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Adoption – Getting Started

If you’re considering adoption, getting started doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are a few tips based on our family’s journey.

Adoption – Getting Started

  1. Decide your time frame for really starting the adoption process.
    • We spent 2-3 months researching before taking the first step.
  2. During the research process, decide on a budget and financing.
    • Start saving money at first glimmer of choosing adoption to build your family.
    • Most agency adoptions cost between $20,000-40,000, you may be able to find the agency’s basic costs outlined online which will help you formulate a budget and choose an agency.
    • You can raise funds, get a loan, and expect a tax rebate.
  3. Research agencies
    • I googled ‘adoption agency’, researching every agency’s Better Business Bureau reviews, grades, and resolved/pending cases.
    • I googled ‘experiences with ____’ agencies. We eliminated any agency with negative experiences by verified customers.
    • Then I talked with an agency representative from promising agencies, read their literature and websites, eventually narrowing down the field and learning a lot.
    • If you have a local agency, make an appointment to talk to them. You may eventually go a different route, but we met with a few local agencies and learned a lot about the process and what type of adoption we wanted to pursue.

We got some information from a legal adoption network, more of a facilitator than traditional agency. Their basic costs, not including any potential birth mother living or health expenses were going to start at $48,000. We didn’t have that much saved, and we were determined not to start our family life in debt. Kids cost enough once they’re born! We told her we would get back to her.

In the meantime, she did give us the name of a social worker to complete our home study.

Adoption Getting Started A home study is the first real step in any adoption process.

We started gathering the massive amounts of paperwork required. A basic list to get you started:

  • birth certificates
  • marriage certificates,
  • bank statements
  • check stubs
  • social security cards
  • passports
  • driver’s licenses
  • divorce decrees if applicable
  • medical evaluations (for every family member, including pets)
  • letters of recommendation for each parent
  • drawing to scale of our home
  • pictures of the house

We finished gathering paperwork and preparing the house while we waited for our social worker to do our home visit.

Home Visit –

Each state has different mandatory standards adoptive parents must meet. Most are just good baby proofing. Then each agency can add requirements, and different social workers can interpret rules differently.

Basic Baby Proofing Steps:

  • Every outlet must be covered in those pesky plastic covers.
  • We had to have a fire extinguisher.
  • We had to install cabinet baby latches, and secure medications.
  • Outwards doors needed baby proof handles (yes, before we even applied to adopt), including the entry to the garage
  • Keyed deadbolts on front and back doors
  • Additional security for any pools or spas
  • A carbon monoxide detector

The home study seemed terrifying. Someone comes into your house and judges how you live and what type of people you are. He had to ask really personal questions about everything, like everything. Luckily, our social worker was friendly and really put us at ease.

Following the home study, we applied to an agency our social worker recommended. They were less expensive than the legal network and seemed friendly, had great testimonials, and lots of success stories.

Unfortunately, the FBI fingerprinting process was really lengthy as it was paper and ink, which prolonged the completion of our home study. Hopefully, the FBI process is faster and all digital by now.

Adoption can seem overwhelming, but try to keep it in perspective. Building a family isn’t about getting a baby, it’s about trusting God is bringing you the right child for your family.

Be patient, pray a lot, and take one step at a time. Don’t let the huge mountain seem scary, just do what’s on the to-do list for each day and let tomorrow take care of itself.

Matthew 6:34 ESV  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

The patience you’ll learn now will be a good resource once you’re a parent, trust me, 😉

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Seriously Harvard!? How I reset my parenting expectations

Seriously Harvard? God convicted me that my parenting expectations were way out of whack. Was I really parenting for Harvard or Heaven?

My parenting expectations were WAY out of whack. I realized this after a harmless Facebook post almost sent me into a tizzy.

A mom friend posted on Facebook. “My 6 yo daughter is so smart! Harvard should get ready.”

She was being quippy.

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But my mommy radar sounded an alarm, seeking some measuring stick by which to gauge if my daughter might also be in this very elite kindergarten predestined for Harvard group.

I began to type a long comment, but paused. She was being funny. Her daughter is super intelligent. Deciding I didn’t need to compare my daughter or have my parenting validated, I ‘Liked‘ and moved on with my day.

