Family

5 things to really think about before adopting a child

Author: Canadian Living

Family

5 things to really think about before adopting a child

Families adopt for many reasons and adoption is a great way to give a child a warm, loving home. Adopting a child is a very rewarding experience, but it is also a lifelong commitment that needs to be carefully considered. There are many steps required to begin the adoption process and the work does not stop once you've brought the new addition to your family home.

To learn more about the adoption process we spoke with Pat Convery, executive director of the Adoption Council of Ontario. She shares her insights into some of the most important questions adoptive parents should ask themselves before diving in.

1. Are you ready for the work it takes to adopt?
If you have made the decision to adopt a child you are likely beyond the point of needing to ask yourself if you are ready to be a parent. However at this point, says Convery, you should be asking yourself why it is you want to be a parent.

"I think that people, when they get to the point of adoption, know that they're ready to be parents. It's just there's an extra amount of work involved in adoption, and families need to think 'OK, how important is this to me?'" she says.

Parents need to be prepared for everything from the home study process, where they will be closely observed, to long, indefinite waits and expenses.

2. Are you willing to do the research?

There are so many layers to the adoption process, and the regulations and requirements vary from province to province in Canada. There are also variations based on the kind of adoption you are considering, whether it is an international adoption or a local adoption, or if you're looking to adopt a child who has special needs. Convery suggests that adoptive parents also research all the information they can on the costs involved in the adoption process so there are no surprises.

Plus, there is no shortage of adoption myths that you need to sort through. "Common myths would be that there are no children available for adoption, that you're too old for adoption, that you have to be married or that you have to be rich to adopt," says Convery. Many of these myths are simply not true and you should take the time to find out which are true and which are false before being deterred from adopting.

Page 1 of 2 -- Find advice on parenting and how to locate support groups for adoptive parents on page 2
3. Are you ready for adoption-related parenting issues?
When parenting an adopted child, you will face what Convery refers to as "adoption-related parenting issues." These issues can range from figuring out how to tell your child about his or her background to how to integrate an adopted child into a family that also has biological children.

"When you're adopting a child you've got some parenting issues that are different then when a child is born to you, such as helping them understand the circumstances of their adoption or helping them have as much information as is available about their birth family," Convery explains.

Every situation is unique, so it is very difficult to anticipate what might come up. The key is to really explore what your strengths and weakness are as a parent before taking on these unique issues.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for support
Nearly every province in Canada has support groups and associations for adoptive parents to use as a resource or for support.

"We want to encourage people to be open and to ask questions and to get answers, and for them to be connected with other families," says Convery. Creating a base of support through family members and other parents who have adopted can help you through not only the adoption process, but parenting an adopted child.

"There are children who need families, so we want people to think about adoption as an option for their family," she says. Become informed, but do not be deterred by the process. There is great joy in giving a child in need of a home a permanent, loving family.

5. How do you feel about the child's birth family?

Convery points out that birth families are an often-overlooked factor in the adoption process. She recommends that adoptive parents spend some time exploring their feelings on how comfortable they are with maintaining contact with the child's birth parents.

You should also consider what your limits are and how open you want to be with your child's biological family. Are you willing to maintain contact through regular visits? Are you more comfortable updating them with pictures and letters? These questions will vary based on many factors. Even if the birth family chooses not to be involved, you can expect to answer questions from your child regarding his or her biological family.

Adoption requires a lot of research, patience and commitment, but if you know you are ready and have the right support and information, you can offer a loving home to a child who needs a family.

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5 things to really think about before adopting a child

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