Did you always know you wanted to adopt? What made you decide?
Short answer, it had always been a part of our conversation, but without a timeline or much detail put into it. Longer answer, click HERE to read the full story!
What did you do once you decided to adopt?
We spent a few months really praying about it, talking it through with each other and close friends, and just letting the decision sink in. Like I said in the post linked above, it felt like God blew a HUGE gust of wind and a firm, excited YES over this decision so we were so excited to get things rolling and didn’t waist too much time. I researched lots of agencies, read several books, a million articles, and essentially googled all things adoption. It was super overwhelming at first. There are so many different opinions, agencies, consultants, and decisions. At the time, I didn’t have any close friends or family who had previously adopted an infant domestically so we had to navigate the beginning on our own. Josh and I just decided that the Lord was for this, His spirit lives in us, and because of that we were going to trust that we were going to making the right decisions throughout this process.
We interviewed several agencies (and by interviewed, I mean that we let them tell us about them because we had no clue what questions we should be asking. I’ll get to this in a bit!) and decided on an agency. They had a waiting list of about 4 months, so around 2 months into our wait we began our home study. Yes, this is a ton of paperwork (don’t worry, you can do it!), a million questions and pretty much every official document you have to your name. But it felt like we were moving forward, and I really enjoyed it. The home study process made the time move quickly, but once it was completed, we ended up having to wait a couple more months until we could be an active family. These months passed slowly, but I tried my very best (failed lots of times, but thank ya Jesus for grace and fresh starts) to make the most of the wait, allowing the Lord to refine me and shape me into the mama that would best love our baby.
I’m interested, where do I even begin?
One little step at a time. I highly recommend reading Adopted for Life by Richard Moore. It's such a great book that’s an easy read and I highly recommend it for anyone and everyone whether you’re considering adopting yourself or not. PRAY and LISTEN. He is always speaking and trust that you CAN hear Him! Reach out to someone you know who is adopting/has adopted. (I’m always willing to chat!) Explore the different types of adoption: foster care, domestic, international, private, etc. Call a few agencies and hear what they’re about, ask questions.
Can you tell us a bit about self-matching?
The way our agency worked was partial agency match, partial self-match. Agency match: expectant mothers come to them and view the profile books (essentially a scrapbook ordeal with pictures and blurbs about your family) and choose a family to parent their baby. Self-match: hoping to connect with an expectant mother via social media (i.e. a friend of a friend of a friend who knows someone who is hoping to connect with an adoptive family). We were a bit weirded out with the idea at first, but thought 'Hey, ya never know!' This format made our agency fees a bit lower than others so we were willing to give it a shot. We chose to view it as an opportunity for vulnerability that could bring connection and encouragement.
And yes, we did self-match. We were connected with an expectant mother through a long list of friend of friend of friend of friend via someone we met while we lived in Redding, CA. It is CRAZY to see that the Lord has been writing this story since before the two newlywed 21 year olds decided to move to Cali.
It was definitely scary and sometimes felt far too exposing, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world because it has brought so many incredible relationships, opened up the door for lots of divine conversations, and most ultimately led us to the precious expectant mother.
How much does it cost?
This was the question y’all asked the most. Simple answer: it's a lot, you can google the national average. The TRUER answer: the Lord is faithful, He WILL provide, and He loves to see you walk in faith, trust Him, and blow your mind with His generosity. He’s a God of abundance and this isn’t an area that’s excluded from that. Stamped and Finch is how we have paid for the majority of costs and my goodness, we can’t even describe how thankful we are for this. We also received a grant and have been incredibly blessed with some support from close friends and family and strangers via our AdoptTogether fund (this is a website that is super helpful: it provides a tax deductible way to give and keeps everything together). Do a Google search for grants for your specific state and national ones, there are a ton! Please, oh please, do not let finances be your decision maker. Let go of that fear and just go for it! He is more than enough. Sometimes that first step in blind faith is what ushers in open doors and blessing.
What has been the hardest part of adoption?
The vulnerability and unkowns of it all. We heard the Lord speak, “It’s going to be wild, its going to be great, it’s going to be full of Me” (United Pursuit lyrics, my fav ever ever) over our adoption journey and it has been just that: wild, great, and full of Him. The wild part has been the overflowing bucket of unknowns, lack of control, and the vulnerability of putting our hearts completely on the line. I try my best to talk about this journey in a hopeful tone because I truly am so grateful for this opportunity and confident it is where we are supposed to be, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a lot of tears and fears in there, too.
What has been the biggest thing you’ve learned through this process?
You don’t have to have all the details figured out before saying yes.
God’s quietness can sometimes be an opportunity for you to make a decision and then Him to back you up. He doesn’t always send a lightening bolt or burning bush kind of clarity in big decisions, but instead creates a space for freedom that invites us to trust ourselves and the small whispers from the Holy Spirit. We chose adoption and He celebrated that decision with us instead of feeling like He was “calling” us to adopt.
Waiting is not wasted. He seems much more interested in the process than just the result.
Two opposing emotions can be fully present and fully valid at the same time. The Lord loves for you to tell him the good, the bad, and the ugly.
His kindness shows up EVERYWHERE.
I am so thrilled this is our story.
How did you pick your agency?
One of the hardest parts of this process has been knowing what questions to ask. It is all so new to us so we aren’t always sure what we should be asking at the time. I know this is not an all-inclusive list, but hopefully this is a good place for you to start. I would encourage you to always, always ask for the most specific details as possible and don’t be afraid to ask a LOT of questions!
- What type of adoptions do you do? International, national, specific states? What are the differences from nation-nation, state-state, etc.
- What are your (the agency) fees and can you provide a clear break down of them all? Do I pay them all up front or what is the fee schedule? What fees outside of your agency fees will be required of us to finalize the adoption
- Do you have a wait list? What is the average, shortest/ longest wait? How many families are currently on your wait list?
- How do you evaluate expectant mothers? What information will be given to us?
- What is your role in connecting us with an expectant mother? How much of your adoption practice is locating birth mothers? What are you doing to locate birth mothers?
- How many expectant mothers do you typically see in a month? What has been the least? What has been the most?
- What is the average timeline start to finalization? Shortest? Longest?
- What is your specific role with expectant mothers when they initially come to you, once they have chosen a family before placement (during her pregnancy), and after placement? What does communication look like in each of these stages?
- What does your post placement care for birth mothers look like? For how long?
- How are expectant mother fees handled?
- What is your specific role with adoptive families before being chosen, once chosen and waiting during pregnancy, and during adoption placement/finalization? What does communication look like in each of these stages?
- What is your process for presenting waiting families to expectant mothers?
- What does it look like if the adoption is delayed or disrupted? What fees roll over? What support is given?
- Do you offer open and/or closed adoptions? To what extent do you facilitate the relationship between adoptive families and birth parents?
- What happens if I become pregnant?
- Do you do your own home studies or do I need to complete one on my own?
I’m no expert. I’m still learning. Thanks for being interested in something so dear to my heart!