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.
We are becoming licensed in less time than it takes to conceive and give birth, and we are doing so without the added stress of health concerns, doctors' visits, and more. We are also managing the expense with surprising ease. Because we have chosen to adopt a child out of foster care, we are looking at an estimated cost of about $2,000 including lawyer's fees. In other words, we are anticipating costs that are 1/10 of the costs people so often predict when adopting.
Now, we are obviously not finished with the process. We have chosen Match Adoption, which means we are not willing to be foster parents (meaning, we are not willing to take in a child whose parental rights have not yet been terminated). Because of our program choice, we may find ourselves waiting for a while before we have a child placed with us. We may also be identified as a fit family within the first month after licensing. Realistically, the time period cannot be predicted.
We will likely wait longer because we are not unable to take a child with severe disabilities. We will likely wait even longer because we are not willing to adopt siblings. However, we will have a child. At no point has our agency or caseworker ever suggested that we will not have a child placed with us in the future. When we are matched with a child, we will start another process of reading all of the child's history, asking questions of everyone who is familiar with the child's history, and then beginning the trial period as we take the steps to become the child's legal family. We could have made other choices that would shorten the waiting period, but we are dedicated to making the choices that are best for our family, and we believe wholeheartedly that we will one day be blessed with our son.
My mother has cited endless stories about children who were abused, born with drug addictions, and more. I have responded with stories of unsuspecting mothers who had children with inexplicable disabilities, pregnancy complications, and more. My point is not to make light of any child's issues, but to say that all parents sign on for the possibility of complications.
It doesn't matter that I can give birth to more children. It doesn't matter that I don't have fertility complications where other women do. It doesn't matter that our son will not be genetically linked to our daughter. What matters is that he will be our son - on paper and in life. He will be our daughter's brother, our parents' grandchild, our siblings' nephew in all respects and to the same degree as our daughter. We will have our second child because adoption will bring him to us.