“Do you regret your decision?” people always ask. While I am positive an hour hasn’t gone by in the last four and a half years when I haven’t thought of him, and my heart breaks at times for my own loss, I do not regret everything my choice gave and continues to give him.Read More
Today I just want to stop and say THANK YOU for visiting, supporting, reading, reaching out, and helping to speak some life stories into adoption this month alongside me. I am so grateful for every story shared and read this month during #NationalAdoptionAwarenessMonth. If you have more stories and/or questions to share, please reach out! I am here and spreading awareness for ethical adoption is my passion.
originally posted here on 1/23/17
by Brooke Balderson
When choosing adoption, there are a number of avenues you can travel down — each one as valid as the next. For me, I had to mediate on how I would approach my adoption. Would I adopt through foster care? Would I wait for the chance at a private adoption or would I use an agency? International or domestic? I felt that all paths had possibility and validity but after pretty exhaustive research and knowing what I know about myself and the level of control needed, I felt an agency adoption was what would be best for me.
I’m nothing if not tenacious… so when I say I “researched” agency options, let me tell you that I researched a LOT. I looked up agency after agency and review after review. Choosing an adoption agency is tricky work and even more so as a single person trying to adopt. My first level of research is always the internet. I can internet-stalk with the best of them so that is always an easy place to begin… plus I didn't have to pick up the 200-pound phone yet to have any potentially awkward conversations. I started with my BFF google… “adoption agency, Annapolis, Maryland” was a simple enough search and yielded me an alarming amount of results to wade though. Most were junk... not even agencies… and most weren’t particularly local but good old google had them stuck in there anyway as they were a national agency with lots of cash to run advertisements.
After many searches and many phone calls (and many people telling me they’d love to help but they didn’t accept single parent adoptions at this time…), I had narrowed my list to two agencies. One was a bigger and more well-known and a little cheaper, and the other was small, local, closely aligned with my values, but more expensive. I read a lot of reviews and I thought I knew what I wanted to do but the money sure was a hang-up. I was 28, broke from a solo teaching salary, and adopting.. Money counted for a lot.
I loved the smaller agency but I was concerned about the extra money it would cause me to spend. At this point, my intuition told me what I should do but I kept pushing and looking for an excuse to go with the bigger agency because my brain wasn’t in agreeance with my heart and intuition yet. I turned to more reviews for each agency. And as I dug deeper, the pit in my stomach about the bigger, better known agency became heavier and heavier. I read review after review of distraught birth families who testified to having been coerced into giving their child up for adoption before they had made the decisions for themselves. These reviews made my decision very very clear and confirmed why my intuition had been so fiercely warning me off from about the bigger agency. Surely there were many happy stories and satisfied families on both sides of the birth story but I couldn’t work with them if there was even a chance one of those reviews had merit.
With the bigger agency ruled out, it cleared the path for my whole heart, mind, body, and soul to dive into my decision to work with my beloved little agency. Yes, it would be a little more expensive but this was my family on the line so what did a little extra money in the long-run really matter? This agency made me feel warm and fuzzy inside… like they really wanted to help me and like they really cared about each and every birth family and adoptive family they worked with. It was one-man show at this agency. It was easy to see this was his dream, his passion, and his calling. He loved every baby and he even called the babies his babies because he fiercely protected them and wanted nothing more than to choose the right families for them. I knew I fit here and could feel proud for working with them. I knew they would help me and that they would make my dreams of becoming a mother come true.
And they did. And you know what? I can’t wait to work with them again soon. After all, Isaac can’t be an only child forever. And getting texts like this, on a random Sunday morning two years after my adoption, just reaffirm my love for my agency, for this man that runs it, and for our shared love of amazing adoption stories.
The moral of this story is that while adoption is a confusing road, you only need to worry about your path, not the many paths you could take. Look deep into your heart and soul and you will find the right answers. One of those answers might lead you to working with me so that I can journey alongside you and your family. That would mean I can help you do all that crazy research and make things feel a little less confusing and empower you to do exactly what makes sense for you… or it might mean you roll up your sleeves and do the research and wade through the confusion like I did. Either way, I wish you the very best of luck and I hope that you cross to the other side of the adoption process with the same love and admiration I do for the path you chose.
Edited to add: The “work with them again sometime soon,” that I wrote above… is NOW. I am currently waiting on a second adoption placement. And it feels exactly as hard and scary and magical as it should. And I feel fantastic knowing that I have an ethical agency in my corner.
Reblog from www.adoption.com, published 6/27/15, written by Addie Mietus
3 Facts You Need to Know About Fetal Trauma in Adoption
The environment surrounding a woman's pregnancy can impact her unborn baby.
by Addie Mietus
To clarify, FETAL TRAUMA is not the same as FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME, although they both identify effects from a fetus’s environment in utero.
