The Cradle Blog

What Prospective Parents Should Know About the Adoption Process

It’s no secret the adoption process is a daunting one. For many families, even the journey of making the choice to adopt can be long and emotional. Once couples arrive at The Cradle and begin the process, there are often more surprises and struggles along the way. Lorrin Potts, Adoptive Parent Counselor at The Cradle, discusses what to expect, and offers advice for those who have chosen or are considering adoption. With these tips in mind, the rewarding, but involved, process might just be a little easier.

Take the time to grieve.
Often families come to The Cradle with a history of infertility, and find that the adoption process can be challenging. “It’s pivotal to take the time to grieve and process the loss involved with infertility before beginning an adoption,” says Lorrin. This might look different for each family, but often therapy and support groups can help. The Infertility & Adoption Counseling Center discuss this process, and you can also learn more through the Adoption Learning Partners on-demand webinar: Adopting After Infertility.

Really prepare for the home study process.
No, we don’t mean cleaning and baby-proofing. Says Lorrin, the home study process can be especially lengthy, and she finds that prospective parents are sometimes surprised by this. Generally, the home study process is a series of meetings between the prospective adoptive parents and their counselor to assess the family’s suitability to be an adoptive parents.  In addition to the meetings, prospective parents are required to complete a great deal of paperwork as well as attending educational classes. The Cradle’s home study process is thorough, reflective, and in-depth due to the importance of ensuring the children entrusted to our care are placed with safe and loving families.

Expect uncertainty.
We never know how long a family will wait. Sometimes luck comes into play and a family waits only a matter of months, but often it is much longer. Says Lorrin, "It’s important for families to prepare for the unpredictability of the wait, to be realistic in their expectations, and to understand that every family’s adoption journey is unique."

Self-care is important.
As most know before they begin, the adoption process includes a lot of waiting. From filing paperwork to completing the home study to being on the waitlist, there is a lot of idle time involved. Don’t stop living your life, says Lorrin. The wait period feels faster and easier when families find ways to stay busy. See our previous post on getting through the waiting period for ideas from Cradle families.

Adopting is a lot of work.
Especially in Illinois! Our state requires ten or more hours of pre-adoption education. Sometimes this comes as a surprise to prospective parents. Just remember, all of these classes will help you become an even better parent to your child.  

Your baby might stay in The Cradle Nursery.
While The Cradle continues to match expectant parents and prospective adoptive families prior to a baby's birth, we also frequently see situations where The Cradle is first contacted by the expectant parents shortly before or immediately after the baby’s birth. “People are surprised in the first meeting that a lot of babies we place are born already,” says Lorrin. Very often, a newborn will stay in The Cradle nursery under the care of nurses, infant aides, and Cradle Cuddlers as the child's parents make decisions about his future and placement. Sometimes, The Cradle isn’t contacted until a child is born and in the hospital.

Birth parents make adoption plans for many different reasons.
Many prospective parents who haven’t learned about adoption understand the situations of birth parents as mostly teenage pregnancies. Though that is sometimes the case, birth parents make adoption decisions for so many reasons. Often, Cradle birth parents are in their twenties and already parenting children. The birth parents may choose to make an adoption plan due to limited financial resources or the inability to parent the child in the manner they would want.