Some Reasons Not to Adopt a Child

Recognize Red Flags Telling You That Adopting Might Be Bad

Portrait of mother consoling daughter, studio shot
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Adoption can be a beautiful gift for a child in need of a home, but, unfortunately, the gift can be easily tarnished and turn bad if the adoption comes about for the wrong reasons.

When you explore the idea of adopting a child, make sure your reason isn't on this list of eight red flags warning that you might not want to adopt — at least at this point in your life. Most adoption agencies are well-tuned to sniffing out these situations, but it can help to be aware of them yourself before you start down the adoption road.

If any apply to you, settle them before you move on. 

  1. Guilt: Some pre-adoptive parents may feel guilty if they decide they don't want to adopt a child who has been living in their home as a foster placement or through pre-adoptive visits for a period of time. The guilt may be strong enough that some families consider going forward regardless of their misgivings. They may feel bad about the child having to move again, particularly after having become part of a family. 

  2. Pressure from friends or family: Some pre-adoptive families may feel pressure from friends or other family members to adopt a foster child who has been placed in their home. The child himself might also pressure — even beg — the foster parents to adopt him. If your gut tells you it's wrong, listen to it, or at least explore why you're feeling that way first. 

  3. Infertility issues: Struggling with infertility and not fully coming to terms with the inability to have a birth child can be a detriment to adoption — at least for the time being. It’s important not to skip the step of grieving the loss associated with infertility. It's not fair for a new child to enter a family as a sort of replacement. It may only be a matter of time before the child fails to meet the expectations of the adoptive parents and the adoptive placement begins to fail. 

  1. Your child needs a playmate: Adoption is not necessarily a good way for a child already in the home to gain a playmate. An adopted child should not be added to the home in an effort to meet needs of the adoptive family. Again, expectations may not be met and the child will feel the family’s disappointment. Consider neighborhood children, joining play groups or putting your child in activities or clubs instead. 

  1. You want to save your relationship: Adoption is not a way to save a failing marriage any more than getting pregnant is. Adoption may distract a couple from core issues for a time, but that distraction won't last forever. Eventually, the issues that brought about discontentment within the home will return. It's unfair to bring a child into such a situation and all its implications, like separation or divorce. 

  2. Fear of an empty nest: Some people, especially mothers, grow concerned about what life will be like when all their children leave home. The experience even has a name: empty nest syndrome. Some may consider adding more children to the family so they never have to face a chick-less nest, but adoption is not the answer. This child will grow up and sprout wings, too, and it's really just another situation where the adoptive family is looking for a child to meet their needs, not the other way around. Try to deal with your empty nest in ways that can open new doors and opportunities.

  3. Your spouse wants to adopt: Don't agree to adopt a child just to please a spouse or meet his needs. If you're not interested in adding to your family, say so. Deal with your marital differences but don't bring a child into a situation where he will eventually feel the dissension. 

  1. You think it's a calling: Adoption is not a way to repay a debt to society. It's not just a good deed — it’s about all the work and emotion that goes into providing a home for a child who needs one, and in being willing and ready to parent that child through the good times and the bad. Altruism may spark or trigger your interest in adoption, but it won't be enough to sustain you as a family while you're parenting your adopted child into adulthood.

Now that we've explored reasons not to adopt, here are some reasons why you should.