#1 Children begin feeling and learning in the womb.
We have learned over the years how important it is for an expectant mother to be healthy and happy during pregnancy. The development and growth of her unborn baby can often be affected by the choices she makes. She has to be mindful of the food she eats, rest she receives, and stress she feels. Every little thing matters. Why wouldn’t her voice?
In an article about this topic, Alex Stavros writes, “According to Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D., your baby learned to be comforted by the voice and heartbeat of his mother [birth mother] well before birth—a voice that was not yours [adoptive mother]. In the case of adoption, this connective disruption has an impact on the brain and body.”
#2 Chaos outside of the womb affects children in utero.
Unborn babies feel the stress their mothers feel. Not only that, they feel what is going on in their mother’s world. If she lives in world of contention, arguments, financial stress, abuse, drug use, fear, and so on, they pick up on these things too. Unhealthy environments can impair or stunt the development of the brain and his or her sense of safety and self-worth. The baby is more likely to be born anxious, insecure, and mentally underdeveloped.
#3 Trauma can be an inherited condition.
Stavros continues, “Recent studies indicate that trauma resides in the DNA, allowing mental disease and behavioral disorders to be passed down for generations.” I have actually studied this for years, and I love that science is now being able to prove that intense emotions are inherited from our ancestors like personality traits, handedness, and eye color. (Discover Magazine wrote a great article about inheriting conditions and emotions from your ancestors through DNA cells. I highly recommend it.)
Now how does adoption relate to all of this information?
Not to state the obvious, but it compounds the issues faced by adoptive children. I believe it is safe to say that all birth mothers feel intense stress during their pregnancies. The decisions they make for themselves and their children have a life-changing impact. Inherently they will feel stress. And that is not even detailing the chaotic lives of many birth mothers dealing with abuse, abandonment, rejection, judgment, and the like from those in their world.
We also need to acknowledge how the feelings a birth mother has for herself and her unborn child will affect her child. Again from Stavros: “Surprisingly, babies are also able to sense a disconnection or lack of acceptance from their mother while in the womb—leading to attachment issues and developmental trauma down the road.” Not all birth mothers experience a sense of disconnection or a lack of acceptance of their child while in the womb; however, all adopted children recognize either consciously or subconsciously that they have been separated from their biological mother. This itself creates trauma. He continues, “Without the biological connection to their mother, even newborns can feel that something is wrong and be difficult to soothe as a result.”
Fear and misunderstanding often keep this a taboo subject. In my opinion, this topic needs to be discussed more in our adoption communities, so that we can understand and address it.
In the past, separation trauma or attachment issues were only acknowledged if a child was adopted at an older age. It is easy to see if a child has more time to bond and be comforted by a birth mother, the likelihood of separation trauma increases. For years, this meant adoption caseworkers and communities did not associate separation trauma or mental underdevelopment or attachment issues with children placed for adoption at birth.
Now research and more understanding about fetal trauma and primal wounds teaches us the true impact of adoption on a child. It important we understand this information so we can better identify the challenges adoptive children face. The more we know, the better equipped we are to help them deal with their own intense feelings, behaviors, trauma, and mental disorders. Knowledge is power….
This was the day I broke. I will forever be broken by it. This day I also broke the natural life process with my beautiful first baby and will also live with this forever...
I believe our brokenness can be mended though. We are all broken, not just we in the Adoption Triad, we live in a broken world. I don’t have time to write more today so I’ve included some quotes on Brokenness that have spoken to me not just now but for awhile. Please swipe through them, my favorite is @lrknost’s that I’ve included last. I’ve posted it before. It gives such hope and light - we are all light and can be mended! But it must be done with great love and intention. We must love big, ourselves and others. I challenge all to intentionally work daily to mend your brokenness and then let the light out! I will be broken forever but that doesn’t mean my cracks can’t be mended by the light.
#iamabirthmama #birthmamalove #broken #lifetimehealingadoption @lifetimehealingllc
#nationladoptionmonth #nationaladoptionmonth2018 #adoptionawarenessmonth #birthmotherawareness
#birthmamalovepostaday2018day2 #birthmomsupport #birthmother #adoption #adoptee #talkaboutadoption #grief #loss #joy #hope #faith #peace #empathy #gratitude #courage #postplacementcare #healing #ownyourstory #tellyourstory #shareyourstory #youarenotalone
This article, along with the photos, are being shared via:
‘Instant Family’ inspired by director’s sibling adoption
by Olivia Vanni
Sean Anders is getting real about the premise of his upcoming movie “Instant Family.” But the director — whose own experience adopting a set of siblings through the foster care system inspired the comedy — wants everyone to know that it can still be a laughing matter.
“Everything leads back to this one thing: That you have these new people in your house and you don’t love them, and they don’t love you,” Anders told the Track. “You barely know them, but you’re supposed to carry on like you’re a family.”
