We have been adoptive parents for 13 years now, and I can honestly say that it has been the greatest journey of our life. We continually reminisce back to our college days, before we were married, and agree that there’s no way we could have scripted our life any better. I say that in-spite of many difficult days and seasons. However, we have learned what sacrificial love looks like, how much we still have to learn as parents, and the unique beauty that comes from building a family through adoption.
Over the years we’ve been asked a simple question: how do you build a family through adoption? While I wouldn’t consider us the foremost experts on this, we have learned a thing or two, and we’ve discovered some do’s and don’ts. We have learned by trial and error, a lot. But we have also had the unique opportunity to build our family from a few different angles.
If you are considering adoption, I first want to say, congratulations! Don’t give up, even when the process gets long and difficult, not to mention costly. It is so worth it.
With all that said, here’s my answer to the question:
1. Plan for imperfection.
This is the first, and most important step, as far as I’m concerned. Bottom line: we are imperfect people (all 7 billion of us) and this process is far from perfect. Do not get caught up in the glamour of adoption. It’s not real, at least most of it. No offense to Brad or Angelina, but most of us will not have cameras capturing our every move, a magazine art department air brushing the heck out of us and our children as we arrive home, or a lier jet to fly us to and from the country we are adopting from. Make it a part of your plan to be imperfect.
2. Research everything.
Know the different types, the processes involved, and financial costs of adoption. Earlier this year, I wrote an article for Hamilton County Family magazine (in Indiana) about the different types of adoption and understanding the process (you can read the full article here). Spend time reading up on the process (from credible sources like licensed agencies), and dialoging with couples who have gone before you. It is also important to research the different laws and requirements that foreign countries have in place if you’re adopting internationally. Working with an agency like Bethany Christian Services or Adoption Support Center can help with all of this.
3. Ignore (most of) the internet.
In-spite of researching everything, stay away from most discussion forums (unless they are with credible agencies), opinion articles, or un-reliable sources. The internet is full of garbage, and this is as much the case with adoption as anything else. Stick to blogs (wink-wink) and agency websites that give honest and genuine perspectives on adoption.
4. Do not go into debt.
Do not take out loans to pay for your adoption. I know this causes many to baulk because of the costs involved, but, there are ways to raise funds without taking out loans. Many agencies and personnel connected with the adoption process can give you creative ideas. Do fund-raisers like walk-a-thons, yard sales, or even car washes to pay for your adoption with cash. Plan to do this over time. It may take you a year or 2 to raise the necessary funds to pay for your adoption but it’s worth it.
As a family pastor it is also my conviction that prayer and trust in a higher power than you have are huge parts of this process. You have to trust that the right amount of funds will come to you and the child you are supposed to adopt, at the perfect time, will be brought into your home.
5. Connect yourself to a community.
Before and after the adoption is complete, this is so vital. You need people in your life who understand what you’re going through- people who have been there and done that and have the scars to prove it. Your local adoption agency, as well as your local foster-care agency, should have support group listings and contacts they can provide you.
6. Open your heart and mind to anything.
It’s not a matter of “if you’ll be thrown some curve balls”, it’s a matter of “when you’re thrown some curve balls.” The adoption process is a rollar-coaster of emotions, good and bad. It has it’s ups and downs. There are a lot of beautiful moments but also a lot of frustrating or difficult moments involved. Remember, this is a journey. Most likely, unless you adopt a child the moment they’re born, you will be adopting children from difficult backgrounds. Even if you bring home a newborn, difficulties can arise later on. Buckle up. The ride could get bumpy. Keep your heart and mind open to anything that comes your way.
I can promise you this: it is an adventure, but, it’s also filled with a ton of beauty and fulfillment. I say that in-spite of [sometimes] tough circumstances and seasons. However, it’s all worth it.
If you find yourself with more questions than this post has answered, feel free to contact us. Both of us love to discuss adoption and foster care. You can send emails to me at [email protected] or Kristin at [email protected]
Question: Adoptive families, it’s your time to share: what are some other ways you’ve built your family through adoption? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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