The Adoption Process – What Can I Control?

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Written by Laci Richter
Adoptive Mom & Author of Refuel Your Wait

When my husband and I started the process of adoption, I thought that we were finally in control of building our family.  After years of trying to conceive and unsuccessful medical treatments, we were now going to have control over the outcome. When we started to encounter what I viewed as obstacles or closed doors, I started to work even harder at trying to control situations and timing.

In my book, Refuel Your Wait: Find Hope and Overcome Fear While Adopting, I write a lot about my struggles of unmet expectations and letting go of control. Below is an excerpt from Chapter 7 titled, Path of Least Control:

When we started the adoption process I wanted to proceed to the easiest and shortest route. I read all the books and planned our course of action. We signed up with an adoption agency for the support and education while we simultaneously worked with adoption lawyers to cover all our bases and quickly get our profile to expectant mothers. Each time an opportunity came our way I would try to take it, make it mine and make it work. Multiple times we faced situations that were not ideal and led to a closed door after expended energy.  It took almost a year in that process before I realized I was trying too hard to remain in control.

While struggling with the process, I started to identify which factors I could control and which I could not control. After identifying these factors, I was then able to focus my energy on what I could control and process the rest through building community, faith and prayer.

So, Let's Make A List.

Making a physical list to identify the difference between things you have power over and things you do not have power over can be very helpful. This physical tool will be available to reference when you encounter a situation that is bringing you frustration or fear.

Things Out of Your Control

Identifying these items and accepting the lack of authority here can help you to process and move forward.

  • The Timing of Your MatchRepeat after me. “I have no control over the timing of my match.” You will not understand this now, but when you look back on your journey you will be very thankful for the timing. The very child that you are equipped to parent will become part of your family.
  • The Expectant Parent’s Physical Choices -You have no dominance over someone’s choices about their body. If there is a situation presented with possible drug/alcohol exposure, do your research and make a decision that you are comfortable with.
  • The Risk of an Interrupted Adoption– In an unbroken world, every person would feel equipped to parent their child. If the expectant parent you are matched with becomes equipped along the way, there is no doubt you will feel heartbroken. However, at the end of the day you only want to parent a child whose birth parent is confirmed in their choice to place their child for adoption.
  • The Emotions of Everyone Involved– The emotions of the triad in adoption will ebb and flow over the entire process including after placement.
  • Other People’s Opinions– Even if these people are your family and closest friends, they have no control over your choice and you have no control over their opinion. Do not engage.

Use this list as a physical reminder that you should not spend your energy here. Now, let’s move on to making a list of items that are beneficial to spend time, energy and even money on.

Things In Your Control

Although the list that you have control or jurisdiction over in the adoption process is short, it is extremely important and will ensure positive results in your adoption process.

  • Awareness of Adoption Ethics- First things first, educate yourself on adoption ethics. It doesn’t take a whole lot of googling to find resources that can lead you on the right path.
  • The Adoption Agency/Professional You Choose– Once you have an understanding of adoption ethics, this knowledge can help you choose the right adoption professional to walk you through your journey.
  • Post Placement Care/Support for Expectant Parents– This can be done by choosing an adoption professional who provides pre and post placement support and therapy to expectant parents. If “post placement support” is listed on the website, be sure to ask questions about what that includes.
  • Forming a Support System- There are no amount of books or conversations with family members or friends that will take the place of support from other members in the adoption community. You can find other waiting families through online support groups, your adoption professional, or through friends of friends.
  • Your Attitude/Perspective/Fears- You may not want to admit it, but this friend is totally in your control. Dive into your faith, daily devotions, therapy, long walks, etc. Find things to include in your wait that will intentionally help you keep perspective and a positive attitude.

Moving Forward

Although the lack of control in the adoption process can create fear and anxiety; we can be intentional about preparing ourselves to encounter the unexpected.  Using tools such as these lists, seeking a support system, and purposely creating joy can help turn our wait from a passage of time into a time of hopeful expectancy.

Psalm 25:4–5  Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me; by your trust and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you

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