I regularly get questions about adoption and what the process was like for us, so in celebration of Campbell's adoption being finalized, I wanted to take a chance to answer a few questions! As you read, remember that this is our experience. This is our story, this is how the Lord has woven adoption into our lives. Adoption can look a variety of different ways to different families. I hope that this gives you a glance into what the process looked like for us, educates you on about adoption, and ultimately encourages you to pray about your role in adoption!
What resources did you use to learn about the process? Did you research others' experiences before deciding to adopt?
I'll be really honest. We really didn't research much before we started the process. I knew some general things about adoption as I know several families who have adopted and several families who were active foster care families. Adoption wasn't foreign to us and it was something we had already discussed previously. I actually learned about FAC (the consulting group we used) through a facebook ad. After reading a little about them on their website and looking through their hashtag on instagram to find other families, we emailed them the day we decided to pursue adoption. I had read adoption stories before, but I didn't rely on anyone's story when it came to praying through our decision to adopt. I ultimately believe that the Lord has called us as believers to participate in adoption in some way, shape, or form. For me, it didn't really matter what other people had experienced. All that mattered was that we felt the Lord calling us to step into obedience.
Why did you use FAC?
We adopted through Faithful Adoption Consultants, also known as FAC. FAC is not an agency, they are consultants. Simply put, we worked with a consultant (We love you, Courtney!!) who was in contact with agencies all over the country. These agencies would then contact FAC with any cases they had, looking for matches that meet their birth mom's desires. Courtney would then email us about these cases and we would say yes or no to presenting our profile book (a book that tells about us, shows photos of our live, etc) to that particular birth mom. A huge pro to working with a consultant is you're able to "get in front of" more birth moms than just those who work with one particular agency. I think we ended up seeing somewhere between 20-30 cases during the weeks we were active.
We loved FAC because from our first phone conversation we felt like they really cared for their families and walked with them every step of the way. We love the assurance that we would always have someone in our corner, someone encouraging us to pray over every birth mom and baby we learned about, and someone who would guide us in wisdom through the process. We truly cannot say enough good things about FAC!
What was important to you in an agency?
I think when you are looking for an agency it's important to feel like you're working with people who have a heart for others. You want to know that these people value the lives of birth moms, first families, babies, children, and the adoptive families they work with. We ultimately wanted to feel educated and and lead wisely by who we chose to work with. Working with FAC is a little different because we worked with a consultant before being matched with our agency. But, we worked with FAC through our entire process and for us they were they constants and who we looked to the most.
Do you have an open adoption?
Our adoption is semi-open. Right now, we do not have contact with Campbell's first mama but I pray that one day we'll have the opportunity to have contact with her and love on her! She is such a special person in our lives and we will always, always honor her with our words and our prayers.
Do you think you'll adopt again?
Yes! We both desire to adopt again. I have no idea what that will look like for us, whether we'll use FAC again, journey through foster care, or even go international. But I do believe we'll adopt again!
How did you deal with stress or worry during the process?
The adoption process brings out all kinds of emotions and new struggles. From the very get-go, the paperwork process can really do a number on your heart as you lay out your entire life on a table for someone to evaluate. From your finances, your childhood, your marriage... nothing is off limits. While that process was hard for me, it brought about really good conversations in our marriage as we were forced to discuss our own childhoods and upbringings and ultimately our desires for how we want to parent our children. And then you move into feeling overwhelmed with the financial burden... and then worrying that you won't match... and then worrying that your match will fail... Just like pregnancy, there's always that fear of the worst that can creep in. I had to actively seek scripture and talk to the Lord about my fear and stress and frustration. We had to take our brokenness to his feet more than a few times trusting that He is sovereign and He is good. Every single moment we were sustained by the Lord!
Do you have any scripture that helped you during the process?
I continually clung to Psalm 51:12, Psalm 94:19, and Hebrews 10:23
Did it take one person longer to be on board with adoption?
Watch our adoption video and it'll give you a little glimpse into our story! Adoption was something the Lord was working in both of our lives and over the course of 4 months or so, the Lord made it evident that saying yes to adoption "now" was what He wanted from us.
