My friend warned me, when her family came over for dinner, that her daughter was fascinated by adoption and would likely ask me a million questions about our story. I smiled and said, “I’d love it!”
There’s nothing like adoption that will bring out the curiosity in friends, family, and even strangers. Suddenly we’ve become the “experts” to those in our circles who have never adopted. Now, we certainly don’t know all there is – there is a LOT of info out there. But we’ve gathered quite a bit along our journey. And if there’s something I love doing, it’s sitting down over a cup of coffee and sharing what I’ve learned with someone else, be it homeschooling, how to study the Bible, discovering identity/freedom, and, yes, adoption.
So grab your cup of coffee or tea or kombucha – to each his own – and imagine we’re chatting one-on-one. (If I miss your questions here, feel free to share in the comments and I’ll do my best to address them!)
Let’s dive in!
What types of adoption are there?
The primary methods of adoption include: international, domestic through the state, and private domestic. International is adoption that takes place across national borders, for example, an American couple adopting a child from China. (Age range available can be anywhere from about 2-16 years old.) Domestic through the state is adopting children who have gone through the foster care system and whose parents’ rights have been terminated. (Age range available can be anywhere from about 2-17 years old.) Private domestic adoption is typically when a birth mom chooses a family to parent her unborn child; this can be done via word-of-mouth connections or through an agency. (Age range is typically newborns, but can include older children on occasion.)
Which type did you choose and why?
For this adoption, we’ve chosen private domestic through an agency. We look forward to parenting a child all the way from their first hours in life. Given our current ages in life, this will likely be our last attempt at adopting an infant. Future adoption(s) will most likely be domestic through the state, adopting older children who have come through foster care and are in need of a forever family.
Why does adoption cost so much?
Well, it depends on the way you go. International and private domestic adoptions can cost upwards of $25k whereas domestic through the state only costs the adoptive family around $1k. But, consider a couple of factors. In the case of the state, the government is subsidizing the care, which comes from taxpayers. So, there’s a financial cost, just less obvious.
And, even bringing children into the world biologically can be incredibly expensive – each of ours accrued no less than $100k including prenatal care, labor, and delivery for two very high-risk pregnancies. Yes, there was insurance to help, but insurance dues to pay for as well. Either way you go, there’s a financial cost – it just looks a bit different.
Where does the money go?
We’re so thankful to be working with an agency who views their work as a ministry more than anything else! Some agencies are complete shams who will take your money with little to nothing to show for it. In our case, if we end up matched with a birth mom and she later changes her mind, all of our money and every donation given is still intact and is available for use in the next adoptive match.
The money itself for our private domestic adoption covers the home-study, marketing, birth mom and baby care, counseling for birth mom, legal fees, and all processing costs.
What’s the difference between open and closed adoption? Which one is better?
Open adoption means that there is some level of communication and/or interaction between the adoptive family, the child, and the birth parents. Closed adoption means that there is no communication or interaction. But, it’s not just a black or white situation.
Think of open/closed as a sliding scale rather than a door. Depending on the desire of the birth parents and comfort level of the adoptive parents, an open adoption can be limited to mailed pictures every few months or it could be regular visits and the families coming to feel like they’re actually blood-related, sharing special events and frequent interaction.
In most cases, studies have shown that some level of openness is healthiest for the child. Only in cases where the birth parents are dangerous would a closed adoption be a better way.
How long does it take?
It depends on what “it” means. And, how fast you can fill out paperwork and attend required trainings. We began dreaming of adopting before we ever got married. Five years ago we became foster parents, hoping to adopt through that route, which didn’t work for our situation.
Preparing for our private domestic adoption has now been a journey spanning about 2 1/2 years. That includes deciding on which way to go, which agency to use, applications, orientation, ALL the paperwork, doctor visits, home study interviews and visits, fundraising, more fundraising, hundreds of conversations, and now…waiting to receive the call.
Our waiting isn’t over yet. But it will be soon.
What happens when you get “the” call?
When our agency calls us, they’ll let us know that we’ve been chosen by a birth mom as a potential match. We’ll drop everything and set up a time to meet with her just a day or two later. We may have to travel to another part of the state depending on where she is. We’ll get to know each other a bit, with a caseworker present to help ease some of the tension and guide our (nervous) conversation. Then, we’ll wait for the birth.
The birth mom has to wait 48 hours after birth before she can legally sign away her parental rights. Once that’s done, the baby is placed with us and we can bring them home. About six months later, we will go to a court where a judge will finalize the adoption and legally we will become our child’s forever family.
How can I be a part of your adoption journey?
Where can I get more information on adoption?
If you’re in the DFW area, take a look at Chosen Ones, an adoptive and foster care support group. They host regular info meetings and provide ongoing support for the unique situations adoptive and foster families experience. Also, check out our agency, Christian Homes & Family Services. They can help you with all kinds of domestic adoption as well as foster care. Regarding international, I’ve heard wonderful things about Gladney, though we haven’t used them personally.
So, what questions do you have? Have you considered foster care or adoption for your family?
God loves adoption because He loves people. (James 1:27)
He is a Father to the fatherless. (Psalm 68:5)
He sets the lonely in families. (Psalm 68:6)
It began with a dream, as many worthwhile things do. The dream that became a hope is now becoming a reality – adopting a new member into our family.
