Adoption? My Head is Spinning! (Part 1)

The week after Aaron and I first felt called to adoption my head was spinning. We knew right away we would be adopting a boy but where would he come from? How old would be? What would his skin color and nationality be? How old would he be and would he have siblings. How many foster homes had he been in? Why was he taken from his biological parents? Was he in a safe place now? What kind of horrors had he already seen or experienced in his short life? Spinning! My mind was spinning so fast that I literally wasn’t talking much and for me that says something.

I sat across the table from a dear friend for lunch and she finally asked, “Candy, are you okay?” That was when it hit me. My mind was so distracted by all of the unknowns of this new journey we were starting, that I couldn’t even carry on an everyday conversation with a close friend. That was the first time in my life I had experienced this kind of paralysis of the mouth and one of my most urgent questions was, how long would it be before I had any of these answers!

Needless to say there was no way to get that answer until we had walked all the way through our adoption journey. I learned an important lesson in all of the waiting though. Expectations can make or break your journey!  As I share my journey with you please don’t set any of your own expectations accordingly. I learned very early in the process that once you know one adoption story you still only know one adoption story. Each one of our paths to adoption will look very different. Still, we can completely relate to one another’s joys and sorrows along the way.

Part 1: Timing and Waiting for a Match
Some of the steps in the process of adoption are similar no matter what kind of adoption you are stepping into. Other parts are very different depending on if you are adopting a newborn, from a foreign country, and so on. Possibly most important, the emotions, fears, and celebrations are very similar no matter your specifics. Our perspective is adopting from the foster care system.

One of the first steps in adoption is completing a whole lot of paperwork and I have great news on this. You can totally have an expectation on completing your paperwork. Set a goal of when you will have it done and make it happen.  However, you have very little control over the next few steps. Once you turn in your paperwork you will wait for your agency or the state/country to do their part. Things like approving your paperwork and home studies can be a fairly quick process or a painfully long process. My suggestion: keep in close contact with your caseworker but give them lots of grace as they are probably way overloaded with cases. For us, this process moved along nicely.

Once you have been approved and all of your documents are in order, the next step is to be matched. There are many ways for this to happen. Everything from your caseworker finding your children to match events to on-line searches. There is no wrong or right way and absolutely no way to know if it will be less than a month or more than a year. Average you might say is six months but hold that very loosely. For us it was about three months. We found our boys through a paper match event. Yes you heard me right, plural. During our paperwork and training we felt called to adopt not one boy but a sibling group of boys. We went to the paper match event looking for 2 brothers and found a sibling group of 3! Remember, the title of this series is realistic expectations which might also be called flexible expectations!

For those that are asking what a paper match event is, here is your brief explanation. Caseworkers from the area bring paperwork on all of the children in their area that are available for adoption. Yes, go ahead and say it. It is a bit like shopping for children and yes it feels awkward. But it is a great way to get families connected with children so lets keep our focus on that!

I know families who have been to many events and not found their child. I also know families that were matched right away by their caseworker. Trust in God’s timing and wait for your match. One suggestion I have is that as you are waiting, be doing everything you can to prepare yourself. No matter what it is in life that you don’t have control of, I believe one of the best things you can do is work on yourself. We can’t make our spouse change. We can’t control when a new job will come along or when we will fall in love. We can’t control when the house will sell or when someone will forgive us. And the list goes on. During those times though, there is always something we can do. We can choose something to better about ourselves. In adoption I suggest the same thing.  Study what the Bible says about adoption, join support groups to surround yourself with others that are going through similar experiences, rest, pray as a family, allow God to show you lessons that will come your way through the process and start working on those things now. Not only will this help to fill your waiting but it will also grow and prepare you. It’s a great use of time when you don’t have control of the next step in your adoption. Go ahead, accept it now. You do not have control over the timing of your adoption journey.