“You’re supposed to act like their parents, they’re supposed to act like your kids,” he continued. “It’s a very awkward, chaotic, frustrating, difficult transition for anybody to make. And fortunately, all of that lends itself pretty well to comedy, even though it’s a story born out of tragedy. But when you persevere through all that, you get this amazing experience that other people don’t get to have: You get to fall in love with your children.”
Anders and his wife, Beth, officially adopted their children — ages 13, nine and eight — in 2013. While he claims their clan has become “boring” and adjusted over time, he also said they had to overcome some preliminary obstacles to reach the point of a fully functional family.
“The thing that’s so difficult for the kids that come out of the system is that, if they’re in the system to begin with, that generally means they’ve been failed by so many adults in their lives,” Anders said.
“So when new adults come in and say, ‘Hey, we’d like to be your mom and dad, and we want to love you,’ the kids are like, ‘Uh yeah, no thanks.’ They’ve been there before. Very understandably, they’ll push back, they’ll test you and they’ll not believe that your intentions are good because of their past experiences.”
The movie, which hits theaters Nov. 16, follows a couple played by Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrnewho, like Anders and his wife, take in three older foster children and are thrown into the throes of parenthood. And while the underlying aspects of the plot are plenty serious, Anders, the man who lived it, wants audiences to know that it’s very much a comedy.
“People keep talking about what a difference that this can make to kids out there, and I agree — I’m very excited about that,” he said. “But I think, too, it’s also just a fun, funny movie to go see at the multiplex. I don’t want to give too much of a sense to people that the movie is a public service announcement, and it really isn’t.”
Originally posted here as “An Open Letter To My Potential Clients.”
You don't need me to have an amazing adoption story. But you should want me anyway. Not because I can do things you can’t or couldn’t do without my help but because I will be yourpersonwhile you are on this wild adoption journey that has, at times, the highest highs and the lowest lows you can imagine. You should hire me to walk alongside you during your adoption because I have been in your shoes, I will make the to-do lists for you, and help you check the box for each task one by one until they are completed and you have a child in your arms.
You don’t need me at all — you are strong, powerful, capable, smart, and resourceful. You already know that though. If you weren’t you likely wouldn’t be here reading this letter. You don’t need to me do anything at all but you might want me to because it makes you feel a little more grounded. I created this business out of a passion and love for adoption stories that runs right down to my very core. Adoption is my life and I owe my happiness, smiles, and giggles every day to my son and his adoption.
My son Isaac chose me and the universe brought us together. It just hit me one day that I needed to adopt — that it was what I was meant to do. So after shaking my fist at the sky for a few days and asking WHY and HOW I was supposed to adopt as a single twenty-eight-year-old teacher, I found myself asking for signs that it really was what I was supposed to do. And so I got signs. Lots of them. I’d ask, and it would come. I’d ask again, you know, just to test it, and another would come. After a half dozen times of asking for a sign and getting it, I decided I better listen.
So I researched just like you like are now. I researched a LOT. I googled everything I could think of. I looked up agencies, foster care, adoption fundraising, homestudy resources... The list goes on. There are an endless number of resources and ways to approach adoption. I took the path of least resistance that made the most sense for me and what I wanted. I picked my path and I plowed my way down it… and it paid off. After checking off box after box on my homestudy checklist and submitting it, sitting through meetings and meetings, I met my son… and it was like we were always meant to be. The impact of such a tremendous undertaking became a sometimes sobering reality (this baby is really mine? I am in charge?), but the love arrived when we locked eyes. I had no idea how but I knew I would make his life as fantastic as I possibly could. What I didn’t know was that he would do the exact same thing for me…
And so, the point of this letter to let you know that I am going to help you and I am going to make sure your adoption dreams come true. Not because you can’t do it on your own but because everything feels better with a partner. Work smarter, not harder, right?
It may take a little time but together we will do it. I will be the person who is there when you are doubting the journey who won’t let you give up. I’ll be the person you cry to when someone asks you a stupid (and rude) question about your adoption (because they totally will), and I will be the person you text at 2:46am when your new baby won’t stop crying and you think you might lose your mind. I will be there not because I am superwoman or even because I can solve all the problems — I will be there because I love adoption, because I have been there myself, because I love being your shoulder to lean on, and because I have a passion for helping make your dreams come true.
Let’s get started, shall we?
By Carly Levngston
A version of this story originally appeared in the winter 2018-2019 issue of Love of Dixie magazine.
My happily-ever-after began like so many others: I married my husband,we bought a modest first home, doted on our three dogsand traveled as much as our meager budget would allow. We had always known that we wanted kids, so it wasn’t too long before we felt ready to start a family. As a young(ish), healthy couple, we assumed that starting a family would happen quickly and naturally, just like it had for our family and friends.
