Who gets to adopt?

I don’t want to share too much on the subject other than the fact that adoption and foster care have been coming up a lot more than it used to in our house, and infinitely more than the subject of doing additional fertility treatments in our future (because that number is currently zero).  Its a subject we have much discerning and prayer to do, but as these discussions have happened in our house, they have been happening with friends of mine as well.  Friends that have adopted or are adopting or who are preparing to foster. Or just random people that I’m paying a lot more attention to.

Recently when I moved here I joined MOPS, and overall I have had a very pleasant experience.  I cry at the meetings frequently, but really, that may just indicate that the meetings are approximately two weeks apart at the most inconvenient times.  We were asked to share our “life story” (yes, in 5 minutes, each) at the last meeting and the mentor mother shared hers at one point.  I knew she had had two children, twins, but her story did not even mention infertility or difficulty conceiving, so I just assumed maybe twins was enough and they didn’t want anymore after that.  The way I hear my mother talk about having twins first really had me convinced I was a bonus baby for over half my life (I am number three – and it turns out I wasn’t). Maybe it was because she was older and had many more formative years for her to spend less time focusing on those years of wanting children.  Or maybe it was because we were at a moms group. Or maybe because I had talked about it too much. 

But she mentioned at the end of her story that she always wanted more children and had looked into adoption at one point.  One day she even had a friend call her in an emergency about a baby born with a heart condition who needed a family since the other adoptive couple had backed out at the last minute.  And her and her husband quickly agreed that YES they would love to adopt him…until the woman called back and said there was another couple looking to adopt that had never been able to have children.  So the woman said yes, choose them, since they had yet to experience parenthood.  High demand, low supply, and they wanted that couple to experience the love of parenthood.

I read a stat this weekend that for every domestic baby adopted there are 36 couples waiting to adopt.  I had heard a previous stat that it was 4 to 1 so there is no way I’m going to link to a reference for that one, but regardless, there seems to be more people waiting than children being born for domestic adoption in the United States.  I heard another adoptive mother this summer lament that women who can have biological children should not adopt.  I have also heard that birth mothers don’t like it when they have families with an only biological child trying to adopt, since it seems that couple is just “looking for a playmate”.

This view that there are people who should and should not adopt stands in direct opposition to the view that adoption is almost a Christian principle and that as we are all adopted by God, adoption of widows and orphans into our families naturally flows.  But I think what bugs me more is that it treats children as objects to be acquired in a “You get one, I get one” let’s be fair attitude, which is directly opposed to the dignity of each child, or the idea that God’s will is above our own and should be determined instead by our determination of “fair”. When in reality, if that were the case, we would all have the same fertility and the same number of children, and the same loving parents in the first place. 

I’m sure there are people who believe any number of things, as there is always someone to stand on the opposite side of the argument. And I’m sure there are birthmothers who will choose you because you have a cat and she likes cats or any other random connection, but I’m more curious, is this sentiment something you’ve heard before? Particularly that having biological children negates you from adopting?

I am just still having a hard time understanding why someone would consider that an important factor in determining if a child would benefit from a loving home that you could provide.

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13 thoughts on “Who gets to adopt?

  1. Interesting topic. In my not very extensive research of adoption (reading a few books, attending one information meeting at an agency), it seems like you said that birthmothers have many different reasons they choose one family instead of all the others. When I think about it, I can’t imagine being in that position – what a momentous decision to make, to entrust your child to basically strangers, forever. Where would you even start, when you’ll never find the “perfect” family that has everything you desire for your child? I read some first-person accounts where a birthmother specifically wanted her child to be an only child, and others where she specifically wanted them to be part of a family with children – neither approach seems wrong, more like a preference? I think it would be silly to have a hard and fast rule that only families without children could adopt a child, but it doesn’t seem like that’s really a rule, although a particular birthmother might favor a family without children, and maybe might take comfort in the idea in that she’s helping them by letting them become father and mother? Anyway…way too long, but definitely food for thought!

    • Thanks for your comment! I just wanted to quickly reply that the woman who told me these comments had actually just adopted for the 4th time, so I think that’s why I was a little surprised by the perspective in the first place.

  2. The idea that there isn’t a need for domestic infant adoption almost kept us from our 2nd adoption. He will be 2 this Saturday. We have two bio daughters in their 20’s. We started fostering when they finished high school. Adopted our 1st foster placement a toddler girl right after she turned 3 in 2009. We had some other foster placements after that and really wanted to adopt again and looked into international but we weren’t certain. While researching international I came across a blog of a family that had other kids had done foster adoption had adopted internationally and had adopted domestically too. I emailed her. She told me about there is a great need for domestic adoptive parents for babies who are considered hard to place (minority, drug exposure, family history) So I started researching minority and special needs programs. We ended up with Christian Adoption Consultants. http://christianadoptionconsultants.com/ We waited less than 6 months for our son. He was a preemie with prenatal drug exposure. He’s doing great now. He would have likely gone into foster care without us. At least two other families turned down his placement. Our situation was the birth mom had the attorney chose and she hadn’t planned anything until after birth. We were in our 40’s with other children. I’m rambling now but don’t limit yourself before you start. I know I still wasn’t sure we would be able to adopt again but we made ourselves available and left the rest up to God. This is the blog of our adoption consultant Tracie. There are lots of family stories there. http://thespiritofadoption.wordpress.com/

    • Thank you for sharing this! I didn’t get into the unfortunate differences of children who are difficult to place and I tried not to touch foster care, but I think these are great points and I appreciate the resources!

