Spouse Struggling with Adoption?
When couples decide to adopt a baby, there is often one spouse who is gung ho about adopting while the other is less excited about the prospect. Of course, there are exceptions, but frequently one person is much more eager to adopt than his or her spouse.
When we talk about this phenomenon online, we often talk about the “reluctant spouse.” However, with most of the adoptive and hopeful adoptive couples that I know, we are really talking about a reluctant husband. I know many adoptive mothers, and every single one of them wanted to adopt. Some of the husbands were supportive and others were reluctant, but it was the wife who drove the adoption process, not the husband.
I have a hard time understanding a man’s reluctance toward adoption. Yes, I understand that it is expensive, but expense does not prevent couples from investing in a house or a nice car. Isn’t an investment in a child just as important? I also understand that many men have strong feelings toward carrying on the family name, but won’t the family name die out if you do not have a child by any means?
Then there is the hands-on parenting, which, in many families, is mostly the responsibility of the mother. I am not discounting the importance of fathers: I am just noting the amount of time that the average mother invests in her day-to-day life in parenting her child versus the amount of time invested by your average father. There are certainly exceptions, but in most of the families that I know, the bulk of the parenting responsibility falls on the shoulders of the mother. This would lead me to expect the woman to be more reluctant than the man.
Also, for infertile couples, women are the ones who give up experiencing pregnancy when they become mothers through adoption. Because many people consider pregnancy to be such an important part of being a woman, I would expect a woman to have more reason to want to continue trying to conceive rather than adopt.
Jill Smolowe’s article, The Reluctant Spouse, sheds some light on this phenomenon:
Marriage counselors, adoption specialists, and social workers agree that when a couple is not in lockstep, it’s usually the wife who wants to proceed, and the husband who doesn’t. (Anecdotal evidence suggests that reluctant men are often ambivalent about adoption, but resistant women tend to be inflexible.)
So, if the wife is reluctant to adopt, the couple probably never even starts down that path, which skews the percentage of reluctant spouses, making them appear to be mostly men.
So, perhaps reluctant husbands are getting a bad rap after all. At least the reluctant husband is still willing to move forward with an adoption whereas the reluctant wife is not. Regardless of why, I still find this to be an interesting occurrence.