Selecting an Adoptive Family for You and Your Child
By Monika Zimmerman - Birth/First Mom
Should you decide to choose adoption and you begin the long and arduous process of selecting a family to raise your child the following is a list of questions you will want to ask yourself and any potential family once you meet. I’m certain there are more things that you may want to consider before selecting the people who will parent your child, but I believe these are the main ones and will inspire you to think of others that are important to you personally.
Single, two-parent, Gay, Straight? No children, other children? What kind of family structure do I want?
Will you choose a single parent? If your choice is a two-parent household, do you hope to have gay or straight parents raise your child?
If you have no preference as to parentage, this might be helpful in family selection. One of my friends decided on the level of openness that was important to her and then chose a family for her child based upon their desired level of openness. Also, just because a couple may be adopting doesn’t mean they’re going to be together forever. Unfortunately divorce is fairly common, and there are no guarantees that a set of parents you select to parent your child will stay together. When I selected my daughter’s parents they’d been together 17 years. I hope they will still be married long past the point when my daughter grows up and moves out on her own, but I realize there is a chance they won’t.
How open would you like your relationship to be?
A growing number of people, me included, are convinced that an open relationship is best for the child should you choose adoption. The practice of that open relationship can be open to interpretation, however. I believe that it’s better to start with an attitude of openness to each other and then progress the relationship naturally from there before making hard and fast rules of the practice.
How often would you like to have contact after the adoption takes place?
Keep in mind your answers to the previous question when you think about this. I would suggest deciding upon a bare minimum of contact, keeping in mind that the relationship will grow and change over the years. In the United States there are only a few states where you have the option of legally enforcing a contact agreement. I’m uncertain of Canadian guidelines, but I’ve always viewed contact agreements as minimum guidelines with the hope of more as the relationship grows and matures.
Is it important to you that there be at least one stay-at-home parent for your child?
If you decide that you’d like a stay-at-home mom or dad for your child, please remember that life can change. Parents that may be able to stay at home with a child or children may have to return to work due to finance issues or may decide that they’d like to return to work once the children are a bit older.
Would you like your child to be an only child or would you like him or her to have siblings?
If you choose a family that has already adopted a child you may want to ask about their relationship with that child’s birth family. This is especially important if you envision a true familial style of open adoption relationship. Your relationship will obviously be different than that of their relationship with biological family members of previous adoptions. But you will be able to tell a lot about how they will treat you once the adoption is finalized by how they treat their current adoption situation(s). Guaranteeing your child will be an only child will be a lot harder since you cannot and should not control whether the parents you choose will adopt again or not.
How important is religion to you?
If you are devoutly Catholic, then you probably won’t want to choose a family for your child that doesn’t practice Catholicism. On the flip side, if you are not religious at all, you might not want to choose a family for your child that practices religion of some sort.
Hobbies of the parent(s)/family – If you had parents that were heavily artistic and you would want to pass that history on to your child then their artistic abilities would be an important selection factor. This goes for all other aspects of your life that you wish to have for your child.
Activity level – Do you value a high activity lifestyle or do you prefer a lifestyle that’s less active?
Discipline style – Though this is not something that is typically in a hopeful adoptive parent profile, you may want to ask about this if you are vehemently against one specific type of discipline. You will find it hard to support your child’s parents in their parenting if you disagree with their discipline style.
The following items may or not break a potential relationship, but it’s helpful to consider them anyway. I know from experience and from talking to many other birth moms that they just “knew” when they met the people they ultimately selected to parent their child. But I also know that you are going to be searching for commonalities to help you narrow the selection field and the bigger the grasp you have of your own desires in parents for your child, the better off you will be.