Today’s post isn’t an adoption guide, advice, or even everything we’ve learned. It’s a culmination of the questions I’ve received most often/continue to receive, specific to our journey. It’s personal and a little uncomfortable but I feel like if I am going to want to share what comes next, that sharing this part is important. Something I won’t be addressing, despite how many have asked, is where exactly we are in the process. And that’s tough. I so appreciate the sweet notes I’ve received from so many but it just isn’t something I’m willing to talk about. When we started down this road, we discussed at length when would be an appropriate time to share. From the get go? Not until all was said and done and surprise! We’re parents!? Ultimately, we decided to make our announcement public after we were a few months in and officially “active” and home study approved. And I’m so happy we did — I love hearing reader stories and can’t believe how many of you have adoption as a part of your lives. Because we shared, I get to talk a little about the fun stuff, like nursery design! But, we also decided to keep the details surrounding when/where/how/if we match private. So, even though I’m not divulging all the details, I’m grateful for those who are invested, which is why I am sharing more about our journey today.
*Each of these questions are verbatim — as they were submitted — and I’ve chosen to address some of the most popular topics.
Did you choose to adopt after trying to conceive?
I’ve received tons of questions surrounding our “why” — everything from general curiosities to asking about specific procedures. Before I get into this — the most personal thing I’ve ever shared in this space — I want to be clear. Fertility is not something I’m an expert on and there are way more qualified people and sources to seek advice from. This isn’t advice; this is our experience. And, just because we’ve gone through something, well, I don’t think it has to become our cause or identity. This will always be a part of my story, but it isn’t the part that I feel led to share publicly as the banner of our life. It’s just a piece of our circumstances.
Here’s the truth. Dave and I have been married almost seven years. We’ve actually been working to expand our family for much of that seven years. Many of you know as I’ve shared before that Dave and I were best friends before we ever started dating. We’ve loved life together and have never considered ourselves as having or being less of a family, just because it’s the two of us. When people would ask about if we were planning to “start a family” or if we “wanted a family one day”, it always struck me a little odd because to me, Dave and I are a family. If it were just he and I for the rest of our lives, we are a family. Period. Second of all, who decided this was ever an ok question to ask? There are a lot of situations where I’m better at extending grace and excusing people for lack of tact, but this is not one of them. In this space, the sensitive space of family planning, words matter. There are tons of reasons for people to not have children — whether its finances, timing, personal goals, medical, fertility, not wanting children… TONS! But, they likely all involve some sort of personal component. Something that isn’t anyone else’s business.
A few years ago, we each went through a series of tests and once we reached a certain point, decided to pause; at that time, results were inconclusive. I’ve been the reluctant baby shower attendee with the fake smile, who endured the inevitable, personal questions as the icing on the stupid, bitter cake. (For some reason, people seem to think there are no questions too intrusive at baby showers?) I can promise you that no woman you encounter is misinformed of how biology works and that asking pointed, invasive questions isn’t educating her; it’s purely to satisfy your own curiosity. This isn’t ok and it isn’t an icebreaker question. If someone doesn’t have a child — regardless of reason — it’s nobody’s business. Above all else, I can promise you 100%, the reason we don’t have kids isn’t because we forgot to.
I always pictured myself as a mom but the best things that have happened in my life have totally contradicted the plans I had for myself. His plan has always been greater than my own. There were times I wondered if being parents just wasn’t meant for us. In my own self pity, Proverbs 3:5-6 seemed to be my life verse. I couldn’t understand. I didn’t want to understand. As much as I wanted it and as much as I was so sure Dave was born for it, I couldn’t understand why He wouldn’t make it as a part of His plan for our lives. Being a mom became something my heart ached for and it didn’t seem fair that something that was supposed to be the most natural thing couldn’t be a part of my life. I watched as friends and family around me announced pregnancies — some excitedly, others as total surprises — and was envious of every single one. And, I judged. I judged their marriage (or lack of marriage), finances, how they parented the children they already had… everything. It brought out a self righteous, jealous side to myself that I didn’t like. I wanted to be happy for them, but I couldn’t be — at least not in the way I wanted to.
When we started building our home, it was exactly what I needed. It commanded my attention, it gave me a hobby, it became a place to invest in and in turn, receive joy from. I haven’t shared this before but our home — the projects within it and the community built around it — is what started healing the void… that pain and bitterness and jealousy and hurt that had consumed a part of us. I became content again. I had new things to be excited about, my passion turned into my business, and I was able to focus again on the beautiful life Dave and I had built together. Not having a child went from being life’s heaviest burden to a detail of our lives. We took some time, we healed, and even though we didn’t know what was coming next, for the first time, it was ok.
