Insights from Adoptive Parents: Navigating the Emotional Rollercoaster of Adoption

Baby holding adoptive parents finger


Adoption brings out complicated emotions for every prospective adoptive parent. It’s no secret that the process from start to finish is a rollercoaster of emotions that can be difficult to navigate, but if you are a prospective adoptive parent, know that you are not alone. Read on to get some helpful insights on the ups and downs of adoption from the adoptive parents who have worked with Angel Adoption to grow their families. 

What are the challenges of the adoption process? 

One of the biggest challenges adoptive families face is the uncertainty, waiting, and loss of control over most aspects of the adoption process, which can cause anxiety and stress.

Another challenge of adoption is the financial aspect. It’s no secret that adoption can be expensive for prospective adoptive parents who have to consider the legal expenses, cost of working with the adoption professional, birthmother support, travel expenses, and more. There are various funding options available that can alleviate the financial stress, including adoption grants and financing options such as Lightstream which provides loans with no fees, interest, or appraisal/home equity requirements. 

Some adoptive parents may experience difficulty during the post-placement period when navigating the relationship with their child’s birthmother and establishing healthy boundaries. Recognizing that this is a delicate time for both parties is important — respect and an open, empathetic heart are key to having successful post-placement communication.

What emotions do adoptive parents experience during the adoption process? 

Emotions that adoptive parents feel during the adoption process, particularly during the wait, can include hope, excitement, anxiety, worry, frustration, eagerness, heartbreak, fear about becoming parents, and so much more. Prospective adoptive parents usually feel so many different emotions because of the uncertainty and stress that surrounds waiting to be chosen by a prospective birthmother and waiting for the adoption to be finalized. In addition, dealing with the legal and financial aspects of adoption can bring on other challenging emotions. 

What is described above encompasses almost the whole range of human emotion, which shows that adoption really is an emotional rollercoaster! For this reason, it is important for prospective adoptive parents to hold space for whatever feelings they are experiencing on any given day, but not let those feelings consume them. Additionally, remember to be kind and patient with yourself as you navigate all of the aspects of the adoption process.

The Many Emotions of Adoption — Real Stories

At Angel Adoption, we have helped many prospective adoptive parents realize their dream of adopting a baby while helping them navigate the emotional process. The many testimonials we have from adoptive parents showcase the wide range of emotions that they feel throughout the entire process. Here are a few examples:

  • Halee and Cody experienced a mix of emotions in the beginning of the adoption process: There were “a lot of unknowns, anxiety about the wait, and excitement. At first we didn’t tell everyone about our decision to adopt, but our friends and family were excited for us, especially since we had experience with foster care”. Their experience shows the importance of having a supportive group of families and friends surrounding you with love. 
  • Eric and Jon experienced a disrupted adoption and dealt with the complicated feelings of heartbreak, understanding, and shock. On these emotions they said: “We were devastated, of course, but understood and respected their decision. We shared so many beautiful moments together and ultimately ended up heartbroken. We knew it was possible to experience a disrupted adoption, but the reality of it definitely hurt and took us by surprise. We decided to focus on the positives and accept that it just wasn’t our time yet. We spent the summer healing together with our families’ continued love and support. We worked on projects around the house that we had been wanting to do for a while. We picked ourselves back up and learned how to move forward”. After experiencing these emotions, Eric and Jon ultimately did connect with a birthmother and adopted a beautiful baby boy! 
  • Linsey and Lo knew their limitations but still experienced a rollercoaster of emotions after being presented with an opportunity to adopt a baby with a rare genetic disorder. They mentioned, “We did not opt in for that because we felt like we were not equipped to handle that type of situation. That was very hard, and it took some time to navigate through the emotions of that opportunity. It was our first glimmer of any opportunity, and we felt bad for passing on that. Was that opportunity brought to us for a reason? Would we be chosen again? Those were just some of the thoughts we had as time passed.” They were ultimately connected with a birthmother and experienced the joy of meeting him for the first time: “Sometimes people worry if they will have a bond through adoption with their child, but we instantly felt connected the moment we laid eyes on him. We could not have felt different even if we gave birth to him. We waited years for him, and the day he was born was the best day of our lives.” Their story shows that despite the emotional rollercoaster of emotions, adoption is worth the wait and knowing your limitations is important both for you and for the baby. 
  • Even if the adoption journey is a short one like Margot & Kate’s, it can still be a very emotional time. Because it was so quick, it was one that they did have to emotionally prepare for: “Our adoption journey was much faster than we had emotionally prepared for, but it was not without its own challenges. The process was emotional and it required a lot of faith and trust, but there are no words for how phenomenal it felt to hold our daughter for the first time, which made every difficult day worth it.”
  • Navigating the unknowns was particularly difficult for parents Amanda and Bryan, especially given the cost of adoption. They said, “When we first started the adoption process, the unknown was scary. We were constantly wondering if and when a connection would happen and then if the adoption would be successful. Adoption is also very costly, and there are definitely risks involved, but we knew to be patient, open-minded, and kind. We know we were connected with the birthmother and baby that were meant for us.”

Advice from Adoptive Parents

There is nothing better than getting advice and understanding the experiences of those who have gone through the adoption process before you. Here is some advice from families who adopted with us

1.) Be your authentic self and don’t overthink your adoption profile. Adoptive parents Kevin and Adam fell into the trap of wanting to create the perfect profile, but were ultimately chosen by a birthmother by presenting themselves authentically. Their words of wisdom to prospective adoptive parents are, “When you are working on your profile and thinking about what to say, it is easy to overthink everything. We tried hard to make everything perfect, almost to the point where we were selling ourselves and trying to create what we thought the birthmom would want rather than be ourselves. Kevin had put that his dream vacation was a Lord of the Rings vacation in New Zealand. Adam thought it would make us sound nerdy and stop an expectant mother from choosing us. Ironically, it was that exact reason that our expectant mother chose us. This is just one example of letting go since being yourself always wins.” 

