We get questions all the time about our adoption experience and we love answering them–but more than that, we love that God is continuing to use our story to not only remind ourselves of who is He and what He’s done, but to help shape others’ stories along the way. I recall to mind often that we don’t do this life in a vacuum…but alongside and relation to and with those on this journey as well. We need one another and we need to share our stories–because it’s in them and through them that faith is bolstered in a good God.
I reached out to SO many when we began praying about adoption for our family and so many were gracious to give us their time, experience and wisdom. It was priceless to Michael and I as we timidly took steps forward. The unknown seemed so frightening….but hearing personal testimonies of a faithful God to those who had tread that path before gave us a bit more confidence to continue and helped illuminate which path to take.
SO HERE’S WHAT I HOPE THIS POST IS:
1) A testament to you right now (whoever you are reading this) that God sees you and has a MAGNIFICENT plan for your family. He is good in this season and He will continue to be good to lead you forward.
2) A place to start. There could be countless questions included here, but it’s a place for you to begin. (And by all means, if you have more questions PLEASE reach out to me personally! It is one of my greatest honors to come alongside others struggling with infertility, wait, adoption. If you need someone, I will be your person).
3) A place to take a bit of the fear out of adoption. Adoption scared–no, it terrified me at the beginning! The unknowns, the process, how big everything felt. My hope is that this post takes a bit of that away. Knowledge adds peace and I hope as you read some of those fears disappears.
I’m forever (FOREVER!) grateful that God wrote adoption into our story and into our family. I sit here with tears in my eyes thinking that I could have missed out on this. On him. On an unmistakeable season of experiencing God like never before. I could have missed out on God not just growing our family with our precious boy, but with his incredible mom as well. God knew. He saw me. He heard every heart wrenching cry for a baby. And He inclined His ear to answer–in His way and in His perfect time. He had a good plan from the start. And dear friend, He has a good plan for you as well…
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE WHICH AGENCY TO GO THROUGH?
Choosing an agency can be soo overwhelming! Others had warned us about the credibility of some agencies so we knew we needed to do a lot of research (and a lot of praying) in these first few steps of adoption. It was truly God’s grace that He put a variety of people in our lives—from a good friend who was a social worker, to a past college friend of mine who was an adoptive mom, to a photographer friend who knew someone that was a birth mom and I’m not kidding….each one of them had worked (or was working with) Bethany Christian Services! We had already heard about Bethany so after hearing the various perspectives and the high compliments they had to say about their experience with them (and of course, more researching and praying) we felt a lot of peace that this was the agency that we were to go through.
WE ARE INTERESTED IN ADOPTION BUT WE’RE NOT SURE. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’D RECOMMEND US DOING TO HELP MAKE A DECISION?
Yes! I highly recommend attending an informational meeting if your agency has one. This was huge for us! Michael and I traveled to Saint Louis (I believe they are in all different cities but this one was the closest to us). In the meeting they walked us all through the step by step process of what each stage of adoption looked like (in domestic, international, foster, embryo etc). They went through basic time frames, the breakdown of the costs, what was required in each section. It’s a lot of information (especially when it’s a whole new world). Afterwards you can sign up to schedule a phone call with someone who worked for Bethany to ask questions one on one. We did that and it was so helpful for us as it allowed us time to process everything and then organize our thoughts and questions. This was a wonderful starting place—and ended up being the place that we both felt lots of peace in continuing the process of pursuing adoption.
HOW EXPENSIVE IS ADOPTION?
We get asked this question a lot. Adoption costs range significantly (you can Google it). The route we took was more expensive than some, however we loved what Bethany stood for–their complete care for birth families, counseling, education, etc. This was a huge part of growing my faith in our journey. As big and unreachable as some of the numbers felt–God. Was. Bigger! He loves to show Himself as Jehovah Jirah (The God who Provides). We firmly believe that where He leads, He’ll provide. And that was certainly the case with us!
WHAT ALL DID YOU HAVE TO DO IN THE FIRST STAGES OF ADOPTION?
A. Whole. Lot! There were a ton of forms as well as a checklist of things we needed to accomplish—from background checks, to various question and answers, to pet vaccination records, to health checks, to required readings, to a weekend conference we had to attend etc. One thing we loved about Bethany was their heart to truly come alongside everyone they worked with not just to walk with them through this season, but to educate and counsel. After all those things were done (which for us took about three months) then we had the three part section of our home studies. This is where a social worker came to our home, made sure it was safe, asked us any and all questions (about our childhoods, marriage, fiancés, etc) and after three separate visits then wrote a long report on us. Once that was complete then we began the process of creating a profile book—the book about Michael and I that would be given to potential birth mothers. And after that….the hardest part of all….waiting.
THE HOME STUDY SOUNDS INTEMEDATING! CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT IT?