We never planned on adoption. To be totally honest, if you would have asked me on Day 1 of being married if we would consider it for our family, I would have 100% said “no”. I don’t think anyone plans for not being able to easily conceive. Even when it didn’t happen for us, my initial thought was to potentially explore what the advancements of science and technology may have to offer. I still didn’t consider adoption as something that may be in the cards for us. It would come up in casual conversation from time to time and somewhere along the way, I realized that my 100% “no” wasn’t 100% anymore. I still didn’t consider it a real possibility but maybe it wasn’t totally out of the question. As time went on, growing our family wasn’t the stress it once was but I did start to acknowledge that sooner or later, we would need to make a decision, one way or the other. Either do something, or not. Grieve it or move forward. I don’t know when it happened but somewhere along the way, there was a shift in my heart. I realized that what I was longing for — what really mattered most to me — wasn’t to be pregnant. And, it didn’t matter if our child didn’t look like us. What I wanted was to be a mom. And for Dave to be a dad. And when it became clear, it became so clear. And when we first said it out loud, every weight I had carried on my shoulders, every internal pressure, every sadness from not understanding left. I was at peace. I knew and I trusted that adoption would be the path in which we would grow our family. Through adoption, we would become parents.
Did y’all try IUI or IVF?
We did not. When we knew, we knew. And just like there are a million reasons to have or not have children, there are so many reasons people choose adoption. I think it’s a common assumption that if someone is adopting, it must be related to fertility — that’s not true. I’ve come to understand that a lot of people feel led to adopt, regardless of their own ability to conceive.
How did you go about getting started?
We knew basically nothing about adoption. We didn’t know the different types, who to call, what to do… nothing. I had a few friends of friends/extended Facebook friends whom I’d seen grown their family through international adoption or through fostering but I knew the path we wanted was different. We had heard it was expensive and a potentially long process, but we knew none of the details. I reached out to someone who had grown her family through the state system and she reached out to a friend who had gone through domestic infant adoption. He had used an adoption consultant which he highly recommended. I had no idea what an “adoption consultant” was, but I read reviews, scoured their website, Googled all I could, and called for more information. (It’s not the same as a facilitator, which is illegal in several states). I didn’t feel that consultant was a perfect fit for us but I did like the idea of a consultant so I researched others. My second call is who we ended up applying with. The way it works is that instead of hoping to match with an expectant mama on your own or applying to one agency, waiting, and working with them exclusively, the consultant takes a multi-agency approach to help you connect and network with reputable agencies and attorneys. It broadens the net. They work with ethical agencies that make a significant number of matches each year, in “adoption friendly” states, that operate ethically and place focus on birth mom support and care. They help you become better informed, and guide you step by step through the process, from picking a home study provider, to sharing suggested agencies to apply with directly. Since we knew nothing, we wanted the hand holding and support.
Since the very first time I started researching, I continue to research, read, scour forums, participate in groups, listen to podcasts, study reports… I learn new things every day. Education is empowering and every day, I feel more informed, better equipped and think about things differently than I did even a few months ago. Because we won’t be sharing where we are in the process in real time, it does get a little taxing to hear from people who think they are the first to educate me on the potential length/hardships of the process. All I can say is that if those times really were the first time I’d heard that adoption can be a long process and the risks associated post-match, we’d be in big trouble haha. Our eyes are wide open, we are 100% confident with the teams of professionals we have hired to guide us, and nothing that has been sent as an FYI is news to us 😉
What is the home study process like?
The home study is one of the very first steps in adoption; it’s a process that hopeful adoptive parents go through to be deemed “fit”, able and ready to parent and care for a child. Anyone who adopts, whether through foster care, international, or domestic, has to be “home study approved”. This is where all the paperwork and checklists come in. You work with a case worker to obtain fingerprints and background clearances, physicals, immunizations and tests, pet records, 911 call logs, financial affidavits… etc. etc. etc., even down to a statement from the water company in some situations. All states have different lists and laws and apparently, Georgia is one of the most “comprehensive”. We quietly went through this process in Q4 2018. We met with our case worker for hours on a couple of occasions, answered questions and were interviewed about every aspect of our families, home, and life. She came to our house to observe required child proofing, safety, fire alarms (we had to have a fire drill and house map of exits)… there’s a lot that goes into it. But, while rigorous, it also wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be. And, our case worker and her entire team were wonderful. During this process, we were challenged on “whys” and “why nots” and encouraged to consider possibilities we hadn’t before. As a caveat, there are some super personal questions asked — some I never would have dreamed would be a part of it 😉 Once all papers are in and visits are conducted, the case worker does a full report making you active and eligible to adopt. The best advice I was offered during this was that your case worker wants you to succeed. They aren’t looking for reasons to not approve you.
