If you have ever been through the adoption process you probably know all too well the hundreds of questions you get from those who have never been thru the process themselves or you are their first friend to go through it. I can't speak for every adoptive family, but I typically don't mind the questions, they are good questions. And why would non-adoptive parents know the ins and outs of adopting? I also appreciate questions because it shows that people care and want to know about this season of our lives.
However, because I tend to get the same questions over and over again, I figured doing a Q&A type format on my blog could be nice for people to get answers to some of the questions they have wanted to or plan to ask us. If you are one of those in my life who have asked me questions regarding our adoption, please do not feel offended and keep them coming. This is for those who maybe I haven't seen in a while (thanks COVID) or who are complete strangers and consider adoption for their family. So enjoy!
1. How long will it take for you to get a baby?
Only the good Lord himself knows the answer to that. Most agencies will give you the classic 1-2 year timeline. The two biggest parts of the process are the home study and then the wait before you are matched with a birth family or baby. The home study is somewhat dependant upon you and how quickly you get things done and checked off the lengthy to-do list your agency will give you. Obviously there are still things on the agencies side that they have to do and complete for you, but the state of Ohio requires home studies to be done within 6 months. So that's typically the longest that step will take. But besides the home study, there are other factors to consider in the timeline of things. Like does your agency have you wait before you get into certain steps of the process? (Ours did). We also had two application processes for our agency because they are a Christian based agency. All of those can affect how fast or slow you get to the waiting period after being approved for the home study. And once you are approved and waiting, you have no idea when a birth family will pick you and when they do you may already have a baby waiting for you or the birth mom has months left in her pregnancy. Long story short, the timeline is different for every adoptive family and almost impossible to predict.
2. What does the home study entail?
In my opinion, the home study is the biggest part of an adoption leading up to the placement. The home study is exactly what it sounds like, a study of the potential adoptive families home and life. It includes what feels like a mountain of paperwork, from your financial information to what kind of child you are willing to bring into your home. This step includes every member of the home getting a medical check-up, vet records for pets in the house, scanning all documentation of your existence, and more. The social worker assigned to you will come to your home a few times, they will look in every room, closet, and nook of the house. They will test your toilets, sinks, showers to make sure you have running water. We had to lock up any prescription meds we had and put all cleaning chemicals in a high up cabinet, out of children's reach. Pretty much all things biological parents don't have to do or even think about when they have a baby. The social worker will also interview the family during one or both of the home visits. Nick and I did one interview together and then both did one solo. They ask all kinds of questions to understand our life, routine, support system, marriage, strengths, and weaknesses. It didn't feel super intrusive or like any of the questions were surprising. The solo interviews were more nerve-racking because what if our answers didn't match or something dumb, but really they just want to make sure you have to tools and support to take care of a baby.
3. How does a birth mom pick you?
In most adoptions being picked by a birth, mom looks similar from agency to agency. Typically it all starts with a portfolio. This is like a scrapbook of the adoptive family's life. This can be made by the adoptive family or there are companies that make this for you. The latter is pricer, but the quality can be quite superior. Our agency required us to go through a company to make ours, which I'm so glad they did! (We used Kindred and Co. which I cannot speak highly enough about!) Once your portfolio is made and you are home study approved, your agency can start presenting you to birth moms. When they present birth mom will look through the book and pick the family she thinks fits best for her and her child and then the agency will call the adoptive family! Some agencies will have birth mom pick two or three families and then meet in person with them before officially deciding!
4. What does it look like when you get matched with a birth mom and baby?
There are two possible situations that can happen when a birth mom picks a family. First, is what's called a "Stork Drop". This is when a birth mom has already given birth to the baby and decides after to place them for adoption. In this situation, the portfolios are shown to the birth mom, she picks and the agency calls the family to let them know there is a baby waiting for them! These are crazy fast and exciting situations!
The second situation is when a birth mom wants to make an adoption plan before the baby is born. At our agency they wait until birth mom is around 30 weeks pregnant or so, to give her time to process, find out as much info about the baby, and create a relationship with her. If she still wants to place at 30 weeks, they will then send out an email to all waiting families with the info about the baby, and mom and the families will say if they want to be considered or not. Once they have heard from the adoptive families, they show birth mom they portfolios to those who are interested, mom picks and they call the family to let them know! Then you wait until birth mom is in labor and depending on her wishes will determine when you get to come to the hospital and so on. This is also exciting but daunting knowing there is still a couple of months before the baby is here! Both situations have their benefits and downfalls, but one of them will end with you having a sweet baby!
5. How has COVID-19 effected your adoption?
A question no one saw coming or planned for... Honestly for us, not a lot. We started our home study right at the beginning of COVID. We did our first home study meeting via Zoom. We walked our computer around the house showing our social worker at the rooms and things in the house. And we did our interviews on Zoom as well. But thus far, that's the biggest ripple we've felt from COVID. We did avoid doing our medical check until things were slightly better. Why risk a Dr.'s appointment if we didn't have to? Moving forward tho, I'm not sure how it will affect us. Some hospitals are more cautious and restricted than others in terms of visitors. So we may be restricted in seeing the baby after their born, but there are too many factors to say as of now. But I want to be clear about this, adoptions have not stopped because of COVID. Women are still having babies, making adoption plans, and so on. There are just more masks involved.
6. What will your relationship with birth mom look like after the adoption?
Another good question, but another question only the good Lord knows the answer to. There are so many factors that go into making this decision. What does the adoptive family want? What does birth mom want? Location, health (both mental and physical), open vs closed, and many more. Nick and I are hoping for an open adoption, but people often think that means birth mom gets weekly visits, phone calls, etc. And typically that is rarely the arrangement if ever. Birth moms, just as much as adoptive families, tend to want some separation from the baby and bio family. They may ask for weekly or monthly pictures with a small update on milestones or things for the baby. Visits on special occasions or holidays are valid and often arranged as well. But this question is too board to give an overarching answer. I can say for Nick and me, we are open to most things but do want some time to settle into being parents, but would love for a birth mom to be involved and kept in touch with!
I'm sure some of you have more questions or even follow up questions to the process of adoption. If so, please reach out and ask them! I am an open book with our journey and want to share as much to help others understand and feel prepared if they too choose to adopt! It can feel overwhelming and scary, but I'm so thankful for those who have gone before me in adoption and who have answered my numerous questions! You are not alone!