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A Reluctant Spouse or Grandparents

Where to Start

A Hesitant Spouse

Where to Start for Information on Dealing with a Reluctant Spouse or Reluctant Grandparents:

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Resources for a Reluctant Spouse or Grandparents

  • Books:
    • When Friends Ask About Adoption: Question & Answer Guide for Non-Adoptive Parents and Other Caring Adults by Linda Bothun. A reader on Creating a Family's Facebook Support Group writes: "It is a good book with answers to common questions such as Do you love her 'like your own'?, How much did you pay for him?, etc. It is a short book, so if you pass it on, there is a good chance the other person will actually read it. It can be used by family members, friends, teachers and other people who come into contact with your child. It also gives them ideas on what to answer if your child asks them something about (their) adoption."
    • Adoption is a Family Affair!: What Relatives and Friends Must Know by Patricia Irwin Johnston
    • Adopting: Sound Choices, Strong Families by Patricia Irwin Johnston
    • Related by Adoption: A Handbook for Grandparents and Other Relatives by Hedi Argent (UK focused when it comes to describing the process)

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Hesitant Spouse - When One Spouse is Reluctant to Adopt:

First of all, you should know that it is very common for one spouse to be more reluctant to adopt a child. In fact, most couples I talk with acknowledge that especially at the beginning one of them was more enthusiastic about the idea of adoption. Sometimes the wife is more hesitant to adopt, but more commonly, it is the husband that is worried about adoption. Easy answers don't exist, but try these suggestions.

  • Keep talking. Talk about what each of your hopes and dreams are from parenting in general.
  • If the reluctant partner feels that this is all you talk about, agree to a set time each week to talk about this subject.
  • Really listen to your partner's concerns rather than planning your rebuttal. Seek to understand more than convince.
  • Try to understand why your partner is hesitant to adopt. Don't assume you know. He or she could be thinking any of the following:
    • Can I love a child that is not biologically related?
    • Can we afford to adopt?
    • Do I want to be a parent at all, especially if it's not going to happen the old fashioned way?
    • Am I ready to stop infertility treatments and give up all hope of having a birth child?
    • Will I feel like a failure if I can't biologically have a child?
    • Am I too old to become a parent?
    • Do I have the time or do I want to devote the time to being a parent?
    • How will my parents or older children react?
    • What type of medical or emotional problems may this child have?
    • We already have birth children, why complicate things?
  • As strange as this may seem, share your own fears about adopting. You know you have them. The relationship dynamics of some couples is to balance each other out. Your partner may feel freer to see the positives to adoption if she/he doesn't feel that they must keep pointing out the negatives.
  • Let him or her know that you want to start getting educated on adoption and ask permission to share the information as you go along.
  • Don't expect him to be as enthusiastic as you.
  • Join an online adoption support group for people considering adoption.
  • Attend an "in person" support group for adoptive families or an informational meeting at an adoption agency. There is simply nothing as effective as seeing adoptive families to normalize the process.
  • Take a break from infertility treatments for a set period of time, with the agreement that you can resume if you still want to once the break is over. Spend time enjoying your life as a couple. Remember why you married each other in the first place.
  • Promise that known of these steps is a firm commitment to adopt.
  • Visit a therapist to help with communication, and if applicable, choose one that understands infertility issues. Check out our Finding a Therapist page.
  • 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.
  • If you are totally committed to him regardless of whether you ever become parents, tell him. If not, talk with a therapist before you issue an ultimatum.

You should never force (or coerce or guilt) your spouse into something as major as becoming a parent. It likely won't be effective since during the home study the social worker will delve into each of your reasons for wanting to adopt. And though it can be faked during the interview with the social worker, every child deserves to be truly wanted by both parents.

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