What were some of our mental obstacles to adopting, and how we did get past them?
This is a huge one I get really often—and TOTALLY understand it. As I've mentioned on our site, we did have some concerns surrounding adoption, and had to work/pray through those issues before being able to pursue it. So I love it when people considering adoption ask me this, because it means they're
A. being realistic (because adoption does have it's own set of unique "issues")
B. totally on the path to saying "yes" to adoption, because they're actively working through these issues to get in the right head/heart space.
First, infertility still hurts for me. Pregnancy announcements still sting. I, too, have always dreamed of our family, of my pregnancy, of baby bump photos and tracking the growth of my baby, of strawberry blonde curls, and a child always the tallest in their class. If we never get pregnant, there will always be that pain there, because adoption isn't meant to cover the hurt. Adoption is just another way our family was able to grow (and as I say that, Emerson is squeaking next to me—and I simply cannot imagine my life without him). But I have in a way moved on from the control that infertility had over me, and have chosen to soak up the HUGE array of blessings that adoption has given us.
In choosing adoption, we had to accept:
- Our child wasn't going to look like us (though there WILL be similar features, which is fun!)
- Our child would always have another mother (we call her his first mother and birth mother—though when he's old enough to understand, we'll probably call her his "tummy Mommy").
- Our child's story was going to be more complex than other kids'.
- We'd have to fundraise for every penny because the adoption is so expensive.
- We could potentially get our hearts broken with a failed placement.
- We couldn't control any part of the process (which was really difficult for me given my personality), and that adoption is messy.
We had our list of "obstacles," and took a camping trip. It was us, and nature, and God. And by the end of our three day trip, we had accepted that adoption was going to be a part of our story. We didn't know when quite yet, and we had more questions than anything... but God spoke to us and gave us complete peace with each and every worry.
And to be totally honest—something all adoptive mamas-to-be have lingering in the very back of their minds having never experienced anything like this before: How would I feel meeting my child and his first mother - would he feel like he was my very own?
All I can say is that when Emerson's half brother handed him to me, he was mine. He was ours. There was NO question or doubt in my mind. That crazy amazing love I was already feeling for him before I met him simply GREW. That tiny bit of fear completely vanished the moment I looked into his eyes (more like eyelids since he was sleeping, but it doesn't sound as sweet).
Find your obstacles and bring them before God. Don't let fear get in the way of such a beautiful, amazing thing.
What adoption agency did we use? And how do you know which path is right?
Our adoption path included hiring a consultant through Christian Adoption Consultants (Leah Braly, firstname.lastname@example.org). Our consultant held our hand every step of the way. AND, since we went through an independent consultant, we had access to applying to multiple agencies all at once (read: no up front outrageous agency fees and a much faster process since we had a larger "pool" of expectant mother cases to consider). We also decided it was best for us to apply to out of state agencies. Not only is Colorado not too adoption friendly for adoptive families (they lean more towards the support of the birth family), but we thought it would be best for us personally to have some distance with our birth mother and not have her be in the same state as us (funny - it turned out that our birth mama preferred the same).
While hiring a consultant will run you around 2k+, the process is less risky (they only work with a handful of trusted agencies) and as I mentioned, a lot faster. The alternative is to pick an adoption agency, pay their fees up front (typically around 10 to 15k), and be a part of their "system," becoming an official waiting family with them. That means you have access to the birth mothers that apply to their agency ONLY. Larger agencies have more cases, and are therefore more expensive. But some of the best agencies are smaller ones (or private attorneys, in my opinion) - far more personal and affordable. But the wait times can be drastically longer (years).
Obviously the cheapest (but most risky) options for adoption are private adoptions and foster-to-adopt. Private adoptions are where a expectant mother contacts you directly, and you hire an attorney for the legal side of everything (5 to 15k - from what I've heard). You'll need to plan on spending money for marketing and getting in front of expectant mothers who are looking to choose adoption for their child.