The home study section DID feel so scary. (I think a lot of those feelings came because of the unknowns). However, that quickly evaporated when we met our social worker. She was kind and easy to be around. She asked lots of questions, but did so in a gentle way. If she saw things in our home that needed changed, she told us about it and let us have it fixed before the next time she came. I think going into the home study remembering that they are for you and for the safety of the kids (not out to get you) was really reassuring.
HOW LONG WAS YOUR ADOPTION PROCESS?
From the first steps of starting our paperwork to when Asher was born it was nine months. Six were in the paperwork/interview process and then our profile went live in January, February we were chosen by Asher’s mom (which is when we met her in person) and then he was born March 5th. Overall it was much faster than we were anticipating. We were actively protecting our hearts to be in it for years, but God had a different plan.
WHAT IS A MATCH MEETING?
After our profile was picked by Asher’s birth mom, our agency set up a match meeting where we got to meet each other in person. This was so that we could get to know one another prior to officially being chosen to make sure Asher’s birth mom liked us. Social workers were in the room with us and encouraged us to come with questions prepared of things that we might like to know about her. We were both so nervous before hand and had countless friends and family cover that time in prayer! As many nerves as we had, we immediately loved her!
WHEN WERE YOU OFFICIALLY CHOSEN?
After the match meeting it was about a week until we heard. Like I mentioned before, Bethany encourages couples and moms to process and think through everything thoroughly (one of the things that we loved about them). When we did hear we literally FaceTimed on a Thursday evening, we left town Friday and Asher was born that Sunday!
WERE YOU THERE FOR ASHER’S BIRTH?
Yes and what a gift that was for us! We know that not everyone can say that but Asher’s mom wanted us in the delivery room when he was born. That was such a special, sacred time that we know she didn’t have to let us be a part of…but she did…and we will forever be grateful. Not only that, but she wanted us to be the first ones to hold him and have him in our room the first night at the hospital. There are no amount of words to describe this time. There was every emotion possible. Joy, peace, unknown, grief, gratitude, humility, love, heartache. The hospital was wonderful and gave Michael and I a room across the hall from her so we were able to wheel him back and forth between our rooms during our stay there—allowing her to have time alone with him, us to bond and for all of us to spend time together. She gave us such a precious gift of the memories of the beginning of life and a birth story that she chose to share with us. We will forever be grateful!
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE ASHER’S NAME?
Michael and I knew that we wanted to include Asher’s mom in helping choose his name. When we went to the hospital the night she was being induced we had a list of five names we liked but wanted her input. When we read them to her she had Asher on her list as well which made the decision so easy. (To top it off his name means, “Happy and blessed” and I don’t think there is a more fitting meaning for our little buddy). What a joy to get to tell Asher as he gets older that all together—us and his birth mom—chose his name.
DO YOU HAVE AN OPEN OR CLOSED ADOPTION?
Open and we wouldn’t change it for the world!!! When we first started our process, we thought we wanted a closed adoption (I think originally out of fear—fear of the unknown, fear of hurt, fear of what could happen…all understandable fears) but thankfully God changed our hearts. To think that we could have missed out on the tremendous joy that fills our life because of Asher’s mom makes my heart stop. We love her so much!! Not just that—but knowing that Asher will grow up knowing her, have memories with her, know how deeply she loves him is everything to us! Everyone’s level of openness is different, but for us we’ve had her not just to our home but stay with us for a fun weekend, had family nights with her, FaceTime every few weeks and text continuously! She is an incredible woman and it’s a honor to get to share the title mom with her!
DO YOU KNOW ABOUT ASHER’S BIRTH DAD?
One of the most valuable things we learned during our preparation prior to adopting is the incredible importance of guarding Asher’s story. This is our story (yes) but just as equally it’s his and we feel the incredible weight and responsibility of being the gatekeepers to it. So some things we keep to ourselves for his sake–and we’ve learned that’s okay and good. (This is one of those things).
WOULD YOU EVER ADOPT AGAIN?
Yes definitely! We want Asher to have siblings but the next steps and the “who, what, when, where and how” seem so unknown right now. We are intentionally praying over and entrusting our family back to a God who continues to have a good plan for us.
WHAT ONE THING WOULD YOU RECOMMEND WE DO RIGHT NOW?
PRAY! When we began seriously pursuing adoption we carved out very intentional times of prayer both alone and together. We rallied friends and family to come alongside us as well. (I have a group of three close friends I weekly sent prayer requests to. For the step of the process we were in, how my heart was feeling, for encouragement, for match meetings, for waiting, for profiles being sent that didn’t go through, for peace, for protection over our future baby and his mom). I tell you–pray over EVERYTHING! And journal….oh the entries I read now and reflect on what God’s done. I see very specific ways that God heard even the tiniest detail of prayers and can look in awe now. Prayer, my friends, is so so powerful!