Adoption is Rad shirt via here.
Why are you adopting? Why not just have more biological children?
We have always had plans to adopt, even before getting pregnant with Ford. I wrote more on that in yesterday's post how as Christians we are called and commanded by God to care for the orphans. For us, adoption is not only expanding our family but displaying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And yes we made two really cute home grown babies but God has continued to show us that adoption is in our path...if you read my blog when I was pregnant both times, I am sick for 40 weeks, had gestational diabetes twice, a blood disorder called Thrombocytopenia, and C sections which kinda suck to recover from (especially with other children running around).
What type of adoption are you doing?
We are doing a newborn domestic adoption meaning we will either get matched with a birth mother who is at least 20 weeks pregnant or get matched with a child who has already been born and the birth mother decided to place him/her while she was in the hospital, coined "stork drop" in the adoption world. We want to maintain our current birth order so Ford and Lucy will continue to stay our oldest children.
When did you start the process?
After Lucy was born we felt the strong urge to start pursuing adoption. In Fall 2015, we started talking to friends who had adopted and researching agencies and open adoption with the plans of starting the process in the New Year. We contacted a social worker who many of our friends have used (and who was a pioneer for open adoption in the 70s) the first week of January and she was able to get us in almost immediately to complete our home study. January and February were crazy months for us. We completed all of our home study paperwork and had our home visit and interviews and attended an amazing adoption seminar taught by our social worker and sponsored by Adoption Advocates in Austin. I highly recommend it to prospective adoptees. Our home study was complete at the end of February and I am sharing more below about our agency.
What is a home study?
A home study is something required by the law to go through any sort of adoption... domestic, international, or even custody. It is conducted by a licensed social worker and comprised of lots of paper work (and I mean LOTS.... FBI background checks, CPS clearances, medical records, finger prints, references, and lots of writing about your childhood, life experiences, personality, marriage, parenting styles, etc). You have a home visit which was NOT as scary as I expected and one on one interviews with your social worker that I said was like free therapy sessions. I'm happy to recommend our social worker if you are looking for one.
What agency are you using?
We originally applied to and were accepted by an agency in New Orleans but found out they only placed 4 babies last year and they recommended we use every adoption outlet available to us. We decided to expand our pool and praying about what to do since we didn't want to have to wait years and years to be matched. A couple of months ago my friend from church who is a fellow adoptive mama connected me to a friend of hers who is an advocate for Christian Adoption Consultants. What is Christian Adoption Consultants? Basically a "newer" way to do adoption is to work with a consultant who has relationships with agencies and private adoption attorneys all over the US. With this approach, we are able to apply to multiple agencies for little or no application fee and have that much more exposure to birth mothers. We signed an 18 month contract with CAC in mid February and it has been an absolute answered prayer. We are so grateful for our consultant Susan who is there for us every step of the way answering questions and helping us navigate this unknown road. Not only are we able to utilize the multi-agency approach, our consultant is basically holding our hand throughout this...giving us advice and recommendations on finances, risks, openness when it comes to drug and alcohol exposure, etc. I cannot imagine going through an adoption without a consultant at this point. I am sure I will be sharing a lot more about working with an adoption consultant but I can't recommend CAC enough. The final confirmation we got when praying whether to sign on with CAC was when I was on Pinterest one night searching for examples of family profile books and found the most beautiful and information blog about adoption, My Grace Filled Mess. I stayed up for hours and think I read almost every post she had (open adoption, how to make a profile book, hospital plans for adoption, adoption lactation etc). My jaw hit the floor when I learned that the author, Susan, was a consultant at CAC and I emailed her immediately. CAC is a Christian company, obvious by the name, and it has been such a joy to be a part of this community of believers with a heart for adoption.
So where are you in the process?
