The Adoption Process
This has been a crazy year for our little Family Band - there have been 2 major life-altering suprises that have changed us.
Surprise #2 (yup, starting backwards)
The most recent and probably most obvious surprise was the arrival of our tiniest member of the Band, Arthur. He was a HUGE surprise... Like impossible miracle-sized surprise. We’d tried to have another baby for years but Daniel and I had a perfect storm of medical issues that kept that from happening.
Turns out God is bigger and better and has a wicked sense of humor after all…
Surprise #1: Let’s Adopt!
But before there was ever an Arthur there was the first big “Thing” that changed us: our decision to adopt.
Daniel and I felt very clearly from the Lord that adoption was something we needed to pursue. So, like any self-respecting human without any real knowledge of the process or our options, I went to Facebook for answers. Turns out there are about a million different agencies and organizations out there to assist you in your adoption choices.
I should also note that as we were praying and researching we received some inaccurate information on the current status of local adoption regarding what the options were, how the process worked, and how hard it was to get involved. The misinformation about local adoption ultimately routed us to the decision to connect with an agency that specialized in international adoption.
At the time, our family dynamic was one that would have allowed all 5 of us to travel out of the US to wherever our adoption was taking place and stay there as a family during the waiting period (usually 6-8 weeks). Our plan was to travel with the 3 big kids overseas and stay there together instead of having to leave the big kids or just send one of us adults over.
We officially submitted the application to our agency in March of 2018 (appropriately enough, from our hotel room at Disneyland) and began filling out the required paperwork and pouring through the online resources immediately.
We were so excited!
I would be lying if I said we didn’t receive some criticism but I have to believe it all came from a true place of caring about our family and not knowing enough about the adoption process or journey.
But the international adoption process was harder than we anticipated
I wish I could say that the time we spent collecting pages and pages of documentation, background checks and taking the required online courses was joyous and easy, but it just wasn’t.
We started the process confident that we could blaze through the materials, paperwork and requirements within a few months. But every day, as we tried harder to hustle through the to-do list - trying to get to our child - it felt like we hit every single roadblock and snag possible. Glitches in computer systems, lost documents, weird holiday hours that delayed things, financial hurdles, and so much more.
I remember laying in bed on multiple occasions and just worrying about this sweet little babe. This precious human that my heart had already clung onto that was somewhere far away from us and unsettled. I wondered about this child's quality of life and safety. I wondered if our little love knew that we were coming for him/her. I’ve probably spent hundreds of hours in prayer for this precious little one already.
Bringing Home Honey
Over the weeks we began to fumble over our words when trying to talk about our adoption and this new sibling…. The big kids didn’t know what to say or who to call this person but they had so many questions and referring to this new family member as “it” felt completely wrong.
So, we decided we would give our new sibling a nickname, “Honey.” It instantly gave the big kids peace and security in having a name they could say that would represent their new, soon-to-be-with-us sibling. Every time someone would speak the name my heart would ache just wondering when we would be together.
The average timeline for a placement was about 18 months, but we kept hoping to expedite the process by getting all of our paperwork and home study completed faster than expected. A few months in, with all the roadblocks we were facing, we were already behind schedule. I remember crying to Daniel at the beginning of July, in so much frustration, asking if we would ever get through this process. He, of course, was loving and kind and gave me great comfort and encouragement. But, to be honest, we felt like we were running on a hamster wheel - getting absolutely nowhere.
Then came the shock of a lifetime in the form of a positive pregnancy test.
Back to Surprise #2: We’re Pregnant! But… in the middle of an adoption
Guys, I literally freakkkkkked out. Like, fetal position on the floor, crying, hyperventilating, pacing the room, freaked out. I remember sitting on the floor of our bathroom just staring at this stick and calling Daniel in to tell him. I’m sure I was as white as a ghost when I said: “I’m pregnant.” Funny enough, Daniel thought I was LYING and almost walked back out of the room!! He very quickly realized I wasn’t when the sheer look of terror did not wash off my face!
Daniel, of course, instantly began to rejoice. This man loves babies like you would not believe. He would have 10 kids if I could handle it.
There were a few major factors that led to my terrified reaction. The first being, we were trying to adopt, like, what in the actual heck God?! Our agency had us sign a million pages of documents and contracts and one of those pages specifically stated that if you became pregnant before your adoption was finalized everything would be paused. WHAT?!
The second thing that caused the freak out was that we had tried to have another baby for so many years and couldn’t, I had settled on never being pregnant again. Which that carried more weight because of some health issues and knee surgeries and a ton of other factors, but physically I just didn’t know if I could do it again. Pregnancy is no joke! AND it had been five and a half years since I was last pregnant, a lot had changed!
After the dust settled and the pregnancy set in we had to figure out what this meant for our adoption.
Did this mean we shouldn’t continue with the adoption? Did we hear God wrong? Was “another baby” this pregnancy? If not, if we were supposed to still adopt… were we ready to face the adventure of going from 3 kids to 5?? Much prayer and late-night discussion followed.
But after it all, we both felt strong confirmation from God that Honey was one little life out there for us separate and in addition to this new little life growing inside me.
We called our international adoption agency and explained what was going on, cringing. We were told that everything would essentially “pause” right where we were in our process, that when the baby arrived and was about 6 months old we could resume our adoption process.
This was so heartbreaking.
I had this little life that I was growing and I wanted so badly to be excited and happy but I just couldn’t help wonder where our Honey was and what this meant for him/her. I struggled, a lot. For a long time. I wrestled with God and wanted to know why he would give us this clear direction to go and adopt only to throw a gigantic baby-shaped wrench in the plan delaying our adoption by almost a year and a half…
What was the point of this? It felt like He just didn’t care about Honey.
It took me months of wrestling with the Lord before I was finally able to stop being angry and actually start praying and LISTENING. It was easier for me to be angry and yell and stomp my feet than it was to sit quietly and listen to what the Lord had to say to me.
Even though I didn’t get a totally clear answer, as I look back I’m able to see some of the puzzle pieces God has used to order our steps. I realize now, that had we gotten pregnant all those years ago, we most likely would not have been open to the idea of adoption now. That 4 kids would have felt big and full and complete. God knew that we needed to get excited about the idea of adoption before we got pregnant so that the decision to adopt would be a permanent one. Did we think we would have or ever be capable to parent 5 kids? No way. Are we glad and so thankful that this is how God is working out our story? Absolutely! And that for whatever the reason, our Honey wasn’t ready for us until now and that Arthur needed to be born before we finalized our adoption process.
Just a few weeks before Arthur’s arrival we were connected with someone locally who has been an amazing adoption and foster advocate in our area. She was able to shed so much light and clarity on what the adoption situation is actually like for us here domestically. After talking with her and reevaluating where we are as a family we feel God leading us to adopt locally.
It was a little difficult for me (and some of the big kids) to adjust to the change of plans, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last year and a half it’s to trust God’s timing and His plan.
We are so excited to continue this journey that will ultimately bring our Honey home. What an amazing day that will be when all 5 of my babies are all together! We will have so much more to share and updates for you along the way. But for now, would you keep us in your prayers and especially our Honey!