A while back a friend asked me through a Facebook comment why we chose domestic over international adoption. I didn’t quite know how to answer in a public forum like that, but I knew I wanted to try. As we’ve settled into the private domestic adoption route, I feel ready and able to share about it more openly. I hope this gives you all a unique window into our situation and encouragement to anyone who’s considering adoption for their own family.
Our Journey to Our Decision…
It wasn’t easy; our decision. Putty and I took a long time to officially decide which route to go and we definitely didn’t want to take it lightly. We weighed many factors like our busy schedules – both at home and abroad, the spacing of our children, our mental stress load, our capacity for attending to different health issues in a child, etc. These weren’t all necessarily weighed evenly either, but each one was important in its own way.
[But first a disclaimer: These thoughts are for this adoption process only. I do not know yet if we will adopt again and if we do, all our reasoning might be completely different for that adoption.]
When I thought about welcoming the next child to our family, I knew for sure that I wanted to adopt in birth order. This means we wouldn’t be adopting any child who’s older than our youngest child. This significantly reduces the age range of our to-be adopted child to younger than 4 years old (at the time of this writing). That age range doesn’t prohibit adoption internationally or domestically. Both types of adoption have children available for adoption in this age range.
Knowing this information I chose to research both international and domestic adoption. We decided to go ahead and look into an even younger age-range; infant. You see, when my youngest was still a newborn and I was rocking her back to sleep one night, God gave me a very intense picture of what I felt were some characteristics of our next child. Part of that picture was of me holding a baby; a newborn. The thought that immediately went through my mind in the still quiet of the night was, “Next time I do this (take care of my next newborn) I won’t be recovering from surgery!” I have never cared for a newborn without also recovering from a C-section. What a different experience this will be!
It was also clear to me that I didn’t feel quite finished with the ‘baby’ stage of parenting. I LOVE babies and always have. I delight in caring for my infants. Most of the children available for adoption internationally are close to a year old, if not older. And since we only looked at countries that participated in The Hague Convention and the rules set forth about when a child is found to be adoptable, it became clear that it was near impossible to be matched with a very young baby. (Note: I am making no comment about whether I agree or disagree with the regulations set forth in The Hague Convention. I am merely stating facts as I understand them.)
Considering Health Status…
When I took a serious look at adopting children two years old and under from other countries, it appeared that many of the adoptable international children had special needs of varying degrees. Putty and I knew that at this time we didn’t have the bandwidth to knowingly adopt a child with moderate to severe special needs and that significantly reduced the number of potential adoptable children for us internationally.
Additionally, when speaking with people who worked with international adoptions and one country in specific, I was told that the children available for adoption were very similar to the children in our US foster care system. Since I didn’t have a clear leading to adopt internationally, only trans-racially, and I wouldn’t likely be able to adopt a very young child without special needs, I immediately considered why I shouldn’t just jump ship on international adoption and choose the US foster care system instead. After all, it would likely be much less cost and time intensive to adopt from the US than internationally.
So, we moved on to our next step of considering the US foster care system. After all, we know many people who have adopted this way, including my nephew and I’m so glad he’s a part of our extended family! I’m not opposed to foster care, but I needed to really understand the requirements and expectations of this route.
Considering Likelihood of Adoption…
As we sought out information on foster care and met with a social worker, we discovered our first drawback. It was made clear that there was no way to guarantee that any child(ren) placed in our care would be available for adoption. I know people who have fostered newborns from birth and finalized their adoption once the children were toddlers, but there’s no way to guarantee this type of placement. Not only that, even if we only accepted a newborn placement that had a high potential for adoption due to an expectation that parental rights would most likely be terminated, there was no guarantee that another family member wouldn’t come forward at the last minute and be able to raise the child(ren).
I’m not making a sweeping comment about whether this is good or bad for the child(ren) (because every situation is so very different), but for us, we knew it wouldn’t be a great fit. Whereas some people have a calling to help children in need until they can be reunited with their birth families, we feel called to bring a child into our family on a permanent basis. So, I asked one final question to the foster care worker. “Are there ever newborns available for adoption whose parents have already terminated their rights?” The answer was less than hopeful.
After gaining a better understanding of the foster care system and the accompanying expectations, we decided it wasn’t the right path for us at this time. The red tape, multiple appointments and unknowns of the foster care system would be much more than we could handle at this current time in our lives.
Choosing Private Domestic Adoption…
So, it became clear that private domestic adoption would be our best route to adopting the child that God has in mind for us! Through private domestic adoption we will be able to be matched with a baby of our specific age (newborn to 2 months) and health status (none to mild special needs) desires for our newest family member. This is something that is necessary during this season of our lives. We will even be able to make decisions together with the expectant (birth) mom about the openness of the adoption and other factors surrounding adoption. I’ve come to see that we will be able to give the option of choice to an expectant mother too. In private adoption the expectant mom usually chooses the family to raise the baby she’s carried, rather than the prospective adoptive parents.
In other news, in addition to adopting a baby, we have decided to open our hearts to the possibility of adopting two children – one newborn and the other one up to age two! I don’t know if this will actually happen or not, but we felt very much like we should be open to that in case this scenario came up.
Greater Understanding and Compassion…
I have to admit, through this process my heart has softened more towards expectant mothers and all the feelings and reasons they have surrounding making an adoption plan for their child(ren). Through research, training, and reading I’ve broadened my understanding on the many reasons why a birth mom would choose to have her child(ren) adopted. There are so many more situations than I had previously thought about and no matter the situation, it can’t be an easy choice. There will always be loss and not just at the birth, but year after year. It’s quite a serious and heart-rending decision. So whether international or domestic, private or foster care, I plan to extend care and sensitivity to all those in the adoption triad (expectant (birth) mother, prospective adoptive parent(s), child(ren)).
There are so many children, world-wide and in our own ‘backyard’ who would be blessed to join a forever family. There is no right or wrong way to adopt. But, there is a right or wrong way for each individual adoption situation. It took us a long time to figure out what is right for us at this time. And, the child(ren) out there for us will be as unique as our present circumstances that have led us to this decision at this time.
For Those Considering Adoption…
If you’re considering adoption, I highly recommend looking into all the options. Search your heart and find out what really matters to you. Know your limitations and your strengths and apply those in your decision of which type of adoption to move forward with for any given situation. And above all, try to understand and not judge all those who have made their own unique and individual choices for adoption.