Adoption: assumptions revisited
Most people grow up assuming that they will be able to have children when the time comes. It can be a tremendous adjustment of one's self image if this turns out to be impossible. Issues going all the way back to childhood assumptions and experiences may have to be revisited in readjusting your self image and sense of self worth.
While some people know earlier on that they will not be able to have children by birth, the transition to feeling comfortable with the thought of having a family by adoption can still require major adjustment.
Sometimes when they think back to childhood, people find that they have had a desire to raise a child who is not biologically similar very early on. Humanitarian concerns or inheritance risks may speed the decision. Sometimes a meeting with an adoptee sets the stage for a decision or inclination for adoption. Often there is a feeling of rightness, once the decision is made to adopt or you when are united with your child.
"I really thought nothing would heal the depression from my infertility when all it took was literally minutes with my new daughter. Of course people told me this would be true, but I didn't believe them until it happened to me." Jo M.
Adoption as a process of self growth
The adoption process itself, as well as the outcome of adoption (a "real" child rather than an "imagined, idealized" child), propel prospective parents to work through the emotional aspects of infertility toward parenthood. For most people the decision to adopt is itself a process, just like dealing with infertility. At some point the prospecitve parent starts to wonder - what would it be like to raise an adopted child?
As they start to investigate adoption, they find themselves once more in a process of discovery. What matters to more - similar appearance, age, health? How much risk are they willing to take? Each step along the way leads the prospective parent on a journey of personal exploration.
This voyage of self investigation is not always a comfortable one - a considerable risk and stretch is involved.
Be prepared for frustration
Often, the adoption process itself may be frustrating and unsteady - countries can close the adoption overnight, lack of information and delays are rampant, birth plans can fall through, rejection may come from birth parents or agencies, paperwork can intervene, and the referral or birth itself may not be what was planned.
No question: adoption stretches each individual's personal boundaries. It is a time of growth, and as such, pain and fear mingle with wonder and excitement.
Luckily, adoption social workers are used to the combination of ambivalence, "ignorance" and desire for facts and information that future parents express. During this period many people find themselves seeking out those who are touched by adoption. It is very reassuring to connect with someone or who has adopted or is adopted themselves.