Tuesday, April 16, 2019

5 Things Your Adoption Agency Probably Didn't Tell You

Our adoption education wasn't great.  I'll be honest.

I thought the agency we had chosen would enlighten us.  Prepare us.  Give us Adoption 101.

But I was wrong.  

ALL of our education initially came from our determination to self-educate.  We met with families who had adopted, we read books, and we talked (a lot) about adoption.  Then came the experience of being parents.  As the years went on, more and more resources became available to us (thankfully!).

Unfortunately, to this day, when I share information about adoption, too many current and hopeful adoptive mamas are shocked at what I share.  And I wonder, why didn't their agency tell them this???

So today, I want to share with you five things I've learned that adoption agencies aren't regularly sharing:

1:  Open adoption is really freaking complicated.

Open adoption is often advertised by adoption professionals as a win-win-win (for the adoptive parents, adoptee, and birth family).  Everyone knows how the other is doing, there's ongoing communication, and the mystery of adoption is nearly eradicated.  It's perfect, right? 

Or maybe, you're feeling totally opposite.  You are terrified of open adoption because of what your agency HAS told you.  It sounds good, maybe even too good to be true, and you're not having it.

Well, open adoption, like everything in adoption, is complex.  There's nothing easy about it.   Yes, it can be beneficial,

2:  Cute babies of color become threatening in the eyes of society as they get older.

Adoption agency websites and brochures feature a diverse "cast" of babies, but the melanin-rich baby that society "oohs" and "ahhs" over today, is the preteen, teen, or young adult subject to America's racism tomorrow.  Even kids as young as toddlers can experience racism, such as the time my two-year-old son was called a "cute little thug" but an acquaintance. 

You need to be prepared to parent kids of color for the long-haul, which means a commitment to for a lifetime.

3:  Some adoptees will experience and express trauma.

Even babies adopted at birth can experience trauma, including if a birth mother had a challenging pregnancy from stress, substance usage, health struggles, etc.   Some adoptees state that the separation they experienced from their biological families (yes, even at birth) has caused them to feel broken, hurt, angry, and confused for much of their lives (or, it's surfaced in certain seasons, such as when they had a child themselves).   You can read some posts by adoptee Michelle Madrid-Branch here and here.

This is why many of us in the adoption community are pro adoption-education and pro attachment-parenting.  These two things, we believe, are vital to our children's well-being.  I highly recommend that parents read this book on attachment and trauma in the adoptee.  Because the more you know, the more you are able to help your child!  I also recommend this book written by an adoptee directly to those of us who adopt children.

4:  You must tell your child early and often that he or she was adopted.

I see posts regularly where a mom-by-adoption asks, "When should I tell my child that he's adopted?"


Adoption should be a continual conversation in your home, not a one time talk or a big reveal.

Pray for your children's birth families nightly (and aloud), have photos of them in books or in frames, and have books about adoption for your child.  As the child gets older, you can consider an adoption support group for adoptees and an adoption-competent therapist. 

5:  You might experience post-adoption depression.

Many adoptive parents focus on the struggles a birth parent has after placing a child for adoption:  and rightfully so.   But what agencies don't always tell parents is that if you adopt, you can experience post-adoption struggles, including adoption. 

There's only one book on the subject, and I'll be honest, it's quite text-bookish.  This is why I wrote this relateable, conversational post on post-adoption depression.  I was floored by the number of comments and messages I receive from people sharing their stories of post-adoption depression. 

If you are hoping to embark on an adoption journey, get started with this guide.

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