Different paths to adoption

Most couples who struggle to have a child undergo fertility treatments, which are often successful. In those cases where they fail, however, many hopeful parents turn to adoption.

With an open adoption through an agency, or with the help of an adoption facilitator or attorney, the first step is matching with a birth mother. An open adoption means you might have the chance to experience her pregnancy with her, going to doctor’s appointments, seeing the sonograms and being in the delivery room when the child is born. It also means the birth mother may be a part of the child’s life, even after the adoption.

However, there is always a risk with adoption that the birth mother will change her mind and decide to keep the baby. Regardless of any contracts or agreements you have in place, many state laws protect the biological mother, leaving the intended parents heartbroken and without a child. Although this worst-case scenario is possible, and does happen, most adoptions go through as planned.

Another path to adopting a child is to work with a foster agency. There are many, many children in the foster care system without parents who are able to care for them. These are kids of all ages, and all races, and each is in need of a loving home. Not all foster children are available for adoption, however. Some are in the system because their parents have temporarily lost custody. Once the situation leading to that loss of parental rights has been resolved, the parents often regain custody. However, most foster agencies are happy to work with intended parents seeking children who are available for adoption.

Many couples also adopt children from another country through an agency that offers international adoptions. The agency handles the paperwork and legal issues, which can be quite complicated, to give you the best odds at a successful adoption.

No matter how you go about adopting, both child and the adoptive parents are getting a precious gift: the chance at a better, more fulfilling life as part of a loving family.

Where is your head?

Are you really, truly in touch with your feelings? Soul-searching and analysis of the facts on the table are key when approaching the journey to parenthood. Once people find out you want to become parents, they will ask you questions, sometimes very personal questions. If you can’t answer them, that might be a red flag.

How long have you been trying to get pregnant, and how? What methods have you used? And for a more intangible question, what is motivating you to want to have a child? Even if you think you know the answers to those questions, including the last one, which might be the most difficult to answer, revisit them in your mind. Your mindset is a very important part of trying to become a parent, especially if you want to get pregnant rather than pursue another path. The way you cope with stress can directly affect your ability to carry a child.

Negativity won’t help. If you have other children, questions might creep into your mind about why you were able to become pregnant before but can’t now. If you don’t have children already, negativity can take the form of wondering why you can’t seem to have children while everyone else around you can. Either way, getting into a bad head space can have a very real impact on what your body is willing to do.

Calm self-reflection is important. You need to identify why you want to have children right now. If you’re following your urges for the first time, you may never have addressed these questions. If you’ve had other children or tried in the past, you may have — but your answers may have changed as the years marched on. Getting your priorities straight clears the clutter. It allows you get a sharp focus on what you want right now, shaping your decisions and helping you cope with natural stress that can arise in the process.

Don’t just look at what you’re feeling and facing right now. A long-range plan, covering everything from efforts to become pregnant, adopt or use a surrogate; to who will care for your child once he or she arrives, will help eliminate stress along the way. The logistics, from people to finances, can be a little daunting. Better to take them on at the outset than reach a conundrum unexpectedly at an inopportune time.

We can help guide you through some of the questions you might need to ask yourself and some of the obstacles you might face in our book, “Getting To Baby.” If you like what you see at www.GettingToBaby.com, consider picking up the book, in which we share our own journey in hopes of preparing you for yours.

Have Faith

You don’t have to believe in God to have faith. No matter what you believe in, having some kind of faith will help you get through the process of becoming a parent.

That can be much tougher than it sounds. At the outset of the process, when possibilities and choices seem limitless, it’s easy to believe that somehow, some time, you will have a child. However, after a few bumps in the road, believing parenthood is in your future can be much more difficult. The inability to become pregnant naturally, struggles with fertility treatments, miscarriages, failed adoptions, trouble tracking down surrogates — there are many bumps in the road you can hit, and each in turn can hit your confidence. Trust us. We know. We hit just about every bump a couple can hit before we finally ended up with our beautiful twins.

Coping with loss, particularly miscarriage, is very difficult for both prospective parents. It might start to seem like expectant parents are everywhere you look. You might feel frustration heaped on top of grief and loss. That’s normal. When you’re focusing so hard on getting to baby, all you will see are mothers, pregnant women and babies everywhere. It’s like becoming fixated on a certain number — suddenly, that number is in every telephone number, every address, and every license plate you see. It’s in the time whenever you look at the clock. It’s a part of the TV channel every time you stop on a show.

Stay centered. Control your emotions. Find an outlet to express your grief and anger, whether that means heading to therapy or a support group, simply talking to a friend or writing it out. Becoming overwhelmed isn’t good for you or those around you, and it won’t help you achieve your goals.

When Jennifer and I lost a child, we found a perspective that worked for us. Partially because Jennifer is a twin, and partially because we knew we wanted two children but only wanted to go through the process once, we had long hoped to have twins. When we lost our first child, a girl, we chose to look at it this way: Our little girl wasn’t ready to come until her brother could be with us, too.

Find your own silver lining. Keep the faith. Know that some how, some way, it will work out for you. The timing and path might surprise you, but believe that things will transpire as they’re supposed to.