Thank you for getting in touch.
You have asked me several really big questions, and I can't really answer most of them. I can only tell how how it has been for myself. My wife and I were never biological parents, so I can't be sure of this, but adoption for us has seemed to be much like other kinds of parenthood in many ways. There's a lot of uncertainty, stress, and challenges to your dignity (and sanity.) All you get out of it is some of the most amazing experiences in the world.
You say that if you adopt, it really has to work. That's exactly right. From my perspective, adoption works because it has to. Once you commit to a kid, you won't fail because you won't let yourself fail. You will make sure you succeed. Maybe everything won't be perfect, maybe you'll do a sloppy job of some things, but as one of my freelance bosses once said, 'You muddle through it.' It's the same if you have a biological child.
Your situation may be more challenging if you are adopting a four-year-old, because there may be some attachment issues, and other difficulties. I can't speak on that, though, since we adopted our first daughter when she was eight months old. But I think even these challenges are something many parents can handle, if they have thought it through and made a promise to themselves and to their child.
You mention your concern that since you're a freelancer, your life might be too uncertain or stressful for parenthood, and this may be true, but again, if you want to make this adoption work, it will. That's one of the magical things about it--you go halfway across the world and you meet this little stranger and you fall in love with her or him. That seems to happen in about ninety percent of the adoptions I've witnessed or heard or read about.
But after reading your mail several times now, the biggest question which seems to be running through it is, Should you have a child or not? And that's not something I can answer.
When I was trying to answer this question for myself, we lived on the Lower East Side of New York City. The question of whether we should adopt or not had been under my skin for a long time, but I couldn't quite face it. Then one morning, I woke up a bit before sunset (which seemed--pre-parenthood--like a really ungodly hour.) I couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up and walked part of the way across the Williamsburg Bridge. I sat down and watched the early morning sun. I asked myself if I wanted to be a papa. I liked the way parenthood had changed some of my friends. I felt that I had had an adventurous life, and that I had experienced a lot of intense, crazy things. But I finally realized that parenthood was something I wanted to experience for myself. It was something I wanted selfishly, not something I wanted to do for any other person.
After I realized that, I made my decision, and everything fell into place.
I hope this is of some help to you, and no matter what you decide, I wish you all the luck in the world.