As we approach the end of November and prepare for our Thanksgiving feasts, I wanted to take a quick moment to recognize National Adoption Month. This year, my husband and I are most grateful for the gift of adoption in our lives. Many are curious about adoption and what it means and what kinds of kids people end up with, when they adopt. Personally, I can tell you that while the last year has been filled with new experiences and a few roller coasters, I have been given two amazing children who are busy learning their letters, how to dress themselves and preoccupied with finding super letters on Super Why.
There are a few types of adoption. First there are Birth mother adoptions, where the birth mother makes an adoption plan for her child generally while still pregnant. Domestic adoption includes birth mother adoption as well as private adoptions of children from birth families for children residing in the United States. International adoption is adoption of children from other countries who are adopted by US families and brought to the United States once the adoption is complete. There is foster-to-adopt where families adopt children that have been taken into child protective services and placed in foster families while reunification services are offered to the birth parents. If the state determines the children are not safe in the birth parent home, the parental rights are terminated and the child is freed for adoption. Depending on how the state views the relationship between the children and the foster family, the foster family may be given the choice to adopt the children. Generally in foster-to-adopt, the family’s goal when accepting foster children is with the intention is to adopt.
My husband and I chose to go with foster-to-adopt. We used a Foster Family Agency (FFA) but families can also go through their local county foster care system. Our agency acted as a liaison between our family and the different counties. When we started the foster-to-adopt process we were given a packet of information to fill out which included a personal analysis of our backgrounds, our families, our parenting expectations etc. We had to get fingerprinted, obtain DMV driving records, get health physicals, take a CPR-First Aid class, have our home inspected for safety, and attend adoption classes through our FFA. This may sound daunting, but please understand it only took a few months, if that, and we just did a few things at a time. All of this paperwork is done for the children’s benefit. These children have been through enough, and the state wants to make sure they are placed in healthy, safe and loving homes. Many people ask how long the process takes to adopt. Each case is different and each family is different. For us, we started the process, by attending our first FFA meeting around February; we completed the paperwork in August and began receiving profiles immediately. Let me explain profiles – we told our FFA what we were looking for as far as age, gender, race, etc. The county sends profiles of the children who are looking to be placed in foster-to-adopt homes and then the FFA determines which children would match the preferences of their adoptive families. We were sent a variety of profiles to review. If we thought the children might be a good match for us, we asked our FFA to send our home study (a compilation of information about us) to the child’s social worker. If the social worker thought we’d be a good match, they asked to meet with us. We sent a few home studies but didn’t hear back from the social workers. In September our FFA called and told us they think they had found a perfect match. By the 27th of September we had already met with the children’s social worker and we were sitting in a “full disclosure meeting,” where they tell you most of what they know about the children and allow you another chance to decide if this sounds like it would work with your family. Our full disclosure meeting didn’t tell us too much, except the fact that really let me know these were my children! Both my children were born prematurely, so was I! The social worker told me how small my daughter was when she was born, turns out we weighed the exact same amount, down the ounce. YEP, that’s my daughter!
We agreed that these were our children and we met them at the park later that day. I’ve discussed that story before in other blogs, so I’ll skip that this time. We had two, weekend visits, with our children and by the middle of October, our children we’re living with us! The process took about 8 months, not quite the nine months of pregnancy, but close!
It’s been 13 months since and we’re looking forward to getting our finalization date this week. That’s the day that the court system will sign our adoption paperwork and make our children “officially” ours! We will even get an amended birth certificate, listing us as their parents.
Adoption has given my husband and I the gift of children. It was a road with bumps, tears, joy and laughter. If any of you are considering adoption and have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember I’ve asked a thousand questions, so anything you’re wondering is worth asking J
During this Thanksgiving, please pray for birth parents and as they make decisions to give their children the best lives possible. Please pray for families who have lost the rights to their children and for the wounds that that causes. Finally, please pray for children in the adoption system, that they will grow and prosper throughout their lives.
Happy Thanksgiving! And Happy National Adoption Month!
Copyright 2012 Courtney Vallejo