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We’re adopting!  Here are the answers to some questions you might have…

 

What kind of adoption will this be?

We are pursing an Open Domestic Infant Adoption.  We’re talking about an itty bitty newborn.  The birth mother or birth parents will actually select us as the parents of their child from profiles of waiting families.  In most cases this matching process happens during the pregnancy.  Hopefully, we will be able to take our squishy baby straight home from the hospital.

However, not every situation is the same.  Some birth mothers choose families after they’ve already given birth and some babies spend a few days with a special foster family in what is called “interim care” before they go home to their forever families.  Our baby will most likely be from somewhere in California, but they could be from anywhere in the United States.

Another big part of our adoption process is the open part.  Our plan is to make adoption a positive concept for our family and to allow for opportunities for our child to know and have access to their birth mother, birth parents or even biological extended family.  We aren’t sure what this will look like yet.  It could range from emails with photos and updates to occasional visits.  Open adoption is commitment to a relationship, so the details will look different depending on the wishes of the birth mother.  Some birth mothers prefer the adoption to be closed, with no contact.  While we hope this isn’t the case, we would continue to keep the option of contact open for the future in case she changes her mind.

Why open adoption?

We could talk about this decision for days, but essentially, we believe that an open adoption is the best thing for our future child. To us, the most important message there is this… “You were never unwanted, unloved or abandoned.  You were loved so deeply that two families made sacrifices to give you the best life they could choose for you.  One to carry you and one to parent you.  You are loved twice as much.”

Children naturally want to know all about themselves and their birth families will always be a big part of that, whether they’re around or not.  Our plan is for our child to know their own story and have access to their birth family in some form.  We don’t believe for a second that that will take anything away from us as their parents.

Another part of this decision is our belief that choosing adoption is an incredibly difficult and selfless choice.  There are so many misconceptions in our society that birth mothers have “abandoned” or “given up” their children and it’s frankly unfair.  Many of these women have made the best choices they could for their child at a heavy cost to themselves.  Carrying a biological child of my own has given me such a deeper reverence for these women.  We want to honor our child and his birth mother by cultivating an open relationship, even if there are challenges along the way.

Are you working with an agency?
Yes, we are partnered with Bethany Christian Services of Northern California.  We chose Bethany for their commitment first to keeping families together and second to healthy adoptions.  They provide resources through their ministry to pregnant women in crisis, whether or not those women plan on choosing adoption for their child.  They have a wonderful perspective on birth families and a ton of experience with successful open adoptions.

 

What led you to adoption?

Jake and I have actually been interested in adoption for several years.  As you probably know, we’ve been very open about our struggles with infertility and miscarriage.  After our first miscarriage, but before I was pregnant with Avery, we considered an adoption and did a lot of research.  At that time, Jake’s cousin and her husband had recently adopted their second child.  It was one of the first open adoptions I had ever heard of or seen in action.  We were so excited to learn about a totally different concept on adoption than what we had seen on TV or in the movies.  We attended a couple of calls and interest sessions with their agency and really felt like their approach resonated with us.  From there on out, we always kept adoption on the plate as an option for growing our family.

Obviously, we got pregnant with Avery and have a healthy, quirky, little two year old now.  So, when we felt like we wanted to add another child to our family, we started to pray and consider whether we should go through infertility treatment again or go straight to adoption.  There were so many more factors involved than I could list here, but at the end of the day, we asked for a sign. We decided to try a short, set number of fertility treatments and they worked!  I was pregnant for eleven weeks and was almost through a seriously challenging first trimester when I miscarried again.  We were heartbroken and we have mourned our little Noah deeply, but ultimately, we both felt that his loss was in some way the sign we had been asking for.  Infertility is one battle, but losing babies is another.  For us, there was always something else to try for the first, but going through the loss of a baby again seemed like permission to travel down a new road.

It has been a bittersweet path for us, but we know we are being led and we have faith that there is joy ahead of us.  In some ways, I’m so grateful for the winding road that we’ve taken, even the heartbreaking parts.  From where we’re standing now, we can see so many ways that God has prepared us for this adventure over the years and we know He won’t fail us.

 

What does the adoption process look like?

Here’s the process as we understand it so far.  We’re new to this, so we’re still learning as we go.

