The idea of the “American Dream” is a concept that most Americans spend their productive years trying to achieve. While the specifics of what defines the American Dream can be highly individualized, most Americans agree that the Dream consists of owning a home, earning enough money to save for retirement, working at a job they enjoy, and having a family. Unfortunately, for the 10-15% of American couples (30% after a couple turns 35) who suffer from infertility, having a family can be the most difficult component of the Dream to achieve.
Often couples suffering from infertility turn to adoption as a way to achieve their goal of enlarging their families. Like all ways of creating a family, adoption offers many rewards and challenges for a couple and, thus, should not be entered into haphazardly. There are many aspects and logistics a couple must consider before entering into the adoption commitment, some of which may challenge a couple or individual about their personal beliefs and limitations as potential parents.
- Make sure both parents are willing to adopt. Adoption can be a long, arduous process. Having a partner to offer support and reassurance during times of uncertainty will help ensure an overall positive experience for all members of the adoption triad.
- Carefully explore all adoption options. Just like having a biological child, an adoption brings many unknown factors into a family. A couple must carefully examine those factors that they are willing to accept as opposed to those they feel are beyond the scope of their parenting skills. For example, are they willing to parent a child with a known disability? Is race an issue in the home or community? Are they willing to enter into an “open” adoption with the child’s biological parents? Is a couple willing to travel in order to adopt their child, and, if so, how far? How much medical background does the couple need in order to feel comfortable with the adoption? Is the sex of the child important? Is the couple able to provide any medical care the child may require? While some of these questions may seem trivial, it is vital that potential adoptive parents carefully explore all aspects of the adoption. When a couple is willing to take on the responsibility of raising a child, they must be willing to do so unconditionally. Otherwise the psychological damage that may be done will be greatly traumatic to the child.
- How will the couple finance the adoption? Obviously, this is an important proponent in the adoption equation. Finances may dictate, to some extent, the type of adoption a couple pursues. Fortunately, there are many resources available to adopting couples, making adoption a viable option for an increasing number of families.
- Will the couple use a private adoption attorney or an adoption agency? There are pros and cons to both, as well as adoption through Missouri's Division of Family Services.
These are but a few of the most pressing issues a potential adopting couple must explore before pursuing an adoption. Many resources exist to provide both research and anecdotal information to help couples decide on the appropriate adoption avenue to pursue. Thankfully, through adoption, more and more couples can work toward this one element of the American Dream that may have eluded them for many years.