Ask the Expert: Ready To Adopt?


Q: How Do I Know If I Am Ready To Adopt?

A: Though there are many questions to ask yourself prior to embarking on the path to adoption, for those who may have been infertile, you know you are ready to adopt a child when you have resolved your grief over not having been able to give birth.

Infertility was not a condition that led my husband and I to adopt our daughter Aster. During the first several years of our marriage, however, becoming parents was either physically impossible, or emotionally dicey; we simply were not ready. If you are a person who desires to grow a family through adoption, there are a few things you must ask yourself before you begin.

First, ask yourself this question: Have I really and truly come to know that I want to grow my family through the miracle of adoption? This is vital. Most of the time people choose to adopt as a last resort, as a, “Well, at least we can adopt” sort of attitude. For my book, Finding Aster—our Ethiopian adoption story, I interviewed many women who went through some kind of fertility treatments. Though some did get pregnant, no pregnancy went to term; the medical interventions all eventually failed, and they ended up adopting their child or children.

While listening to the stories of failed fertility treatments and eventual adoptions, I interpreted a subtle lack of satisfaction, or perhaps just a simple sadness. I know that no woman I interviewed underwent any kind of intentional grief therapy before pursuing her adoption. I strongly believe that this lack of mourning did not serve their transition into parenthood of an adopted child.

Considering adoption without fully grieving the loss of your fertility, or completely exploring what it means to bring a non-blood human being into your family, is a mistake.

The other important thing to ask yourself if you plan to adopt in any other way save a private infant adoption is simply this: Am I ready to take on whatever issues may arise as a result of my child having been institutionalized? If you cannot enthusiastically answer, Yes! then you are not ready to adopt.

Dina McQueen is an award-winning writer, adoption advocate, and speaker, focusing on helping to change social consciousness surrounding adoption. She is the author of  Finding Aster—our Ethiopian adoption story


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