Emotional intelligence is an essential part of taking on the challenges that come with adopting.
Medical advisor Ilse Margarita Orozco Castro, psychologist, specialist in couples therapy,
practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
The only promise that can be made about an adoption process is that it takes time. Years can go by before getting a long-awaited “yes,” or even before receiving a negative response after not passing the initial screenings. Every possibility should be taken into consideration with this process.
Throughout this journey, different types of obstacles arise. To cope with them, couples must have a great sense of respect, patience and good communication, as this is not an easy stage and involves a change in the lifestyle of each person that is involved in the process. “Knowing when we are ready to begin the adoption process is difficult. When we make this decision, it is important to be sure about it and to understand that the families of two different people are also involved,” explains Ilse Margarita Orozco, a psychologist that specializes in couples therapy. “In a family, it is critical that each member is comfortable and happy. So, if a couple decides to adopt, they must be sure that they will accept whatever comes of this decision in the best way possible. This is important both for the parents and child involved in order for this relationship to flow naturally,” she states. This is a lifetime commitment.
A conscious decision
Couples often decide to adopt either because of infertility issues, because they do not want to have biological children or because they believe that it is the best way to become parents. Every situation is different. “It is important to understand that both with infertility and the adoption process, both partners should be equally involved in the situation. Otherwise, feelings of guilt can arise,” our psychologist affirms.
Gonzalo Gutiérrez, Executive Director of the Fundación CRAN (one of the agencies approved to perform adoption processes in Columbia), explains that through workshops designed for parents who are considering adoption, “We try to have people who are interested in adopting first question themselves and address their motivations, dreams and frustrations; because this is not something that is easy, nor is it for everyone. You have to be very clear about why you want to be in this parental role.”
Some people have their own expectations or personal ideals about this process; they may think that the child will be healthy or that it will not have a turbulent past, for example. Such expectations or ideals could not be further from the truth, however, and can leave future parents feeling overwhelmed.
“Before receiving a child through adoption, it is important to know why he or she was taken to the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF, the Colombian government social services agency), what some of their medical and family history is, and understand – even if not in a legal or physical sense – that their biological family will always be involved in their lives, as they are the ones that gave this child life. If this idea does not sit well with the adoptive parents, their feelings will be easily transferred onto the child… They also need to be stable as a couple so that they can be understanding parents that are willing to support the child as they develop,” Orozco adds.
Parenting with love
How do you deal with that first encounter with the child? As our psychologist explains, “Getting to know this new addition to the family is something that should be done little by little. Not forcing family introductions is important, let them happen naturally. It is helpful to talk to the child in soft tones, but while providing clear information and including terms of endearment slowly.”
As Orozco emphasizes, the arrival of a baby to the family scene transforms it; and with adoption, this is no different. “You will go through the same stages, with the difference being that this child must constantly be surrounded by love in order to provide them with the security that they need to feel when they are brought home.”
One way to establish a connection with the child is to plan activities where all members of the nuclear family participate. Depending on their age, you can go fishing, play a family hobby in the park, have a picnic, read a story, or cook together. Establishing a solid, secure and lasting relationship will lead to reciprocal engagement that involves patience, opportunities to learn about each other, moments of peacefulness together and the motivation to grow together as a family
Raising a child, under any circumstance, requires dedication. Without question, “Parents will see each stage as a different and valuable experience; part of a pathway to building their bond together,” Orozco states.
As the years pass, the child’s character and personality will develop. As Gonzalo Gutiérrez states, “Prejudices against them tend to grow as they get older, which is why it is important to prepare them to be good thinkers and teach them that adoption is just as valid and important as other ways of forming a family”.
25 is the age at which a person (whether single or as a couple) can begin an adoption process.
A roller coaster of emotions
A formal request to adopt, involves a lot of paperwork and screenings as required by Colombian law. In Columbia, there are six institutions approved by the ICBF that provide children with the opportunity to become part of a stable nuclear family.
Once a couple applies, they will undergo a rigorous study to determine whether they are fit to adopt. Those who continue after this study begin an assessment process. If the applicants pass this process, their case will go before one of the adoption committees of the approved adoption institutions. If they are approved, they move to a waiting list where they can remain for an indefinite period of time until they are assigned a boy or girl that meets the conditions for adoption.