From the adoptive parent's perspective, whether adoption is a first choice or not can be a reflection of the journey it took them to consider adoption and their own ideological values. If the choice for adoption came about because of infertility issues, the adoptive couple may have tried many other avenues to resolve their infertility issue before settling on adoption.
This is not a bad thing as the effects on self-esteem and the death of personal dreams for a genetic child of their own need to be addressed before adopting a child should be considered. In this case, second choice may be the best choice for all involved as it allows the infertile couple the time they need to mourn their own losses before considering opening their hearts to a new vision of family. However, for many other couples, adoption is not just another choice, but a first choice. In some cases, these are families who have raised biological children already and are not yet ready to retire. Others may be ‘done' with the baby years, but still wish to expand their current family by adopting a school-aged child.
For those who chose to marry late in life, or perhaps are experiencing a 2nd marriage, biologically having a child may not be a first choice. Simply having a child to cherish and raise together may be the ultimate goal. In these cases, couples may make a conscious decision to put adoption in the forefront of their quest for building a family. These are the people who open their hearts and their homes to children in need of parents.
Will The Child Consider Themselves A Second Choice?
One of the issues that an infertile couple may need to address is the idea that they are choosing adoption as a "second choice." While the journey to get to adoption may have not been their first choice, it's important that the child they adopt not think of itself as a second choice. Adopted children may be sensitive to the idea that the infertile couple might not have adopted them if they had had other choices that worked for them.
One of the primary concerns for infertile couples in building a family is the cost of infertility treatments in time, emotional duress, and money. Infertility treatments are expensive and the risks are multiple births or miscarriages. The treatments may take years to produce results. The risk for miscarriage is high with its own risks of emotional stress. By the time a couple has explored all the medical infertility options, they are generally asking themselves if adoption shouldn't have been their first choice. It becomes apparent to them that the creation of a family isn't dependent on passing on a set of genetic instructions but having a child and a warm, loving home. So, regardless that they did explore all avenues of infertility treatments, if they are honest about the resolution of their infertility with their adopted children, they can assure the child that they are first choices. That despite the avenue they took to get to adoption, the choice was always to have children of their own to love, and not necessarily children who were biological children. They can assure the adopted child that the love they have for them is a first choice love.
Choosing Adoption As A Conscious First Choice
There are families in may countries who have parenting experience and feel adopting an older child in need of a strong family is a good choice. Well established in their lives, these may be older parents, single parents, or other non-traditional families who have social values that extend beyond personal gratification, or they can be traditional families that what to extend their families by helping another child in need. Others are families that have already raised their own children and feel they have plenty of love to spare for others. Whether the choice was done after biological children were born or not, these families consider adoption a first choice, even though it may come after having children biologically.
Many families feel the struggle of children in the foster care system or the over-crowded orphanages of the world. When hearts focus on love, the choice to adopt is not done to complete a family but to extend an already loving one. Many of these families take care to not only provide shelter and food for their adopted children's needs but establish a sense of home and honor the adopted child's cultural heritage, even if it is different than their own. Adoption is no longer just about infertility. Today families of all types are opening their hearts, homes and lives to the love that adoption brings.
Martha Osborne is an adoption advocate, adoptive mom and adoptee. In 2005, Martha was awarded the Congressional Angel in Adoption award for her tireless work in advocating for older, special needs and waiting children. She is also the editor of the online adoption publication, RainbowKids.com , the leading online resource for international adoption and waiting children, now in its second decade of online advocacy. http://www.rainbowkids.com