What you Need to Know about Adoption

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Oh hey, it’s {the last day of} National Adoption Awareness Month. If you clicked on this blog (yes, I see you looking!), then you’re probably interested in adoption. I’m here to tell you some of the things nobody really talks about… but should.

Because I’ve been there.

First of all, let me start by acknowledging the discomfort associated with people referencing us as some type of saviors for adopting a child. While I find it incredibly kind that these words are directed at us, I find it equally difficult to accept them in good conscience. To be clear, we didn’t “save” a child. If anything, our adopted child [and the birth family that chose us] saved us by blessing our family.

adoption fan

  1. As you consider adoption, you’ll also need to think about the type of adoption and agency you will use. There is a LOT of variation among adoption agencies – this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is to help you find the best fit for you and the child you adopt. Some are limited by things like duration of marriage, faith, or age, for instance. For us, the absolute most important consideration through the process was the birth mother and the care for her both before and after the baby was born.
  2. If you remember nothing else from this blog, please remember the birth mother. Do not ever forget her importance. Adoption is not simply a “baby transaction”. The birth mom matters so much in this process, and it is critical to ensure that, whether you know her well or never meet her, she receives care both before and (most importantly) after the adoption process. To be clear, care doesn’t just mean physical care – it means mental health care, as well.
  3. Now let’s get uncomfortable and talk about money. Adoption isn’t necessarily cheap, though there are many different ways to adopt. Some are less expensive than others. If you are holding back due to money, hey, I see you. I was you. Let me reassure you that there are many ways to get there, from fundraisers like selling t-shirts, grants (scroll down for a short list), and donations. Before you think that you can’t afford it, carefully consider the way you’ll adopt and the costs (and tax credit) associated with that process; it might be more affordable than you think.
  4. Maybe you already have kids. Yes, you can still adopt, and no, the process will not automatically kick you out due to that fact. This was a big question that I had, and to be honest, I felt a little bit selfish even considering adoption when I knew that there were people unable to have biological children who might also want to adopt. Here’s the thing: Adoption is different for everyone, and it’s not a competition. If your agency empowers the birth family to choose the adopted family, it will be clear that you have children. That might be the “it factor” that sets you apart. It’s not a big deal, I promise.
  5. Speaking of kids…How much do you involve your kids? As much or as little as you think they can handle. If they’re young, that might not be much. If they’re older, you might find this a rich opportunity to help them learn positive adoption language, to navigate uncertainty, and to understand that things aren’t always easy or quick. We chose the latter, and it brought our family much closer. My kids did see me ugly cry. They joined us in prayer. They rejoiced when good things happened. You know your kids best, so let your gut guide you here. (I love @curious.parenting, @ourmamavillage and @drbeckyathome for general parent child relationship tips).
  6. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll need to get connected to an adoption community before and after you adopt. I know it may feel presumptuous beforehand, but sister, you have a LOT to learn. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you desperately need someone to help you out here, especially if the child you adopt has a history of trauma. If you’ve experienced something like a miscarriage or cancer, you know the feeling of having “your people” who have themselves walked that path and come out on the other side. Adoption is like that. There is so much unknown, yet so much hope. Find your people. Learn from them.
  7. Do not assume adoption leave is the same as maternity leave. While it should be the same, many organizations do not offer the same leave policies for adoption. In my situation, paid adoption leave was 1/6 of the paid maternity leave. Yes, FMLA and vacation may be used for your time off, but it is best to know what policies you have in place prior to engaging in the process. Some organizations have incredible policies for adoptive families. Some don’t. It is much easier to plan for your family once you know where yours falls on that spectrum. Remember that adoption has many stops/starts and changes in direction (e.g. birth mom can change her mind), so dates are tentative at best.
  8. Don’t be surprised if you forget that your child is adopted. Hear me out here. I was very nervous that our adopted child would feel disconnected from us, like a visitor in our home. Would I ever really feel that mother-child bond? In truth, it felt that way initially, because those caring for our child knew more about things like feeding habits and diaper changes than we did. Once our baby joined us, it was a complete non-issue. Honestly, I sometimes forget that I didn’t grow this baby in my belly, like my others. Yes, the path to us was different, thanks to the birth parents, but the way our adopted child fits our family is perfect.

Adoption is a beautiful thing, but it isn’t without challenges. As I sit here with my sweet child, I can assure you that every single step was well worth it.

If this is the path for you, mama, you’ll see what I mean one day.

Here are a few grants that may be of interest. Feel free to share others – there are so many great options available!