Adoption is a really exciting and nerve-wracking experience. I want to share my own story with you and shed a little light on what I’ve learned about the kids available for adoption.
My mother is one of six and my father is one of ten. There is no history of infertility on either side of my family, so when I experienced trouble having children, I was really surprised. My pregnancy with my son was really uneventful and smooth. I was able to get pregnant easily and had a healthy pregnancy and a normal delivery. Nine months later I was surprised to find out that I was pregnant again. I didn’t plan on having my kids so close together, but my husband and I were excited for the challenge and grateful for another sweet babe to love on.
I was so excited for my twenty-week appointment with my second pregnancy. We were going to find out the gender in a few days and then I could really start planning and setting up the nursery! We had a few names picked out for either gender but weren’t going to finalize anything until we knew the gender. As usual, I went to my OBGYN appointment by myself because my husband was working. A medical student was on rotation with my OB and pulled out the fetal heart monitor for one of her first times going rogue on the hunt for the heartbeat. When she couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat after about five minutes, I wasn’t too worried because she was a newbie. She brought in my OB and after switching machines twice, she called in an ultrasound for me and suggested that I call my husband and have him meet me to get the ultrasound. I was worried but hopeful that it wasn’t going to be anything terrible.
The world stood still when the doctor told us that our little baby no longer had a heartbeat. I became separated from my body and watched as I collapsed and repeated, “This can’t be happening to me. This can’t be us. This isn’t us. Not our baby.” We left the clinic knowing we had lost our baby and headed back to our OB to create a delivery plan.
We walked into the hospital room and I scanned our space. There was no bassinet for our Baby. They wouldn’t be cleaning our baby there, measuring and weighing our little one, or checking for all fingers and toes. It was a gentle reminder of what was to come, a full delivery that wouldn’t end in a healthy, warm, soft baby to snuggle. There’d be no nursing. No sucking on my finger. No little coming home outfit to show off to the world. Our little girl was born asleep that night. She was small and beautiful.
After our daughter, we had a strong impression to try to adopt through foster care. We went through the training, jumped through the hoops, and after months of working towards our goal – we were able to welcome our first set of children into our home. We welcomed a 2-year-girl and her 1-year-old brother into our home. This was their second time in foster care and, selfishly, we were hopeful they would stay with us forever.
The purpose of foster care is to give children a safe, temporary home while their parent(s) work to improve their situations. Children are placed into foster care for many reasons, possibly due to abuse, neglect, and/or drug use. The ultimate goal for children in foster care is to reunite them with their parents. Children in foster care range from ages newborn to 18 years old. Foster agencies try to keep siblings together if possible. Children in foster care often have a range of emotional, physical, and mental needs. When a child is in care, they are assigned a level of need to ensure they are placed in a home that can care for them.
My husband and I didn’t really understand that goal well enough at the time and were devastated when the foster children returned to their mother and we had to say goodbye. We connected with and said goodbye to four other children over three years. A few things that we learned from our experience of fostering and attempting to adopt:
- The goal for everyone in foster care is to reunite parents with their children. In full honesty, we were hoping to adopt from foster care within a year. We were naive and didn’t realize how difficult it is to adopt from foster care and what a long process it is. Judges, case workers, families, and the children typically want birth parents to have rights reinstated.
- Children from foster care, no matter the age, often love their biological parents first and foremost. Even at a young age, the bond between a biological mother and her child is rarely something that can’t be broken. Children that passed through our home experienced significant trauma but were consistently forgiving and hopeful at the idea of being reunited with their parents.
- Older children have a big say in their adoption story. After saying goodbye to many young children, we thought we might have a better chance at adopting if we brought in older children whose parental rights had already been terminated. We began working towards adoption with an 11-year-old girl. She was excited to be adopted and talked often about her future in our family. However, when we really talked to her about adoption and that it was more than a long-term foster home, she was discouraged. She decided that she wanted to stay in the system until she turned eighteen and then find her biological family. Our final placement’s story is very similar. We were hoping to adopt our 14-year-old foster son. He was adamant that he would find his father when he turned eighteen and ultimately decided that he didn’t want to be adopted.
