So, you’ve decided to adopt a baby!  What a wonderful and exciting time in your life.  It can be a thrilling and nerve-wracking decision to make.  There are so many things to consider when you begin the process that it can seem daunting and overwhelming at times, but the end goal is to adopt a baby for your family.  If you use the plethora of resources available to you today, you’ll have plenty to occupy your time while you wait for your birth family to find you.

There are many reasons that families choose to adopt a baby.  For my husband and I, we wanted to build our family in the most natural way possible.  Since we were unable to conceive ourselves, we wanted to have an experience as close to that as possible.  We were chosen by a birth mother, and we met her several weeks before our son was born. When she gave birth, we were able to be in the hospital with him and her until they were discharged.  This was priceless time spent with the birth family of our son. We were able to share him and their love for him. It was a beautiful time for all of us and something that I will never forget.

Finances

For many families hoping to adopt a baby, the financial burden can be a deterrent.  Luckily, we live in an adoption-aware culture that provides many options for grants, employer-offered adoption benefits, adoption specific loans, and other creative ways to fund your adoption plan.  Many friends and family members and even community members are eager to jump on board to help their friends and loved ones build their family through adoption.  If you’re not comfortable with funding your adoption with the help of your loved ones, you can contact your local bank or credit union to see what your local funding options are.  If that’s not working for you, a simple Google search of adoption lending options will open the doors the financial world at your fingertips.

Social Media

Social media has become an invaluable tool in building your family through adoption.  In addition to several social media platforms that can be a great way to spread the word that you’re looking to adopt a baby, there are many profile sites where you can post your photo and brief description of your family and the parameters you have chosen for your family.  The outreach of social media is impressive, and it is possible to find birth parents using various social media sources. You’ll want to use discernment and caution as not every potential birth parent is legitimate.

Deciding what’s right for you

One of the first decisions you’ll want to make after you decide to adopt a baby is to decide whether you want to go with an adoption agency or on your own with an adoption attorney.  Start by talking with families you know, check out adoption forums, message boards, support groups in your area, state, or on social media. Word of mouth and experience is by far the best way to gauge which option is best for your family.  After you do the research, you’ll make the right choice for your family. There are positives and negatives to either method of adoption but just make sure that you are choosing competent professionals in either choice.

The home study

The next step in the process to adopt a baby is the home study process.  For this, whether you’re choosing an agency or to adopt a baby independently, you will need an agency to perform the home study according to local and state legal requirements.  This part of the process can be extremely uncomfortable for some. However, it is meant as a get to know you, and if you’re fortunate, you will have a wonderful licensing agent who is able to write an accurate study of your life and home.  Relax, be yourself. It sounds very cliché, but it is so important.  Somewhere out there, there is a birth family that is looking for someone just like your family.  For me, this was the best part of the whole process.  The first time around I cleaned the insides of every closet.  For the record, they don’t inspect that closely.  They’re looking to make sure a home is generally clean, safe, livable and that a child will have his/her own space. Depending on the area or region you live, that will vary from other areas.  Generally, the agency will send out a packet with information that you will discuss at each meeting.  With our first agency, we had three separate meetings.  One for us together, one for me, and one for him.  This allowed our licensor/caseworker to get to know us deeply.

Open Adoption

When you decide you want to adopt a baby, you’ll want to consider open adoption.  Most agencies today encourage open adoption as the general consensus is that it is the best choice for the child.  That being said, not all birth families or adoptive families choose open adoption. When we made the decision to adopt a baby, I spoke with a friend who had also adopted.  I knew that one of her daughter’s adoption was open, the other closed. She shared a glimpse of their life and confided that her daughter with the closed adoption struggled much more than the daughter with the open adoption.  We are a few years in now and have three open adoptions. They look very different in each situation, for various reasons. It’s true that there are ups and downs in open adoption. However, I do feel each of our children has benefited greatly from the relationships.

Profiles

At this point, you’re ready to put together your profile.  The profile consists of a brief story of your life, photos including your family, pets, home.  Basically, anything that is of importance to you and your family. Each time we have hired a professional photographer to take posed and candid photos of our life.  It can be an overwhelming task to genuinely convey this personal story of your family in a profile.  While it’s important to make the profile unique and genuine, it can also be hard to get started.  I took a moment and browsed several agencies, several sites, profile templates, and whatever else I could get my hands on.  Once I began to write, it just got easier. The words began to flow, and I was able to put together a semi-decent profile expressing who we are, what we believed in, and what we wanted in an adoption.

Waiting

Once all the paperwork is done, the hard part begins: the wait.  The interminable amount of time between being ready to adopt a baby and being chosen to adopt a baby.  Everyone handles it differently. For me, this time was hard. I felt like everything was on hold. Did I dare do this?  Do I dare do that? Do I use my vacation time or save it? There never seemed to be a right or good answer. In truth, our wait post home study completion was only a matter of about nine months.  Ironic, right? But it seemed like an eternity. We slowly began to empty out the room that would become the nursery. We continued to work, my husband completed classes to enhance his job skills/career; I worked, played, and tried to do the “extra” things that I wouldn’t be able to do once the baby arrived.  I bought gender neutral items when I went shopping—the typical things that expecting moms do.

A few months later, we received a call to ask if we wanted to be shown for a baby boy due in approximately eight weeks.  We asked the proper questions, gave the proper answers, and began the wait. A few days later, I received the first of the most significant phone calls of my life. I will never forget that day. The shock, the awe, the pure joy and excitement. We had been chosen by this birth mom to parent this beautiful baby boy. We are a few years in, and that statement still brings tears of joy to my eyes and the same amount of awe to my heart.  When I drove erratically and as safely as possible after receiving this truly life-changing news, I cried my eyes out. When I finally told my husband, he looked at me in shock. He cried; I cried. We jumped up and down on the snowy driveway while the dogs barked obnoxiously and confused around us.  We hoped; we prayed, but we had no idea when we decided to adopt a baby, that it could actually come true. That someone would love him so much, that they would be willing to choose us, complete strangers, to nurture, love, raise, and guide this baby boy, now a young man, to adulthood. He is undoubtedly one of my greatest blessings.  A testament to love, a symbol of faith, and a spitfire who looks and acts exactly like the woman who gave birth to him. He is everything.

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