When my husband and I made the choice to pursue adoption, our first thought was, “Where do we begin?” We honestly knew very little about the adoption process, about open adoption, or the work required of a prospective adoptive parent. We knew we were being called to adopt, but we needed the guidance of professionals. We started by searching for local adoption agencies only to find there really wasn’t much in our immediate area, so we broadened the search for our state and found a few agencies that we could compare. After contacting those agencies and listening to their philosophies as well as looking up their past client reviews, fees, and statistics (most interesting to us was average wait time for an adoptive family), we decided on our agency. Their reviews were positive, they were of a similar cost as the other agencies, and their average wait time was 10.5 months (this was far from a guarantee but gave us an idea of what to expect). The biggest factor, though, was the inquiry phone call I made. The administrative assistant talked to me in such a supportive, kind way that I had tears in my eyes when I hung up. She sold me more than any fact I could research.
It was then that the real work began. Our agency sent us a packet in the mail of the infamous adoption paperwork. You may have heard there is a lot…there is, plus more. Although there was so much for us to complete, it didn’t seem overwhelming because it was all there, paper clipped and printed on a to-do checklist. My husband and I divided up the tasks, and because we were childless and had time and also because we were extremely motivated, we had all our paperwork completed in one week! (To be fair, when we began the adoption process again for our second child, it took us two months to get the paperwork all in because we were parents and therefore had no time and also weren’t in a rush.) We then began the trainings required of prospective adoptive parents. It was great that our agency had online trainings so we could work in our pajamas at our own pace, but it still required a good amount of work. Each training ended with a lengthy write-up about what we learned, and these write-ups were sent to our future home study counselor, so we wanted them to be perfect. All the trainings took about one month to complete. The last step was the home study. We were nervous, but as it turned out, we didn’t need to be. Our counselor came in with a smile and a handshake and made us feel comfortable immediately. Most of the home study was an adoption education, a time where we could take notes and ask questions. She wanted to make sure we had all the information necessary to become parents through adoption. She did also check out our house thoroughly and ask to be shown where medicine and cleaning supplies were kept, where the fire extinguishers were, and made sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors worked and that our home was overall a safe place for a child. As surprisingly comfortable as the home study turned out to be, we were still thrilled and relieved to hear we had passed and that our profile would be placed on the agency’s website.
Then, the waiting began. Months passed, and we heard nothing. We posted our profile on other places online and heard back from several expectant mothers. Anytime we received one of these emails, our first move was to forward it to our adoption counselor and wait to be advised. Often she would point out a detail about the email that made her wonder if this person was actually pregnant or was perhaps a scammer (turns out there are many people who try ‘catfishing’ adoptive parents and you need to be very careful). We were grateful for our counselor’s feedback, and she always ended up being right. After 20 years in the profession, she had a sixth sense when it came to these emails; she was the exact person you’d want in your corner going through all of this. We ended up with two fall throughs, expectant mothers who matched with us and later decided to parent the child. These were difficult times but made easier with phone calls from our counselor about how to take care of ourselves and how to keep pushing forward. On a cold December evening, our daughter was born, exactly 10.5 months after our profile was posted. The adoption process was a wild roller coaster ride with many difficult days, and I couldn’t imagine doing it without the guidance and expertise of our adoption agency—so much so that when it came time to adopt again, we still chose to use our agency, knowing that although we had some experience ourselves, there was still more unknown to us about adoption than known and we would again benefit from having an agency with two decades of experience behind us every step of the way.