Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dear Sugar: Your Burning Adoption Questions, Anxiety, Gender Preference, Profile Books, and More

Dear Sugar,

Occasionally I ask my Facebook followers what they want to know about adoption, so today I'm answering some of your questions! Let's get at it!  

Q:  I have a diagnosis of anxiety and depression.  Can I still adopt?

The answer is, probably yes. Many parents-by-adoption have various health issues, whether it be mental or physical.  The most important thing is that your health issue is "controlled" and under the supervision of a medical professional.   I also think it's important that you are aware of your needs and are honest about where you are, because the adoption journey can be really mentally, emotionally, and (because of those) physically draining on a person.  It's likely your social worker will ask for a letter from your doctor regarding your health issue, which will be part of your homestudy process.   Just be honest (with your social worker and yourself)!  

Q:   I'm overwhelmed by all the adoption resources:  books, blogs, articles, workshops.  How do I choose?  

With adoption resources, I think the idea of "less is more" is false. The more perspectives you have, the better off you are as a parent. That said, I know it's not realistic for you to spend all your spare time reading adoption resources.  So my advice?  Start by reading ONE resource from EACH of the adoption triad members:  parent-by-adoption, adoptee, and birth parent.   Then once you've read those three resources, choose another three.   By making small goals (three resources at a time), you'll be more likely to actually read the resources.   To get started, here are three book suggestions from triad members:  Finding Motherhood (Jill M. Murphy)-birth mom and mom by adoption; Dear Adoptive Parents (Madeleine Melcher)-adoptee; You Can Adopt Without Debt (Julie Gumm)- mom by adoption.   

Q:  Should I have my profile book professionally created?

More and more hopeful parents are opting to have their profiles professionally created.  Most of us aren't graphic designers AND writers, so creating a book is a BIG deal.  I think the main question to ask yourself is this:  Is this profile book authentically me?   That's what's most important.  A good professional profile designer will help create a book that clearly is the REAL you.   Also, consider your budget.  Having a professional create your book comes at a cost.    At the end of the day, choose ethics.  Send out profile books that are truth-tellers, because what's at stake is SO important.  

Q:  I cannot have biological children.  Do I share that in my profile book?

It's your choice, though an expectant mom may be curious as to why you are choosing to adopt.  Just know that whether or not you choose to disclose in your book, you might be asked by an expectant mom why you are opting to adopt.  In some ways, it's easier just to put it all "out there" and "up front," since a question later (and in person) may catch you off guard.  The thing I don't want you to do is turn your profile book into a "sob story," where you pour out your story to expectant mothers and potentially induce some sense of guilt or obligation.   Your story is yours, and you can decide how to share it.   

Q: I really want to adopt a girl.  Is it OK to have a preference?  
I have strong feelings on this one---but remember, I'm only one person and my word isn't adoption gospel.   I do not agree with allowing parents to select the sex of the baby they will adopt when we're talking about domestic infant adoption.   Here's why.  One, your child might be thought to be a boy or girl and then surprise, is born and isn't what was predicted.  Are you going to back out of the match because the baby isn't your "dream" or "preferred" baby?   Two, a child isn't going to be a certain way just because he or she is a boy or a girl.  I have a daughter who loves dragons and basketball and the color blue.   She's not "girly." So if your preference is based on expectations and demands, that's not fair to the child.  We need to let our kids be who they are, not force them into a category out of selfish desire.  

Now, I have plenty of friends who did state a preference, and I believe that's their choice.  Their children are a joy.   But for me, I wasn't at all comfortable choosing a preference.   In fact, our son was thought to be a girl (surprise!) and one of my daughters was thought to be a boy (surprise again!).  I'm happy with our family:  three girls and one boy.   

I just wanted to be a mommy.  

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