2.) Talk to other adoptive parents about their experiences. Adoptive parents Rachel and Bradley found comfort in connecting with other adoptive families: “We talked to other adoptive parents about their experiences as a form of support. It’s great to hear the success stories, but to be honest, it doesn’t void the fears and doubts when you’re in the thick of it. It’s much easier to reflect back on the journey once you’ve adopted and see it through rose-colored glasses. All of the trials and tribulations feel insignificant now, but that does not invalidate them when they are a reality.”

3.) Be comfortable being uncomfortable: Eric and Jon said, “You have to embrace the unknowns and all of the moving parts in your journey. Everyone is different, and this process leaves very little room for control on your end of things. You have to get out of your comfort zone in order for it to work. You have to face that things can and will change at a moment’s notice. Lean on your support system within your family and your adoption professionals. One day, when the time is right, you will hold your baby in your arms, and everything will make sense.”

4.) Let the birthmother take control and take care of her. Kim and Nick let the birthmother take the lead on deciding the type of relationship she was interested in having with the family: “We wanted to leave it up to her to decide based on her comfort level. We were happy to provide updates but did not want to reach out unsolicited and potentially open up any wounds she was trying to heal.” This allowed them to maintain a meaningful connection with the birthmother.

Leslie and James discovered the importance of building a relationship with the birthmother. Their advice to prospective adoptive parents is: “take care of the expectant mother that has chosen you. Without her, none of this would be possible. Trust her decisions no matter what, and humble yourself along the way. Allow your heart to open, and fall in love with your baby before they arrive. It will hurt if it doesn’t work out, but when it does work out, it will feel like a missing puzzle piece that finally fits perfectly.”

5.) Understand that you can’t control the process. Adoptive parents Kim and Nick decided to take a path of being open to anything that came their way, which was beneficial and allowed them to go with the flow, keep their heart open, and prepare for any situation. This was a good approach because one of the things that adds to the emotions experienced during the adoption process is that prospective adoptive parents do not have control over the process.

Adoptive parents Lesley and James spoke about the difference between fertility treatments and going through the adoption process: “With fertility treatments, you feel more in control with what you’re doing. It’s your body and your actions. With adoption, you have to relinquish that control. You can only do so much, and the rest is out of your hands. Lean on your support system during the process: family, friends, other adoptive parents, and your professional adoption team. Have faith that it will work out exactly how it’s meant to. When an opportunity doesn’t work out, believe in your heart that it’s a step in the right direction.”

6.) Don’t give up hope. Single mom Wendy wants prospective adoptive parents to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: “Stay hopeful, because this journey is worth it. If I would have given up, I would not have Isabella or her birthmother in my life. I will forever be grateful to her birthmother for providing me with the gift of motherhood. Being a mom to Isabella is my greatest treasure, even when she keeps me on my toes. She was always supposed to be my daughter, and I love her very much.”

7.) Don’t dwell on things that don’t work out. Adoptive parents Kelly and Shannon experienced many ups and downs throughout the adoption process. Their advice to prospective adoptive families is, “When you are going through this process, it is easy to dwell on things. Try to avoid that, and keep yourself distracted and busy. Things truly do work out how they are supposed to. If an opportunity comes along and it doesn’t work out, that is okay. It wasn’t meant for you.”

8.) Trust your adoption professionals. Amy and Louis found that having supportive professionals around them made all the difference: “Navigating the adoption process was not easy. It was emotionally difficult and expensive, and it took patience. Our home study social worker and the staff at Angel were our rocks through the process and incredibly helpful.”

9.) Be patient and have faith. Staci and Jeremy want prospective adoptive parents to not give up despite the hardships they will face: “If you want this for your life, you have to be patient and just keep at it. If the process is too much, take a break and pick it up the next day. You will get frustrated, but remember, this is in your heart. We kept fighting every roadblock that came our way knowing this was going to happen. Believe in it, have faith, be patient, and know that it is all worth it.”

10.) Do your research and get educated. Adoptive parents Craig and Marsha want adoptive parents to know how important it is to do your research to understand the adoption process: “Educate and empower yourself as you embark on your adoption journey. You don’t have to wait for someone else to share information or advice with you. Go out and find it! Be in charge of your adoption journey. Utilize all of the resources and support people at your disposal. There is never too much to learn about adoption.”

Embrace your Emotions

As you are waiting to be chosen by a birthmother and then for the adoption to be finalized, it’s important to remember that despite the emotions you are dealing with, adoption is worth the wait. During your hardest days, remember why you started the process in the first place. We encourage prospective adoptive parents to embrace the emotions that come along with the adoption journey whether they are good, bad, or in between. With a solid support system of family, friends, other adoptive families, and adoption professionals, you will be able to successfully navigate the many ups and downs of the adoption process. 


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Angel Adoption, Inc. provides marketing and advertising services that assist biological parents considering adoption and prospective adoptive parents to connect with each other, and provides support and referral services throughout the process. Angel Adoption, Inc. is an independent contractor and provides services under the supervision of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, License #012998, One Oakbrook Terrace, #501, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181; 708-771-7180.