Continuing on with questions potential adoptive families should ask themselves...
Who are you as a family? The reality is we all have strengths and weakness and different resources available to us. These unique characteristics are sometimes designed for certain situations and it is important to be open and flexible but also realistic.
Consider what needs you have going into this adoption. We are human and have selfish desires, even in parenthood. If you really enjoyed the feelings you had while caring for an infant and are hoping to experience that again, it's okay to admit that. If you know that you are a working mom and will not be able to quit your job to care for a child with major medical needs or emotional needs, admit that. If you know that you have not parented a teenager before and that you have some major concerns about parenting without this experience, admit that. If you already have 2 kids who are under the age of 5 and it feels risky to bring a child older then them home, admit it. If you are not close to a hospital setting and have concerns about how you would handle medical conditions requiring frequent hospital stays, admit it. If you are really over diapers and bottles and potty training, admit it.
Those things all stem out of our wants and I know it is tempting to want to squash down those wants and be selfless, but the reality is in doing so, you might also be squashing a part of who God has made you to be. Coming off of just committing to a new little guy, I have my list of who I think God has made our family to be fresh in my mind. Not a child older than my two I have right now. Not a teen as much as I would love to do that. Not a need that requires lengthy hospital stays. Not completely blind or deaf. Able to do self care as an adult. Not wheelchair dependent. Able to leave independently as an adult. That's just a very basic list.
And the reasons I have those things on my list are okay. My kids need to keep their identities as the first children in our families. I don't have the parenting skills I think I need to parent a teen. We are too far away from Children's Hospital in Omaha to knowingly take on a child who needs multiple surgeries or a surgery with a lengthy stay. Completely blind or deaf overwhelm me. At this point, a child who may not be able to function independently as an adult does not seem like a good fit for us. I have thought a lot about what our retirement may look like and I think there is a strong chance we might not be in the States the entire year. Also, I do not want to be changing adult diapers.Our house is not wheelchair accessible. Yes, all of those may sound like excuses but they are not. They are practical reasons that have been thought about and considered in prayer.
It doesn't mean that we are stubborn and saying "absolutely not." It just means that we have a general framework that is based on who we are as a family. And here's the thing: if you are really honest about it with yourself, your spouse and God, you will find your list changing over time. When we first started this, I would have said absolutely not to HIV. Now it's on our list of things we can handle. I also would have said no way to Down's Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy. We have not yet said yes to those but our hearts have been softening to them. And that softening may not mean anything; it may just be about us seeing things differently.
The reality is successful adoptions are about the child and the adoptive family having their needs met. When your expectations are unfulfilled, then it can be very hard. It doesn't mean you should quit or that God won't use that experience. It just means you may have a difficult road ahead of you as you align you desires with the reality of your adoption.
It is also true that certain situations are more likely to create certain adoption scenarios which is why evaluating who you are can help you think through what situations you might say yes too. If you feel the need to parent an infant, then a domestic infant adoption is just about the only way for that to occur. If you are looking to parent an HIV positive child, then you will most likely have to adopt a child outside of the US as the transmission rates between mother and child have been so reduced that most children in the US born to HIV positive mothers are born HIV exposed but not positive. If you are looking to adopt an older child, then you will be able to consider more programs including foster care and international adoption.