I think that one of the biggest questions we asked ourselves while doing IVF was: When do we stop?
My husband and I are not one to throw in the towel and give up. We both have lived a life where we have strived to be the best we can be and to succeed. Success means something different to everyone. Some value their success on material possessions, how much money they make, and what kind of house they live in. This would be my father-in-law. As long as he looks wealthy and happy on the outside his real life (his home life) can fall apart and he would still consider himself successful. However, I view success as something entirely different. For me success is loving those around me and being loved, being happy, having a family, and being able to take care of those around me. My biggest success in life will hopefully be raising children who love the Lord and serve him faithfully. So, this is what I strive for. Family was and is very important to me. So, stopping IVF was a hard and scary decision. Stopping IVF however, did not mean that we would stop trying to have a family.
My husband was ready to adopt before I was. He would have started the process months before we did. For me, the desire to carry a child was so great that I struggled more with stopping IVF. It is not that I did not want to adopt. I just saw adoption as the end to trying to carry a child and that thought broke my heart. There is something about growing a baby, feeling that baby move, and being able to do something for that child that no one else can do that was meaningful to me. However, after the third miscarriage I decided that maybe it was just not going to happen and I needed to move on. So, we did…
Our first step was to talk to those around us and see where to start. We met with an adoption attorney in our hometown. I am not even sure at this point how we found her. But, we did. She gave steps to follow to start our journey. $300 later we knew:
1. Where to go to start our home study
2. How to write a profile to send to agencies, etc.
3. How to sell ourselves
4. Where to start applying
She also suggested that we tell everyone that we knew that we wanted to adopt. This would help spread the word and help get our name out there just in case.
We did everything that she said. We started with the home study. This was probably the hardest part of the preparation. We had to write a biography and answer a million questions about our lives growing up, our schooling, our religious beliefs, how we planned to parent (does anyone really know this), what discipline would look like in our home, and so on. It is a very invasive process to say the least.
After hours upon hours of typing and completing the paperwork, the social worker came to our home to talk to us. We had our visit on Groundhog Day (random, I know). I cleaned and scrubbed my house beforehand. My husband installed fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors all over the house. We worked on our house for weeks. I was even tempted to have cookies baking when she arrived and fresh flowers, but I did not want to seem like we were trying too hard, even though we were.
She sat down with us together and we talked about everything under the sun. Then she wanted to talk to us individually. Then finally after about 4 hours or so we were done. She left us with a list of background checks and references to get. More paperwork….
In the beginning of April, we started to send out our accepted home study and completed profiles. Like most things in life my husband and I attacked this full force. We made a spreadsheet of agencies that were recommended and some that we found on our own. We completed multiple applications and answered more questions. Our spreadsheet listed the agency’s name, our application status, contact names and numbers for the agency, web addresses, fees, and dates everything was sent. I do not know how much money we spent on application fees, but it had to be in the thousands. Weekly I would check up on the agencies, make phone calls, and read about adoption. During this time my husband was working three jobs to pay for everything. I barely saw him but I could not convince him to slow down. He was determined!
Then one day when my husband was working at his third job someone approached him and gave him the name of an adoption attorney. She had a friend that had adopted with an attorney and recommended that we check her out. He came home, Googled the attorney, I filled out the application and we mailed it in. This was the simplest application. It was just front and back and did not contain any crazy questions. We also did not have to send in an application fee. It seemed too easy…
The first week in May I got a phone call from an attorney. She said she was going through our records and just needed our W2 forms to make our record complete. I was in traffic when she called. I happened to be stuck in traffic and was missing an appointment. If I was at this appointment I would have missed her phone call. I got off the phone with her and immediately called my husband. He got the information and faxed it to her first thing the next morning.
So, at this point in our journey we were labeled “a waiting family.” Every day when our cell phones would ring we would jump to see who it might be. I would answer my cell phone while teaching if the number was one I did not recognize. My husband did the same during this work day. Our bosses and friends knew that we were living by our phone and were okay with it, for the most part.
My advice to anyone who wants to adopt is to:
1. Tell everyone and anyone that you know that you are trying to adopt. You never know what this could lead to.
2. Send profiles to every place you apply to. Your profile needs to have a lot of pictures. I was told that more pictures and less text is the way to go.
3. Do not be afraid of private adoptions. Adoption attorneys are more personable and accessible than you might think. Do not let the term “attorney” scare you.
4. Do not be afraid to call and check in. Make yourself be known.
5. Avoid using a facilitator! They are expensive and illegal in some states.
6. Know your adoption laws and the laws of the state you want to adopt in.
7. Ask questions and seek answers.
8. Relax, have fun with your spouse, and try to enjoy life. Do not let the stress affect your relationship. Your spouse is your best counselor because he or she knows exactly what you are going through.
9. Listen to those who have adopted. We know a thing or two!