I needed to get a grip. AGAIN. Why was I so concerned with external success for my daughter? What am I raising her for?

Seriously Harvard? God convicted me that my parenting expectations were way out of whack. Was I really parenting for Harvard or Heaven?Seriously Harvard?! I needed to reset my parenting expectations! 

Man, that sneaky pride and mother’s love (fear/worry) is a daily battle. I think some of my fear comes from the tremendous challenges I faced to even become a mother.

While I struggled to deal with my own emotions, I was reminded of a Beginner’s Bible video I had stopped to watch with my precious girl, the story of Samuel.

My favorite part of the story starts with Hannah who desperately wanted to be a mother. She prayed and wept, promising if God gave her a child, she would dedicate his life to God. Her story so closely mirrors mine: lots of prayer, tears, and . . .

I had needed to surrender each step to God.

My story started in 2004, when for medical reasons, I had to undergo a hysterectomy. It was a heartbreaking decision, but the right one for my health.

A few years later, and I’m newly married, settled in Texas and ready to be a mom, but the finances to pursue adoption weren’t available. Prayers started then for God to make a clear way possible if adoption was His plan for us,  so we weren’t going into debt or jumping through hoops for our own desires over His.

When waiting on answers to prayer, it is always better to wait on God than force our own way. Click To Tweet

Two more years passed, and we had saved the money, thanks to frugal living and God’s provisions. But we couldn’t find an agency. It just seemed like it wasn’t going to happen.

I remember laying on our bed, sobbing, asking God if I wasn’t fit to be a mother or if it just wasn’t His plan for me, but to let me know so I could quit waiting, quit aching for a baby.

That was the moment I really surrendered my desire for a child to God and prayed for Him to make a way or give me strength to walk away.

Then a talk with a social worker led us to the right agency that we just clicked with. It took months of paperwork, fingerprints, background checks, home study visits, then more paperwork, but we were finally approved by as a waiting family March 1, 2010.

The sweetest moments in my life are when I surrendered my desires in exchange for God's gifts. Click To Tweet

Then it really was about waiting. A birth mother selects a couple to raise her child. You could wait a day or forever. After a few days of nervous excitement that we were finally approved, the newness wore off. The real waiting began.

Everyday could be the day, or we could be waiting years. With a traditional pregnancy, you have some sense of when it will be over (even if it starts to feel like the never-ending hallway nightmare around month 7).

Emotionally, I just had no way to prepare my heart for this.

A friendly colleague asked me fairly regularly if we had heard anything in the first two weeks. I finally told her, when we got the call, no one would have to wonder. I’d be shouting from the rafters. But while I tried to be patient, I was watching one of my closest friends get closer and closer to her due date, being surrounded by all things baby.

Again, I finally brought it to God’s feet.

Lord, let me be patient and wait for your timing. Let me enjoy the time we have left as a couple.

Let me accept if the answer is no.

Seriously Harvard? God convicted me that my parenting expectations were way out of whack. Was I really parenting for Harvard or Heaven?

The last one, really giving it up to God felt like pouring my heart out onto the floor, but I remember the morning I prayed it and truly meant it. I let go. God, I’ll wait until your time is right, if ever. Until then, I will enjoy spending time with my husband and being a couple.

That was 7:30 a.m. My cell phone rang at 9.

“We have a match for you. We have a baby for you.”I could scarcely breathe.

The next two days was a blur of squeals and phone calls. We officially accepted the placement for a baby girl due in June. That moment is one of the deepest moments in my life of feeling God’s presence and love, less than two hours after I surrendered my heart’s desires.

Hannah’s story in Samuel resonates with me because when I chose to put God’s will over what I wanted, deciding to be the mother God wanted for a baby, then God gave me this most precious gift, when I was ready to raise her for Him and not myself.

This week I remembered again that I can worry if she attends Harvard, or just make sure I’m teaching her to love God. The rest really will go according to plan, His plan for her life, of which I am a handpicked part. He didn’t just pick her for me, he picked us for her, and why parenting for Heaven, not Harvard, is so much more important.

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