However, it wasn’t quick or natural. Trying became struggling, and months soonbecame years.
After the first year of trying to conceive with no luck, we found out I had Stage 4 Endometriosis, which was probablycausing our fertility issues, so I had surgery to both help our chances and alleviate some of my symptoms. But still, no pregnancies followed after that surgery, even though our doctor was very optimistic. We decided that IUIwas ournext step.
But the first round of IUI failed. And then the second. And the third…
Eventually, we moved forward with IVF. Not once, but twice. Both IVFs failed badly—we had no surviving embryos to transfer or freeze. It was absolutely heartbreaking to do something so invasive and have no baby at the end of all of it. We were tired and felt utterly broken. We didn’t want to be an anomaly with “unexplained infertility.” We just wanted children. It became less and less important how we started a family.
I felt my heart start to slowly open to the idea of adoption. I began to quietly research agencies and follow different families created by adoption on social media. It was so beautiful and eye opening. I simply needed to know more, but I didn’t want to discuss this with my husband yet for fear that he would not be ready to switch gears. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up on my body and our ability to conceive.
But God, as He always does, had a sneaky way of whispering to us and gently guiding our next steps.
On an average Monday, a friend reached out and asked if we were going to attend Hope in Shiloh, a group created by ourchurch,for couples struggling with infertility. We didn’t attend this group regularly, as we lived 45 minutes away. I had no idea what the topic was for the evening, or who the speaker was, but I felt the need to be there.
The topic that night was about adoption. The speaker had adopted her children from Uganda. While I listened, fully consuming her story, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Ok, God…what is this all about? I’m not sure I’m ready.”
At the end of the night, we met a caseworker whohappened to be attending this meeting because she just so happened to be at another friend’s home doing their adoption home study! I got the name of the agency and stored it in my back pocket for later research.I still wasn’t fully ready to take the plunge, but I definitely felt like we had been brought there for a reason.
Just a few short weeks later,my husband and I began discussing adoption openly and prayerfully.
On the morning of July 4, 2015, I woke up certain of two things: One, I was going to go from full time to part time at work, and two, we were going to adopt a child! This is the first time in my life I woke up and knewwhat to do with every ounce of my being. I told my husband, and he was on board just as quickly as the words were coming out of my mouth.
The following month, in August of 2015, we attended an orientation at a pregnancy outreach —the one we had learned about while attending Hope in Shiloh that very important night! Afterwards, we headed home feeling great about moving forward with this small, Christian agency.
In May of 2016, we welcomed our adorable son, Cason, into our family.
Are you doing the math? He was conceived when we attended that orientation!It was the only summer orientation offered by the agency, and we were accepted as a waiting family at just the right time, before they closed the door to other families for another year. Oh, and that caseworker we met at Hope in Shiloh? She ended up being our caseworker too. The timing of that meeting was pivotal. It allowed us to let adoption sink in fully. It allowed us to move forward at our own pace all while God was orchestrating everything in His perfect way.
We met our soon-to-be-son’s incredible birthparents at 33 weeks pregnant! Six days later, they chose us to be his parents. Two days later, we were at the hospital waiting to hold him. 48 hours after that, we were home, holding our breath until we could call our families and tell them all it was final and he was ours!
During our adoption wait, we had two close calls with being matched to other babies, which taught us so much about the love, heartache, brokenness and redemption that is part of adoption. It’s not always pretty; in fact it’s heartbreaking. There is always loss in adoption, but there is also amazing love bursting at the seams. I once heard the adoption hospital experience called a wedding and a funeral in the same room. Someone is experiencing their greatest loss while someone else is celebrating their greatest joy. But at the end of it all, each party is choosing life and love for this child.
In hindsight, every year, every failure, every tear, every prayer all pointed us to our son. He was wanted, chosen, and reserved just for us, although he grew in another mama’s womb. He is my heartgrown baby.
It took five long years for me to come into motherhood. Our little boy has been worth the wait. And although it wasn’t the way I thought it would happen, I wouldn’t trade our journeyor our storyfor any other.
During my wait, there wasn’t an existing protocol orproduct to encourage women who were waiting to adopt achild (or, as I like to call it, pregnant with no due date). I don’t want other women to feel forgotten on their mission to motherhood, because this mission is an important one.Because of this, I created a small business/ministry called Heartgrown. We send monthly care packages to uplift and encourage hopeful mamas in a season of waiting. Because how you wait is a crucial component of your story.
Instagram and Facebook: @heartgrownbox
Christian, wife, mother, adoption advocate, infertility warrior, entrepreneur
By Brooke Balderson
Today, in no particular order, I am thankful for...
- Isaac’s birth mother. She made me a mom and I thank her today and every day
- The moments when life is just too crazy to comprehend
- The hardships of being a single mom (because they make me grow and grow and grow as a person...)