     Information Meetings, Interest Interviews and a Preliminary Application:  We meet with a Bethany social worker on a conference call with other families to learn about the process.  We meet with the social worker on a one on one call to ask more questions and for her to get to know us a little bit.  We fill out a Preliminary Application to see if there are any issues that might interfere with an adoption and a Preference Form which takes us through some of the situations that babies might come from and allows us to specify which situations we’d be comfortable with.  This form allows the social workers to sort families for birth mothers to choose from based on who would be a good fit. We pay a fee.
     Completing a Home Study:  We interview in person with our social worker so that she can get to know us even better.  We fill out gobs of paperwork that covers everything from our marriage to our families to our parenting styles and beyond. We fulfill requirements such as education hours, fingerprinting and background checks, medical exams, drug and TB testing, employment verifications, and first aid and CPR certifications.  We submit all of that, plus tax returns and certified copies of our life to our agency.  We pay another fee.  We interview some more, separately this time, and our home is inspected to make sure it’s safe for a child.  Then, our amazing social worker takes all of that info and synthesizes it an official home study which will basically say that we’re qualified to foster or adopt a child.
     Becoming a Waiting Family:  We compile a little book about our family with a letter to the birth mother to let her know who we are.  We pay another fee.  Our profile is available to birth mothers to view when they’re trying to pick a family for their child.  We wait.  And we pray a lot.  This could take some time.
     Matching:  At some point, we get a call from our social worker that a birth mother wants to meet us.  To be honest, we don’t really know what this part of the process will look like because so much of it depends on the birth mother.  We will be following her lead and starting that open relationship that we’ve been talking about.  We’ll be sure to update you about how this will look when we have more information.
     Finalization:  We take our baby home and love on him/her like crazy.  We pay another fee.  Over the next few days to weeks, the birth parents terminate their parental rights.  Our agency makes supervisory visits.  About six months later, the adoption is finalized and we are granted full legal custody.  We pay one more fee.  We celebrate!

 

Where are you at in this process?

Right now, we’re on the second step, working on our home study.  We’ve already put in many hours filling out paperwork, making appointments, compiling documents and ordering reports.  We have a few hours of online education, a couple of doctors appointments and a day of pediatric first aid and CPR certification to go.  We’re planning on mailing in all of our paperwork by the end of December and we hope to have our interviews and home inspection done early in the new year!

 

Are you worried about…?

This phrase is usually followed by the suggestion that a birth mother might change her mind or a question about open adoption. The answer is usually yes, and no.

My best friend has words all over her house.  She probably has one thousand decorations that say some cute phrase or quote.  I have one.  It’s a little sign that I brought home from a work trip in Nashville.  It says, “Choose Faith Over Worry”.

I’m a worrier, my friends… first class.  It’s one of my struggles and I have to fight it every day.  So, if you’re asking if I’ve considered, stressed or overthought about this adoption, the answer is probably yes.  There are so many unknowns in this process and not knowing is definitely not my comfort zone.  But this is a child we’re talking about.  They’re rarely ever in your control and they’re certainly always worth it.  We’re choosing faith over worry.  We’re accepting some risk for the possibility of a huge reward.  We’re giving up our control and asking for His will.

We’ve heard amazing success stories and we’ve heard the horror stories too.  The thing is, none of those stories will be our story. Ours is just starting to play out.  We’re pretty sure there will be challenges and we know there might be heartbreak, but we also know that there will be joy in this.  Without a doubt.

That being said, we would love to chat with your more about your questions or worries.  We know that everyone has our best interest at heart and we want to hear what you have to say.

 

How can I help?

First of all, you’re a gem.  We have an incredible community of family and friends around us.  You are literally one of the reasons we can take on a challenge like this and we love you for it.

First and foremost, we need your prayers and your encouragement.  Adoption can be hard and even if we breeze through it, we’ll have two kids at the end… so double up on those prayers, pretty please.

Second, we will be fundraising.  This is another thing that is outside of my comfort zone, but the reality is that adoption fees are expensive and we won’t be able to do it alone.  We trust that God will provide what we need.  So, we’ll be hosting a couple of fundraisers over the next few months, but if you feel compelled to give right now, you can do so here.  Please know how sincerely grateful we are for your generosity.

 

A little bit more about adoption fees and fundraising…

It is super important for people to understand that these fees are NOT being used to “buy a baby” or to pay or even support a birth mother directly.  Adoption fees pay for hours of work by social workers as well as the many legal fees involved.  Because we’ve chosen to work with Bethany, a chunk of our adoption fees will also go towards birth mother support and services, but not directly to the birth mother we hope to be matched with.  Rather, that money goes into the pot of resources used to support all the women who seek assistance from Bethany, whether they be potential birth mothers or women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy who need help exploring their options.  This money will be used for resources like the Bethany maternity home, prenatal care and on demand counseling with a social worker before, during and after placement.  Every potential adoptive family with Bethany pays the same fees and no family is directly responsible for the financial needs of their potential birth mother, no matter how much or how little she requires.  Families also don’t pay more if their case requires more time from a social worker or more complex legal proceedings.  Adoption fees at Bethany run right on average with fees from other agencies across the country for domestic infant adoption.

The primary fundraising site we will be using is YouCaring.com.  They do not charge a platform fee on either side of the transaction.  However, PayPal does charge a small processing fee of their own on the way from YouCaring to us.  This is still the most convenient method to donate, but if you’d like 100% of your money to go towards our adoption fees, you can send money via PayPal under “send money to friends and family”, via venmo, or by check or cash.

Have more questions?  Lets chat about them…