8 Bad Reasons for Adopting a Child

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Adoption can be a beautiful gift, both for a child in need of a home and for the new parents. But, unfortunately, that gift can be easily tarnished if the adoption is entered into for the wrong reasons. The most successful adoptions aren't motivated by the adoptive parents' personal desires, but rather by a focus on the interests of the child.

If you're exploring the idea of adopting a child, make sure your reasons aren't on this list of eight red flags. At the very least, these warning signs should cause you to pause and consider not only if now is the right time to adopt, but also if adoption is right for you at all.

Adoption agencies are usually well-versed in identifying these red flags, but it can help to be aware of them yourself. If any of these circumstances apply to you, settle them before you move ahead with the adoption process. 

You Feel Guilty

Some pre-adoptive parents may feel guilty if they decide that they don't want to adopt a child they have been fostering or after going through pre-adoptive visits for a period of time. In fact, the guilt might be so strong that some families consider going forward with adoption in spite of their misgivings.

For instance, they might feel bad that the child would have to move again if they don't adopt. Or they may feel guilty because the child has become part of the family, but they aren't sure they can manage the financial commitment of raising a child.​

Pressure From Friends or Family

Some pre-adoptive families may feel pressure from friends or family members to adopt a foster child who has been placed in their home. Even the foster child can pressure—or even beg—the foster parents to adopt them. But you should never adopt a child because someone pressures you to do so.

If your gut tells you the decision to adopt isn't the right one, listen to it—or at least explore why you feel that way.

Infertility Issues 

Struggling with infertility and not coming to terms with the inability to have children can be a detriment to adoption—at least for the time being. You don't want to skip the step of grieving the loss associated with infertility. So, even though adoption may be the right choice down the road, you need to allow yourself time to come to terms with not being able to have children on your own.

Remember, it's not fair for a new child to enter a family as some sort of replacement. Plus, you don't want to put that type of burden on a child. If for some reason the child does not meet the expectations of the adoptive parents, the placement might begin to fail, and sometimes that is worse than not being adopted at all.

Your Child Needs a Playmate

Adoption is never an appropriate avenue for giving your biological child a playmate. You should not adopt a child simply to meet the needs of your family. If a child comes into your home and feels they are not living up to your expectations—whatever those might be—they will sense your disappointment.

If your child needs a companion, consider helping them make friends with kids in your neighborhood. You also can join a playgroup or get your child involved in clubs.

You Want to Save Your Relationship

Adoption is not a way to save a failing marriage any more than getting pregnant is. Even though adoption may temporarily distract a couple from the core issues within their relationship, this diversion won't last forever.

Eventually, the issues that brought about discontentment within the home will return. Consider the child you're about to adopt. If your marriage is not on solid ground, you may struggle to build a family together. Plus, it's unfair to bring a child into that situation, especially if separation or divorce is a very real possibility.

Fear of an Empty Nest

Some parents grow concerned about what life will be like when all their children leave home. This experience even has a name: empty nest syndrome. To combat these uncomfortable feelings, some people may consider adding more children to the family to ensure that they don't have to face an empty nest.

But adoption is never the answer to empty nest syndrome. Eventually, an adopted child will grow up and sprout wings too. This scenario is yet another situation where the adoptive family is looking for a child to meet their needs—rather than the other way around.

If you're afraid of facing your empty nest, look for healthier ways to cope with those uncomfortable feelings.

Your Partner Wants to Adopt

Don't agree to adopt a child just to please a partner or meet their needs. If you're not interested in adding to your family, be honest about that. Deal with your marital differences, but don't bring a child into a situation where they will eventually feel the dissension.

Likewise, make sure you and your partner devote an adequate amount of time to discussing why you each feel the way you do. Although you may never be on the same page about adoption, with some work, you can both begin to understand and appreciate the other's perspective.

You Want to Do a Good Deed

Adoption is not a way to repay a debt to society. It's also more than just a good deed—it’s about putting in the work, dealing with frustrations, and coping with difficult emotions in order to provide a home for a child who needs one. Being willing and ready to parent that child through the good times and the bad is an essential part of being an adoptive parent.

Even though altruism may spark or trigger your interest in adoption, it won't be enough to sustain you as a family while you're parenting an adopted child into adulthood. Make sure that you are committed to the process regardless of how hard it gets before entering into an adoption.

A Word From Verywell

If you're having conflicted feelings about adopting a child, it may be worth speaking to a counselor about your concerns. It's normal to feel uncertain about such a major decision, especially if you are dealing with concurrent issues such as grief or relationship difficulties. Whether you are working through issues or are simply trying to decide if now is the right time to adopt, talking to someone can help.

By Carrie Craft
Carrie Craft been an educator in the field of adoption and foster care since 1996. She has a wealth of relevant personal and professional experience.