Most conversations about foster care and adoption that I have with people outside of the community are, ummm, awkward. I've had very few conversations that were directly disrespectful or angry. They're usually inquisitive. They're sometimes confused. Occasionally, they're scared. But, almost always, they're loving and kind. I will not wear my feelings on my sleeve as we educate our friends and family on adoption as a concept, or the specific story of our child. I will, however, hold everyone to a high standard of learning. Why? Because I hold myself to a high standard as an advocate and educator in this space. I created this Q+A with that specific idea in mind. I am always available to answer questions, calm fears, and show grace as we walk this windy road together.
Now, let's go over some terms you're going to hear (see?) during updates from us. We know that you guys love us & our future baby, but if you're not familiar with adoption you may not really know what you're supposed to say & how the heck to say it. It's okay, this was all foreign to us once, too.
Expectant Mother-This is how we refer to any mother who is pregnant & considering an adoption plan for her child.
Birth Mother-Refers to a woman who has chosen adoption for her child. She is not a "birth mom" until parenting rights have been transferred from her to the adoptive parents. aka: biological mother
Birth Father/Birth Family-Other people biological related to the adopted child. These are all real people, however we don't refer to them as "real family." It's kinda negative, and hurtful to us & our family. We are all real people, who have prayed and prepared our hearts and homes for this child.
Adoptive Parents-Post adoption, we will also be called real parents & my personal favorite, parents. Mason is gonna be Dad, and I'm leaning toward Mama.
Foster Child/Child In Care-Aka, child. Aka, real child. These terms refer to a child who has been removed from his or her family and placed with a relative or foster family, pending an investigation.
Adopted Child-Aka, child. Aka, real child. This is just a kiddo who happens to be adopted.
Home Study-This is a series of forms, interviews, & inspections that determines your eligibility to adopt. Topics include medical workups, tax returns, psychological evaluations, and more goodies like an evaluation of your actual home. Without this, you can get absolutely nowhere in the foster care or adoption process.
We try really hard to create a positive environment & part of that includes awareness of the words and phrases we use. Adoption is absolutely not giving a child up or giving them away. These are not unwanted children. They are children who have been prayed for & loved before they were ever conceived. When we talk about an expectant mom who is considering adoption, we say 'placing her baby for adoption' or 'making an adoption plan.' She isn't giving him away, she's placing him in a better situation. That's the greatest form of love. The same love God showed us all, when He sent his son to be raised by Joseph. That is a love we honor wholeheartedly.
Now, these are the most frequent questions we hear & the best responses I have:
- Will you get a baby?
Probably. Our agency facilitates private domestic adoptions. They do work with moms (& dads) who are currently parenting a child or children & want to make an adoption plan for them. The majority of their placements are infants, though. We told the agency we were open to talking with any expectant or parenting mom/dad who felt like we could be the right fit for their child. *Note: These are not children in DHR/DCFS custody. Their biological parents are choosing a different life for them, they have not been removed from their custody.
- Is your baby going to be white/black/biracial/alien?
I'm kidding about the alien part. The only thing we know is that our child will not be caucasian. We can say that over the last four years of talking about adoption, the one thing that comes up the most is how we would handle the many issues facing non-white children. We have never said or thought 'Do we want to consider children of other races?' We've always said 'If our child is black (or biracial, hispanic, etc.) how we will we deal with racism/judgement/racial representation in their life?' We have no preference on the race of our child, but we can both say that we've spent a lot of time preparing for raising a child of a different race. We truly feel that God has constantly put those conversations into the forefront of these discussions because He was leading us to a transracial adoption.
- Do you get to choose the gender of your baby?
So, here's another really cool thing about adoption. If you are feeling led in a certain direction, already parenting children all of one gender or are a single prospective parent, you can show a gender preference. However, as childless married people, we are open to either gender. Fun fact, Mason thinks we'll get a boy & I think we'll get a girl. (I think it's because he's older than his sister and I'm older than my brother.)
- Are you going to let his/her biological mom see the baby?
Well, I don't know her or her wishes yet, so I can't answer this accurately. What I can say is that we firmly believe that open adoption can be an amazing, wonderful thing. We would love nothing more than to be able to stay connected with our future birth mother through letters, photos, texts, & maybe even visits. We will always respect the wishes of our birth mother & our child in these matters. We have no idea what that's going to look like. Regardless of how much or little contact we have after placement, birth moms are superheroes in our minds & cherished in our hearts. The woman who chooses us to parent her child will be respected & loved in our home.
- Aren't you worried whoever picks you will change her mind?
Well, of course I am. I know a lot of people have a more eloquent answer than this, but that's the truth. But, here's what I know about adoption. Placing a child for adoption will be the most difficult decision an expectant mother ever makes. There will be grieving-for her & the child. She will feel loss like I cannot imagine. But, she will also feel happiness, eventually. She'll be excited for her child's future & for her own future. But, if the pain is outweighing the potential outcome, then there is absolutely no shame in a mother choosing to parent her child. Should we suffer a failed adoption, we will cry & grieve. We will probably scream. If that day ever comes, we will ask for prayer & grace as we cope. We will struggle, and we will overcome. We also know that God puts us where He needs us. We've accepted that God may use us as His disciples for a greater purpose. We may connect us with an expectant mother, and support her through pregnancy, for her to later choose to parent. We know that God is in adoption in such a big way, and He makes no mistakes.
- Where will your baby come from?/Will your birth mom be from Alabama?
Our agency works with birth moms from all over the United States. If a woman is hoping for a more open adoption that includes visits, she will likely be from the Southeast, maybe even Alabama. If she is wanting less contact, she'll likely be from another part of the country. Of course, no matter where she & her family live, we would still be willing & excited to road trip for annual/semi annual face to face visits.
- How long will it take?
Now, that's a $100,000 question. A typical timeline is that once you've been approved, it takes somewhere between 1 week-18 months to be matched. The wait time after that will be determined by how far along the pregnancy is. An average wait is 6 months, and most families are matched in the third trimester. So, 9 months-1 year is a typical timeline. Of course, any number of things can affect that. We have no preferences in gender or age. So our profile will be seen by more moms than those will more specific criteria. There is no "magical date" that were guaranteed to be matched. The most important thing to remember is that the goal of adoption is to create the best match of birth & adoptive families, no matter how long that takes.
- What can we do to help?
Pray!! Educate yourselves by reading blogs, and watching webinars. I love to talk about adoption & am happy to answer any questions you may have about adoption. However, when it comes to details of our personal adoption, if I haven't shared it here, I'm probably not willing to share it with you just yet.
Thank you guys so much for reading all the way to end! We love you more than words can say.
Again, if you have been thinking about adoption, please please reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If God only put me on this Earth to do one thing, it's talk about adoption.