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Q&A: Partner Unsure About Adoption?

I would like to adopt, but my husband is not on board.  I don’t know whether I should be pursuing something this major without him being 100% committed.

When I hear adoption professionals say that you shouldn’t consider adoption unless both partners are 100% on board, I wonder what planet they are living on. From my interviews with well over a hundred adopting couples, I have found that in the beginning almost always one partner is more interested in adoption than the other. There aren’t easy answers on what to do when one spouse wants to adopt and the other does not. This decision will alter both of your lives forever and no one deserves to be coerced or guilted into parenthood. 

It is very important to understand why your partner is hesitant to adopt. Don’t assume you know. He could be worried about whether he can love an adopted child, how much it costs to adopt, whether he is too old to be a dad, or how will his parents or biological kids react? The point is, you won’t know unless you ask, and, more important, listen to his response rather than plan your rebuttal. And, as strange as this may seem, share your own concerns about adoption with him. (Come on, you know you have them.)

Let him know that you want to start getting educated on adoption and ask his permission to share the information with him as you go along. Don’t expect him to be as enthusiastic as you. In the meantime, spend time enjoying your life as a couple. Remember why you married each other in the first place.

Attend together an “in person” support group for adoptive families or an informational meeting at an adoption agency, with the promise that this does not mean a commitment to adopt. Spending time with families formed by adoption is amazingly helpful to normalize the process and to provide an opportunity to ask questions. If your spouse feels it is too soon to do this, agree to revisit this option at a set time in the future. Don’t hesitate to visit a therapist to help with communication, and if applicable, choose one that understands infertility issues.

As hard as it may be, give your partner time. Each of us has a different speed and style for processing grief and making decisions. 

By Dawn Davenport