Individuals consider adopting for different reasons, and different factors affect the timing, and even the urgency driving this life-changing decision. Some families have experienced a difficult road of infertility and find adoption a remaining or open path to giving their love to a child. For others, adoption is one of the considered paths to starting or adding to their family.
Not surprisingly, a question that’s asked frequently by those inquiring about adoption has to do with pregnancy. “What happens if I get pregnant during our adoption process?” aspiring parents often ask. Or in follow-up, “Why do I have to put my adoption on hold?”
I feel it’s beneficial to share what happens if a family learns they’re pregnant while in the process of adopting. It’s also important to understand the reasons why it’s best to put the adoption on hold. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Elana Roschy, WACAP’s director of Social Services, who expanded on this topic. Please read on for her response.
Families do become pregnant during the adoption process, and WACAP works with each family case by case when it happens to determine how it will affect their adoption.
For instance, a country may have requirements related to the number of children that can be living at home. We make sure families understand those requirements, as well as why WACAP’s policy (requiring at least one year between placements of children, whether by birth or adoption) is intended to support families and their attachment to the children joining their family.
As we engage families in discussion and look at their situations individually, often families are required to place their adoption on hold.
While the process of putting an adoption plan or process on hold can raise questions/concerns on behalf of a family, it is most important for us to help families understand the reasons why we ask this of them.
- We believe it is very important to allow time to adjust after the addition of each child. And we know from our years of experience, that children joining a family through adoption and who come from hard places require mindful attention to their attachment process. We counsel all of our families about the importance of those first few months home and how best to nurture this attachment and security for their new child.
- We feel that the placement of a child through adoption too soon after the birth of a child can create an environment not always conducive to healthy attachment.
- We want to allow time for parents, after the birth of their child, to adjust. We know some parents need time to adjust to how their bodies may respond. Some may experience postpartum depression, feel overly protective of their new baby, or ultimately want or need more time to reinforce their bond.
- This time with a new baby is so important to a baby’s development and to the bonding process, just as we feel the time with a newly adopted child is. It is our responsibility to ensure that each child placed with his or her new family is going to receive the appropriate attention needed to develop that secure attachment needed to succeed.
- We ask that after a family’s baby is born and a set amount of time has passed, that we reconnect, and talk about how the family is adjusting. In addition, this is an opportune time to discuss their feelings about their adoption plans and ultimately update the homestudy to move forward.
Even when the picture changes and a family’s plans need to go on hold, it’s our privilege to talk with parents about paths that are open along the way, or around the bend.
About WACAP’s Director of Social Services, Elana Roschy: Elana enjoys interacting with WACAP families and staff, and helping to ensure that families receive both the initial and ongoing support they need as they adopt. Over the last decade, Elana has worked in WACAP’s adoption programs, and as a social worker for WACAP, she’s worked one-on-one with numerous individuals and couples, helping them through their homestudy process and supporting them after their adoption. As WACAP’s director of social services, she’s delighted to introduce and grow WACAP’s support, education and training services for families.