Some adoptive parents have felt the call to adopt since they were children themselves. For others, adoption is a roller coaster ride they never imagined they would take. Every couple is unique, and every marriage will have some conflict where husband and wife do not see eye-to-eye. So, what do you do when one spouse wants to adopt and the other does not?
Couples will typically have one spouse that is more excited about adopting than the other. It’s not an uncommon situation. And while we would like to be able to give you a set of magic words that will instantly cause you to agree, what we can offer you is some advice.
Our first piece of advice is to keep the lines of communication open. Adoption is a major decision, and it needs to be discussed. If one of you feels like it is all you ever talk about, set aside a specific time every week where you discuss adoption. You don’t want to force your spouse into something for which he or she is not ready.
During this discussion time, make the effort to really listen to your spouse’s concerns. Don’t assume you already know why he/she is reluctant. There could be any number of concerns going through his/her mind. Sit down and ask your spouse what those concerns are. Opening up about your own concerns will encourage him/her to share theirs with you. Acknowledging that you have your own set of concerns does not mean you think the adoption process is not worth going through, but will give you a starting place for finding answers.
Ask permission to gather more information. Assure your spouse that you are not committing to anything. You are simply gathering information and tell him/her that you would like to share that information with them. Our Ask and Eat workshops are perfect for this. We can answer the specific questions and concerns with which you’re both dealing.
Along with our Ask and Eat workshops, we would recommend that you join support groups – both online and in person. This give you the opportunity to ask questions and get advice from those who have already gone through the process. Being around other families that have already adopted can help normalize the process and make it a lot less intimidating.
During the “information gathering” stage, you can’t expect for your reluctant spouse to be as enthusiastic as you are. For your first few meetings, come by yourself. Then ease your spouse into coming with you. Realize that agreeing to listen to the information you’re bringing home with you is progress, and come to terms with the fact that you may have to carry the enthusiasm at least for a while.
During this process, taking the time to place importance on your marriage is very important. Take a break and enjoy one another’s company for a while. Avoid talk about adoption or infertility for a little while and remember and focus on the reasons you married each other. Pray and study the Bible together, and remind your spouse that you are wholly committed to them regardless of whether or not you adopt. You might also consider getting counseling if you really feel “stuck”.
Once you come closer to a decision, then you need to expect enthusiasm. You need to know that this is something he/she wants and that it’s not something he/she is agreeing to just to make you happy. Remember, the adoption is going to be as good as the person who is least involved. If you commit to this, then you both have to want it and you both have to be committed.
The most important factor is to give your spouse time. Each of us is different in how we make decisions. The best thing you can is to pray and be patient.
In the meantime, you might consider checking out the Creating a Family website. They have many resources and a great deal of information about dealing with a reluctant spouse.