- ADHD and all the weird, silly, and amazing pieces of personality that come with it
- Friends who listen
- Early morning snuggles
- When bedtime finally comes and there are few moments of peace at the end of the day
- Amazing teachers
- Amazing therapists
- Philosophical conversation
- Ethical adoption
- The hope, joy of the unknown during the wait for a second adoption placement
When I first found out I was pregnant, I was crushed. My life came to a screeching halt. Being a single 25-year-oldbusiness professional who was raised in a Christian home, this situation that I found myself in brought about much guilt and shame. How could this be happening to me? I thoroughly weighed and agonized over my optionsand realized that there really was no “easy” choice. At first, I considered abortion, but ultimately couldn’t go through with it. Parenting or adoption were my only otherchoices after that. For about 7 months, I battled within my heart and soul on which decision to make for my baby girl. I knew I would have to meet a family who was everything and more than what I longed to give to my daughter if I were to choose adoption. I looked through countless profiles, but nothing seemed right. I was actually starting to really wrap my head around parenting my baby as I was heading into the final weeks of my pregnancy. But then, I finally met the perfect parents just two weeks before my daughter was born. I didn’t know much of anything at that time, but meeting them finally made adoption feel like the right choice for me. Spending time and interacting with them was the assurance I needed to allow myself to make that tough decision. My heart broke into a million pieces and everything within my being ached the day I said goodbye to my daughter at the hospital. The only hope I could hold onto was that I would see her again due to an open adoption relationship with her and her parents.
During my pregnancy, I worked with an adoption agency, but I didn’t feel completely supported or heard by these adoption professionals because no one was fully educating me on all the different options and decisions that are involved in the adoption process.It didn’t feel like they were really on my team, advocating for me. I think I knew deep down that there was so much more to the adoption process, yet I didn’t experience that liberty during my pregnancy. Post-adoption, I knew I wanted to advocate for other women like me because adoption is not a journey that anyone should venture through alone.
Now, as the Director of Marketing for AdoptMatch, I have an amazing opportunity to educate others on ethical adoptions and have a new platform to talk about how adoption should really be done. On top of that, I am able to come alongside birth parents and adoptive parents and make sure they are offered the proper support and guidance throughout an adoption. Especially as a birth mother, I understand the fears and needs that are present during this difficult time for every party involved. I am able to inform these expectant mothers of their right to choose adoption and create a child-centered, open and ethical adoption plan if they so choose. Also, I have the chance to educate waiting adoptive parents on what it truly looks like to honor the birth parents of their child, which is really important to me.
I would say the biggest challenge I’ve faced while working in this field has been navigating conversations around both the taboos of adoption as well as the preconceived notions of and about birth parents and adoptive parents. When I started working for AdoptMatch, I only knew my own pregnancy and adoption story, but knew nothing about the adoption community and how many hard conversations I would end up having.
For example, I feel like I keep running into different stereotypes aboutthe people who have chosen to adopt instead of having biological children. One stereotype is that these adoptive parents are some kind of radical pro-life individuals with a “white-savior complex” and the desire to “rescue” children – particularly of a different race. While I do believethere are some couples out there like that, I don’t think it’s the norm. I also believe people with the previously-mentioned mentality actually lack an understanding of what adoption is really about and probably aren’t ready to adopt with a skewed view like that. Secondly, I long to end the taboo that adoption is something you choose simply because you can’t have biological children or because you felt “called” to adopt. This, again, may be true, but people can adopt for so many reasons and it shouldn’t be reserved for a certain calling or type of people. Adoption can and should be a viable option for people from all walks of life—any religion, race, sexuality….any background at all. No two adoption stories are alike, just as no two people are alike—that’s what makes it beautiful!
I have also come across my fair share of stereotypes about birth parents as well, which are probably what infuriate me the most. For example, most people seem to think that the only kind of woman who would choose to place her baby for adoption must either be a teen mom or someone who is struggling with addiction and/or homelessness. These are, frankly, inaccurate stereotypes. This certainly wasn’t me and after having endless conversations with other birth mothers, I know thatit wasn’t their story either. Sometimes you just get stuck in a bad spot at a bad time. Even statistics say that the average birth mother is a young professional between the ages of 25-35. After spending much time meeting and conversing with birth mothers at different retreats and support groups,I can confidently say every birth mother has a different story and background that influenced heradoption decision.
Another challenge that I have come to face as I work in this field is some of the back-lash I feel when I present myself as a dual advocate for both adoption AND parenting. Not only am I a birth mother, but I am also in the adoption profession, so people tend to automatically assume that I somehow believe that all women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy should choose adoption. This is neither morally nor ethically correct, and ultimately stands against what I believe to be empowering to a woman. What kind of empowerment would it be if I only educated about and pushed womentowardsadoption? No, what I want to do is to make sure that these women truly know all the options available to them and don’t succumb to the pressure from others to choose one way or another. Overall, I believe that we all must actively, emotionally and financially support these women, regardless of the choice they make (even if we don’t agree with it). We do a great disservice to a woman when we speak at her as if she is not capable of making an informed decision. Instead, we need to listen to her needs and fears and offer her support and solutions.