Do you have any books you would recommend on adoption?
I've honestly only read one book on adoption and it is SO GOOD. Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. Even if you aren't in the adoption process, it's a must read!
General adoption questions
What are the home study requirements?
This varies state to state! The home study was really intimidating to me and I think it is for a lot of families at the beginning of the adoption process. I felt like our social worker was going to walk through our house, examining almost every single part of our home. But she really just did a walk through and looked for anything alarming, asking us questions about where our baby stuff would go, and making sure we had things like a fire extinguisher! The physical home aspect of the home study wasn't near as terrible as I worked it up to be. Common sense goes a long a long way here!
Why does it take so long to finalize? Did he have your last name the whole time? What changes after finalization?
In our state, Campbell had to be in our guardianship for 6 months before we could finalize. He was in our guardianship, but he couldn't be a Cole until after the six month window! It just took us a good bit longer to get the paperwork all finished so we could go before the judge in our county and legally adopt him. Once we have his new birth certificate he will officially be a Cole!
Would you recommend a private adoption agency or a public adoption agency?
There are pros and cons to each and I think it's a totally personal decision! We have several friends who are foster parents and it's really opened our eyes to the needs that are in our area. We might one day foster and adopt from the foster system, but for now we are just taking it a day at a time with the two babes we have and we'll prayerfully walk the road of expanding our family in the coming years!
How does the financial part work? Is the money due all at once, by a certain date, or do you make payments over time?
I know this is a huge question and the financial aspect is something I feel like scares a lot of families away from adoption. Adoption is costly. Financially and emotionally. But, MY adoption as a child of God was costly. It cost Jesus His life. I love that even in this aspect, the Lord understands us. He gets even this aspect of our struggle in a real way. Don't be afraid to take this aspect of adoption to His feet and talk with Him about it!
Every agency is different, but there's usually different milestones in the process when money is due. Agencies will walk through this with you at the beginning so you should never be surprised with a payment!
How much does it cost?
Again, this varies greatly. It's wise to contact a few agencies and get info on how they work and what the process looks like in order to have an idea of how much your adoption could cost!
Is fundraising helpful?
Fundraising is incredibly helpful! We had really great success with our t shirt fundraiser and I know there are SO many different fundraising options out there!
Conversations about adoption
When did you decide what to share with family when you were adopting?
In a general sense, we were pretty open with the fact that we were adopting. We announced soon after signing our paperwork to begin the process and we were open about our walk through the adoption process. We announced our first match (which failed a year ago tomorrow), but after walking through a failed match we decided to share our second match (who turned out to be Campbell!) only with very close friends and our parents and siblings. And we have shared Campbell's story with only a couple of very close friends. Campbell's adoption story is his story. I never want the world to know it before he has a chance to process it himself and I want him to have the choice to share what he wants to share with others when he is old enough to know his story. His adoption is special and his place in our family is special. But his story is his alone to tell and I am so glad that we've kept the majority of his story private from even our families.
What kind of things should you say or not say to adoptive families?
I really could go on and on and on for this one. There are so many things I wish people wouldn't say. SO MANY THINGS! Ha! Instead of going through a list of things not to say, let's just talk about a couple of great things you can say. I think it's always appreciated to just hear that you have a sweet/beautiful/special family. Instead of asking a ton of questions about how a family is made up, its encouraging to feel like someone notices that your family is different but chooses to respect the privacy of your family's story. Encouraging words instead of intrusive questions are always, always appreciated!
How can I support adoptive families?
I loved this sweet question! So many people aren't in a place in their life where they can bring a child into their home, but there is ALWAYS something we can do to support adoption! You can support adoption fundraisers, encourage with a listening ear during the hard adoption process, you can talk to your adopting friends to learn about the kinds of comments that are encouraging and which are hurtful, you can send a note to a foster family, take a meal to a family who just received a placement... truly there are so many things you can do to support adoptive families! From financial support to emotional support to spiritual support, there are many ways you can bless adoptive families no matter your season of life!
I'm so thankful for adoption and for how the Lord has used in my life, in our marriage, and in our family. Grateful to have shared this journey with you!