You’ve decided to choose adoption for your baby. Now you are trying to figure out who you would like to adopt. There are so many questions you could ask. There are so many questions you should ask. Where do you start? Let’s start here. Here are 10 adoptive family questions you should ask.
1. “Why do you want to adopt”
The answer to this question will tell you a lot about a family. Some people want to adopt because they have tried several different types of infertility treatments and adopting your baby is the last possible hope they have of having children. Some families have two biological children and would like to add to their family but don’t want to go through pregnancy again. Some families have always wanted to adopt. Some families feel like it is a calling to adopt children who would otherwise not have a home. This question will give you insight to their hearts. None of the above reasons are good or bad. They are just reasons. The family facing infertility may see your baby as a last resort or their life may totally revolve around the dream come true of finally having a baby to love. You will absolutely have no idea until you’ve asked that question and heard their response. However your hopeful adoptive family answers this question, you may be able to get a feel of their character regardless of the answer.
2. “What does your family think of adoption?”
This is telling as well. There are some families that are very pro-adoption. Entire generations are touched by adoptions and it is practically part of that family heritage to adopt. Some families are less enthusiastic. If I were in your shoes, I would like to know what sort of family my baby would be around come Christmas-time or birthdays. Children have an uncanny ability to realize when there is tension around them. If someone is excited about adoption, but their parents or relatives aren’t, a child may feel that contention and internalize it. If the adoptive parents tell you their family isn’t for adoption, ask how they plan to protect the child from that information or how they plan to distance themselves from that family member after the baby has arrived. If they don’t have a plan in place, they may not be the parents for your baby.
3. “How many children do you want?”
Some people will give you a wishy washy answer. “As many as God allows us to have” or “As many as come to us.” etc. These are sweet on the surface but not very well thought out. There is wisdom in knowing how much you can handle (or at least having specific goals). I used to say “as many as God gives us.” but I have come to realize my children all have individual needs that make it difficult to even hold down a part time job. Adding one more small person to the mix at this moment would not be wise. That breaks my heart, but it is also wise to know what I can or cannot make work. No child needs to grow up feeling pushed aside because their sibling has greater needs than they do. Alternatively, if they say “just one or two” and you want a large family like the one you grew up in, this family may not be the right one for your baby.
4. “How open do you want the adoption to be?”
Of course, the answer to this question may evolve over time. I have known families that plan to only send pictures once a year that end up having get-togethers with the birth family a few times a year because they get along so well. Obviously, that is more the exception than the rule. Maybe you are reluctant to have a constant reminder of the baby you miss and your desire is fewer phone calls and more pictures. Ask. The worst that can happen is that you have different ideas of openness. The bottom line is you get to make that decision with the help of the professionals around you. Don’t be afraid to ask for more than what is offered.
5. “What do you want to name him/her?”
Some people are absolutely fine letting this be the adoptive parents thing. Perhaps you feel strongly about preserving your child’s culture or a certain family name. This is a great time to have this conversation (before the child is born). This may not be a sensitive subject for you at all, and you simply want to fulfill a curiosity. Be mindful, though, if you are entering a closed adoption, a name may be considered identifying information and should not be shared.
6. “Do you have a good pediatrician yet?”
Maybe they haven’t even thought that far. It is important that they do their homework though. The first few months with a baby can be difficult. Having a compassionate, informed pediatrician who is familiar with adoption is critical. I don’t know what I would have done without my pediatrician answering my ridiculous questions all hours of the night. Truly. Google is not your friend at 3 in the morning when the baby’s poop is a weird color. You know who kept me calm and reassured me when my baby’s health was at stake? That’s right, my amazing pediatrician. She calmed my fears, answered my questions, and made appointments for me even when it would have been more convenient to ignore me.
7. “Do you have any pets?”
This is pertinent for a few reasons. Maybe you are terrified of dogs/cats. Maybe you are allergic. Alternately, maybe your best friend growing up was a gigantic great dane named Marlow and you want to make sure your baby will get to have that same great experience. I don’t know you. I do know that from ages 7-12 my best friend was my dog. As a married adult with 5 children, I tell things to my dogs that I don’t tell my spouse. It’s not because I don’t trust him, it’s just because sometimes it feels good to talk to someone and just have them listen and cuddle. My husband is a fixer: an engineer by trade. He needs to repair whatever is wrong. Sometimes it is good just to tell my dog that I felt sad and have her lay her floppy head on my lap and nuzzle close. Maybe you are more of a cat person. All that to say, if pets are important to you, find out if they will be important to the potential adoptive parents.
8. “What do you do for fun?”
This never even crossed my mind before I started our adoption journey. I just assumed our kids would be into whatever we were into. If God laughs, he must have guffawed for days over that one. I have three very outdoorsy, tree-climbing, bike-riding, jump-on-the trampoline-for-hours kids and two very indoorsy kids. They would much rather play video games, read a book, watch cartoons, and generally be still. This, as you may imagine, can cause conflict. Now, I wouldn’t change the way our family is. I have had to adapt to make everyone happy some of the time. However, maybe you are a “runs marathons” kinda gal and the family you interview is a “netflix marathons” kind of family. No shame either way. Your child could be completely different than either of you. The important thing is that your adoptive family is willing to love, embrace, and adapt to your child’s needs.
9. “How do you discipline?”
Ok, this is tricky but it would be an incomplete list of 10 adoptive family questions you should ask without it. This is something that adoptive parents will address in their home study. Talk to them about different parenting styles and why they choose to parent the way they do. Consider how that will have an affect on the child.
10. “Do you plan to love unconditionally?”
I am certain that they will say yes and you will need to ask for clarification. Ask them their plans for when it gets to be too much because it will. They will need people around them to help. Loving unconditionally takes planning and intention. At least, loving unconditionally in action does. I can say all day long that I love my kids, but when the rubber meets the road there needs to be action to back that up.
This is not a comprehensive list. This list of 10 adoptive family questions you should ask is not enough to pose to a person you hope will adopt your precious bundle. However, it is a good start. You will want to get as much information as you can so you make an informed decision. You can do this. You are making a good choice seeking out information and asking good questions to people who want to love you and your child.
Potential adoptive parents, be prepared to answer these questions and more. A woman is hoping to give you the most precious gift you can imagine. She deserves to have peace of mind knowing you are a good person who hopes to love her child with everything you have. Do not balk at her questions. Don’t make up your answers to sound good. Be truthful and honest and kind. She doesn’t owe you a single solitary thing. Keep that in mind as you answer questions for her. Think of your own adoptive family questions you should ask. Be ready and willing to answer.
For all of you, best of luck on this journey. It is a difficult path but it is completely worthwhile. As a friend once told me, “It is the hardest best thing I have ever done.”
Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.
Do you feel there is a hole in your heart that can only be filled by a child? We’ve helped complete 32,000+ adoptions. We would love to help you through your adoption journey. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.