An unplanned pregnancy is HARD. Period. But no matter what a woman chooses after seeing that positive pregnancy stick—that choice is hers. If we are pro-choice and for women empowerment, then we can’t limit these women to one option (which is often abortion in the pro-choice movement). That is actually quite the opposite of empowerment. To empower someone is to let her make the decision and to help her feel good about doing so. But if she isn’t fully informed or made aware of all of her options, she is limited and this ultimately hinders both her and her child’s future.
When we consider her needs and values, that empowers her to make the best possible decision for herself and her child. And that action is what I call being “pro-love”.
Emily is a Birth Mother in California who placed her daughter for adoption 3 years ago and is continuing tolearn how to navigate an open adoption relationship through visits and regular communication with her and her parents. She also works for AdoptMatch, a mobile appand online resource,which connects expectant parents with ethical professionals and prospective adoptive parents. And not only is AdoptMatch a point of connection, but it is also a platform that is promoting ethical adoptions and advocating for everyone in the adoption triad, including the birth parents and adoptees, whose voices have been ignored or unheard for a long time. To learn more, go to adoptmatch.com.
by Brooke Balderson as told to K. Aleisha Fetters
Find the one, get married, have kids. That’s the way the story goes. But I’ve never really been one to worry about following the traditional path.
I have, however, always wanted to adopt a child. I’ve always felt like it was my calling. I wanted to give a warm, loving home to a child who otherwise wouldn’t have one. I didn’t feel like I needed my child to be biologically mine. Love is love, no matter how it comes to you.
Then, last year, I found myself at a folk concert in Annapolis, Maryland. Between a couple of the songs, the performers started talking about their own experiences with adoption. I felt like I was the only person standing there in that crowded room. They were talking to me. The thoughts kept repeating in my head: This is crazy! How can I do this? Now?
I was 28 and single, and I knew I just had to go for it. It was time to adopt. Two and a half months later, I first held my beautiful son, Isaac. He was three days old.
Baby for One, Please
I expected to wait years, not weeks, for the process to run its course. Adoption is generally an infamously long process, and it was just happenstance that my application moved so quickly. See, my son’s birth mother didn't know she was pregnant until the delivery. So she didn’t have a birth plan for him, and when she signed him over to the adoption agency, she also didn't choose a family for him. It was up to the agency to decide who his family would be.
I was fortunate enough that the agency chose me. While some agencies do not take on single clients, my agency was very accepting of the fact that I wanted to adopt a child as a single parent. The agency staff did, however, want to make sure I knew what I was getting into. We talked a lot about the challenges I would face and how I planned to make it work. Just like everyone who applies through the agency, I went through extensive interviews, background checks, and mounds of paperwork. I was fingerprinted, my home was visited, and my references were interviewed. This is where my type-A tendencies came in handy. I powered my way through checklists and timelines.
I am a very contemplative person, so I tended to approach the topic with people in my life by stating the obvious—“I know this may sounds crazy, but...”—and then by explaining why and how I planned to make it work. Everyone I needed to have support from just knew me well enough to understand that this was the right decision for me. I would not have been able to make this kind of choice without my family and my friends. They were my cheering section throughout the entire process.
For me, the hardest part of adopting was waiting to take my son home once I met him. Like I said, I met my son when he was just three days old. But in Maryland, birth mothers have 30 days from when they sign the adoption papers to change their mind, no questions asked. So for those 30 days, he stayed in interim care. I was able to visit him, but I knew that at any time, this tiny baby who I already loved so much could be taken away from me. That fact was immensely difficult to bear. However, I’m glad to say that after those 30 days passed, I took him home with me. His adoption was finalized 10 months later.
The Plus Side of Parenting Solo
Isaac is now a year old, and I often find myself wondering what I did with my time before he was in my life. I just feel like I have such a huge purpose now. He makes me try harder and be better every single day, which is fortunate because being a mom is a lot of work. Life is much more hectic than it once was.
I have tons of help. My parents bought all of Isaac’s formula for his first year. My best friend and her mom, who have an amazing in-home daycare nearby, take him every day while I’m at work. I am very lucky to have such a tremendous support system, and honestly, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have pursued adoption when I did.
I tend to describe myself as a “mom who is single” rather than as a "single mom." It’s much more empowering—and so is having a child on my own. Life is too short not to make it what you want, and this is what I want. I can’t tell you how many older women have told me they wished they had been so brave and could have made the same choice I did.
