This is a subject with which many people hold opposing views, such as:
“You should have biological children first.”
“You should be open to any child joining your family.”
“You won’t be able to love an adopted child in the same way as a biological child.”
“You shouldn’t have preferences regarding gender, race, ethnicity, abuse, etc.”
Whatever your view, adoption can bring both heartache and joy to a family.
Recently, I sent out questions regarding adoption to a few people I know who have been impacted by adoption in some way over the course of their lives. One brave, young mother-to-be stepped up and shared her story with me, which I will now share with you to the best of my ability. Please know that out of respect and privacy for her, I will not be sharing names or any other identifiable details.
This young woman began by sharing that she and her husband decided to start their family through adoption, not because of infertility but because of an innate desire to welcome and love a foster child in need of a forever home. She was berated by others for her decision because she was “stealing children from infertile women”, despite the fact that over 20,000 children age out of the system each year. In her own words, adopting a child “wasn’t stealing…it wasn’t even making a dent” in the system. To prepare for their adoption journey, she spent time working at a family law office and felt confident that she understood what their journey would entail—but, looking back, she had no idea the hardships she and her husband would encounter along the way.
First, she and her husband decided that they’d like to foster to adopt. They also decided that they’d like an infant whose parental rights had already been terminated, in order to avoid a lengthy legal battle as best as possible. As a young woman wanting to start a family, this seems like a reasonable decision—experiencing the late nights of feeding and cuddling, seeing those first steps, hearing those first words.
But choosing an infant adoption comes with a heavy price tag, both emotionally and financially. There would be no baby showers, baby announcements or outpouring of love over baby pictures on social media because their child wouldn’t be “their child” for at least six months following placement. $30,000 was needed up front to even begin the process; she and her husband spent a year raising the money and have since spent a year starting the process to become a family of three.
After beginning the process, they had to buy a house because their apartment was deemed too small and wouldn’t look good in their adoption profile. Then they experienced their adoption process being abruptly stopped when the agency discovered their student loans, despite the couple’s diligence at paying them off since graduating from college. It took over a month to settle the loan issue and get the process rolling again. Throughout this time, they took classes, attended a weekend seminar, had a home study done, and were placed on a waiting list.
And now, they are waiting. Waiting for a birth mother to choose them after looking through numerous profiles. Waiting to cradle a baby in their arms and welcome he or she into the nursery that’s been set up for months. Waiting to hold that baby as a judge makes them officially a family of three.
And she says it’s unsettling, “having your whole life peeled open, combed through, [and] judged” until the adoption is finalized. It’s extremely difficult living in a state of limbo, not knowing whether you should take that anniversary trip for fear your might get a call and not be in town to pick up a baby. Should you spend money on birthday presents for each other or save the money knowing that you may have a child to provide for tomorrow? She called it the “ninth month of paper pregnancy”, sitting and anxiously waiting for a life turned upside down but having no idea of when that may occur.
Despite the hardships and long road thus far, she has grown and learned more about herself and her faith along the way. Her heart is being molded for her child and she encourages those seeking to adopt to do their research, ask questions, go to seminars, and document everything. Just like becoming a biological parent, she doesn’t feel 100% ready or prepared but “no child is prepared to experience the world without the support of a loving family“.
I want to profusely thank this courageous mother-to-be for sharing her adoption journey and I want to ask those of you who have been impacted by adoption to share your own stories. How has adoption changed your life?