Starting the adoption process is a scary first step.

Jumping into domestic infant adoption made our heads spin. Was this the right path for us? My decision-making process was not very scientific. I simply made choices based on who contacted me the soonest. For the first time in my life I did not overanalyze decisions. Which agency? Who called me first. Who did our home study? Whoever could meet with us soonest. How fast could I get our home study completed? How quick were waiting families matched within the agency we chose? Once my husband gave the go-ahead to adopt, I wanted that ball not just rolling, but dashing head over heels down the hill.

On the flip side, I realize how crazy that was! What was I thinking? How did I not completely investigate agencies? I did ask for feedback from other families who had used our agency, but I didn’t really look at other agencies. The financial aspect made me gasp, but we still moved forward. We had some hardcore “no’s” in our home study, but for the most part we were open to anything. Bring our baby girl on! Thinking back, all I can do is shake my head at our naive selves. Adoption is not for the faint of heart, for sure!

Many things come into play with domestic infant adoption: Choosing an agency, the cost, the waiting, questions about drug and alcohol exposure and mental illness within the family, screening for scams, determining a degree of openness, identifying parameters that you are willing to accept or not such as gender, race, cigarette exposure. The decisions are endless and your choices can sometimes limit your opportunities. You will find yourself doing a lot of soul-searching. And paperwork.

Do you want a private agency or a public one? An attorney or a facilitator? Different states have different laws regulating termination of parental rights, the type of professionals you can work with, and the amount of advertising you can do in looking for an adoption connection. These need to be looked at. Do you agree to expenses for the expectant mom? Will you be responsible for her hospital bills? Her medical care? Or lack of it? What steps need to be taken to involve the expectant father in relinquishing rights? So many steps need to be covered. Do you have the right players in line to protect you?

One of the unique parts of adoption is the backstory about what brought you to this door you are running through. What unique challenges brought you here? Family balancing? Infertility? You’ve always dreamed of adopting?

A challenge we encountered was the health of our daughter. Our daughter’s birth mom had limited prenatal care and abused many substances. What would her health be like? Not only at birth, but after? When we did not have contact with her birth family, it was difficult to know if her heart murmur was due to genetics or just something that happened to her. Did food allergies run in the family? She was severely allergic to dairy and soy. (Having a closed and then semi-open adoption puts an interesting spin on domestic adoption.)

More and more adoptions are open in some form. There is communication occurring between all sides of the triad. It’s a delicate dance between birth families and adoptive families. Learning new people and their likes and dislikes. Making decisions based on what is best for the child. Keeping the communication lines open and running. This is a unique part of domestic infant adoption, and one hopeful adoptive parents need to look at closely. How open to having the birth family involved are you? The main thing to remember is that things change over time. It is easier to open that door more than to attempt to close it. What that means is if you promise something to the birth family, you have to be willing to see it through. Adoptions are not baby- and adoptive family-centered any more. 95% of adoptions have some level of openness, according to American Adoptions. If you say it, mean it. And then follow through.

Another unique challenge is that the prospective birth mother has control over nearly every aspect of the adoption process. This is an emotional time for her, as she is making one of the most difficult decisions she will ever make. As a hopeful adoptive parent, this can take an emotional toll. Why did someone else get chosen and not you? What is wrong with your profile? Why is our wait time so long and someone else’s so short? It feels like a popularity contest at times, which can play on your emotions. What we did when we felt anxious at these times is to think about what our daughter’s birth mom must be feeling. We were not the only ones who were putting our hearts on the line.

Every adoption has its challenges and joys. It is a road that is traveled with your heart on your sleeve and your hope in God. Keep swimming forward. With each speed bump you go over, there are other people you will meet to help you keep moving on. This community will get you through the hard times and rejoice with you in the happy ones.

Are you ready to pursue a domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with a compassionate, experienced adoption professional who can help get you started on the journey of a lifetime.