The Process: Start Here
When you enter in the adoption process it can seem pretty nebulous. When you are knee deep in the adoption process it seems overwhelming.
And even when you are told exactly what to do, it can seem confusing. That's why I'm here to tell you (at the very least) what to expect.
I know that when I began, I read everything I could about the process and what to expect. Those were good books but lacked the actual details and specifics that I was looking for.
At first I thought I was the only person who didn't understand this process, or that it seemed to be changing all the time.
Then, after attending an "Adoptive Parents Waiting To Adopt" Support Group, I found out that I wasn't alone.
My way of contributing to your adoption experience is to write out mine. My intention with this website is to provide you with instructions and suggestions that you can use wherever you currently are in the Adoption process.
I am laying the foundation using the exact same language that the process (or system) uses in order to help you through the steps of adoption.
It's important because these are the questions that took me awhile to understand. I'm poignant, straight-forward and don't mince words when it comes to the process of adoption. It's confusing... it's frustrating... and yes, like they tell you in the orientation, you WILL want to give up.
But the reward is unmatched. And it's hard for a reason.
It's hard because rarely things that are amazing drop in your lap for no apparent reason. It takes work and dedication to bring a child into your life. It's a lasting bond that no matter how hard it seems, I guarantee you it will be worth in in the end.
Even though it's a ton of energy, the pay-off is far greater than what you put out.
Start at the Introduction and learn the reasons why I wrote this. Newbies, masters and everyone in between should read this section because it sets the context for this writing.
The Elephant In The Room – Look... I just want to adopt a kid! I mean, I'm helping the world out, right? I'm going to start off with some straight answers for terms and things you've heard within the circles of adoption. It's not a secret society, but to the outsider it might seem like it. These are the terms and people that you need to know in order for this process to make sense.
Knowing Your Network – Feeling alone? You're Not! Who can support you in your quest for a child? You'd be amazed at who will support you and chances are it's an unlikely source.
Meet the Players – What's the difference between a Clinician and a Caseworker? What is a Committee? Who is going to represent your family the best? This is a list of folks and terms that you will hear throughout the adoption process. Use this page to understand how to maximize the folks who are (literally) given to you.
Presenting Your Family – How will the folks who choose families know that we're awesome? How to put your best foot forward... the exact steps to make your family look good to the caseworker of an adoptive child you want to be a part of your family.
Finding Your Child – How to see what children are available and get to know them. Learn the "secret code" that State case-workers talk and what it really means when it comes to the needs of the child you are adopting.
Readying For Rejection – But she was perfect for us! How to deal with not getting the child you want. There is little that can describe this feeling. I wrote this section to share some things that we as a family felt when we were not chosen for a child.
While I do go into great detail, there may be things that I missed. This isn't a disclaimer, it's more of a mention that the adoption process is always "subject to change". I've done my best to stick with the basics and what we've experienced as a family and like most things, you will have you own unique experience... Which I look forward to hearing about.
You can write me at the email below this page (at the bottom) and sign-up for my Newsletter list. Those are great ways to communicate directly to me and provide feedback about this site or your own experiences in the Adoption process.
Adoption is like anything else in life: Until you've gone through the experience yourself you won't know the feelings and the joys that go along with it. Plus, on top of that, those feelings are unique to you and your family's situation.
But from someone who has done it before, let me tell you this:
You will get excited: you'll see a child and instantly imagine them integrated into your daily routine. You will plan their room, their "playdates" and how you are going to introduce them to your extended family.
You will feel really low: you will be rejected for a child due to things completely out of your control. It will feel very frustrating when a group of people whom you've never met (and will never meet) decides the if a child will be part of your family.
The Adoption Process is an exercise in what is possible.
So, the begs the question: Why did I write this?
Well, first and foremost I want to share my experiences with you because you will learn something from them.
Secondly, and probably more importantly, I address questions that I had when considering adoption. While I felt like we had world-class Clinicians during the entire process, there were still questions that would come up during the process that I needed answered. There were feelings that I hadn't dealt with in years that came up and I felt like there was very little "practical" information available to me.
Really this isn't to suggest that adoption is right for you nor did I write this to dissuade you from adoption, rather this is the "missing manual" that I wish I had along the way.
While I certainly can't foretell your future, I can assist you with knowing what is coming next and what to prepare for.
Before you go any further, though, it's important to get one question out of the way.
It's a question that doesn't have a right or wrong answer, nor is it a question that anyone but you can answer.
That question is: Why are you adopting?
Like I said, there is no right or wrong answer... however if you have a powerful enough WHY, you can accomplish any goal and the HOW will present itself.
This is also an answer that might change over time, especially if you have biological children at home already or you get a job offer across the country.
While the adoption process could potentially take YEARS, the fact remains that life goes on.
And that's the "beautiful madness" about Domestic adoption: It's always changing.
But if your WHY stays the same, you and your spouse stick to the "the plan" and be in constant communication with each other, you will succeed at becoming the loving adoptive parents that you are.
On the next page, you are going to Meet the Players of the Adoption Game and Know Your Network...
In the meantime, I want to get a question out of the way. It's a very important one and it's something that needs to be addressed before you go any further.
The Elephant In The Room
When we started the adoption process, which included things like trainings, weekends attending conferences and attending support meetings, there was language that was used that I didn't understand.
It was the term they used for adoption called "Special Needs" adoption.
The first picture that pops into my mind is a child in a wheel-chair or who can't walk straight.
And while physical challenges are present in the adoption process, they are only as present as in the rest of the world.
Don't let my naivety fool you... I wasn't the only person in the room thinking this way.
The reality is that any child who is up for adoption is "Special Needs".
And after being in this process for years I can say that any child who is in a Foster Home or Orphanage has been through some serious trauma in their lives. Many of the children who are up for adoption have suffered challenges that as adults we'll never face.
At first, I used to get angry.
I was angry that someone who was supposed to be a "mature" adult would do these horrible things to children, or allowed awful thigns to occur in front of children.
I was mad that someone would expose kids to drugs or pornography. Or even worse, physically abuse a child.
I learned quickly on that many things in the adoption process are simply out of your control.
This includes all the negative life experiences that the child faced before they were taken into the system.
Said another way (framed a little more positively), it's the particular combination of things in the process occurring that will unite you and your adoptive child together.
I suggest that you come to grips with this now... if you are someone who needs to be in absolute control of their lives the domestic adoption process might not be for you.
I'm not trying to discourage you or tell you to give up, I'm merely stating the fact that domestic adoption, like any other sort of adoption, takes a tremendous amount of time and patience. You will need to surrender to things that you might not have had to in the past. You need to trust your Clinician and you need to trust the child's Caseworker.
Ultimately, you need to trust that the system works. And it does.