  3. I think your stats apply only to private adoption. The foster care system is always in need of folks willing to take high risk or hard to place babies (as the poster above notes).

    I also think that the idea of you shouldn’t adopt kids if you have biological kids is said in grief, and not in a thoughtful way. We give allowances for grief.

    I have very close friends who did foster to adopt through CPS. 3 days after they were approved to foster they were placed with a newborn baby, 3 days old. That was almost one year ago this week. Last month, they had their “gotcha” day.

    This is national adoption month. I wouldn’t give in entirely, but adoption is a beautiful, hard road. As is pregnancy. :) Best of luck in all your thoughts.

    • I posted up there about how those comments came from a multiple time adoptive mother, which I think was why they were so surprising to me. I think you nailed it about comments made out of grief, I just failed to recognize that someone who adopted 4 times would still be grieving. Good points.

  4. I’ve heard the stats about domestic adoption where there are more couples willing than babies, and I’ve heard about expectant mothers not placing if there is a child in the family (bio or not) … but I say “Go for it! God will make it happen if it is meant to be!” As we are not pursuing any further medical treatment in TTC, we know we will adopt again. Now I am discerning whether fostering vs. domestic infant adoption will be the route we should go …
    It is hard to take the first step towards adoption, but the first step is research and looking into agencies and talking to people. That, with prayer, always helps!

  5. I actually tend the take the opposite tack – as in, if people with biological children ask me, “Why don’t you just adopt?” my knee-jerk response is, “Well, why don’t YOU?” I understand why people are saying, “Please, you already have a baby, share the wealth,” not because babies are commodities (well, some people may think that way), but because the opportunity to become a parent is so precious and – for many – so desperately out of reach, that it would be horrifying that couples would steal that precious opportunity away out of a sense of doing the right thing and not realize they might rob others of their last chance to be parents. So I can understand the sentiment, though I wouldn’t be expressing it myself (largely because I don’t intend to adopt).

    I tend to take very much the opposite approach – I think that parenthood is supposed to be a vocation, tailor-made for each individual parent, other parent, and child; far from an equal access to an equivalent number of children, what I think I have a divinely-ordained right to is a family hand-crafted for me (down to the last detail) by God Almighty. And that, in a nutshell, is MY objection to adoption. But that’s not the point here…that attitude does make me approach the idea of adoption in a completely different way: namely, I think each parent has to be asking, “Am I, particularly, called to parent this particular child? This individual person?” But that analysis can express itself different ways. Your friend with trims may have been motivated by a genuine and deep generosity of spirit. What do I know?

    Last bit of ranting: I can’t imagine being the birth mother having to make that decision, but I would suspect I would go with my gut: do I get a sense about these people that gives me comfort about them raising this child? And any little detail might be the one that strikes her. But I still can’t get over my profound irritation at birth mothers who are angling for their kids to be only children. In my head, that reads only one way: “I hope these people are TOTALLY barren and have made LOTS of money so that my kid never has to compete for attention with another child (of any heritage) for a single second, and gets 100% of their savings earmarked for his first car and college education and every shiny thing he wants.” I have no proof of that, but I can’t think of any GOOD reason for someone to want a child to be an only child. And in connection with the disclosures about one’s means and lifestyle and all that that go in the adoption dossier, the “don’t have any other children” criterion just strikes me as repellent.

  6. I’m an occasional reader, never commenter, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. We have two kids, but due to health reasons, I will probably not be giving birth to more. Adoption may be in our future, but I just can’t see myself adopting a newborn because, well I’ve had that experience twice and so many have not. I don’t think that’s commodifying a child any more than private/ agency newborn adoption already can do–
    families need money, resources, etc to adopt and those that don’t have these things often cannot adopt a healthy newborn, or cannot more than once.

    On the other hand, if I knew the couple or of the baby has special needs I knew we could handle, then sign me up. But market my family when I was already blessed twice and so many are not? It’s not for me, although I see the misfit’s point– maybe it is just what God wanted for another family.

    Having said that, children in foster care,
    children with special needs, children in overseas orphanages are all situations I am comfortable with because the needs seem greater and the families fewer.

    Anyway, adoption is beautiful but complicated. There are so many ethical issues involved in every type of adoption and I really don’t think there is any way to completely un-commodify the process. I’ve done a lot of research and still trying to figure out exactly what I’m comfortable with ethically, and what God wants and when He wants it from our family. Good luck in your own process.

  7. I have been thinking about adoption more and more but lately foster care to adopt seems like it would be a better option. The whole adoption process seems so draining especially for newborns that I am not sure I will want to pursue that. I don’t think that it should matter if you have children already or not, if you want to adopt go for it and I would hope that birth mothers would go with what she thinks is best for the child.

  8. Our adoption agency only works with couples with documented medical infertility. I think this restriction comes from the reality of private adoptions that many here have named: more demand than supply. Our agency also has a policy of only accepting as many couples as they think can place within a year. In contrast, the local agencies in our area accept as many couples as can pay and pass a home study, which means some couples are forking over thousands of dollars, but will never never be chosen by a birthmother. This strikes me as ethically problematic.

    But if you are going to limit the demand at an agency in some way, how do you do it? No couples over 40? No overweight couples? I think infertility is as good a criterion as any, and a lot better than other criteria.

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