Anyone Familiar with Adoption?

Updated on August 31, 2008
L.S. asks from Calimesa, CA
24 answers

My husband and I are considering adoption. His biggest fear is being able to bond with the child the way he has bonded with our biological son. Anyone have some stories I can share with him about bonding with an adopted child?

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for the wonderful responses! My husband and I sat and read each one. He has since spent time with a friend's daughter and bonded well with her and so is convinced it is something he could do easier then he thought! =) He still wants to try naturally and so we are pursuing that as well as talking to agencies about adopting. Either way it was wonderful for both of us to read your responses and really opened up a great conversation for us.

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K.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

i, myself have not adopted children ...but i have MANY friends who have. they ALL say "bonding comes from CARETAKING another human being...NOT from blood ties" good luck to you! 8^)

H.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

If you have cable, look into a show called Adoption Stories (I think it was on discovery health channel). I have always had reservations about a baby not coming from me but after seeing other peoples experiences with addoption from that show, I'm way more open to it. It was very eye opening.

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L.A.

answers from San Diego on

I am intimately familiar with adoption, and I have to disagree with your previous responses. Please take my concerns to heart. I have seen adoption from every side of the triangle.
1) I am adopted.
2) I am a birthmom.
3) My granddaughter is adopted.
If your husband has this concern, DO NOT make light of it. He knows himself best, and adoption is not for everyone. His concern is 100% valid.

As I said, I am adopted. My mother never bonded with me, even though I was adopted at birth. She was and is an educated, intelligent, caring person, but she simply was never able to bond with me like she did with my older brother, their son. Their application to adopt was initially denied because of her worries on that front, but somehow, my adoption went through.

My dad was the best ever. I cannot imagine a biological father being closer to me than he was. He was my very best friend from the day we first laid eyes on each other until the day he died. But my mom.... nope. I grew up knowing that my mom did not love me the way she loved my brother. Kids feel this stuff. They know.

Certainly plenty of kids are born into a situation where they are really not bonded with one or the other of their biological parents, but my belief is that adopted kids deserve more. Much more. If a family is considering adoption, both mother and father need to be darn sure that they will be able to love, accept, and bond unconditionally with whatever child comes their way. Adopted children are a gift that should only be accepted by those who are absolutely wholehearted. That is my view as an adopted child.

As a birthmom, I believe it even more strongly. As the giver of this, the greatest gift I have ever given, I would have felt betrayed and lied-to if my son had been adopted by a "not sure" parent. Giving a child up for adoption is not taking the easy way out. It is not an action taken by an unfit or uncaring mother. It is an excruciatingly difficult decision made only by those smart enough and strong enough to put the ultimate good of their baby above their own feelings and emotions.

A baby who has been given up for adoption deserves a mom and a dad who wholeheartedly love and accept them, and who feel as if that child is the greatest gift ever. Unless both parents are sure they are capable of that, it should be a definite "no".

Not being sure doesn't make someone a bad person. My own husband has said on several occasions that he does not think he would ever be able to feel the same about an adopted child as he does about our biological kids. That's just him knowing himself. He is a great dad and a wonderful man. But adoption is not for him. I'm sure he could pull it off quite well, but the child would feel the difference. The child would know something was missing. As I did with my mom. It's just not fair to anybody. It's not fair to the child, not fair to the birthmom, and not fair to the less than wholehearted parent. No one knew better than my mom herself that she was not the parent she wanted to be when it came to me. And there is nothing worse than knowing you could be a better parent. You don't want to put your husband in that position.

If he can resolve this within himself - GREAT! But don't talk him into it. Don't do it unless you are both as sure as sure can be.

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A.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

We are very familiar with adoption - our daughter turns 4 tomorrow, & we've been a family since she was 5.5 months old.
We came to adoption through the inability to have our own child. My husband was terrified that he couldn't/wouldn't bond with a child not of his own blood - he had a hard time leaving the grief and anger of not being able to make a baby. And he was unable to entertain the idea of working with a birth Mom for an open adoption. (he now has a fine relationship with the birth Grandma - go figure!) When we went to meet her, it just took ONE look between them for that fear to dissolve. She sat on his lap (he hadn't ever really been around an infant before, either), grabbed his fingers and gazed at him without blinking. He got a goofy look on his face and they've been inseperable since.

