Adoption. Big word with lots of attachments. When I googled ‘adoption’ today I got 296,000,000 results. That’s about how it felt when we started on our adoption journey. Overwhelming, confusing, and a bit exciting! Here’s a breakdown of the beginning steps we went through, in case you are considering the same journey.
1. Find your why – Especially when the process feels long and paperwork pile is high.
I have been interested in adoption since I was a child because my father was adopted; I have heard his story many times. As a Christian, adoption holds deep meaning for me as well—the Bible teaches that God adopts us into His family as believers in Ephesians 1:5, and to care for the orphans in James 1:27, as well as many other teachings on caring for children throughout Scripture.
2. Narrow it down – Domestic or international?
Somewhere along the way, I learned about the Foster to Adopt program and it seemed to be a great fit for us. This is a program through the federal foster care system handled within each individual state. We will get to care for the children in our community by providing a safe and loving home while their families take time to sort things out. That’s the foster care portion of this journey. Someday, when a child becomes available for adoption, we hope to adopt out of the foster care system.
3. Basic requirements – Living situation, life stage, biological children’s ages, etc.
We first looked into foster care in California but the high cost of living made it hard for us to provide the right home for foster kids. We needed to have at least a three-bedroom home/apartment; one room for us, one for our biological children and one for our foster children. This is a minimum requirement that differs depending on your situation and the kids you want to foster. One of the perks of moving to Texas was that we could afford a home and provide enough bedrooms for our biological children and those we want to foster/adopt. As of now, we are hoping to foster a sibling set of 2-3 kids, which means a four-bedroom home is perfect for us! Thank you Texas for your affordable cost of living!
4. Find an agency – Start talking to people, build a network, and collect stories.
Three years ago, we started the classes with an agency in Dallas. At the time of the second class, we found out I was pregnant so we had to wait until my son was at least one year old to start again (a rule for foster care). Since we would need babysitters during the 40 hours of training classes, finding a closer agency was key. We asked around, did a ton of research, talked to a lot of people, and spent about six months figuring out which agency would be best for us.
5. Hello, paperwork—your new second job!
Naively, I started the process with a cute little one-inch binder to hold all of our training manuals and forms! Ha! The four-inch binder sitting on my desk is laughing at me! This is where we learned all sorts of things I never thought of before. Our agency had both online and in-person training classes, complete with tests and forms to fill out. We also had fingerprinting and background checks, personal references, medical exams, and CPR and First Aid training, among other things. We prepped our house for home inspections and fire inspections, gathered an emergency kit and created a locked medicine cabinet. We learned about childproofing our house so intensely that our Nerf bullets are in a separate safe from our Nerf guns, and if we ever get a trampoline we will need to sign the manual and turn it over to our caseworker! (It’s required, I promise!)
The process has been intense. We have spent at least 80 hours preparing over the last four months. We are almost done with the licensing (hooray!); soon our home will be open for kids!
6. Get ready.
There are so many emotions that come with getting ready for the kids. We don’t know who will be coming to our home, their age, gender, or story. We will know some things about them, but not everything. One of the biggest things to process is how to prepare. I’m not pregnant, I don’t have nine months to get ready for the children coming to our home. One day there will be empty beds in my house and the next day there will be kids in them. I can’t get a bedroom ready like I did my son’s nursery. I don’t know what toys they will like, what clothes they need, what color to paint the walls. Do I need a stroller? What kind of car seat will I need? How much time will I have to get those things? There are so many questions; so much unknown.
Sometimes it feels a bit lonely. When I was pregnant everyone was excited with me. Helping me to prepare, throwing parties, and giving me all kinds of baby stuff I had yet to figure out how to use! There is no visual to help prepare me and my friends. There are no showers or registries or doctors visits to tell me what to do. I’m not sure what comes next. Everyone’s story is different. When we get kids in our home, they could stay for 24 hours or the rest of their lives. It’s a bit scary at times but that’s one of the things that makes it such an incredible adventure. (Also, why you need to remember your solid why from #1.)
We’re opening our doors, our hearts and our family to children, and believe that being able to provide a child with a safe, loving space, no matter how long, is always worth it.
Have you considered fostering or adoption?