I’ve had so many people shared with me lately their decision to adopt. It is such an exciting time, but is often quickly overshadowed by the feeling of being completely overwhelmed.
I remember that feeling so well; the first time I did an internet search for “adoption agencies,” I almost started crying when the results returned thousands of agencies.
And choosing an agency is just one of the many things on your “to do” list once you decide to adopt. Where do I start?!
Here are my TOP TEN TIPS to help you get started with your adoption journey. This list is specific to my domestic infant adoption experience and assumes that you’ve already done some general homework about adoption.
1.) Start an adoption notebook and folder: You are about to get hit with a ton of paperwork and to do tasks! You can use your notebook as a journal to keep notes on each agency you research, to track your to do list, and to keep record of adoption finances. You can use your folder or binder to organize brochures from different agencies and to keep receipts and copies of the home study paperwork that you have submitted.
2.) Find a home study agency: The agency that helps you complete your home study may also be the agency that you adopt through. However, since we live in a smaller city, we chose to complete our home study through a local agency (check with agencies like Lutheran Social Services or Catholic Charities) and then we selected a different out of state agency that we actually adopted from. We also sat on the local agency’s wait-list just in case!
3.) Decide what kind of child you are open to: That might sound a bit gruff, but the reality is the agency will ask you very specific questions about what type of baby and birthparents you are open to. This part is tough! I felt like I was saying no to little baby Jesuses as we said no to certain things we weren’t open to. Are you open to a child of any race? What if baby has a clef palate, birthmark, heart defect, is potentially blind, or was born severely prematurely, etc.? What if the birthmom used drugs or alcohol a little? A lot? Start thinking about these questions now, so you aren’t blindsided by them later. The reality is that the more selective you are, the longer you will wait for your child. Pray on it and remember the end goal is a precious little one to love.
4.) Organize your questions for potential agencies: Gather a list of 5-10 questions that you intend to ask each agency. The answers to these questions and the conversations you have with agency workers are crucial to helping you select the agency that is right for you.
5.) Call and question domestic adoption agencies: Gather a list of agencies that you want to call. Then call them all and track the answers to your questions in your notebook. Keep track of who doesn’t call you back after two tries and cross them off your list! Write down specific notes to remind you about your conversations. I remember writing things like, “I really clicked with this woman, very positive attitude, she spoke about placing “God’s children.”
6.) Ask for references: Don’t be afraid to ask your top agencies for references. It is valuable to talk to people that have had successful matches through that specific agency. This is also a way to make some great adoption connections and friends that understand what you are going through!
7.) Call your top three agencies back. Go with your gut. Eventually, I ended up with 3 agencies that were more or less the same in fees and wait time and I just picked the one I had the best connection with over the phone. Pray on it! Remember the longer you wait to select your agency, the longer you are taking to get on that wait-list!
8.) Choose an agency: Select your agency. Confirm with them next steps. You’ll fill out an application and send in your application fees and other potential fees. Confirm what number you are on their wait-list! Celebrate! You now adoption pregnant. It might be longer or shorter than 9 months, but allow yourself to be excited!
9.) Learn what it will take to complete your home study: There will be tons of fun next: paperwork, home visits, fingerprinting, blood tests, sharing of your detailed finances and even what medications you are on! Keep copies of everything you send to your agency in case something gets misplaced.
10.) Take it easy on yourself! There will be times you are likely annoyed at the invasive questions you are asked and you’ll probably say to yourself or your spouse, “If everyone had to go through this “rig-a-mo-roll” to be a parent, we’d have fewer sad parenting stories.” Keep your focus on the end gift, the precious child you have been waiting for. It is all worth it in the end. It will all finally make sense when you hold your little one for the first time.
I hope you’ve found these suggestions based on our adoption experience helpful. God bless you on your adoption journey!
This was posted previously, but has been updated and brightened up!
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