So, let’s get real for a second. I know one thing to be true…you’re only really here for the baby.
1) Where do I begin?
And this is always my answer: start in prayer.
Every single step of this adoption journey, every single decision should be guided by prayer first. As my husband and I began to pray about adoption, we first felt a peace about international adoption, specifically from Asia, but narrowing it down to China took us months. At one point, we thought we were going to go the South Korea route, but that door was quickly closed for us. We considered Vietnam, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, and others, but it seemed like the Lord kept leading us back to China. Follow that lead if you feel it in your gut…it usually won’t lie to you.
Okay, and second…talk with an agency. After prayer, you’ll need to figure out what adoption programs you qualify for. There are age, income, and health requirements for all the different programs, and you’ll want to chat with someone who can help guide you in that regard. It would be devastating to get your heart set on a program to only find out you don’t qualify for it.
2) How am I going to afford this?
This is the second most common question I get, and the truth to this one is this: it depends on your program. If you feel called to foster care, there are very minimal costs involved at all. If you feel called to international adoption, the cost really depends on the country. Some countries are more expensive because you have to travel there multiple times. Domestically speaking, prices can vary based on whether or not you go through an attorney or an agency.
All that aside, I truly believe that God provides for those He calls to this road. There are so many options for families in the adoption process. You can host fundraisers, accept private donations, apply for grants, or just spend some time on your budget and start saving. Personally, I started teaching two days a week at my children’s preschool, started a small business, sold t-shirts, and we were fortunate enough to receive some grant money. It wasn’t easy, but we did it debt-free with some hard work. Although I absolutely understand the fear of this piece, I truly believe this should not be the sole reason families don’t walk this road. If this is your hang-up, I’d love to brainstorm with you!
**Also, please know this – you are not paying for a child. No lie: I’ve been asked, in his presence, how much Brooks cost. I did not buy him. I know that sounds crazy to say out loud, but you’d be amazed at what people will ask you. You are paying legal fees, agency fees, travel fees, document processing fees, and the like. You are NOT paying for a child.**
3) Can I parent a child with special needs?
First of all, let’s clarify what this even means. There are many international adoption programs who only make children with “special needs” eligible for adoption. China is one of those countries. This is such a huge umbrella term in the adoption world. This can range from something as minor as low birth weight, premature birth, or anemia all the way up to Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, missing limbs, etc. This is a very personal piece to the puzzle that I can’t really advise you on. You have to know your limitations and what you can or cannot handle in terms of medical care. I would advise that you sit down with a pediatrician and talk through medical conditions that you’re comfortable with and again…PRAY. This is a huge decision so just like I said above, prayer needs to play a huge role in this part.
4) Will we be able to love a kid that isn’t “ours?”
I’ll be honest: this was my biggest fear. I prayed like mad that God would give me a supernatural love for this little boy who shared exactly zero DNA with me, but would call me mommy. For me, it was love at first sight when they placed Brooks in my arms, BUT, that’s definitely not always the case. I have several friends who have adopted and had to work very hard at attachment…on both sides. I’ve heard from lots of women that this is more of a male hang-up than a female hang-up, but I really do believe that God gives you a love for your adopted child that is just as deep as your biological children. I truly have days where I forget he wasn’t born to me. He is just as much “mine” as my bio kids. Attachment and bonding is a journey, and it can sometimes take lots of time and strategy, but it is absolutely possible to feel as much love for an adopted child as a biological one.