When you're just beginning to think about adoption, the choices can be mind boggling. Should you adopt domestically or go the international route? What age of child would be right for your family? How do you go about finding a reputable adoption agency? What will it be like to parent a child not born to you? Sometimes the sheer volume of questions can leave you feeling unable to make any kind of decision. After all, this is a big thing.
After four kids, my husband and I knew we didn't want to do the pregnancy thing again, but we wanted to parent another child. By the time we were ready to move forward with actual paperwork, I'd already spent half a year online, investigating options and talking with other families about their experiences with various agencies.
We knew right away that we didn't want to put our other kids through a situation where a new child lived with us for months, only to be taken back by a birth parent. So, for us, that ruled out adopting from foster care. We thought for awhile that domestic adoption of a newborn might be right for us. We got our homestudy and wrote our "birthmom letter" -- the letter telling birthmoms about our family. The letter felt odd to me like a sales pitch, subtitled "Look what nice people we are. Now give us your baby."
But we thought about that little baby, and pulled together the required papers. After half a year of waiting, a young pregnant woman finally chose our family to parent her baby. She changed her mind an hour after the baby was born. Not as bad as being asked to give back a child after it had come home with us, but still very difficult.
That experience left us certain that domestic adoption was not for us. I know it has been a beautiful blessing for many people, including some of my friends and family. I've heard story after story of doors opening, and amazing connections being made between birth and adoptive families.
But for us, international was the way to go. We felt more peace with adopting in a situation where the children had already been relinquished by birth family, where we'd had no sway over the choice. We didn't want to worry that we'd talked a mom into giving us her child. And each time we moved forward to adopt internationally, doors opened. We now have two children from Korea and four from Ethiopia -- amazing kids who add so much richness to our lives.
I think it comes down to educating yourself as well as possible, talking with your family about the options, and then just moving forward, trusting that doors will open or close to direct you towards the children who are meant to be in your family. Faith truly is a big part of the adoption process.
But education is essential as well. There are lots of good websites out there, filled with information about all the various adoption options. Adoption.com is a great place to start. For two years I wrote their Ethiopia adoption blog -- check out those archives if you are considering adopting from Ethiopia. Once you learn the requirements for various countries and programs, you can narrow it down to a program or two that might work for you.