AF Readers Respond: Did Your Family Include a Reluctant Spouse?
(With feedback from adoption expert Lois Melina)
We received such extraordinary feedback for our feature article on reluctant relatives (January/February 2008 issue) that we didn't have space to print them all. Here's some of the responses we received (add your story in the Comment box below, or go to our Polls page to weigh in on topics for future articles):
My mother was scared for me to adopt, being single and under 30 years old. She was afraid that the birthparents would try to reclaim him or that I would get into a financial bind. After I brought him home and she met him, she loved him immediately. He looked very much like her other grandchildren and myself (it was a domestic adoption). She calmed down and just went with it. When his birthfather tried to come back, she immediately said, "He can't have my grandbaby, he belongs with us! That's my grandson." That was the first time she called him her grandson. Now, I can't get her off of him. —Carmen, Georgia
When we were considering adoption, my husband was hesitant to raise "somebody else's child." I told him that this was God's child and God was asking us to raise him, because his first parents could not. That's all it took. —Betty, California
When we told our families we were adopting, everyone appeared to be excited. Over the next few months, the topic of conversation veered toward our open adoption plan. My sister in-law began asking questions, which I welcomed, at first. However, once I gently tried to educate her, she became defensive, opinionated and downright mean, telling me that, because I'm not a mother, I couldn't possibly understand what information children should and should not be privy to. I reminded her that because I was adopted, it is helpful to be open and honest with a child about their adoption story. Even with facts readily available, my sister in-law still has a negative opinion about adoption, and I don’t think there will ever be a positive breakthrough. —Michele, Pennsylvania
I was the reluctant one. We struggled with infertility, and my husband suggested adoption early on. But I didn't want to adopt. I wanted to be pregnant. So I didn't even think about adopting as an option for several years. But when it became clear that pregnancy wasn't going to happen, I started researching adoption. I realized that part of my reluctance was due to fear of the unknown. As I learned more about adoption, I became more comfortable with the idea, and we decided to adopt. —Julie, Ohio
At age 40, I realized I'd forgotten to get married or have children, and began the journey toward adopting an older child. When I told some of my single friends, I was surprised that they saw it as a betrayal of our carefree and party-filled lives! Not so surprising was my father’s reaction. He imagined his only daughter a victim of marauding youth, penniless from theft of my money and belongings, and years tied up in lawsuits. I knew that my father’s core fears were not impossibilities, but I was not jumping into this lightly. The part of my support system that remained was strong, and soul-searching, researching childcare resources, establishing a family therapist, and training in child behavioral management had strengthened me for what lie ahead. I listened to the concerns thrown my way, but continued toward the placement of a 13-year-old girl. Ultimately, my daughter was accepted and loved by all who were close to me, and she brought a new and beautiful facet to my family. Those friendships that had dropped away were replaced by stronger bonds with those on similar paths. Two adored adopted teens later, I have had no need to look back! —Laurel, Colorado