charged.

Second, it is important to consider the source of the adoption. For couples who are looking to adopt an infant either through an attorney, public or private adoption agency, determining how to create a secure attachment is an important consideration.  For many parents and children, attachment begins while in utero.  For a child who is adopted as an infant, attachment will begin with the adopted parents at birth.  Connecting activities like singing, rocking, infant massage and feeding can all be the beginning of a secure attachment.

If the child is adopted from the foster care system, whether as an infant, toddler or older child, attachment is still important

Typically infants and children in the foster care system have experienced abuse or neglect.  Childhood abuse and neglect can greatly impact the level of attachment and trust a child has in an adult caregiver.  Couples who adopt children from the foster care system also need to have a solid understanding of the impacts of trauma and neglect on the infant and child brain.  

In some instances, children can struggle with mental health diagnoses like Reactive Attachment Disorder.  These types of diagnoses can be challenging to work through.  But couples looking to adopt from the foster care system can give a child a beautiful life, if the couple is willing to do the work to help the child heal from the abuse and create a safe, secure attachment.

Third, the couple needs to decide upon whether or not to tell the child that he is adopted

There are costs and benefits both ways between sharing and not sharing.  Questions could come up for the child especially if the child does not resemble the adoptive parents.  I recommend that parents tell the child in a developmentally appropriate way as early as the child can process the information.  By having conversations early in life, parents will help reduce the amount of shock and other emotions the child could feel later in life.

Lastly, for all couples planning to become parents, it is essential to have several conversations regarding the parenting model from which the couple would like to parent.  Keeping in mind that children are not “one-size-fits-all”, it is important to be familiar with a few parenting strategies, like:

  • Love and logic
  • Conscious discipline
  • Connective parenting.

Adoption can be an emotional and rewarding endeavor.  Unfortunately, many children are waiting in the foster care system to be adopted.  By making the choice to adopt one or more of these children, couples will take steps toward fulfilling their dream as well as the dream of these children. Congratulations and best wishes!

Jessica is an LMFT from Kansas. She studied Psychology of Families at University of Kansas that aroused her to pursue marriage and family therapy. She helps her clients who deal with relationship issues, domestic abuse and peer relationships. Apart from serving as a therapist, her interest includes photography and is quite a family person.