Friday, March 13, 2015

When is the Right Time?

When is the right time to adopt?  Is there a right time to adopt?

This is a hard question for me because the right time is different for everyone.

When my husband and I decided to adopt from Guatemala we had retired from the military lifestyle, bought a good size house, I was a stay at home mom, our kids were older, and we had the money saved up for the adoption.  We committed to a 7 year old so we could keep birth order that we read about.  All was great except the child was 10, not 7, so birth order went out the window.  Guess what, birth order was the least of our issues.  We threw the birth order issue out as we continued to adopt. We adopted a 17 year old with 4 younger kids in the house.

One issue with going out of birth order is making sure that you protect the younger child(ren).  I would not put an older new child in a bedroom with a younger child.  You don't want your child to become a victim.  It can happen.

We did what was right for us at the time.  However, you can rent and adopt.  Your home has to pass inspections and size requirements, but you don't have to be a home owner.

You can be working and adopt.  You will have the challenges of any other working parent.  However, it is quite possible that you will spend more time with appointments and therapies.  I worked for a year full-time with the National Guard.  I had to quit because all my leave time was used on appointments for the kids.  It was too much for our family.  Having a stay at home parent works for our family. However, our family is large so the number of appointments in magnified.  Next week I have one IEP appointment, 2 orthodontist appointments, 2 doctor appointments and visits scheduled with the GAL and adoption worker.

Before looking at adoption read, read and read.  If possible talk to other adoptive parents.  Do not think that if you love the child then all will be well.  Know what possible behaviors you will be dealing with.  Expect to have behaviors that you are not prepared for.  Have a support system, person or group.  Be prepared to be judged when the kid acts out, others will look at you.

Be prepared for a life change.  If you don't think that you can handle a child screaming for hours then don't do it.  If you can't deal with peeing, defecating issues, don't do it.  If having a child lying to you sends you over the edge then don't do it.  If you are not totally committed then don't do it.

Emma and Michelle came to us from a disrupted adoption.  We were their 7th placement.  We should have had a period of transition where we got to know them better.  We didn't have that because they had to be moved.  The first 6 months truly tested us.  The screaming went on for hours.  The temptation to call and have them moved was there.  However, we knew that if we called that we would be causing more damage.  We were committed, we stuck with it.  After 6 months the screaming decreased. They weren't a danger to the kids or pets, they weren't violent.  One of them just screamed, for hours, often.  To add to that she got up at 5 am every day and woke the household up.  Dealing with screaming when you are tired is hard.

Be aware that adopting a child doesn't erase the past.  Be prepared to deal with behavioral issues for years.  It is possible that they will never totally go away.  Parenting doesn't stop when a child hits 18, be prepared for a lifetime of commitment.

Perhaps I sound negative. I would rather tell someone to prepare for years of behavioral problems and have them come back and say they had none.  It is possible to have very few issues.

On the flip side, children can heal.  They can learn to love, learn to live in a family. One day your desk will be full of little love notes.

I love being a mom to all of my children. I love all of my children. My commitment has always been there for all of them.  However, my feelings of love came quicker for some than others.  When you are deep in the battle for their emotional health it can be hard to form that attachment.  But then suddenly, one day in a period of calm you look down on your child and feel the love.  It happens.

So when is the right time?  For everyone it is different.  It may be when the child walks into your life, when you watch a show on adoption and feel the pull, when you talk with an adoptive mom, when your spouse brings it up.  Having all the information, logistics, finances in place is great.  But in the end the heart will tell you when it is the right time. Listen to it.


  1. Thanks! We are getting ready to move forward in the next month or so.

  2. and sometimes the screaming hasn't stopped even after 5 years..... It has nearly put me over the edge many times. BUT we are still here :-) And stronger for it.

  3. seriously. the screaming! offt! I love your blog! I love the truth that you speak! Adoption is a tough subject between me and my husband. I would adopt everyone and he's not ready yet. So, we foster and foster and wait. It'll come. :)