‘I Adopted A Child — Here’s What It Was Like’

This month, November, marks National Adoption Awareness Month. And if you’re considering adoption, it’s likely plenty of questions have crossed your mind. While you can research those curiosities online, all the logistical info in the world can’t really prepare you for the emotions that come with starting a family, expanding your family, or completing your family.

Source: ‘I Adopted A Child—Here’s What It Was Like’

'I Adopted A Child — Here's What It Was Like'
‘I Adopted A Child — Here’s What It Was Like’

This month, November, marks National Adoption Awareness Month. And if you’re considering adoption, it’s likely plenty of questions have crossed your mind. While you can research those curiosities online, all the logistical info in the world can’t really prepare you for the emotions that come with starting a family, expanding your family, or completing your family.

That’s why we reached out to four women who have gone through the adoption process—sometimes two, three, four times. They’ve fostered, adopted domestically, adopted internationally, and went through open adoptions. As you’ll see, each option delivers its own challenges and rewards. And, even with the setbacks, these women all say it was all worth it.

Though the women in our stories adopted young children, this year, the Children’s Bureau, an office in the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has dedicated this month to the theme “Teens Need Families, No Matter What.” Their goal is to show how important it is to place teens in foster care with families in order to secure a brighter future for them.

If you’ve ever been curious about adoption, read on for four heartwarming stories from women. You’ll get angry and you may evenl cry. You’ll feel all the joy for these families.

For more information, visit the Children’s Bureau, a program from the Administration for Children & Families.

Adoption Story I

“My husband, Aaron, and I were living in a suburb outside of Nashville, TN when we began noticing several families from our church adopting from China. We were new parents with a 7-month old, and for the first time ever began wondering if this was how we should expand our family. We began to see families formed in a non-traditional way and our interest was sparked. Neither one of us had grown up knowing anyone that had adopted, or that was adopted, but during this time God began to reveal to us through prayer that this was how he wanted us to build our family. We walked into an adoption agency with zero clue about where or when or how, but knew that we were open to providing a family for a child that needed one.

Disqualified

“We quickly found out that we didn’t qualify to adopt from many countries that they worked with. Each country (at the time, this was 13 years ago!) had their own rules and guidelines as to who could adopt children from their country. The social worker mentioned to us that they were desperately in need of parents who were willing to adopt African-American boys. We were more than willing to adopt any child that needed a family, and so this began our domestic adoption.

“Our son, Deacon, was born in Texas about 15 months later. Some time later, I took a trip to Haiti with our church to do some mission work. I had never been to a third-world country, and so taking in what I witnessed on that trip was life changing to myself and to the direction of our family. When Aaron and I knew that we were ready to add to our family again, we never talked about biological children, and instead were confident that we were to adopt our next child.

“Our hearts kept coming back to Haiti, and that is where our next two children were born. Amos joined our family in January of 2010 after two and a half years of waiting, and our daughter Story arrived home three months before him in October of 2009.

The Roadblocks

“We met many roadblocks along the way. When we were in the process of our domestic adoption, the hardships that we endured included the time and effort putting together our application and home study information. The entire process of a mom choosing you to parent her child is something I can’t even put words to. The emotions are so vast on both sides, and both valid and important as well. But we are so grateful that his first mom chose us to parent him. We have an open adoption and keep up with her and her family yearly!

The longest years of my Life

“Our international adoption was the longest and most grueling two and a half years of my life. We began our process dreaming and hoping to have our kids home by the next Christmas, which would have been about a 15-month process, and instead it was double that. Our situation was a bit unique in that we knew our kids from day one of our process with them. Therefore, we weren’t just adopting two kids from Haiti, we were adopting Amos and Story.

My husband and I took turns visiting them about every three to four months. It was a process that I would not wish on my worst enemy. The pictures and videos and flights to Haiti were a constant reminder that our family was incomplete and my kids were still not with their momma and daddy. January 23, 2010 was one of the best days of my life—our family was complete and all under one roof.” Jamie Ivey, 39, Austin, TX, host of the podcast “The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey” and author of If You Only Knew

RELATED: I’M YOUNG AND SINGLE, AND I ADOPTED MY SON

Open adoption requires patients, grace, an open mind and heart, and a willingness to be flexible
CHRISTINE FRAPECH

Adoption Story II

“After three years of being married, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Because being pregnant and having the condition can be dangerous for both mom and baby, we decided to look into adoption. Adoption wasn’t on my radar before my type 1 diabetes diagnosis; however, I do have a cousin who was adopted from Guatemala. I also knew a few kids growing up who were adopted. To me, adoption was just another way people chose to build their families. We now have four children via adoption.