Steve and I have long-desired to have a houseful of kiddos – biological and adopted alike. Our family motto has long been, “There is always room for one more.” Just shy of celebrating our second anniversary, we welcomed our first-born son into the world. A short 16 months later, we welcomed his sister after many long hospital stays. Each pregnancy was difficult, dangerous even, not only for the babies, but for me as well. So, when our youngest was four, we began our journey into foster care, hoping to adopt.
Our foster daughter was beautiful and, oh-so-precious! Witnessing the miracle of her healing was one of the greatest privileges of our lives. And yet, we knew she wasn’t going to be ours forever. We were merely a stepping stone of her path to healing and safety. So, after only four months, we said goodbye.
The following months and years saw fear, doubt, and lies seeking a foothold in my soul. I allowed fear to provoke me to believe that having more children in our home would be too much, too much for my heath, too much for our homeschooling, too much for our capacity . . . just too much. And, for me, the dream that once was vibrant and alive, was buried.
When I finally hit my knees and asked God what He had to say, the dead and decomposing dream took in a fresh breath from the Life-Giver. In a span of mere minutes, doubt gave way to desire, fear gave way to faith, lies gave way to love.
Praise God for His resurrecting power!
And here we find ourselves in the final steps of our years-long marathon. We’re working with a wonderful agency who will help connect us with a birth mom. This young woman is still unknown to us, but God knows exactly who and where she is. She is in the midst of her own process, seeking to find a forever family for her precious child.
Will you help us make that final connection?
We’ve begun a campaign to raise the funds needed to cover the adoption expenses, including birth mom and baby care, home study, training, marketing, legal fees, and more. Please consider how you can be a part of bringing our little miracle home! Thank you for supporting, encouraging, sharing, and, most especially, praying through this with us!
So, the raw truth…at first I didn’t want to be a foster mom. As in, I said, “Never!” A string of excuses ensued…
“I don’t want to deal with government bureaucracy.”
“What if I fall in love and can’t let them go?”
“What if we can’t afford it?”
“What if it’s dangerous to our family?”
“How can I explain this to our extended family?”
“What if an angry bio-parent follows us home from a visitation with their child?”
Anyone else know what often happens when we say, “Never!” to God?
I’ve already shared several major steps of our journey already…our vision prior to becoming a foster family…our reality while in the midst…and our trust in God when it came time to say goodbye to our foster daughter.
But there were two things that helped me overcome all those excuses and doubts and fears. God spoke…and He gave us a community of support.
I was preparing a list of questions to ask Randy and Vickie Akins who run a non-profit support group in our area called Chosen Ones. As I readied myself to ask every question in the universe so I could convince myself that fostering was NOT what God had for us, God spoke so clearly to my soul, “You’re going to foster…and it will be okay! Trust Me!” That was it. I knew.
And “Trust Me” would become the theme of what He would speak to me throughout our entire journey of becoming licensed and living in the reality of fostering and, later, letting go. Trust Him. Not what I thought I knew…Not what I’d seen on T.V….Not what fear whispered in my ear…Just Him.
Then came the community of support through Chosen Ones…an overwhelming outpouring that I never could have imagined! Information on local agencies, answers to all my questions and more, real-life testimonies of other foster families, regular support meetings, fun events with other foster/adoptive families, a closet filled with anything we might need to fill in the gaps…clothes…toys…baby monitors and car seats for FREE, meals when we got our first placement, prayers over the phone, prayers through our Facebook group, prayers during monthly support group meetings…and more than I can even recall! The way they embraced us was amazing and so full of love and an eagerness to support us through this journey.
When I first heard the name of the group, “Chosen Ones“, I thought they were referring to the children that would come into these foster and adoptive homes. But after getting more information, I understood that the “chosen ones” were actually the foster or adoptive families! These families would be chosen to care for children who needed a home, either temporarily or forever. To be one of those chosen ones was one of the most humbling things I’ve ever experienced.
The scope of this amazing grassroots organization is immense…their vision huge and continuing to grow! They have expanded from just one support group to several and they continue to meet with local churches to establish new Chosen Ones groups throughout the area. Randy and Vickie amaze me in their willingness to serve and go wherever God has called them to go.
If you are a family considering foster care or adoption, I encourage you to pray for God’s direction and timing. Read our story here and here and here. And, contact Chosen Ones for more information to help answer your questions! If you are in the DFW metroplex, come to an informational meeting or visit a support group for families considering or already actively fostering or adopting.
If you’re already a foster or adoptive family and you need some extra encouragement, support and resources, consider checking out Chosen Ones!
If your church is looking to begin their own foster/adoptive care ministry, contact Chosen Ones for information on how to do that!
If you just want to help in some way by volunteering your time or resources, here are some of their needs! You don’t have to become licensed to foster or adopt to make an impact!
As for our family, for some health and other reasons we have taken a break from fostering and are waiting for God’s direction on returning to it anytime soon or perhaps further down the road. In the meantime, we will continue to be a voice of encouragement to those considering foster care or adoption. We were definitely and immensely blessed to be “chosen ones”! We miss our foster daughter…keep her pictures up…talk about her often with our kids, family and friends…and continue to pray for her health and safety and blessing!
In case you haven’t heard, I am publishing my first book, entitled Refining Identity: Now Found in Christ which will be released this Fall! To see more about this resource, be a part of the publication project or pre-order your copy, visit our FundRazr campaign! God bless!