“National Adoption Month is about spreading awareness. It is a month to encourage others to learn about adoption, to hold adoption related events, and to acknowledge the people in this country whose lives have been impacted by adoption. The mission of National Adoption Month is to celebrate the families who have grown through adoption, and to recognize the many children who are still waiting for forever families.” adoptionnetwork.com
November is Adoption Awareness Month and I sat down with my good friend Fallon, an adoption consultant, to talk all things adoption – why she chose it for her family, what to expect, and more!
Here is Fallon’s Story:
When my husband and I were first married we talked and dreamed a lot about what our future family would look like and how we would want to live our lives. We would stay awake at night and have long conversations about what becoming parents would mean and the type of parents we wanted to be. Those early conversations planted a seed that grew into the deep desire to grow our family through adoption. When I was in high school one of my closest friends became pregnant and made an adoption for her son. I watched her throughout those 9 months make the most loving and selfless choices over and over again for him. There was so much pain and beauty in the same season. She taught me so much about the heart behind adoption and the immense love of birth families. I held that season close to my heart as I grew up.
Five years after we said I do, we welcomed home our first son biologically. The depth of that love shook me to my core and holding our newborn in our arms felt like a miracle. When we started trying for our second we were faced with unexplained infertility and was told we would never be able to have more biological children without intense medical intervention. We had so much peace in that moment that saying no to walking the fertility journey and yes to pursuing adoption was what our hearts desired. The many conversations we had years ago became a reality as we started to take steps in getting approved to adopt in the United States. I felt every emotion imaginable; fear that I wasn’t going to be enough, love for a child and his mom I didn’t even know yet, joy about growing our family, heartbreak for the decision she would make, and responsibility to honor the entire adoption triad. Yet each forward motion we made also was accompanied by peace.
After we completed our home study, finished our adoption education, and created a family book expecting moms would look at, we read the story of our son and his incredible mom. There are no words to even share that can explain the depth of bravery, courage, and love she had. We wrote her a letter with tears that stained the pages and put it in our family book for her to read. Nothing really prepares you for a call like the one we received in Jan 2017. We picked up and on the other end it was her letting us know she wanted us to be her son’s parents. Humbled, grateful and a sense of pure love. The season of infertility, the mountains of paperwork, and the journey it took to get to this point melted away when we connected with her.
Being at the hospital with his birth mom was the most sacred ground I have ever stepped into. And when she handed him to me I felt that exact same overwhelming rush of emotions like I did five years ago when we welcomed home our first son. He was a miracle, fiercely loved by two families.
We now have the most incredible and spunky five year old who keeps us on our toes and fills our family with unwavering love. We are so grateful to have an open adoption and will always make that a priority for our son to know his heritage and birth family. Little did we know 5 years later we would find ourselves in our 3rd miracle story as we welcomed home our daughter. Nico is the best big brother.
“A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy, and the depth of that privilege is not lost on me.”- Jody Landers
How to Know if Adoption is Right for You
Adoption is filled with so many intricacies and emotions. Someone shared this quote with me when we started to seriously consider adoption is;
“Ask yourself not what a child can do for you, but what you can do for a child.”
That changed the way I approached everything in our adoption journey. The thing about adoption is that it requires an immense amount of humbling oneself. Parenting in general requires that, but that is for another topic. While it may be hard to hear, or maybe even feel unfair for those struggling with infertility, we have to better ourselves and our perspective on adoption for the betterment of the lives of our children. If you are in a place where you have so much love to give; ask yourself the question- am I fully ready to put the emotional, physical, and mental well being of a child above all else. If your answer is yes, then looking into education on adoption is a great place to start.
Brave Love is a pro-adoption movement dedicated to changing the perception of adoption by acknowledging birth moms for their brave decision. I would also recommend talking to adoptive families who have walked the adoption journey or birth families who have made a placement plan for their insight and understanding.
How to Get Started With the Adoption Process
Your first step is deciding what type of adoption is right for your family. There are multiple avenues to consider; international adoption, foster care adoption, embryo adoption and domestic adoption. Once you have decided which type of adoption is best for your family the first step is deciding what organization you want to partner with. This will be the team that helps you navigate your adoption journey. My husband and I worked with Christian Adoption Consultants that walked us through the process of welcoming home our son. I now have the privilege of being on staff with them and supporting families as they navigate their own adoption story. It is such an honor to walk families through each step of their journey and watch them step into parenthood. After choosing your partnership organization you will start your home study which is a process for adoptive parents that legally approves you to take custody of a child through adoption.