And then I have my own opinion on foster-to-adopt. I think fostering children is BEAUTIFUL, but the goal of the foster care system is to provide temporary help to children while their birth mother/families are getting cleaned up and back in a position to parent again. So while they should always make decisions based on what's best for the child (which often means adoption), that often leans in the birth family's favor. For our first child, we decided that the process would be far too painful as we'd hope that each and every placement would result in an adoption (shout out to all of you amazing, BRAVE foster parents!). As foster parents, we'd want to make a difference in a child's life for however long we had the privilege of parenting them, and if it ended in adoption, then that would be a well received blessing. (Who knows... God might call us to fostering in the future.)
Do your research, pray about it, and find what's best for YOU.
I will say that through our consultant, we ended up using Shorstein and Kelly after our match with them happened. They were WONDERFUL.
What was your timeline like?
July 28, 2016: We decided to pursue an open, domestic infant adoption after speaking with several adoptive families, researching what the process was like, and much prayer.
September 2016: We signed on with our CAC consultant, Leah.
October 2016: We announced our adoption! Because we knew this was going to take a village.
November 2016: Home study process began.
March 7, 2017: Home study completed.
March 31, 2017: We matched!
April 4, 2017: Emerson was born. We flew to Florida that evening and landed just a few hours after his birth.
April 5, 2016: We met our perfect-in-every-way son, Emerson.
April 6 – 12, 2017: Emerson's NICU stay in Florida Hospital.
April 13 – 21, 2017: ICPC processing
April 22, 2017: We traveled home to Colorado!
Finalization is set to take place early November of 2017.
8 months in the adoption process
(not including post placement and finalization).
4.5 months to complete our home study.
25 days a waiting family.
5 days a matched family.
7 days in the NICU.
9 days ICPC processing.
19 total days in Florida.
Do you wish you had done anything differently?
I honestly can't say there's anything... simply because each and every piece of our adoption lead us to our sweet Emerson. (Did you know he was born 8 months and a few days from the day we decided to pursue adoption? His due date was two days shy of exactly nine months... you think God had something to do with when we decided to take the first step with adoption?)
I do wish I had slowed down a little, and taken time to really soak in the beauty of the process. I would have met with more adoptive mamas and picked their brain about various things. I would have written down more of my prayers for my future child and his biological mom and dad. I would have laughed more through the home study paperwork, and held more fundraisers in a shorter amount of time (I had two cut since Emerson made his arrival so quickly!)... there's nothing like having a newborn to really make you SLOW down. And I like it. I like soaking in these beautiful moments, looking around my home, talking to God, and telling Emerson stories.
So soak it all in. Don't take these moments for granted. Enjoy this beautiful, amazing process - every difficult, messy step of it.
Adoptive families were our most valuable resource. Talking with someone who has been through the process and can give you a real look at the picture of adoption was really what helped us make our first steps.
You Can Adopt Without Debt - obviously one of the biggest obstacles to adoption is finances. This book not only gave us a birds-eye-view at the adoption process, but gave us hope when it came to raising the large amount of funds.
In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You To Know About Adoption. A Guide for Relatives and Friends. - While our family was completely supportive of our adoption, it was still an excellent read for everyone involved to understand truly what we were going through.
Podcasts. Honestly, just search for adoption podcasts (via Google or right in the iTunes store), and find which ones fit you best. SO helpful! My favorites: Infant Adoption Guide, Fund Your Adoption, and Honestly Speaking.
Blogs. So. Many. Blogs. :) Kindred + Co, Adopt a Love Story, Faithfully Ever After... and honestly so many others that aren't coming to mind right now!
Instagram. Find the popular adoption hashtags, and join the community! It's where we found families going through the same things, and we've been able to find (and hopefully give) so much support! Start rubbing elbows with these amazing people.
If you'd love to connect with me because you're considering adoption, my inbox is always open (email@example.com).