I Think I Want to Adopt…Now What?!

So, let’s get real for a second. I know one thing to be true…you’re only really here for the baby. 

It’s fine. I understand. He’s squishy and funny and perfectly adorable and you really don’t care about little old me. It’s okay. I’ve made my peace with it. Give the people what they want, right? 
After we brought Brooks home, I made my Instagram account public because I wanted more people to realize the gift and joy that adoption can be. Is it hard? Absolutely. Is it easy? Not even a little bit. But is it worth it? Would I do it again? 150% yes.
Reading the adoption stories of other families is what ultimately led us to jump off the high dive into this uncharted territory, and I thought if I could help catalyze other families to take the leap, that allowing the internet to see my children every now and then was worth that. So I did it. I know not everyone believe that’s the right thing to do, but here’s what I know now: God is using our story to bring more orphans into families.
Over the last few months, these are some actual messages and emails I’ve gotten:
“Your post about Brooks being ‘just a little boy’ helped my husband find the courage to say yes.”

“Your adoption story makes me feel like we could actually do this someday. It’s not just a pipe dream anymore.”

“My husband thought special needs meant our child would never walk or go to school or live a normal life. Watching Brooks walk and talk and play like a normal kid changed his mind.”

It is an absolute honor to get help families navigate those early fears as they consider adoption, so I wanted to take just a few minutes today to speak to those of you who are just peering over that edge, unsure as to whether or not you will take the plunge. 
I’m going to break this post up into five major questions that seem to be brought to me repeatedly and address those, but please, if you want to hear my thoughts or perspective on other things, please feel free to reach out!

1) Where do I begin?

This is the number one question I hear all the time. It’s so overwhelming and there seem to be so many different ways to adopt that we don’t know where to start.

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. 

5) How do I get my husband on board?

I saved this one for last because my answer is not typically what people want to hear. Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but I truly believe that both spouses need to be ALL IN to walk this road successfully. Now, with that said, there are absolutely times when one spouse “drives the train” so to speak. But at the end of the day, if you aren’t both on the same page and both wanting this child in your family, I truly don’t think you’re a good candidate for an adoption. 
Now, with that said, I do believe that prayer and time can absolutely change hearts. If this is something you feel strongly called to do, but your husband isn’t on board yet, I would encourage you to give it some time and pray. 
If this is a road God has chosen for your family, He will bring your husband around in His timing. I’ll say that again: HIS timing.  

That might not be tomorrow or next month or next year, but if this is meant to be, it will be when you’re both ready to walk it. 
 I hope this has been helpful for those of you beginning this journey. Adoption is not for everyone, and it’s not always easy, but it can bring so much joy and love into a family. If you have further questions or would like to chat further, my door is always open. You can DM me on Instagram (@allisonezell) or email me: awezell@gmail.com. 
Happy Wednesday, friends! 

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