The Biggest Obstacle In Our Adoption Process: Our Families

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embroidered family treeWhen I was 20 years old, my doctors told me that I had Polycystical Ovarian Syndrome. They warned me that conceiving would be difficult when and if I decided to have children. I got married three years later, and seven months after that we decided to stop using contraceptives. I was pregnant in less than four weeks. After nine months of a comparatively easy pregnancy I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby. Although my daughter’s birth was not without its complications, we were home and happy in four short days. We were also finished having children biologically.

Before we even got engaged, my husband and I discussed our family plans at length. As the adult child of divorced parents, I wanted to know how many kids he wanted, how we would have them, where we would raise them, and more. We agreed then that we would have one child and adopt any other children we wished to have. We warned our families early after relentless questions about our childbearing plans, and we were unwavering in our choices. We knew what we wanted, and we had a plan.

Surprisingly, our families are the only problem we have experienced. My mother pleaded with me to have another baby. She waxed poetic on the beauty of seeing your own features in your child, and she spoke endlessly about the biological connection of blood siblings. My husband’s family was more understanding, but we know we have a long way to go. Unsurprisingly, my stepmother was the first person to openly say that family is stronger than blood and connected by more than genetic makeup. With her blessing, we moved forward.

Like most people, we had heard endless erroneous stories about how adoption is impossibly expensive, emotionally painful, and often results in an uncertain future. None of these stories have been accurate in our experience so far.

We first had to choose an agency. We knew we wanted to adopt an older child, between the ages of two and eight years old, and we knew we wanted to adopt a son because we already have a daughter. We did not care about race, and we were prepared to take on moderate disabilities. However, we did not and do not want to adopt more than one child at a time. After a great deal of research, we found the perfect agency – or I should say the perfect agency found us. By chance I found myself talking to a woman who had also adopted, and she lead me to our agency. We called, gathered all the information we needed about their agency, and were ready to start the process.

I would love to say that the process is quick and simple, but that would be just as misleading as saying the process is agonizing and insurmountable. The process is exactly what you should expect when you want to adopt a child. We filled out a very in-depth application. We had our house inspected for fire safety and environmental safety. We took classes on what it’s like to adopt a foster child and how to handle the issues the child may have. We had our fingerprints checked, took tuberculosis tests, and offered medical records. At this time we are preparing for our in-home interview, the final step in becoming licensed adoptive parents. All of this seems like an endless process, yet we did all of this inside about four months. We could have done it faster, but we chose to work through the process at our own pace.

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  1. KT

    November 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    thank you for sharing this!! we also adopted after having a bio son, twice 🙂 through our county foster system. as ADOPTION only. i would do it all again if we had the room to approve.. its nice to know that our family dynamic is not alone.. i love that your step mother was so understanding, because both my hubbs and my families were so strange about it just after each adoption we went through, even though we had also told them time and again our intentions, and even had them write letters for us to the county SW in charge of our cases… our middle son/first adoption is now 9 yrs old ***we brought him home at 3 months*** and our daughter/ 2nd adoption is now 8 yrs old ***we brought her home at 2 years old***
    though we still have ‘issues’ to work through ((see your sites story: our son has FAS)) we would change ANYTHING!!!!

    • Tony

      November 26, 2011 at 1:49 am

      It is great to hear someone praise the process. It is often portrayed as much harsher than in real life. Is it extensive and detailed? Yes. But it is thorough because it must be. And just because it is difficult does not make it impossible, especially if it is your calling, as it has been our family’s. Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to an update somewhere down the road.

  2. Sharon Peterson

    November 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    This article gives hope to all considering adoption, for whatever reasons. Biological parents only need to be capable of reproducing. No one asks questions about suitability, responsibility, or even desires. It’s unfortunate that biological parents don’t have some kind of screening (I know, slippery slope). I think adopted children are inherently lucky in that they are wanted so much, the prospective parents are willing to undergo some scrutiny. It’s heartening to know that the process is not as daunting as many imply. Thank you for the insights, and the perspective. Good luck with your adoption!

  3. Denise Cullen

    November 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    We are also adopting, after nearly four years of foster parenting. My family wasn’t very supportive of our decision in the early years; however, we are happy that has changed over time. The “system” has always seemed cold and often quite insensitive toward us and our needs. We have never been able to see our child’s files. On the contrary, we’ve been told that only after we are at the completion of the adoption process will they be open to us to “view”, not copy. Of course, parental rights are still not severed, so that could be why.

    • Karen Williams

      November 26, 2011 at 1:11 am

      Denise, that has to be hard. I’m sorry you don’t have access to more information. With our agency, we are given a small amount of information when we first hear about the child. If we pursue our application, we are given more information. If we are selected by the child’s social worker, we are given all of the information anyone has on the child. We get about a week to look it over, and then we have the opportunity to meet with his social worker and anyone else who has handled him/his case and is available. We may have the option of inviting the foster parents to share information, but it depends on the situation. After we meet with his care team, the state requires us to consider the information for seventy-two hours before we give an answer on whether or not we wish to pursue the adoption.

      My husband and I have not yet gone through this process, but we have discussed it extensively in our classes. We have also made friends with quite a few foster/adoptive parents, and they have all been very generous about sharing their experiences with us.

  4. Shannon Penrod

    November 26, 2011 at 1:53 am

    My husband and I are planning to adopt and have found it interesting how vocal people have been about our decision – people who wouldn’t feel comfortable giving me advice about buying an area rug are all too willing to voice their opinions about our adopting a child. I honestly don’t they understand how emotional the adoption journey is.

  5. Jespren

    November 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Your brother and I hope to adopt when our kids are a bit older, but we are still discussing how (through the system, private, local, or international) and I’ve already has some of those same discussions with your mom. I know a lot of people who have successfully adopted, however, so I take her fears with a (large) grain of salt. We do wish you good luck.

  6. Toshia isaac

    November 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Karen, this is a really great article outlining all of the misconceptions of going through the adoption process. You will be a hero and great family to a child that may not have had all the love and support that you will be able to give him. I wish you luck in your process. 🙂

  7. WMDKitty

    November 28, 2011 at 12:38 am

    I’m an adoptee, and I just want to say thank you for posting about your positive experiences.

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