I don't feel like I could be any MORE her mother, nor he her father. We have friends, also adoptive parents, who quip: "our family is made with love, not blood".

Best of luck to you as you decide which path to take, but worry NOT about loving an adopted child. You will, you will.

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J.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

This is a topic VERY close to my heart... I am a birthmother. My daughter is now 12 and I have a semi-open adoption (meaning I don't have visits but I received updates 2 times a year). I have read both sides of this and known both sides of this personally. There was a previous post that was absolutely correct, that if he has concerns then you should definitely listen to them! Adoption is not for everyone. I was very fortunate that the family that I chose for my daughter has completely bonded with her!! She has a mother and a father, no siblings. But she's had a GREAT life. And her and her family are very close. I'm not trying to solicit anything, but a great resource is birthmombuds.com. Granted it's a site mainly for support to birthmothers, there is some information and links for adoptive families as well. I do wish you luck in this journey!!

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J.L.

answers from San Diego on

Hi L., It takes very specail people to have the heart to adopt, im my church many many members had addopted kids, mostly from China and Romanea, and the ones I have personally talked to had this to say in comom, it's easy to love an addpotive child, because, we choosed that child, we love our birth children, because they are apart of us and a gift from God, but also a adopted child is a gift from God, not in those exact words, but same meaning. If your husband has a love for childen period, the first time your little adopted son or daughter gives him a hug, he won't be able to resisit loving that child. My best friend is adopted, and one of our pastors in our church are adopted, all positive results, my brother also adopted his now wifes to children, and loves them like his own. J.

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D.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

Have you considered talking with an expert? go to quantumparenting.com Marci is great resource
G.

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S.O.

answers from San Diego on

Our 3 yo son is adopted through an infant, domestic adoption. His birthmom lives in Long Beach.

We used Bethany Christian Services, I believe they have a satellite office here in San Diego.

My hubby also questioned whether he could bond with a child that wasn't biologically his, or didn't look like him.

But after much soul searching, meeting with the social workers through Bethany, and answering all the personal questions they ask about why we want to adopt, we both came to the conclusion that we just wanted to be parents. Plus we knew we couldn't control if our kids looked like us or not since we are a biracial couple. And given that I am Asian and DH is CA, most likely any of our bio kids would look mostly Asian anyways since Asian genes tend to be very dominant.

I would take your hubby concerns very seriously and go and meet with a few agencies. Just the initial class or meeting with the agency will answer a lot of your questions. I know that for us, Bethany was amazing. I showed up to their head office in La Mirada unannounced one day and the director, Jeff, dropped everything and spent about 2 hours with me and my good friend answering all of our questions.

They also offer an Adoption Class where they go over a lot of information regarding adoption right at the beginning. In fact, attending that class is a required before you start the official application process. The information given in the class, and also meeting with a birthmom and a couple of adoptive parents during the class helped to ease my hubby's fears and questions.

You can also check into several organizations like CUB (Coalition of United Birthparents) and a few others here in San Diego. I know there are also a few adoption related meetup groups through meetup.com where you can meet with other adoptive families.

You should also check out www.bethany.org and log onto their discussion boards. Anyone interested in adoption is welcome to post there. Lots of great information and support for all parts of the adoption triad, domestic and international adoption too.

And feel free to PM me with any questions or concerns that you have.

FYI: Our son was placed with us at 3 weeks old. The minute my DH held him for the first time, all those fears and concerns immediately melted away. Our son is half Cambodian and Half African American. He doesn't look like either of us. And now we have our 15 month old surprise bio daughter. She also doesn't really look like either of us. We are the perfect neopolitan family.

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G.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have a 4 year old adopted son. My husband and I adopted him at birth so the bonding for us was instant. I think the bonding experience truly depends on the age of the child and who has been taking care of in the past. I love my son more than anything in the world and I could not believe that having a biological child would be any different.
If you want to adopt I would say go for it! It is a true blessing.