“Along the way we discovered that there is no timeline to adopt. We waited 14 months for our first child, one day for our second child, four months for our third child, and four-and-a-half months for our fourth child. Any agency or adoption professional who promises to find a child for a family in a certain time period isn’t an ethical agency. Adoption is unpredictable. That’s part of the torture AND the joy of the journey.

This is Hard

“Adoption is far from easy. People often tell couples experiencing infertilityto ‘just adopt,’ as if it’s quick and simple. Adoption is bittersweet, challenging, and difficult. But it is also beautiful, wonderful, and joy-filled. When we were first waiting to adopt, we wanted a semi-open adoption. This would involve sending pictures and letters to the adoption agency for them to pass on to the child’s biological parents. We thought this would be best, because it would be easiest on us as the parents.

“However, the more we learned about open adoption, the more we came to understand how it could benefit the child. Instead of always wondering things like ‘where did I come from?’ or ‘who do I look like?’ or ‘why was I placed for adoption?’, the child could directly ask his or her birth parents. Open adoption takes away a lot of the mystery and shame in adoption. Now, open adoption is not perfect. It has a lot of challenges. It requires patience, grace, an open mind and heart, and a willingness to be flexible. But I believe it’s worth it!

Better Plans

“Sometimes my husband Steve and I will be in the minivan with the kids and one of us will say aloud, ‘Who knew?’ We didn’t know 19 years ago, when we first became a couple, that we’d end up married with four kids who were born to different parents. So much of our ‘best laid plans’ really aren’t the best. We just don’t know at the time that better things are coming! —Rachel Garlinghouse, 35, St. Louis, MO, blogger, White Sugar, Brown Sugar and author of The Hopeful Mom’s Guide to Adoption

Love and family knows no boundary or border
CHRISTINE FRAPECH

Adoption Story III

“My husband and I looked into adoption after years of infertility and two miscarriages. It wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind before. ‘The Plan’ was always to have a handful of biological kids and live a picket-fence life. Infertility interrupted that plan and, as strange as it sounds, I am very thankful for that. There were so many gifts hidden in the pain of infertility and loss—the greatest being the two children we have today. I simply cannot imagine life without Mareto and Arsema.

How Did This All Start?

We didn’t start with adoption in mind—we started out as foster parents in our county. After our foster children left we took a little break and decided adoption was the next step. I assumed we would adopt domestically, but every agency I researched just didn’t seem to be the right fit. We took a couple years to research and then one day a friend suggested looking into international adoption. At the time, there were only a handful of countries that were open to adoption and not many of those were open to us because of age or income.

Ethiopia was open, though, and when we researched the agency a friend suggested all the pieces seemed to fit. Love and family knows no boundary or border and it just so happened that our children were in Ethiopia. So that’s where we went. Mareto came home in 2011 and Arsema came home in 2012.

An Agonizing Wait

“From the time we filled out our pre-application until he was home, Mareto’s adoption process took about 15 months. This was average at the time, but now would be considered extremely fast for an international adoption. The process to bring him home was fairly smooth—there were more hiccups than bumps in the road. He was extremely sick and literally teetered on the brink of life and death a few times while we were waiting to get him. It was an agonizing wait, but so worth it.

“Arsema’s process was a little different, but also quite fast. We planned to adopt from Ghana the second time around, but found her on a waiting child list. None of the families waiting with her agency were approved for her specific special needs—we were. After a friend shared her information we made a phone call, changed all our paperwork from Ghana back to Ethiopia, and were on a plane six weeks later to meet her. We first learned about her in June and she was home in October—a lightning fast adoption process. The medical needs of both our children expedited the process for sure.

Attached

“I was surprised by the emotional side of the adoption process. I thought it would be a time of joy and anticipation (and it was!), but there were also many nights I cried myself to sleep with worry over my children. It was extremely painful knowing they were somewhere out there, possibly hungry or crying or sad, and I couldn’t hold them and comfort them. My heart was already completely attached to them and it was very difficult to be on the other side of the world from them for a time.

“When it comes to adoption, expect the unexpected! Halfway through the process to bring home our son, Ethiopia changed the law that originally stated families could bring their children home in the same trip they came to meet and go to court. Suddenly we were told we would have to go home without our child and wait for embassy approval—it was brutal. There is a helplessness that comes with the adoption process and we simply had to relinquish control and trust that every step and every minute of the wait would be worth it. And it was.” —Lauren Casper, 33, Lexington, Virginia, blogger at LaurenCasper.com and author of It’s Okay About It

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