After signing on with CAC, we received the list of agencies and attorneys that they work with and were advised to choose 3-5. We chose 5 that we felt were a good fit for our family and right now we are waiting for our family profile book to arrive which should be today. We used Shutterfly to make our book and I cannot wait to show you guys! Our dining room table is covered in folders, paperwork, and applications for each agency... ready to be mailed out when our profiles arrive. Different agencies have different requirements on things we have to send so we've been spending the last 2 weeks gathering items and filling out more paperwork (I can honestly say I am done talking about myself haha). Once we get our stuff to the agencies, we can start to be presented to birth mothers.
How does the matching process work?
When an agency has a case, they will either email us directly or go through our consultant (depending on the agency) and give us information on the birth mother, birth father, the pregnancy, any drug/alcohol exposures, etc. From there we can make the decision on whether or not we'd like our family profile to be shown to the birth family. Birth families are usually shown 3-5 profiles based on their personal requirements and will choose the adoptive family. Most agencies won't match birth mothers with adoptive families before 20 weeks so we could get matched anywhere in the birth mother's pregnancy or after delivery.
How long does it take to be matched?
Statistics in adoption are hard because all that really matters is what happens to you if that makes sense. Families working with Christian Adoption Consultants wait an average of 6-12 months to be matched which is significantly less if we were to be working with a single agency. From the time we submit our information to the agencies (which is very soon, hopefully I can get to the post office this week), we need to be ready for a baby ASAP or ready to wait a while, which we are... because two tiny little humans keep us quite busy these days.
Are you doing an open adoption or closed?
We learned through our seminar and social worker that about 70% of adoptions these days are open and most agencies strongly encourage open adoptions. It is our hope and prayer that we have a strong relationship with our child's birth mother in an open adoption but we can't see the future. The openness of any adoption is decided upon by the two families and although nothing is legally enforced, it is all in good faith. There is so much beauty in open adoption. We are already praying for our birth mother and her family and that she is surrounded by love and support throughout her pregnancy. We want our child to know where they came from, their background, and how loved they are by so many. We've actually gotten to meet with birth mothers and read lots of stories and sometimes open adoption is strong at the beginning and then tapers off as the child gets older but I loved hearing that one birth mother texts with her son who is 20 years old.
When will you talk to your kids about adoption?
If you know Ford personally you'd know that he is pretty darn smart and incredibly verbal. Because he saw Lucy grow in my tummy last year, we have been talking to him a lot about adoption, especially through our home study process. We talk a lot about having another baby and how he/she will grow in another mommy's tummy and it is called adoption. We talk about how his baby brother or sister may look a lot different than him or look like certain friends we have. Our church has such a strong adoption community and we are excited to get to talk to families who have gone before us and get ideas on how to talk to our bio kids and adopted kids about adoption, birth families, etc.
Do you want a certain race or gender?
We have no preference on race or gender.
Is adoption expensive?
Short answer... YES! God has continued to provide and even when we are overwhelmed with numbers, we are reminded that none of this is our money anyway. Most likely we will spend between $35-$45k on our adoption. Unlike buying a house or car, all of the money has to be paid upon placement so we've been putting money away over the past few years in a fund for our adoption and feel confident about our finances as we go into it. There are so many grants available to adoptive families but we are fortunate that because of Jon's income level, we do not qualify.
What advice do you have for families wanting to adopt?
I will probably continue to write about this over the next few months but right now I have a few tips. To be practical I am going to say start saving now, adoption is expensive. Pray. God will put people in your lives, experiences in your lives, and finances in your pockets if adoption is in His plan for you. And educate yourself! Go to a seminar, read books and blogs, talk to friends who have adopted. We wouldn't have been able to go through this without our family and community loving us and praying for us, and the many people we've used for resources, encouragement, and advice on adoption.
How many children do you guys want?
We would like 4 children and will most likely adopt the next 2. I have full peace in the thought of not being pregnant again, my kiddos don't exactly make it easier on me. We aren't taking any possibility off the table but as of right now, that is what we are thinking.