It's not uncommon for couples to disagree and while frustrating, simple daily differences of opinion can be worked out with a compromise. Some disagreements can even be ignored. There are, however, topics that are too important to ignore and often a compromise is not a viable solution. One of those topics is when marriage and adoption collide. What to do when one spouse wants to foster or adopt and the other is not interested at all.
Often one parent has been interested in adoption or foster care for several years, making this a very important issue for that person, while the other parent has never given it a thought.
What to Do if You Do Not Agree on Adoption or Becoming a Foster Parent
Listen to each others feelings on the topic. Ask questions to clarify what you are hearing. Be respectful of each others opinions.
Be honest about your own thoughts and feelings. Remember to be kind, while being honest. There is no reason to guilt trip the other person or to manipulate to get your own way. Remember that this is a big decision that involves bringing another human being into your lives and family. It's beyond important to be on the same page with this decision.
Be open to investigating for more information. Take a foster parenting orientation class together or an adoption workshop. You might be surprised at how much you learn - not only about each other, but about the children in need - as well as adoption and foster care.
Discuss the idea with other family members to gain different perspectives. How do your other children feel about adoption or foster care? How about your parents or siblings? While extended family will not be making the final decision for you, it's important to get some sort of an idea on how they feel as the new child will be a part of their family as well.
Make a decision. This is the hardest part. If you are honestly considering going against your own heart to please your spouse, do so carefully, especially if you are considering adoption. You are making a lifelong decision to be someone's forever parent. This commitment does not end when the child turns eighteen. If you are totally against adopting a child, what would the end result be if you choose to adopt anyway? Will you find that you are resentful of the child? Will you be resentful of your spouse?
If the answer is "yes," congratulations! Now it's time to consider which adoption option fits best with your family – domestic, international, or foster to adopt. Please make sure that the agreement on the idea of adoption or providing foster care is what you each want for your family, and it's not to make the other person happy.
If you honestly think you will lose your marriage if you choose not to adopt – is that a good reason to adopt? Isn't that like the marriage myth that says a couple can save their relationship by having a baby? What if your spouse never comes around to the idea of adopting? Would you consider divorce? Adopting for another person is not the right reason to adopt. And if your marriage depends on it, consider marriage counseling before adoption. That's a lot of pressure to put on a child.
If the answer is "no," clarify if it is "no" forever or just "not right now."
If it is "not right now," clarify when would be a better time. Are you waiting for a bigger home, stronger finances, or for your children to be a bit older? Use this time to strengthen your marriage, grow closer to your children, and learn more about your different adoption options – domestic, international, foster to adopt.