Are you doing international or domestic adoption? Will you adopt a newborn baby or older children? Did you list any preferences?
We are pursuing private domestic infant adoption. That means matching with (being chosen by) an expectant mama, somewhere in the U.S., through an attorney/agency. And, as crazy as it is, yes, the home study document does specify what child situations you can adopt, down to race, age, handicaps, etc., based on the preferences you expressed. We won’t be sharing personal preferences, considerations, or details. I do think more than ever, this is the time to be 100% honest with yourself about what you can and can’t handle and be prepared for. When it comes to not just age and race, but also exposures, handicaps, history, and the situation in general, there is a lot of research involved. Some go in with no preferences, and others are incredibly specific. This is something that has to be researched, discussed, and established within your own family.
Are you doing a closed adoption and will you tell your child?
There is nothing that I share here, or even with my closest family members, that I wouldn’t share with our child. Quite the opposite. There are details that only he/she will know, along with his/her birth mother. Adoption will always be a part of his/her story and we plan for him/her to always know and to be empowered in knowing all aspects of his/her story. We aren’t *there* yet but there are so many great resources on this! One thing I was shocked to learn (since the extent of my adoption knowledge was limited to the glorified/scary Lifetime tv stuff) was that 95% of adoptions today have some level of openness. Open vs. closed is a whole different thing to educate yourself on if you are considering adoption (and was actually totally different than I assumed). Things are way different today than they even were a few years ago. Today, there’s emphasis on empowering expectant moms to make an adoption plan on her terms, making resources and education available, and placing her child with a family of her choosing. None of my preconceived notions were true. Each situation is different — sometimes, an expectant mom may want an annual photo/update through the adoption attorney and sometimes, she may want call(s)/visit(s). It’s my understanding that sometimes, that relationship can even change/transition as time goes on.
Are you scared someone will try to take him/her away?
NO. Movies do such an injustice to this subject. There are laws in place to protect all parties. There are different revocability periods from state to state (all state laws are different) and I’m not familiar with how things work in fostering to adopt, but there’s a LOT of misinformation on this topic.
How did y’all raise money for adoption? It is so infuriatingly expensive!
I’ve have had a lot of questions around the cost aspect of adoption but this one that I included, verbatim as it was submitted, stuck out and here’s why. I totally agree that there needs to be more accessible support on all sides of adoption. Truthfully, yes, private adoption services are a substantial expense and if you’re considering it, you should definitely get some real ideas of real numbers but the figures are all. over. the place. And, depending on so many variables, cost ranges are huge. I love seeing people helping people but crowdsourcing funding for an adoption isn’t as black and white as it may appear. And, I know a lot (maybe most?) do fundraise (at least a portion); and, I’m not saying this is wrong at all! But, there are considerations beyond just having or not having money to assess if fundraising is right for you. For our family, we felt it for us it was best for us to approach adoption expenses like any other costs we encounter in life. Houses are expensive. And cars are expensive. And education is expensive. Maybe you’re in a position to fund out of pocket, and maybe you aren’t. Maybe you have to save or research loans. But, if it’s something that’s important, you try to find a way. I don’t know your personal financial situation; it’s up to you to do your own homework and talk with adoption and financial professionals; I bet it isn’t as scary as it may look.
Is there anything you’re looking forward to doing with your child?
Oh my lord, yes! My mom and I (Mama Nan 😉 ) have an incredibly close relationship; she is a huge reason I have wanted so badly to be a mom myself. We can’t wait for all the traditions and lessons from big holiday events to casual Saturdays at home, working in the yard. Dave and I have never been shy about bringing in a little magic and fun, just because we aren’t parents, so we can’t wait to introduce our son/daughter to all of it. From going to Disney shows at the Fox to after school homework and snacks, we’re ready for all of it <3
I can’t tell you all how much I appreciate the love so many of you have shown toward us during this time. I’m grateful for your care, excitement, and goodwill for us. It’s emotional and sometimes lonely and frustrating and happy and just about every emotion you can think of but we feel so incredibly lucky to be on this path and can’t wait to share more one day. Later this week, we’ll be back to the more fun, lighter stuff — I’m sharing the nursery reveal! It is 100% my favorite project to date and I can’t wait to share it. Subscribe to my emails at the bottom of this post to see other adoption updates, kid stuff, room reveals, and any updates we decide to throw your way 😉