While I still see marriage in my future and a dad in Isaac’s, in some ways, right now, not having a man in the mix actually makes things easier. I never find myself fighting with a husband over parenting responsibilities or having to battle it out over how much TV he lets Isaac watch or how much junk food he feeds him. If I make a poor parenting decision, it’s on me. If I make a good one, it’s on me. I can own it.
I talk to Isaac all of the time about our lives together and say that I chose him to be my baby boy. He doesn’t yet understand my words, but I think it’s important not to keep secrets. I made him a book that tells his adoption story and explains everything. We read it and talk about it pretty regularly. One day, he will understand that I adopted him—and as a young, single woman. I hope he thinks it’s really cool.
by Eryn Austin
Things that truly matter. Hope in the face of great adversity. Orphans in families. I’m going to keep talking about it- so bear with me on this one.
I’ve been in my feelings a bit this month. Especially since our girl started the month so sick. So sick and it just took us back- to the first day we saw her in person.
See- when we met her- we instantly knew something was very wrong. She was limp and inconsolable and the heat coming off of her was horrifying. She had no head control, she was terrified and- clearly- horribly ill.
We’ve never shown any of you our “gotcha day” video- because it’s hard for us to even watch. We were handed a baby in crisis on so many levels and the video is not fun to see- even for us.
I want to walk you through those first 3 days.
Meeting her. Begging them to tell me why she was so sick and had no medication. Trying to understand why she was so so limp.
Walking and walking around this unfamiliar city to try to find formula (she came with none) and meds for her fever.
* I remember thinking we would walk for miles and never find what we needed. I’ve never been so afraid. Our baby was screaming, listless and so very sick and- we were helpless.*
Getting back to the hotel, feeding her, getting her fever down. Messaging with our agency. Sobbing. Wanting to comfort her. Putting on a brave face for our big kids as we introduced them to Prim and explained what was happening. Watching her breathe while she slept for 16 hours- sickness and grief mingle together, friends- and her body just shut down.
We woke up and the screaming began- two Chinese hospitals, WeChat miracles, an American doctor from Prim’s hometown calling the shots to our nanny and getting us the meds we needed. (The whole time I was saying strep- she has horrible strep!!!- final diagnosis was systemic strep with blood work that would have had her in ICU in the states).
Getting back to the hotel after 9 hours in hospitals. We treat her, we start to see her eyes brighten. We get giggles and smiles. We get a few snuggles. We all sleep that night.
Waking the next morning to a text from our guide that I’m sharing for the first time- because they wanted us to wait to adopt her.
You’ll see my response.
Adoption day came.
I cried the whole time and finally held her without her screaming. We signed and finger printed and she was ours. She was ours all along.
And the world we knew changed completely. I think our family and friends back home breathed such a sigh of relief that I felt it in my chest all the way across the globe.
Our meeting of Primrose still makes me feel very strange. I feel lots of anger that she was so sick and no one had noticed. But I also feel so much love for the people who cared for her. I love them so much. It is the weirdest feeling.
And Chris and I want you to know this:
We had no idea how truly complex she was. We had no idea she’d be critically ill when we met her. We had no idea we’d spend our first 72 hours with her fighting for her life- while she grieved, while she experienced yet another deep loss.
But we do know this- we’d go again into that turmoil. We’d board that plane and we’d lose that sleep and we’d march the streets of Fuzhou again and again and again. We’d carry her until our arms are numb and lie awake staring at her chest rise and fall. We would and will trade our comfort for her life AGAIN AND AGAIN.
This is our daughter’s momentous entry into our lives. The photos aren’t amazing. But I hope you’ll see the love. And God’s mercy and grace in every single one. Because for 72 hours- God and our support system back home were the ONLY tethers to hope. The only hope.
And as crazy as it sounds-
We wouldn’t change how it went down. We wouldn’t change one part. Because it was just further proof that God sends us places we aren’t equipped to go so that His glory is the only thing getting the credit. So...I’m happy to say that #wecouldhavemissedthis and I’m so thankful we did not.
It might sound crazy, but I knew I was going to adopt children someday as far back as a teenage girl. When my mom would make comments about becoming a grandma in the future, my response, without fail, would always involve the fact that I was going to adopt someday. What teenager responds like that? I did. God was preparing my heart for adoption even while I was still a child myself.
Fast forward eighteen years later to 2008, two years into being married, and being faced with the harsh reality that my husband and I would not be able to have biological children. After coming out on the other side of grief and still having a strong desire to raise children, we decided to pursue adoption through foster care. We became certified foster parents in 2013. Since then, we have been blessed to share our home with eight children. Some stayed for a few months before being reunified with their biological family, some stayed intermittently for respite care or while permanent placement was being decided, some only graced us with their presence for an emergency overnight placement, but two of them have become our “forever sons”.
