Elizabeth adopted a child domestically, and underwent an intense approval process before the adoption was finalized.
How I Navigated the Adoption Process
people found Elizabeth's experience helpful.
The first hurdle is very common. You have to accept the possibility that your body can’t get pregnant or sustain an IVF pregnancy (if you can afford this option). However, in order to move forward you have to leap over this hurdle in order to navigate the frustrating, complicated path leading towards adoption. When I was confronted with this hurdle, I didn’t know how to face my feelings of devastation and anger. The numerous physical tests I underwent all had a touch of humiliation attached. The doctors were looking for what was wrong with me. I often felt that I was studied, poked, and prodded in the same manner as any other animal, rather than treated as an individual seeking answers.
I wrestled with a world full of infanticide and child abuse. I asked the universe “How is it that I couldn’t get pregnant while those who abuse have no trouble conceiving?” Personally, I reached a point where I couldn’t drive past a public playground without being reduced to tears.
Unfortunately, these intense struggles are not easily understood, except by those who experience them personally. However, you are not crazy or alone, although you may feel sure that you are both. But there is no way forward until you sign a peace treaty with yourself. Seeking group support can provide you with strength and validation. Resolve.org is an online support site designed to help you cope with the charged emotional atmosphere that infertility creates around you. When visiting Resolve.org you will find an understanding community as well as advice, articles, and information regarding local support groups. Of course, this won’t alleviate your pain, but the salve of knowing that you are not alone will help.
Next, you must research and choose an adoption agency and method to use. In my research I found that most foreign adoptions are more expensive than domestic adoptions. At the same time, there are more infants available. Know that most foreign adoptions are more expensive. The laws vary from country to country, as do the legal and processing fees. For example, changes to the adoption laws in Russia have made it more difficult to adopt from that region. My personal opinion and advice is to try domestic adoption first before moving toward a foreign adoption. The laws are easier to understand and the legal process is less complicated.
Though there can be just as many cons as pros, one of the easiest ways to adopt is through the foster care system. Once you are approved for foster care, your eyes will be opened as to just how many children in the United States need good homes, many of them infants. Availability may be one of the pros, while the birth mother’s health (sometimes drug and/or alcohol addicted during pregnancy) is a definite con. I know one family who took in two foster children; one was four years old and the other two years old. The children’s drug-addicted birth mother became pregnant. The family was asked to take the baby upon birth and received the child very soon after the delivery. Though the couple had to help the baby go through withdrawal, he is now a vital part of their family. In fact, they adopted all three children. Another family I know decided to take in special needs babies and eventually adopted two of them. It is important to note that there are state and federal programs which assist you in caring for and adopting foster care children.
The process to get approved for adoption or foster care is intense. The process was another big hurdle for me. You will be called upon to answer personal questions that only the bottom of your soul can answer. In my experience these questions included:
How do you feel about your infertility?
How were you disciplined when you were growing up?
How will you discipline a child?
How did your mother express love to you?
How do you express love to your partner?
How will you express love to a child?
There are many, many more questions, which may vary from agency to agency. However, the information you must provide is often very personal. In my experience, there were pages and pages of these types of questions which built a wall of pride that stood stubbornly. I had to accept their right to demand personal information and their assessment of me as a possible parent. There was a tinge of humiliation in answering each question. However, I had no choice but to subject myself to scrutiny. Instead of the physical tests, these questions were spiritual tests; both situations were painful to undergo. Then there are the local background checks, national background checks, and fingerprinting, all of which you pay for (in addition to adoption and legal fees). Anger ebbed and flowed as I asked, “Why do I have to prove myself? If I could conceive, this process would be next to illegal.” It took some time to accept these terms, but in the end, I discovered a lot about myself. Answering the deep questions helped me discover hidden parts of myself. The most important discovery was my willingness to do whatever it took. In retrospect, I needed to know how committed I was and how much love I had to share.
The first time I looked deeply into my son’s eyes, every personal intrusion and perceived humiliation melted away into the air between our gazes. He was mine. He grew in my heart because he couldn’t grow in my womb. In all, I was in labor for ten years. How many mothers can say that?
The scrutiny continues for another six months before the adoption becomes final. This includes continued interviews and home checks. You will need an attorney, however domestic agencies usually recommend those they work with. The costs vary, but the range begins at about $5,000-$6,000 and goes up from there — unless it is a foster care situation. In locating the right agency, research, research, research. Adoptionsupportgroups.com or Adoption.com are good places to begin.