What is an Adoption Consultant?
When people find out I am an adoption consultant I get a lot of questions! There is a lot involved in having a successful adoption and every choice you make is important. An adoption consultant is a professional guide/coach that supports you throughout the domestic adoption process. They are an expert that knows all the ins and outs of the process and helps guide hopeful adoptive families through each and every step. It takes most couples a long time to both be on the same page and timeline when they decide to finally say yes to starting the adoption process. So we are finally saying yes? YES! And then what? For most families they start Googling domestic adoption, ethical adoption practices, adopting outside the state I live in, time frame, requirements, legal needs, how to build a financial plan for adoption costs, home study services, and so much more. It can be so overwhelming on where to even begin! An adoption consultant will support you not only through each step, but provide families all the resources they need to have a healthy adoption.
– A step by step support from the very beginning from starting your home study, creating your profile book, signing on with ethical agencies, reviewing adoption cases with you, presenting to expecting moms, being chosen, hospital ethics, finding an adoption attorney if needed, and welcoming home your baby you won’t be figuring it out alone.
– Significant decrease in wait time . Now wait time shouldn’t be your main concern, but finding great partnerships with agencies who have ethical practices helps. An adoption consultant’s multi agency approach means you can work with agencies and adoption lawyers all over the United State at a single time. This means you are not limited to one specific agency.
– Education and guidance for your adoption- Consultants gives families a step by step adoptive parent guide, equipping you with knowledge to walk each part of the process well. They work with you personally, helping you towards adoption grants, laws in the states you are adopting from, receiving education calls with birth moms, adoptees, and understanding the heart of a transracial adoptee if you are considering adopting outside your ethnicity. And further education like how to navigate hard to talk about topics like open adoption and prenatal substance use. One of the things I love most is helping educate families in their journey so they feel confident as they get closer to welcoming home their child.
– Encouragement and caring personal support- As a consultant I have helped many families grow through adoption. Having someone who can help guide you through each step making sure you don’t miss anything is so reassuring. Someone who you can pick up the phone and help navigate and offer support where you need it most.
If you choose to work directly with a specific agency, you may not have an individual walking you through the process and you will only have access to that agency and the adoptive mothers working with them.
Something important to note that because there are a variety of ways to go about adoption, each process will look very different. For example, domestic vs international, foster care adoption vs embryo adoption etc…
Tips for Preparing for the Transition of Bringing Your Adopted Baby Home
In most cases you will be bringing home a baby from the hospital. Many states require a certain amount of time to pass before the adoptive parents can take their baby out of the area or the state. Many adoptive families do not live in the same state as their child’s birthmother, so they often make arrangements to stay in a local hotel or extended-stay facility until their attorney gives them clearance to take the baby home.
When you get clearance to travel home make sure you have set time aside for you and your spouse to bond with your new baby. I always recommend baby wearing and skin to skin as much as possible in those first weeks and months at home. This will allow them to establish smell, connection, and stability. Slowly introduce them to family and friends and have your home ready with all your baby necessities. If you have an open adoption I encourage families to send an update to their child’s birth mom for her to have as she is settling back into a new season of life without her child. Send pictures, a letter on how her baby is growing, and anything you think would bring her love. Your adoption agency will help facilitate this communication, but showing your child’s biological family care in this season establishes a healthy relationship your child will benefit from as they grow up.
Becoming parents through adoption is beautiful and soaking up that newborn season is truly magical. It can feel like a mountain getting to this point, so take time to close out the world a bit and settle in as a new family.
Let’s wrap it up with a few links to resources!
Birth mom support (but has great links to books to read for the entire adoption triad)
Communication in Open Adoption (by Ashley Boschen licensed professional counselor/ birth mom and advocate)
Tips for Creating a Multi-Ethnic Experience in Your Home (by Jonathan Adam)
Identity and Belonging from an Adoptee Perspective (by Jonathan Adam)
Five Myths About Open Adoption (by Suasan Vansyckle)
Growing in Adoption: The Truth About Birth Parents (by Suasan Vansyckle)
Everyone can participate in National Adoption Month! Whether you are pursuing adoption, currently fostering, or simply a supporter of the cause, everyone can take part in National Adoption month.
- Read more on National Adoption Month’s history and purpose.
- Share information with your family and friends.
- Attend a National Adoption Month events in your community.
- Donate money to an adoption or foster care agency.
- Volunteer your time with an adoption or foster care organization.