Chances are you have heard about adoption at one end of the spectrum or the other. If you have not personally experienced an adoption journey and all that it entails, then your understanding of adoption or what you have witnessed is probably the highest of highs or the lowest of lows. Maybe you were on the receiving end of an adoption, where you watched your friend or family member bring home their child and all the excitement and joy it brings. Or, your encounter with adoption could have been consoling a loved one when they received devastating news that their adoption had failed.
Whatever your indirect association with an adoption may be, or however far along into the adoption process you may be now, your opinion about adoption is being formed as you go. However, in my experience, and in my connections with other adoptive families, I have found that the adoption process unfolds a lot like life. There are days that will bring insurmountable joy and days that bring you to your knees. In life, we cannot control every circumstance or understand each trial. But we can learn to take every high and every low and count it all joy for the blessings we will receive and the lessons we will learn to influence who we are and how we choose to make an impact on others.
So, let’s lay it all out there, the good and the bad, to see a better picture of what adoption really looks like, when it rocks and when it doesn’t, and let’s use this perspective to see how it all points to the greater joy that comes when you fully experience adoption.
When Adoption Doesn’t Rock
Paperwork to get ready to adopt
Your first major step to undertake in the adoption process will be the immense amount of paperwork that must be completed before inching forward. The many nights my husband and I spent at our kitchen table finishing applications, gathering financial numbers, copying birth certificates, completing background checks, and writing what felt like the deposition of our life was an arduous process. Many nights we would remind each other that these long nights would all be worth it in the end. But under mounds of paperwork and all the organizing and distributing of information, you feel the first weariness from the adoption process. We understood all the reasons we were asked to complete so many tasks, but it didn’t make muddling through it much easier. You may feel like you need a vacation before the ink dries on that last signature page.
Worry about financial responsibilities
While you are completing the formalities of paperwork and sharing where every penny of your money goes each month in your household budget, another thought starts to infiltrate your mind. With adoption, many times the financial responsibilities carry a heavy burden for the adoptive family. From the application fees to the home study process to creating a profile book and paying for background checks, those costs are just the beginning. The average adoption costs are usually at least $30,000 when every expenditure has been calculated. When the reality of adoption was certain in our family, this was one of the hardest hurdles we had to overcome in our minds. Just the thought of coming up with that great amount of money given any length of time can be taxing, but if you are given an adoption opportunity sooner rather than later, you may just have a moment’s notice to prepare the first payment. At times we thought the task too big to handle and tried to manage our finances if we needed to take out a sizeable loan. However, with the help of our adoption consultant and ideas from our family and friends, we were able to fundraise the majority of the money we would need to finalize our adoption. This did not come without hard work through fundraising efforts, but we are so very grateful for the support we received to make this difficulty of adoption much more bearable.
Waiting and the unknown
One of the hardest parts of the adoption process was not the financial responsibilities or the mounds of paperwork, but it was the waiting for what was unknown. We like to be in control of most situations in our lives, and surrendering that in an adoption is like cutting off one of your limbs. You can still function, but the dynamics of your life has changed dramatically, and you don’t know really how to handle it. Once you are active in the adoption search, you have a time period where all you do is wait, present, wait, present, wait, wait, wait. Some wait for months, others wait for years. I told my husband if we could know the amount of time for sure that our wait would be, whether for three months or three years, having a definite outcome on a definite timeline would make it so much easier. However, we don’t know. This indefinite piece of adoption can sometimes be a cause for uneasiness or exasperation, but like life, we cannot know true joy without also seeing how far we have come to get to joy.
When Adoption Rocks
There are a couple moments when you are in the adoption process that will give you that butterfly-in-your-stomach, heart-racing, giddy feeling. First, you have to choose adoption. Whether you have come to this decision through months or years of uncertainty or you knew before you even started a family that you were called to adoption, you have to take that first step. When your choice is secure and you reach out to begin the process, you may get giddy because of the leap you are taking. Then, after all the paperwork is complete and your profile book drafted, once background checks are approved and a home study visit completed, you are ready. Your family, your information, your future will be put out there as you begin to seek an adoption opportunity. That giddy feeling will reemerge for what the future could hold. Finally, when you have that child in your arms and know he/she will share your last name, your joy will not only be a feeling, but will saturate those around you to share in the newfound love in your life.
Our family has been so blessed by the many new relationships that have developed through the process of adoption. Obvious relationships you will foster will be with the new child in your family, possibly a relationship with the birth family, and a relationship with your social worker who is the glue that holds it all together. But even then, other people have shown up, and more relationships have been formed just through being able to share our story of adoption with others. We have grown close to many other families who have been affected by adoption and have encouraged us along the way. You will get to witness the relationship between your newest family member and others who will love and cherish him/her. Our family has also been able to not only share our story of adoption with so many but accompany other couples and families as they find their way to adoption too.
Adoption itself is compiled of many small lessons that we can grow and learn from all along the way. However, the lesson that we as parents have enjoyed the most is what we are able to teach our other children about adoption and the love and sacrifice that must go into it for us to be able to be forever blessed by it. Having conversations with our girls about what love looks like, how patience can also grant us strength, and how to celebrate who God made us to be have been the most beloved lessons our family has learned and will continue to absorb in the joy of adoption.
Adoption is worth it. It will be worth it. Even after experiencing a failed adoption, my husband and I can still say that adoption for our family is worth whatever circumstance that we face because our journey is just that — adoption. It will keep our hearts gratified and our arms full and will give us the chance to share our story along the way.
Jill is a 32-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.