4 Things Prospective Adoptive Parents Should Ask For

As Andy Williams sings, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.” Even big kids get excited about the season and dream of things they want to receive for Christmas. But sometimes the best presents come in no packages at all—they are intangible. Here are four package-less but priceless gifts for which eager prospective adoptive parents should ask Santa Claus.

Patience

The beloved Christmas song “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943 honored soldiers overseas who wanted more than anything to be home for Christmas. While the number one thing on any prospective adoptive parent’s list may be to bring a baby home for Christmas, sadly many will not get what they so deeply desire. A practical thing then to ask Santa Claus to bring can be the gift of patience.

Adoptive placements are not a scientific process. Thus, it is impossible for any adoption resource to provide a precise timeline for the placement of a baby. There are simply too many variables involved, such as race, gender, and health of the child desired to be able to realistically and accurately come up with a delivery date for the requested item—a baby. The bottom line is that seeking an adoptive placement is often a waiting game. And it can be hard to wait for something one wants so much. That’s where patience can come in.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Adoption is usually an emotional roller coaster ride to begin with. Getting angry, upset, or depressed about a delay in receiving a placement might just make a prospective adoptive parent’s adoption journey more difficult. If infertility or miscarriages have preceded attempts to adopt, emotions have already been heightened. Adding additional emotional drama will probably not help. Breathing and practicing patience are often better responses to learning about a wait time to adopt.

While breathing, prospective adoptive parents can place things into perspective. Even couples who have biological children cannot know for certain when they will conceive and when their child will be born. While people generally like to control their circumstances, that desire can lead to impatience and frustration in the adoption context. Accepting that timing of placement is not something that can be quantified can be a big step to retaining sanity during the adoption journey.

Just how long must a prospective adoptive parent wait to receive a placement? Understand that everyone’s journey is unique. No two cases are exactly alike, but some general guidance can be provided. Creatingafamily.org indicates that in 2018, the average wait time to adopt a baby varied depending on whether the adoption resource was an agency or an adoption attorney. Within two years 82% of prospective adoptive parents working with an agency had been matched; for those working with an adoption attorney, 84% were matched within two years. These figures reveal that some families, between 16% to 18%, waited longer than two years for a match. That can be a long stretch of time to develop and practice patience.

Waiting is a hard thing for anyone to do, but it can be particularly difficult for those in society today who have a “fast food” mentality. Prospective adoptive parents cannot just order a baby to go and pick their bundle of joy up at the drive-thru window a short time later. Life, at least in the adoption arena, simply does not work like that. Accepting this reality will aid in developing patience.

Organization

The paperwork prospective adoptive parents must complete in the adoption process is likely to outweigh the new addition to the family they receive in the end. Adoption is paper-intensive which means that keeping up with paperwork is essential to maneuvering the adoption process. Being organized can help make that process smoother and less frustrating. 

Santa can be a good person to request organizational skills from because he is one organized guy. He makes a list and checks it twice. And imagine how long his list is when having to address all the boys and girls in the world! Prospective adoptive parents can take a cue from Santa and get themselves organized.

One way to be organized during the adoption process could be to have a designated place to keep all things adoption related. Time may be of the essence when an adoption attorney or home study provider asks for a specific document. Having to search high and low through one’s home is rarely conducive to a quick response. 

The first step to organization is determining what is needed. Adoption resources often provide a checklist to which prospective adoptive parents can refer. If not provided, be proactive and ask specifically what paperwork must be produced. 

Once what is needed has been determined, gather all the documentation which has been requested or might be needed. Something that might prove useful is to use the quality assurance advice of “touch it once” to assist in this process. When combing through financial records, for example, pull things which might be requested later. It is easier to find items at that point than to have to go back later and try to locate them.

Gathering documentation does not have to equal amassing a stack of paperwork on your desk or counter. Putting the gathered items into some type of order may be able to ease your ability to find what is needed quickly. The financial records may be placed in one pile, the medical records can be placed in another pile and employment information in another. 

Part of being organized is paying attention to detail. If references are needed, don’t stop at simply pulling out an address book or pulling up contact information on your phone. Verify that this contact information is current and correct. Has a cell phone number or e-mail address changed? Has the reference moved and now has a new mailing address? 

Being organized can also help with the development of patience. Staying productively busy with the required organization can help to keep prospective adoptive parents distracted from focusing on and obsessing about the length of time it is taking to receive a placement.  

