QUESTION: My wife and I have a 2-year-old of our own, but now we're considering adopting another child. Frankly, we can't decide if we should pursue it or if we're simply setting ourselves up for a lot of stress and heartache.
Jim: Adoption is a major undertaking, and there are many things to consider, as you well know. But with planning and a lot of prayer, it can be a beautiful thing.
Dr. Debi Grebenik is a licensed social worker and the executive director of a foster care and adoption agency. Her years in the field have led her to identify several traits of successful adoptive families.
First, according to Dr. Grebenik, the adoption journey begins with a commitment for life. In many ways, adoption is similar to marriage -- it calls for love and understanding in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. There will be unforeseen detours, mountaintop experiences and challenges along the way. But adoptive parents who begin the process with this rock-solid commitment are more likely to see it through.
In addition, adoptive parents, just like all parents, must be prepared to love their child unconditionally. You probably already know that some kids have deep emotional wounds after spending years in foster care. They may display manipulation, defiance, aggression, depression and other challenging behaviors. A parent's unconditional love may be the only lifeline they have as they emerge from an unstable environment and learn what it means to be part of a permanent, stable family for the first time in their lives.
There are difficulties associated with adoption, but they are not insurmountable. And the blessings and rewards far outweigh the challenges for those who are willing to take the plunge. For more resources on this issue, visit www.icareaboutorphans.org or www.focusonthefamily.com.
QUESTION: I am a single mother, and due to the economy, I am really struggling to make ends meet. Should I move back in with my parents until things get better?
Juli: Your question is becoming more and more common as many single parents face the realities of a tough economy and the unceasing demands of raising children by yourself. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. There are, however, some principles to consider that might help you make your decision.
It can be a true blessing for everyone when generations of a family live together. In many parts of the world, this is the norm. It can provide a wonderfully rich environment for children to grow up knowing their grandparents and having empathy for the older generation. It also gives grandparents a wonderful outlet to love and invest in their grandkids, as retirement often allows for more time. And it would give you, as a busy mom, another set of arms to help with cooking, homework and loving.
There are, however, some potential problems that you want to investigate before making the decision to move in with your parents. Many of these relate to boundaries and expectations. For example, how much would your parents like you to contribute financially? What expectations do they have regarding keeping the house clean, bedtimes and whether or not they are full-time babysitters for your kids? To what extent do they have the authority to discipline your children? What if they disagree with your parenting style? What if they don't approve of other choices you make for your family? How will you resolve these conflicts?
However stressful these conversations may be to initiate, they are absolutely essential to confirming whether or not moving in with your parents is a good idea. Do the work up front to avoid creating a situation that could eventually end up destroying your relationship with your parents.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.
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