This question often follows these kinds of thoughts:  ”We have so much love to give…” “Why shouldn’t we welcome another child into our happy family?” “There are so many children who need a good home…”

Let me just say, as an adoption professional, I have the utmost respect for prospective adoptive parents who actually ask themselves this question.  Many people simply make the decision without weighing the “Should we?” question first.  ”Should we?” is an important piece of the puzzle. Parenting an adopted child can be different – in many ways – from parenting a child without a trauma history.  ”Should we?” pushes parents to consider whether they have what it takes to meet the needs of an adopted child.  This can be a very difficult question to answer, considering parents often ask it without any knowledge as to the identity of their child… forget about making an informed decision because you are acquainted with the child’s unique needs.

“Should we adopt?”  The answer might be yes, if you can also say yes to the following:

*  We recognize our adopted child will have a trauma history, and it may present itself in unexpected ways.  We have a go-to plan, or at least a place we will start, for how we will navigate the unexpected, if needed.

*  We know parenting is the toughest job going.  We think we’re likely to be humbled as we learn for and with our adopted child.

*  We’re flexible in our parenting style.  If what we are doing is not working, we’re open to feedback from trauma-informed adoption professionals.

*  We’ll be engaged in on-going education.  We recognize it isn’t possible for us to know everything we “need” to know before making this decision.  That’s why we’re committed to being life-long learners on adoption issues.

*  We have discussed how a child with special emotional needs might impact our family’s happiness.

*  We are talking about how to protect our marriage/partnership, especially if we welcome a child that requires us to make intense shifts to the end that we can adjust to him/her joining our family.

*  We have identified our support network, and are realistic in our expectations about how much support they will be able to provide since we know our child will primarily need us to learn we are “his/her people”.

*  We’ve looked in the review mirror, and are at least beginning to weigh how what we learned in our families of origin may help or hurt our intuitive parenting styles with our adopted child.

*  We agree that just because we may want to adopt, that desire may not equate to meaning we are cut out for the potential peaks and valleys of adoptive parenting.  (BTW, parents who are willing to tolerate this thought and consider it at all are probably most equipped to weather any potential challenges.  It goes to the idea of humility…)

“Should we adopt?”  Families who can read through this without balking… who are willing to have the conversations…  are resting on that springboard to, “Yes!  Let’s!”  And in the meantime, if there are sticking points, it’s not necessarily a sign to close the adoption door, but perhaps an indicator that more conversation and education are in order.  Let the question-wrestling begin so kids can come home!

Yours in Love, Light, and Relationship,


Jen Winkelmann