When couples decide to adopt a baby, sometimes one partner is enthusiastic while the other is less so. There are exceptions, but usually one person is more eager to adopt than his or her partner. We often hear this referred to as “reluctant spouse.”
Whatever the reason behind your spouse’s reluctance to adopt a baby, it can be hard to handle. Jill Smolowe, an adoptive parent and author of the adoption memoir An Empty Lap, offers the following tips for dealing with your reluctant spouse or partner:
- Acknowledge your spouse’s concerns and fears; try to listen with interest, not judgement.
- Air and discuss the differences between you, rather than trying to cover them up or smooth them over.
- Don’t take a spouse’s initial reaction as the final word. When a subject is emotionally charged, people often say things they don’t really mean.
- Give a spouse time and space to consider issues as they arise; recognize that people approach change at different speeds.
- Find a support group of other couples considering adoption. Hearing that they, too, have reservations may help both of you.
- If your spouse isn’t providing the support and encouragement you need to cope with the rocky adoption process, seek it from a sympathetic friend or relative.
- See a marriage counselor if you have trouble navigating any of these issues. A reluctant spouse may hear questions and advice better from a neutral observer.