Hello from Atlanta! Chad and Clifton, here. We began our adoption journey in January of 2019 when we first made contact with an agency. After a painful disrupted adoption in August of 2020, we remain optimistic that we will match again, and permanently, soon. We simply cannot wait to be fathers. Here are some truths we’ve learned along the way. Some may apply to you, some not. We hope they help. Go forth in hope!
- Begin saving money immediately. Agency fees run the gamut, and adoption costs – once you match – vary widely state to state and mother to mother. It’s not easy having to pass on a case because it’s simply out of financial reach. Note: there are federal and state tax credits for adoptions, and some employers offer matching assistance. Look into grants as well!
- Be alert. There are many scams out there on all sides of the equation. We highly recommend interviewing multiple established and well-reviewed agencies to get a feel for compatibility, professionalism, how they vet expectant mothers, and their communication style.
- Ask your agency how they will manage contact with you. Will they let you know each time you’ve been presented to a mother, or will you only hear if you’ve been chosen? You can, in fact, decide how much you’re comfortable knowing and how and when.
- Be wary of professionals and folks in your circle who say, “You’re such an ideal couple. You’ll match in no time. I bet you mothers will be eager to choose you. I predict a fast match!” There’s little rhyme or reason in adoption, and this kind of thinking is misleading. You may match immediately. You may wait a long time. Mothers choose families for countless reasons. Predictions can lead to false hope.
- Even before you begin your home study process, have the “large” conversations that may arise in the journey: vaccinations, religion, discipline, education, disabilities, drug exposure, race, extended family’s comfort level with adoptions, etc. And, do your research.
- Be clear on what level of openness/relationship to a birth family you are comfortable establishing before you go “live” for matching. Still, be aware that mothers might change their mind about the relationship and contact along their journey too.
- If adopting in the U.S., research state’s revocation periods – when exactly a mother can terminate parental rights – and learn about Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). Adoption laws vary vastly. You may find yourself needing to stay in a state for many days or even weeks while the legal requirements run their course.
- Understand that adoption matches can and do fall through and at various stages of the process. It is perhaps the part of the journey we heard about the least and were the most unprepared to handle. For us, it felt like a death, and the grieving process was complex. It still is.
- Find activities and hobbies that will help you take your mind off of the wait.
- Decide if creating a nursery will be inspiring to you or upsetting (if your wait to match becomes long). You might change your mind along the way, and that’s OK too. Or, you might … redecorate. (Guilty.)
- Have fun making lists of names for boys and girls and, if you’re adopting with a partner, see which ones you both love the most.
- Daydream about what your child might call you. For us, it’s Dad and Daddy (until he or she decides for themself). We even have hats to help!
- Know that mothers choose to match with families for all kinds of reasons, and you may never know why you weren’t picked. It’s tough but prepare to tell yourself “someone else will love us.”
- If this will be your first child, sign up for parenting and newborn classes. Most hospitals in urban areas offer them. We learned so much. And, we got some great photos with eerie baby dolls for social media!
- Tell everyone in your circle you’re adopting. Sometimes, prospective cases come from the places you least expect. The more outreach, the merrier.
- Join social media parenting groups and/or groups for others on the adoption journey. The support and advice will be golden.
- Have a meal or phone call with someone saw success adopting a child. You’ll want to be reminded that it can and most often does work out beautifully.
- Meet/speak/chat with folks who are adopted. Your child might be unique in your family or amongst their peers as they grow, and it’s never too early to start exploring how to navigate those conversations about how they came to be yours and why.
- Create “hoping to adopt” accounts/profiles/pages on the various social media platforms. If your agency plans to do this for you, be sure that what they post sounds like you and your family.
- Prepare yourself for questions both sympathetic and vastly uninformed from friends, family, and strangers. Many people think adoption is much easier and accessible than it is. (“Aren’t there just SO many babies out there who need homes?! How could you still be waiting?) Mostly, people just want to see you happy. Take it all with a grain of salt knowing that you, hopefully, have done a lot more research then they have.
- Avoid getting overwhelmed by parenting/baby books by reading the first few pages of each to see if you connect and enjoy the writing style. Some are great. Some are so dense they need a jackhammer. Some are delightfully humorous or concise.
- There are SO many baby gadgets, y’all. Start researching monitors, formula makers, sleep socks, sleep sacks, noise machines, thermometers, and all the rest. But, pace yourself. It’s a dense forest. So dense.
- If you’re a first-time parent, turn to folks in your circle who’ve recently given birth to help you create a registry. A good friend who’s a mother of two kids under three made ours – even following our décor theme – and it was a thing of beauty.
- If you have pets, don’t just assume that they’ll adjust well to a new and small human addition. It will be a huge disruption. Should you consider special training? There are several books on the market about bringing a child home to a house with animals.
- If you’re a first-time parent, find a local pediatrician you love who will accept you while you wait to adopt. Many practices have wait lists. Some mothers will ask if you have a doctor ready in the wings. We’ve turned to ours a few times for questions (generated by specific cases), and she has been golden.
- Proceed with hope. Find things completely non-adoption related to do. Enjoy time with your partner or family or friends. Remind yourself that family planning – for anyone – isn’t guaranteed to be easy or successful. And surprises will come. Take baby steps. Do your best, but also forgive yourself for feeling stressed or sad or angry or jealous or tired. It’s all part of the ride. Keep imagining what life will be like with a little one around.
If you or someone you know is considering adoption, please say hello. Our agency director, Jessica, can be contacted 24/7 via text or phone: (610) 429-1001. And, we are happy to hear from folks by email anytime: email@example.com.
To find a local LGBTQ+ friendly adoption lawyer, check out our directory HERE.