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A.D.

answers from Las Vegas on

I actually adopted my twin boys - who just turned five today...They have been the best thing that has ever happened to me - up until meeting my amazing husband and having my second set of twins (oops - not planned) with him - just recently. I met my little guys when they were only two weeks old and would definitely urge you and your husband to speak to adoption agencies about the difference of adopting babies vs. older children (I am not sure if that has been something you have considered or not). Other than that I would say that if you are being led in that direction that finding literature on adoption and also contacting local agencies and sitting down with them with your husband would probably be the best thing to do for you both.
Good luck with your search! God bless!
A.

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C.B.

answers from Reno on

Hi L.,
I have an adopted girl, Jessica who just turned 6. We have had her since she was 4 weeks old. I was unable to have a child of my own so my situation is a little different but I can assure you that I could not love my little girl anymore than I do. She is truly my treasure, my precious gift from God and we adore one another and tell each other tens of tims a day. My husband who was originally not interested in adoption until after we had gone through infertility treatments, feels the same way I do.I hope this helps.
All the best,
C. :-)

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J.V.

answers from Los Angeles on

Laura A has some very good points - though I think one thing to take into consideration is your husband's fear and if it is just the normal fear that we all go through with a new situation (new things that we know nothing about are always a bit scary) or is it a deep fear that he is not sure he is going to be able to get over. We adopted a baby girl domestically 7 months ago and as we were waiting for her, we went through the same fears. I think a lot of parents go through it - and I know that I have heard from many parents, they have the same fear when they have a second child - biological or adopted. They fear they will never be able to love a second child as much as the first. And then they have that child in their home and in their arms, and wonder what they ever worried about.

Like I said, Laura makes some good points. Especially if your husbands fear is very deeply rooted. But if he is just showing a healthy reaction to a new and unexperienced situation, I would say that it is normal. Talk through it. We experienced no bonding issues at all - though we worried about it a lot. We took one look at our daughter and knew that she was meant to be our baby girl.

I hope it helps - and have him talk to people who have gone through it. That will probably help him a bit.

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L.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Yes! My husband and I adopted 2 beautiful Ethiopian sisters 2 years ago. They are the joy of our lives. Your husbands concern is one I've heard many times over, even with having another biological child! In the beginning, I wondered the same thing myself. All I can say is that when you respond to the needs of your adopted child and invest yourself in that child the bonding is simply a by-product it is not something you have to conjur up. The love grows when you're not looking and before you know it you have a fierce love in place. Also, your son is at a great stage where he will likely be very excited to have another sibling. As your family comes around that child...that child becomes one of you. There are also lots of great books available on the subject.

A little about me:
I am 36 years old, my daughters are 3 and 6 and they want another sibling (smile)... we want to adopt again.

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B.V.

answers from Los Angeles on

My husband and I are in the process of adopting 4 children through DCFS. We choose to become a fost/adopt family 2 years ago. It has not always been easy, but so worth every moment. My DH was nervious at first, being an only child. He is very close to each of our kids.

There are support groups for adoptive families and those interested in adoption. That may be a good way to explore your husbands concerns. Definately make sure this is what you both want, you will need each other.

God Bless and Good luck.
Bethany

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G.B.

answers from Las Vegas on

Wow! What a range of advice. Here is my two cents.

I was raised biological in a standard dysfunctional lovingly abusive family. I never wanted to have a family, let alone birth children (maybe b/c my family sucked so much) but somehow knew if and when there was going to be a family it would be through adoption. In the end we pursued adoption to build a family b/c my husband wanted to have a family and I wanted to give that to him, not b/c I had some yearning desire to be a mom and love a child (gasp). And yes we both FEARED being able to bond etc.

Anyways after 10 years of marriage we just adopted a healthy boy and it was love at first sight for me (which I did not expect), however for my husband it took a little longer (about a week and then his bond continues to deepen with each new experience).

As part of the process we went through a 3 day class/retreat with 16 other couples (who are now a natural support group for us) and EVERYONE had the same FEAR as your husband. FEAR is NATURAL and can be OVERCOME. Heck when we started talking to dozens of our friends many said they felt the same fear of thier biological children before and after they arrived; all have overcome this.

5 months later I love my son so incredibly I cannot even describe it. Like he was always meant for me and our family. Along the way we had a couple failed adoptions and while at the time those were hard to swallow, I now know it was part of our journey to the perfect family. Loving a child comes naturally, something kicks in when you start taking care of them. I'm so unbelievably happy to be a mother now especially since I was never the mother type. Even all my friends have noticed the change in me and were surprised.

