Last Monday, I asked for your questions to give my writing brain a jump start. Margaret asked two questions, one of which I answered on Tuesday. Today, I will attempt to answer her second question. She asked, "What advice would you give another couple considering adoption?"

Besides my kids, adoption is my favorite topic. I remember when Rick and I were engaged, he mentioned that he would like to adopt one day. The thought of adoption scared me back then. At that time, I pictured adoption as nothing but trying and difficult. But I remember praying like this: "God, if we are to adopt in our future, please change my heart. If we are not, then please change Rick's." see what happened! God took my hard heart and softened it to the point that nothing short of adoption would fulfill my desire to be a mother. I could have chosen in vetro fertilization, but when the fertility doctor said that IVF was my last choice, I said, "No, it's not. I can adopt."

In the very beginning of our adoption journey, I still pictured my baby as a blond, blue-eyed, freckled child...just like Rick and I appeared as children. But when we went to the agency's first informational meeting, I saw that we were going to have to wait in line for our white, all-American baby. There were about 10 other couples in the same stage, and I felt like we were going to have to compete to get the birth moms' attention. It just didn't feel right to us. We took a step back and asked ourselves again, "What is it that we really want? Does it matter that this baby looks like us?" Of utmost importance to us was that we become parents to a human, because we had already tried parenting a dog, which was fun but not quite all that we wanted!

That's when we decided that our hearts were being pulled to Africa and began the process to adopt a girl from Sierra Leone. As I've mentioned before, that international program became shaky and we decided to stop funding the adoption that might never be. But our hearts were still drawn to black children, so all of our adoptions from that point on were for African Americans.

That is a long way of giving my first bit of advice to the prospective adoptive couple: don't be narrow-minded. If we had continued to search for a white baby, the wait would've been longer. Liam's adoption only took 9 months, and that time includes the eight failed adoptions! It's sad but very true, so I'll go ahead and be blunt...most adoptive couples don't want black babies. But if you can open your heart to becoming a trans-racial family, there are so many black babies that need stable families! And you don't have to go to Africa. They're right here in your own backyard.

We went through two agencies before finding the "right fit" for us. The first agency felt too competitive, and the second one wasn't upfront with some information. Therefore, my second piece of advice is...choose your agency wisely. Talk to other adoptive families and ask if they would use their agency again. Don't be afraid to back out of a program if you feel uneasy.

With Jack's adoption, we felt comfortable enough to forego an agency. Instead, we hired our social worker and attorney independently. We saved a lot of money this way, but I would not suggest this to the novice adoptive family. An agency will cost you more money, but a good agency will also provide you with the help that you will need along the way.

An adoption consultant is another option. A competent consultant will have contacts with many agencies that often have "ready-to-go" babies. We went this route with Garrett, after Jack's adoption was so heart-wrenching. Our consultant was able to help us find Garrett on quick notice.

Yes, adoption can be expensive! Depending on which program you choose, you can expect to spend $12,000-30,000. Yikes! But the IRS does give tax credits to help with the financial burden. We have been able to realize our tax credits every year for the past three years, so it's a nice little bonus every April!

My last bit of advice for the prospective adoptive family is to pray, pray, pray. Adoption is wonderfully rewarding, but there can be trials that come your way. Cover your adoption journey in prayer so that God's will can be allowed into your family. And don't forget that He knows which child needs you, so ask Him to guide you to that child.

I'm sure that I scare some people away when I talk about our eight failed adoptions. Yes, it hurt. Yes, it might happen to you once or twice, but I really doubt that you'll have to face that failure eight times. I also know families that never once faced that heartache, because they were able to get their children on their first attempts. Please don't shy away from adoption because of fear. There are so many children that need forever families!

If you have other questions, I'm open to answering them for you. You can leave me a comment or an email, and I'll try to help you the best I can.


oh amanda said...

Thanks for all the advice. I've always wanted to adopt. I'm not even on baby step number 1, but I like reading and storing up your info in my heart/mind!

Margaret said...

You are an absolutely amazing woman. 8 failed adoptions? I am not sure I could take it.

My ex-husband and I had problems conceiving. First we thought it was me, then it was him that turned out with the problems.

I asked him if he would consider adoption and he said no. If we didn't have a baby "the old-fashioned way", we would never have a baby.

That was yet another sign to leave a horrible marriage. In fact, that was the first nail in the coffin that I could really recognize.

I feel, in my heart, I was meant to be a mom. Whether I birth the baby or whether I "choose" the baby (as I belive you did for your handsome little men), I want a baby. My baby.