November is National Adoption Month, a month I hold dear to my heart. The adoption process is what made me a mom. Each day, I tell my daughter how I love her forever and always, and how thankful I am that God worked out the miracle of making us a family.
We also celebrate Adoption Day (pictured above), each year by reading a photo book about the day and completing a service project out of love, to remind us all of the immense love we felt in the courtroom that day.
When my husband and I started the adoption process, we realized just how overwhelming it was, so I wanted to share a brief overview of how the adoption process works for anyone considering adoption too.
I've also had my eyes opened to the language used about adoption and how it has been portrayed on TV and in media and would like to share some positive language about adoption for anyone unfamiliar with the process.
|The author and her family.|
A brief overview of the adoption process
Thankfully our church has adoption resources, which is where we started. From there we received a lengthy list of social workers, adoption agencies, and adoption lawyers we could contact. I started dissecting the lists by looking at their online sites, seeing which ones were up-to-date and accessible from my phone. I wanted an organization that would be on top of their information. I soon found a wonderful social worker who really knows her stuff. She was able to recommend next steps and answer questions I had.
Research and planning
Some of the next steps included a home study, researching adoption agencies and lawyers, and creating a profile book to show to birth mothers. Adoption agencies usually have an in-house social worker, as well as an adoption lawyer. Adoption lawyers usually work with independent social workers. Be sure to hire an adoption lawyer who knows all of the legalities of adoption.
Adoptions can be quite costly. Some potential parents have fundraisers, take out loans, get grants, and save up money. Some of the associated costs for domestic adoptions include the birth mother’s expenses, hospital bills, and the fees for the adoption lawyers. International adoptions have the added fees of international flights and possible hotel stays until all of the paperwork is completed.
Each time I have seen a potential adoption situation, there are many interested parents-to-be. Some parents-to-be wait years and years and some are quicker to become parents. Some have situations that don’t come to fruition, some get so close, and for various reasons, they don’t become parents. It is a strenuous and often very heart-breaking time for potential parents.
However, when that perfect baby is matched with the perfect parents, then that family is filled with love and forever thankful.
When a birth mother chooses to make an adoption plan, she may look at multiple profiles to choose just the right parent(s) for her biological baby. While I have not been on this side of the situation, I have read it can be very difficult for birth mothers as well. Some adoptions are open or semi-open, which means a birth mother stays in some type of contact with their biological child and parents. Some are closed with no contact.
This, of course, describes adoptions for newborns. There are many children and teenagers in foster care, waiting for their forever families. Some babies are in the foster care system, and then get adopted by their foster parents. Some children are in and out of the foster care system, hoping to find their forever family. Some children are adopted and have to be rehomed. There are countless situations, and it reminds us to love all of the children we come in contact with.
|The author and her daughter read The Moment I Met You, a book Michelle Holly wrote for her daughter about the first moment she met her.|
Using positive language about adoptions
With this love, we need to be mindful of the language we use when describing adoption and children who were adopted.
I started noting all of the times I saw adoption being negatively portrayed on TV and in the movies – something like a child misbehaving and a parent saying, “I’m going to put you up for adoption.” Or when siblings were arguing, and one says, “You’re adopted!”, when clearly it was meant as a derogatory statement.
Plus there have been so many more statements that made my heart hurt, thinking that if my daughter were to hear these things, she would feel anything less than she is. She might argue with a cousin, but she’s still my daughter. She will make less-than-perfect behavior choices, and I will love her unconditionally and help her learn. Nothing she can do will make me love her any less than I possibly can.
|The author and her husband wear these Luckiest Parent shirts every year for St. Patrick's Day because they are so thankful to be parents.|
Here are a few sites with great resources for using positive language when talking about adoption:
|The author and her family wear special shirts on her daughter's birthday. Everyone from aunts/uncles, cousins, and grandparents of the birthday girl have special shirts with their titles on them.|
Michelle Holly is the publisher of Macaroni KID Winter Garden - Ocoee, Fla.