Bottom line is LOVE is NATURAL and love is a CHOICE - you chose to love your spouse and have bonded with each other right? You chose your pets and fell in love with them right? You have friends you love right? If you are capable of unconditional love you are capable of bonding with and loving an adopted child.

Contact Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada (or where ever you live) and ask about their 3 day parenting an adopted child course. We have worked with 5 agencies across the nation and not one provided us such an opportunity. We spent 5 years getting ready for our adoptions and I personally thought I knew it all and begrudgingly took this required class. Boy what an eye opener it was for me. I learned so much about myself and adoption - I was grateful to have taken this class before finally adopting because in the end we ended up with a biracial son and this was something we were not considering before the class and had we not accepted this opportunity I would have missed out on the new love of my life :-)

Good Luck and Best Wishes,
G., Mother of Jackson

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J.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

My hubby and I adopted an almost 9-year-old boy just over 2 years ago from a Russian orphanage. He is the answer to my prayers! I cannot imagine loving him any more than I do. We are a very close family. There is a very strong bond between all of us. Along with marrying my husband, it's the best decision I've ever made. He completed our little family. I'm very much in favor of adoption. We used International Christian Adoption in Temecula, Calif. As the name implies, they work with various international governments but they do domestic adoptions as well. Good luck!

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B.S.

answers from Reno on

I wish you the best of luck.

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R.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hey L., it's me R.. Did I ever tell you that my husband Jeff has 6 adopted brothers and sisters (he is a biological child)? And the funny thing is that if I have the story right, even though the decision was mainly my mother-in-law's (she did foster care), my father-in-law has always been really close with the 3 youngest boys (who are now all in high school). And another friend of mine just adopted their first baby. We want to adopt one day too. Your concern is definitely valid. I just think about how special an adopted child is because you actually have a choice in the matter. We bond in a special way with our biological kids for sure, whether or not getting pregnant was our initial choice. But there's also something about being adopted that is amazing because of everything the parent has to go through in order to "choose" their child. The cost is high just the same as it is to birth a biological child. I guess my point is that if you are wanting a child, and you come to the point where you're ready to adopt, then the bond may be just as natural, because it's something you are actually wanting. And how neat it would be for Dilly to feel like he was a part of it all. Anyway, I hope that helped just a little bit. Gimme a call and we can talk more.
-R.

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M.C.

answers from Las Vegas on

Hi L.:

I am the mother of an adopted son. I can only tell you that from the first moment I laid eyes on him, I knew in my heart that he was put on this earth to be mine. He may not have come from my flesh but he is totally my child and I don't think I could love him more. My entire family feels the same way and once my mom was talking about him at a family dinner and comparing his hair color to mine. When I reminded her that I had nothing to do with his coloring she said, "Oh, I forgot he was adopted"! What more can I say! Best wishes to you and your family.

M.

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C.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have friends in NC who adopted a new born via open adoption 6/7 years ago. The are now trying to adopt a girl. If you want to give me your e-mail I could see if they'd be willing to share their experiences. (New borns are more difficult to find. There are many older kids in need of adoption, however some have emotional issues and may have attachment disorder -- happened to a family I know who adopted a teen from Russia -- he lived with them for 5 yrs and then went his own way.)

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L.P.

answers from Santa Barbara on

Hi L.,

My husband and I leave for Russia next week for our first adoption. Yea! We finally get to meet our child! We have been involved in the adoption community for years and have planned to adopt for years. I have talked to countless couples about their adoptions. I've also been the contact person for adoption information for an orphan and street kid ministry. It is very common for men to feel the way your husband does. In all the conversations that I've had with families, only once, a father said that his relationship with their adopted daughter was different in the beginning but that, in very short order, it became exactly like their 2 bio children. He attributed it to the fact that she was a year old when they got her (overseas adoption) and they just had to get to know one another. Every other couple said that they fell in love right away, regardless of their concerns prior to getting their baby. Those feelings usually dissipated during the adoption process. I did read a book from a mom that said bonding was a process for her but if you check adoption blogs and websites, you will find that it is not the norm.