Financial Savvy

As noted by U.S. News & World Report’s senior editor for personal finance Susannah Snider, adopting a baby in the U.S. is “typically pricey”. Prospective adoptive parents could do as the saucy song “Santa Baby” suggests and ask Santa to fill their stocking with checks. But unless they have been really good during the year, a better strategy might be for them to ask Santa to gift them financial savvy instead.

Since adoption can be such an expensive undertaking, couples seeking to expand their families via that method need to have a well thought out a financial plan to pay for it. A great start to creating a financial plan could be to first determine what amount will have to be covered. Adoption agencies typically provide a schedule of fees which lists items by category. Another good piece of advice is while hoping for the best, prepare for the worst. Assume the worst-case scenario and create a financial plan which will ensure the highest possible amount can be paid. If the actual bottom line turns out to be less, the excess money available can be redirected to other baby needs or even to starting a college fund.

It is rarely enough for a prospective adoptive couple to know what the possible total amount is for adoption. Another crucial piece of information is when various sums must be available; the total amount may not be required to be paid upfront in a lump sum. Those who are financially savvy can devise a plan which identifies what amounts are due when. For example, a deposit for a home study and a retainer for an adoption attorney will have to be paid initially to get started. Where the entire cost is not due immediately, time is left for further efforts to accumulate the balance due.

After determining what must be paid, the next step is to figure out how the amounts due will be covered. Do you have money available in the bank to pay adoption costs as they arise? Will it be necessary to take out a loan to cover some or all of the total amount due? Are grants available to assist with covering adoption expenses? Can fundraising efforts be undertaken to provide the needed funds? Are relatives or friends willing to contribute towards the cost of the adoption? 

Some couples mistakenly believe that if they do not have the full amount needed for adoption in their bank account at the outset, they cannot pursue adoption. People often do not have that mindset when they go to purchase a car, to pursue a college education, or to buy a house. They expect and are usually willing to take out a loan or find some suitable financing method. Why then do they believe that they must have the full amount of the adoption cost on hand at the beginning of the process in order to adopt? 

Is it worth it to expend time on researching grants which do not have to be repaid? Savvy financial planning couples will answer that question with a hearty yes. The return on investment makes such research well worth the effort. All that needs to be invested is some time and effort to find available grants for which a prospective adoptive couple qualifies. Even taking the time to fill out the required application form can allow a good return if a grant is awarded.

Compassion

The lyrics of “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” include the message of peace on earth and goodwill to men. To achieve the latter, prospective adoptive parents should ask Santa to provide them with a large dose of compassion. What’s compassion? Oxford Dictionary states that it is a concern for the misfortunes and sufferings of others. 

Suffering and adoption are two ideas that do not at first glance seem to go together. But out of the misfortunes of others, an adoptive placement can be born. A large percentage of babies placed for adoption are the result of crisis or unplanned pregnancies. Birth mothers may find themselves in unexpected and difficult circumstances that call for them to do something self-sacrificial for the sake of their child. The child’s chance for a stable life in which his needs are met may result from a heart-breaking decision his mother had to make.

Adoptive couples will certainly cherish an infant for whom they have hoped and prayed. But the true value of their blessing is not recognized unless the couple grasps the cost—emotional, physical, relational, and perhaps financial—that the birth mother endured making the adoptive placement a reality for them. While the happy new mom and dad rejoice over their bundle of joy and the blessing of being able to become parents, they should not forget the woman who made their joy possible. Their tears of joy and her tears of loss often occur simultaneously. 

Compassion can be shown to a birth mother physically with hugs and pats on the back or verbally by expressing concern for her well-being if direct interaction occurs. It may also be shown from a distance with a note of gratitude stressing the courage and love she has exhibited for her child. The expression of gratitude is rarely a one-time thank you but a continued remembrance through the years. The birth mother will never forget that choice as her loss is a permanent one. Prospective adoptive parents need to recognize this suffering on the part of the birth mother; they can be compassionate and express their concern for her through appropriate ways under the circumstances.

Santa’s sleigh will be full of toys for good little boys and girls on Christmas Eve. But there is always room in his sleigh for valuable intangible gifts such as patience, organization, financial savvy, and compassion. These are four gifts that can serve prospective adoptive parents well as they undertake their adoption journey. Asking Santa Baby for a yacht might be fun, but asking Santa for these intangible gifts can be more helpful to prospective adoptive parents as they strive to grow their family. “Here comes Santa Claus.” What are you asking him to bring you?