We began our adoption journey 11 months ago. It has most definitely been fraught with ups and downs. At first, we were really excited and filled with hope. As the months have gone by though, we've become frustrated and discouraged.
When we set out on this journey, we decided we would pursue an independent adoption rather than signing on with an agency. We contacted several local agencies last year before going the independent route, but were turned away by each for various reasons. After about 6 months of networking on our own, we researched a few more agencies at the suggestion of our social worker. We haven't been able to find an agency that we feel comfortable with though. They were all either out of our budget or we weren't comfortable with their practices. We decided to step up our networking efforts and signed on with an adoption consultant a few months ago, but we still have yet to actually speak with an expectant mother, much less be matched with one.
We've had countless friends suggest we pursue foster care but that is simply not an option for us. We want to be a forever family for a child, not just a temporary one. Neither Shane nor I can imagine welcoming another child into our home only to have to say goodbye a few short weeks or months later. There would be no way to explain to Mason why the child he considered his brother or sister was no longer living with us either. Is it sometimes possible to adopt through foster care but there are very rarely newborns available. We want a newborn. I'm sure most people think we're being selfish considering there are countless children in foster care who deserve a loving family; however, just because we aren't able to have a biological child, doesn't mean we shouldn't still be able to experience all of our future child's firsts. We also aren't equipped to handle the mental, emotional and physical abuse and neglect that many children in foster care experience or the various other things they are exposed to. In my opinion, it takes a truly special individual/couple to be able to care for children in foster care. We simply are not one of those couples.
One of our biggest obstacles concerning newborn adoption is money. Adoption is expensive. I am a member of a private adoption page on FB that lists situations from various agencies and attorneys. Shane and I have been interested in several of the situations but we simply can't afford the fees associated with them. Just to give you an example, one such situation was over $40,000. It included $23,000 for the agency fee, $10,000 for birth mother expenses (living expenses, maternity clothes, and in some cases, lost wages), and $8500 for legal fees. Travel would be in addition to that and given the fact that it was an interstate adoption, it would have included a hotel stay anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. These types of situations are posted on the FB page almost daily. Given the fact that we are a one-income household and we still need to be able to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and save for Mason's future, we simply can't afford those kinds of fees. There was a situation posted recently that was within our budget but there are almost 500 members on that page so of course everyone pounced on the opportunity.
The other obstacle to realizing our dream of growing our family is that adoption comes with a considerable risk. Even if we finally find an expectant mother who chooses to place her child with us, there are no guarantees that she won't change her mind after the baby is born, or even beforehand. She is entitled to do so, but the thought of a failed match or placement is enough to drive a prospective adoptive parent insane! It seems like lately I'm seeing more and more instances of failed matches/placements and it's starting to freak me out. I know of a couple who just experienced their second failed placement and I just read about a couple on the FB page who has experienced 9 failed matches. I can't even fathom how we would find the strength to try again after even one failed match/placement, let alone multiple!!! In addition to that, the birth mother expenses are at-risk fees. They typically start once you are matched and continue until 6-8 weeks postpartum. Some states limit the amount an expectant mother can receive but in most cases the fees range from $3-10,000. If she changes her mind, that money is lost. It would take us quite a bit of time to recoup our losses in order to try again.
Shane and I have both felt over the past several years that God was leading us to adoption, but I can't help but wonder now if that was just wishful thinking on our part. Everyone keeps telling me that our baby will find us and we just need to be patient. That is SO much easier said than done though. Mason has been praying nightly for God to bring him a baby. It breaks my heart that we have no control over when/if he will ever have a baby brother or sister. We are just ready for our family to be complete. I can only hope and pray that our baby does indeed find us soon and that we are once again able to recapture that sense of excitement and hope and not be consumed by anxiety and fear that everything will fall apart at the last minute. I've read several times that adoption is not for the faint of heart. That is a drastic understatement. While adoption is the ultimate selfless act on the part of the birth mother and the most precious gift an adoptive couple can receive, it is most definitely a roller coaster ride. Throughout the last 11 months, we have most definitely experienced the good, the bad and the ugly and our journey isn't over yet. I truly am looking forward to the day that I am able to look back on all of this and realize that God brought us to it and through it and rejoice in the fact that our family is finally complete!!