All this to say, kids available for adoption from foster care usually come from incredibly traumatic backgrounds. They may require a lot of therapy and emotional support. Generally, to adopt a younger child from foster care, you may have to wait at least a year before even knowing if they will be kids available for adoption.
In an article written by Rachel Skousen, she shares:
“Closely linked with foster adoption is special needs adoption. Consider adopting a child with special needs. In the adoption world, a child is considered to have special needs if he or she:
1. is older, generally over the age of two (this varies from state to state),
2. is a member of an ethnic or racial minority,
3. is a member of a sibling group of two or more children,
4. has a physical, mental, or emotional disorder,
5. has a recognized high risk of physical or mental disease, or
6. has any combination of the above factors or conditions.
Nearly every child adopted from foster care has experienced neglect or abuse, so even children who don’t officially qualify as having “special needs” will have, well, special needs.”
If you decide to be a foster parent, keep all that in mind. Love your foster children fiercely and unconditionally. Support them, guide them, and protect them. Root for them and for their biological family and understand that their permanency in your home is often dependent on so many things outside of your control. In the middle of our foster journey, we worked with a fertility specialist and were able to welcome a sweet, healthy baby girl into the world.
After our foster care experience, we tried for more children. We experienced five miscarriages. After working closely with a fertility doctor, I became pregnant and was able to graduate from the specialist. When an expectant mother graduates from a fertility specialist, she has a 98% chance or more of a healthy pregnancy. After many tests, we were so grateful to figure out how to keep my pregnancies and were ready to welcome another little boy into our home. Like deja vu, I went to a twenty-week ultrasound and discovered no heart-beat for our little guy.
My husband and I were led to the same room where we delivered our second child. It was as if time had frozen. The room was waiting for us just like it had been years before. We were glad to know what to expect and were grateful to hold our little boy for a short time before saying goodbye.
We pursued private adoption. Initially, we wanted to try our hand at independent adoption. We tried this route for a month but decided to move forward with an adoption agency. We wanted a little more structure and direction. An independent adoption is an adoption where the hopeful adoptive family and the expecting family make a connection outside of an agency. This might be through a mutual friend or acquaintance. While you still need a home study and an adoption attorney, the costs are generally lower than when using an adoption agency. An adoption agency helps guide you through the adoption process and connects with expectant mothers. In our minds, we thought we would have a better chance of matching with an expectant mother by using an agency.
After saving and raising money for our adoption, completing our home study, and submitting all of our paperwork, we were matched with an expectant mother. We were so excited and honored that she chose us. She was due in three weeks, so we dug all of our baby stuff out of storage, set up a nursery. We were excited to get to know our expectant mom and learn more about her life. We were impressed with the strength and resilience she has shown in her life. We were so grateful to be included in her story.
Kids available for adoption in the world of domestic adoption are generally young. Usually, expectant mothers that are considering adoption for their child find hopeful adoptive parents while they are still pregnant and create a birth and adoption plan for their child. There are situations where a birth mother makes the decision to place her child for adoption and reaches out to an adoption agency to help them find a great family to adopt their child. Kids available for adoption are of any gender, race, and/or might have a disability. In our case, we were matched with a mother who was expecting a baby girl.
Unfortunately for us, the baby girl’s mom decided to parent. We were happy for her and know that baby is so lucky to be with her biological mother. It was very hard for us and we were kind of lost as to what to do next. We looked into kids available for adoption internationally but never felt that it was the right fit for us.
Kids available for adoption internationally are usually cared for in an orphanage or in foster care in their home country. The children range in age (although usually, they are above the age of five), gender, and level of disability. Generally, there is an adjustment period for children who are adopted internationally as they adapt to a new country and culture. You might be matched with a child as an infant, but won’t be able to bring your child home for six to 18 months depending on the country you adopt from. For our situation, we were tired. We were tired of losing children and having our hearts broken. We decided not to pursue kids available for adoption internationally and take a break altogether from attempting to adopt.
We still have hope that someday we will adopt at least one child to add to our family. My husband and I love to hear stories of miracles happening when they are least expected. Reading through success stories on Adoption.com is so encouraging and fills us with so much hope. Wherever you are in the process of growing your family, know that there is a time and season for everything in life. What we want to happen isn’t always what is meant to happen. We just keep pushing forward and hope for that rainbow on the other end of the cloud.