I’m a mom, but I’ve never been pregnant.
This isn’t how I always pictured my entry into motherhood, but sometimes life takes us on unusual turns. Before we know it, we often find ourselves on a journey quite far from what we had ever dreamt before.
In my case, my husband and I weren’t able to have biological children, so the only thing I could do was consider other alternatives. We decided against IVF for a myriad of personal and financial reasons, and we opted for adoption. Going through the adoption process was exciting and nervewracking at the same time. It felt like so much could go wrong. The road seemed long and uncertain, but I was hopeful that we would bring home a child when it was all over.
We now have a little 5-year-old boy whom we adopted from birth. He is smart, outgoing, curious, creative, and loves to build things. He’s the light of our lives.
Even though our hearts were broke open initially, in the end, faith and adoption brought us our Noah. If you’re considering adoption, here is what I think you should know.
1. Be patient
This was probably the hardest part for me. I’m normally not a patient person, and diving into unknown territory where I had little control was daunting, to say the least. The waiting and the uncertainty were challenging for both of us, and there were so many days I just wanted to quit.
It’s not easy staying patient through a process like this, but it is something you have to learn to be. There is a lot of back and forth with lawyers, courts, agencies, birth parents … and with all of that, comes a lot of waiting.
2. Decide on an agency or lawyer
Adopting through a lawyer is different than with an agency. When we made the decision to adopt through a lawyer, we did it because we felt agencies had too many rules. One agency we looked at had a requirement where we would have to meet with the birthparents two times per year. We were more interested in a semi-open adoption, so we decided to go through a lawyer. We found that adopting through a lawyer offered us more privacy in the whole process, which felt really right for us.
Everyone’s needs and wants are different. Be sure to research which route makes sense for you.
3. Decide on a closed or open adoption
This is something you really need to understand before moving forward. Make sure you are clear on what an open adoption means and if you are willing to work for that for you and your family. Ask yourself: do I want to have an ongoing relationship with the birthparents despite their circumstances? Does it feel important to us to maintain this relationship? Is this something we are willing to commit to?
Whichever way you decide to go is up to you, but a commitment is a commitment and is often hard to change retroactively. Being clear on what you’d like your path to look like going forward can help prevent any future issues regarding visits or involvement.
4. Prepare your paperwork
I can’t stress this part enough: if you want the process to move as fast and smooth as possible, then make sure your paperwork is in order. If you know the forms that your agency or lawyer require, make sure you get those filled out as soon as you can. This way, you can have things ready as they are requested.
We were almost always ahead of our game when it came to paperwork. My husband was always very diligent in filing everything out, and I was diligent about handing it all in on time. I honestly feel that our adoption process would’ve dragged out longer if we weren’t as quick with delivering the needed documentation. So, if you can get it, do it ASAP.
5. Talk to other adoptive parents
One of the best things we did was talk to other adoptive parents about their decisions and experiences. Doing this really gave us a good idea of the whole process—the good and the potentially tough. You can ask your lawyer or agency if you can talk to any adoptive parents they’ve worked with. Many are open to speaking with potential adoptive parents to share experiences.
You can also look people up online through Instagram by searching hashtags, like #adoptionislove and so on. You can send them an email or DM or ask to speak with them on the phone regarding their experiences. You’d be surprised by how many people are willing to help. Asking questions will really help you understand where you stand and should give us insight on what to prepare for. Doing this really helped us feel better equipped emotionally for the journey to come.
6. Get your finances in order
Adoption can be very expensive, so it’s important to figure out how you’ll pay for it so that you don’t run into financial hardship (which could delay the whole process). We managed to save up a good amount by opening an account that was solely for the adoption where we would put a portion of our earnings there during every pay period.
During this time, we also cut back on our expenses so we could save more money and created a GoFund Me page where friends and family could donate if they wanted. As an artist, I also used my art to raise funds. Buyers, who were not friends or family, could purchase a painting knowing that a percentage of the sales were going toward our adoption.
There are also adoption grants and organizations that donate money to couples looking to adopt. These are great to look into.
7. Be hopeful
When we have something to look forward to, we feel alive and hopeful. I knew there would be some bumpy roads throughout this journey, so when I was feeling discouraged, I would purchase some books or a stuffed animal as a reminder that our child would be here with us one day. There are several ups and downs with adoption. During the downtimes, I would look at the books or stuffed animals and believe that our child would hold these in his hands one day.
8. Get on the same page with your partner
When you are going through an adoption journey, you will be facing lots of challenges to get to that baby. It’s imperative that both partners are in agreement with the goal, and you will need to lean each other to get there. Thankfully, my husband and I were both on board when it came to adopting. We made a decision to adopt and removed all the other options from the table. So, being on the same page will make you feel good about every step you take toward that child.
9. Consider the child you want
Before even starting, we spoke about what kind of child we wanted: a boy or girl, what ethnic background, and whether we wanted a domestic or overseas adoption. These were all decisions we had to make throughout the process. We decided adopting domestically would be the best fit for us due to travel requirements with overseas adoptions. Many other couples feel a strong pull to adopt internationally.
Either way, it’s important to talk through all of this with your partner and then learn about the policies and laws surrounding the different types of adoptions you’re seeking. Familiarizing yourself with foreign laws in the countries you’re interested in adopting from can also make you aware of any potential halts that could arise through the process.
10. Do your research
Read articles and blogs, talk to adoptive parents over the phone, read books—the whole nine.
I did so much research and really made a commitment to finding as much info as I could and that helped me feel prepared before we got started. The adoption journey is long but so rewarding. Knowing what to expect can help you make it to the sweetest finish line—having your child finally in your arms.
This article was originally published on February 5, 2020.