Overwhelmingly, adoption is a beautiful, joyous gift. There are exceptions. I know families that have had their child taken back from the birth mother. My sister's son's bio mom took my nephew back 3 times before she finally gave up rights (that was a private adoption.) I know families where the kids turned out to have special needs that were not revealed up front, and I know families with worse case scenario reactive attachment disorder. In our case, my husband and I were supposed to be adopting a 2 year old girl and we were informed last week that the government allowed a Russian family to adopt her instead. It was a huge blow, painful and grievous but not devastating as we were prepared for the possibility that it could happen. We are now traveling to Russia having no idea what child we will be matched with. They will, of course, work with us on making the match and we believe that our child is there and everything will work. We are scared, sure, but we would be if we were about to give birth to a bio child, too.

We in the adoption community evangelize adoption. I am a huge believer. My life has been blessed through it and I believe that God is at work in the process just as He is in pregnancy. Anything can happen with a bio child as well. We can make all the preparations that we can and life will take a totally turn sometimes. There are surprises in adoption, just as there are with home grown children. The same sister I referred to above also adopted my niece from China. She was supposed to have special needs but turned out to be perfectly healthy. It was a paperwork mistake that became our family's miracle. Adoption is a specific choice and an informed choice is a faith filled one.

If your husband is open to exploring his feelings on the matter, it sounds like the adoption retreat that another poster mentioned would be great. If the retreat isn't possible for you, I would encourage you and your husband to start reading. There are many great books, just do a search on the internet. Adoption magazine might be another great resource. Get connected with adopted parents and ask, ask, ask. Most adoptive parents are happy to share their experiences. Your husband's heart may change after he personally speaks with other adoptive fathers. We got more information talking to adoptive parents than in any of the books we read. Also, many adoption agencies have education courses. If you chose to adopt overseas, depending on the country, you may be required to take adoption education courses in order to adopt. In addition to our impending Russian adoption, we are also adopting from China, and both countries required adoption education. (The wait in China has become a very long-we have been waiting 2 yrs and it may be 2 more so we decided to adopt from Russia in the interim.)

If you have any questions about international adoption, send me a message. I also have a contact for a great non-profit domestic agency in the midwest. Their rate of successful adoptions is considerably higher than the national averages and birth rights are given up immediately in that state. The needs of the birthmom's are highly prioritized, so they get counseling throughout their pregnancies and after, which helps attribute to their high success rate. Also, the total cost for the adoption is much lower than other agencies. It is a ministry for them, making forever families, not a money making business. Whatever your decision is, I wish you the best.

Blessings,
L.

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C.N.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear L.,

Don't even worry about it at all. I was concerned about the same thing before we adopted our children. It is just the same as with natural born children. A baby is a baby and is lovely in their own way. You probably will forget which is which when people ask you. Also, I would like to mention that although you will feel the same about both of them, others will not understand. So, if I were you, I would mention the adoption very seldom, and if something is written about you and your family be certain to tell them not write about who was or was not adopted. I noticed that a famous man and his wife have some of his children, some of hers, and some adopted and they will not mention which is which if asked. He says that the doesn't remember and changes the subject. They are all beloved the same, so be sure to let others know that too.

It is a wondrous experience and I say, go ahead, all will be well. After my son died I worked long and hard to find his birth mother to let her know his life was over. The birth mothers do suffer greatly, and need to be honored. I did find her, sent pictures, and a letter about his life and the wonderful relationships with all the people he had known throughout his life. She did not answer, but that is o.k., I did what I thought was right and loving. So there you all, more than you probably wanted to know.
C. N.

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A.L.

answers from San Diego on

My dh had the same fear about our baby. We have a 5 year old biological son and have adopted our baby from Guatemala. He has given his heart to his new son. It is the best!
We are all so in love! What a wonderful gift adoption is to our whole family!
How can you not fall in love with a child? Its human nature!
Best of luck!

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K.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

My husband and I adopted a wonderful little girl 2 years ago. We have an open adoption, we still have contact with the birthparents. I felt bonded to our daughter the moment she was born. There are a lot of books about adoption that he may want to read. My husband and I always felt like she was our own. Going through the open adoption, we were able to form a bond between the birthmom and us. We went to most of the prenatal and even waited anxiously with the birthmother to hear the words during her ultrasound "It's a girl". If you want any more info, or have questions please email me at [email protected]____.com

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