Choosing Who to Adopt…

Perhaps one of the hardest things I have ever had to do was fill out our application to adopt. All the info about us was pretty extensive (we actually had to calculate our BMI’s) but that wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was when we were asked what demographics we are interested in. To put it bluntly, they want to know what kind of kid we want.

What a crappy question.

Ten years ago I would have told you that I would want to adopt whoever was the least “adoptable.” You know, the kid that no one else wanted to adopt. The underdog. Now, ten years later with a masters degree in Clinical Psychology under my belt and an 18 month old son on my hip I realize that I have to be more discerning than that. I wish I didn’t have to be, but right now, at this point in my life I have to be responsible by recognizing the repercussions of our decision.

So… what does being responsible look like?? I mean we could just as easily have a biological child with severe special needs and we couldn’t control that and of course we’d just get through it… So is it selfish to think this way??

Here’s my take on it: If we have the choice to adopt someone with special needs that will not too greatly impact Luca’s life I think that is the most loving thing we can do for our entire family, including our new child.

I don’t want her to feel like a burden and I don’t want Luca to resent us or his sibling. If we can make this as smooth as possible, why would we not choose that route? I understand that there are lots of children with severe special needs that need homes but we have to be honest about what would be the best fit for our situation right now. We are also trusting that if God wants us to take on a certain condition then He will tell us. So far, we’ve heard nada.

So that being said, we spent hours (not all at once, thank heavens) googling various medical conditions and treatments. The agency had provided us with what’s called a Medical Conditions Checklist. It was LONG people, like… really, really long. There are so many medical conditions out there that I had never heard of. We had to check “Yes,” “No,” or “Will Discuss.” Holy cow… It was exhausting and depressing. I’m so glad that’s over. Except that isn’t even close to the hardest part.

pics May 2010 023
An image no parent should ever have to experience.

The hardest part is going to come when our daughter arrives and we are dealing with a medical condition head-on. Google just can’t describe the emotions that we will be feeling as we go through treatment and rehab. I don’t even know what the condition will be yet… But I know that I get upset when Luca has a bad fall. This is going to be way beyond a bad day at the park.

So all I can do is hope that we’ve made the best decision for our family. We said we are ok with some medical conditions that are pretty severe and some that we thought we’d be ok with, we weren’t after doing research. Basically, if the condition would require months in the ICU, we decided that we don’t have the emotional or physical capacity for that at this time. Seriously, having our toddler in that situation would be maddening. Maybe that sounds shallow but I’m not trying to be some kind of Saint who is willing to sacrifice myself and our family on the altar of motherhood. I just don’t think that’s healthy for anyone.

Just to add another twist, I have read about many families who have adopted children with mild special needs and then later go back again to adopt children with more severe special needs. Maybe there’s something to be said for realizing our capacity to handle something once we’ve already had a taste of it. There is a chance that after we have experienced this that we will feel called to help another child with more severe special needs. For now, we just have to be at peace that we’ve done our best and that God will match us with the child who is meant to be a part of our family.

PS I’m expecting some negative comments on this post. I’m sure many will judge our decision to not just take on anyone with any condition. I get that. I probably was one of those people at one time in my life. But now, with a real family and real limitations (like finances) I have to accept that it wouldn’t be wise to do that. If you have any positive or encouraging comments they are VERY appreciated! Thank you!


5 thoughts on “Choosing Who to Adopt…

  1. I really enjoyed this post! Thank you for sharing.
    Although we have not actually ventured down the adoption path yet, it is something we are seriously considering and know may be part of our future. I was surprised by the amount of similarities in our thought processes – I’m currently putting the final touches on a post on this subject for tomorrow or maybe Wednesday.
    Anyways, I absolutely love your one sentence in particular – “I’m not trying to be some kind of Saint who is willing to sacrifice myself and our family on the altar of motherhood”. You’ve put the perfect words to what I’ve been thinking.


  2. Jaclyn, I admire your decision to adopt and be willing to deal with whatever comes with that. I know God will be with you and your family as you go down this path. I am praying for you! I love reading your posts and admire the beautiful young woman you have become, inside and out! Love you kiddo!


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