God has a funny way of allowing life to unfold sometimes. We got a second chance to bring our “forever sons” into our home. The first time the Department of Social Services (DSS) asked us to foster our “forever sons”, we said, “no” and they were placed with another foster family. Our response had nothing to do with the children. It had everything to do with us needing to recover from a low emotional state. Within a short period of time, we had been asked to foster several children/sibling groups, but the requests all fell through at the last minute for one reason or another. The emotional highs and lows of those circumstances led to us saying no to our “forever sons” simply because we needed a mental and emotional break from the disappointments.
One year later, we received another phone call for the same two boys. Their foster plan was shifting from reunification with their biological family to adoption. Their foster family at that time was not prepared to adopt both boys. To avoid separating the children, DSS reached out to us. This time we said “yes”. The road has been challenging, rewarding, frustrating, sad, exciting…all rolled into one. After many court hearings, visitations, meetings, ups, and downs, we adopted our sons and became a forever family on August 18, 2015. The challenges of raising children who have come from less than ideal backgrounds are great. I would trade these challenges if I could in a heartbeat, let’s be real! However, the challenges come with my sons who I love dearly and will hold a special place in my heart always. I love them and I love watching them grow into young men with opportunities before them that they may not have had if God didn’t give us a second chance to say “yes”.
by Jennifer Wong Cernak
by Jonathan and Tasha
We are Husband and Wife, Jonathan and Tasha we feel incredibly under qualified to be writing about perspectives on adoption. We have not adopted, neither of us have been adopted or have had adoption in our immediate families (however some of Jonathan’s extended family has been touched by adoption). Nor have either of us put a child up for adoption. So why should we have a perspective that is worth your time? We ask ourselves this question too. So I suppose the best is to just write to you, about “us” and why adoption has in-fact changed the trajectory of our little family.
We wish we could say adoption was our first choice in growing our family. It’s not that it was an option we hadn’t considered, or that we were ever reluctant. We truly feel that even if a biological child would have been a choice for us that we would have chosen adoption in the future regardless of bio kids or not. However, life lead us to adoption when we realized that we would not be able to safely carry a pregnancy due to Tasha’s health.
Tasha here, I was diagnosed with Sticklers Syndrome, which is a hyper-mobile, genetic condition that effects my connective tissues and collagen. A pregnancy for myself could mean that I would not be able to walk again. Think about the amount of moving and changing that occurs with babies grow. My body would likely not be able to heal a separated pelvic bone, extra weight on my joints and back could cause long term damage and hormones could cause a whole list of problems that may not be reversible. I would likely also need to be on bedrest for the 9 month duration of pregnancy. Not able to keep up heart and lung health. With little to no idea on what could happen with a pregnancy we quickly and tearfully understood that this was just not an option. I wish to be the healthiest Mum I can be and to love our littles with as much of a full abled body as possible.
So there are a few reasons why we have chosen adoption. We considered other options such as surrogacy but for a quick moment. Neither of us have had peace with that idea ever. We both agreed on adoption in an instant, in a heartbeat it felt right. In an instant without communication we knew adoption was for us. More on our story below!
We understand that we have chosen a harder path, but fully wholly believe that the view at the end of this road will be more beautiful than we could imagine. Heart ache and all. We are not naive to the hurt that accompanies every adoption. Our hearts and minds are full of passion for ethical adoptions and adoption advocacy.
We may not have a fully formed perspective on much regarding adoption; where we stand today, but we have so much love pushing our souls forward. We want to understand as best we can. We want to educate those we love around these topics as we learn. We are on the brink of this grand beautiful thing we call adoption. We feel privileged to be in a position to love a “little” for their life, teaching, guiding and holding them into adulthood and beyond.
The scariest thing we have chosen thus far is to share our story as it unfolds. If our process can help educate, inspire, encourage or highlight someone with their own interaction with adoption, it is all worth being vulnerable here on the big scary internet.
Our friends who you can find over on instagram @this.reinhardt.life wrote this recently and it resonates so deeply in our hearts.
“I urge you to think about adoption. Not specifically adopting a child. Support a family adopting through prayer, through thoughts, through sharing their story, through giving financially if you are able.”
What resonates here is that you don’t have to be involved arms deep in adoption to have a perspective on and to learn to understand and support someone in your community. Ask gentle loving questions and accept simple answers. Be willing to learn something you know nothing about. Reach out of your comfort and embrace family.
We do not take light the commission it is to parent. We actively choose to walk this path set out before us. We choose the hard path for a better view. Our perspective is that adoption gives options to all. Wanting Mums, Dads, Children and Birth Families alike. Even though tears and despair are unavoidable, there is first above all, hope and love.
I felt like everything changed when my son was born. What I mean by that is once he was born, I thought about him as not just the picture on the ultra sound machine, but a baby that had his whole life ahead of him. I knew that this life ahead of him was meant to be with his adoptive parents.Read More