People are funny. When you mention adoption they go one of two ways...
Respectfully don't draw attention to any curiosities they have.
Ask anything and everything, appropriate or not.
Good news is, with me, I don't have much of a filter. So I will really answer any question. So for those of you curious...
(Disclaimer: Every agency, adoption, and birth mother situation is different. This is OUR experience.)
How do you choose an agency?
Personal preference. For Drew and I, we wanted to be sure of two things...is the birth mother going to be loved and cared for with the utmost respect during this process...and...will she be told about God and how crazy he is for her? Drew and I wanted this process to possibly be the first step to a birth mother's walk with Christ. If she had already taken that first step of her walk with Christ, we wanted to make sure her walk was going to continue to get stronger and stronger through this process. We also wanted her to feel no shame, resentment, confusion, or guilt while going through the process, so it was important that the agency had wonderful counseling for her.
What's involved in the home study process?
The actual home study when they come into your home isn't overwhelming, it's the paperwork that goes with it. Drug tests, blood test, medical physical, finger prints, background checks, references, taxes, book reports, proof of insurance. The list goes on and on. Keeping track of what had been sent in and when it was received was the hardest part. Once they received everything, we scheduled three interviews with our social worker. The first one was basically a meet and greet. She asked basic questions about our relationship and home life as well as why we were drawn to adoption. The second interview was separate. Drew went in first, and then it was my turn. We had previously filled out a questionnaire about our upbringing, how we were disciplined and what our personal thoughts were on discipline, our goals as parents, struggles we have encountered personally and in our relationship, and faith based questions. The social worker focused on this questionnaire throughout the interview. She asked us to explain our answers more in depth. The final interview was at our home. They checked to make sure we had a safe home, a room for baby, and then we discussed our book reports. We had to read 5 books about different aspects of adoption. I have linked the books here. At that point...we were done. We just waited for our approval letter!
Can you ask birth mom/family for a medical history?
This is a bit more in depth question. Before we even created our profile book we had to complete an "openness" document. The openness document helps the agency see what type of situations you are even open to as far as prenatal care, drug exposure, alcohol exposure, mother's medical diagnosis, etc. To fill out this form we went and spoke to a pediatrician to ensure we had correct information (Google is terrible when it comes to medical stuff) and that we could get accurate statistics. If you are going to go through adoption, I HIGHLY recommend meeting with a pediatrician. It will put your heart at ease and help you to make very hard but wise decisions. At the same time, the pediatrician was able to help us understand two things...
You cannot save every child. Situations you are weary about, someone else may be on board with.
Trust your gut. It's okay to admit a situation is too much. God knows who your child is. Trust that gut.
So. After filling out the openness document, we would receive e-mails of "situations" that matched our openness in most areas. Remember, we don't live in a perfect world so the situations didn't match our openness perfectly. The situations would include the birth mother's demographics, any medical information she had provided to the agency, her due date, and whether the biological father is involved or not. Some situations had TONS of information. Others, not much at all. For Jaylen's birth mother we were simply told she had been receiving prenatal care and she was blonde hair with blue eyes and 5'4". Birth father is 6'1" and brown hair with brown eyes. Trust. Your. Gut. After we were chosen and met her, we were able to ask some more questions about her medical history.
How does it work after you bring the baby home?
First, you put him in the carseat and then you freak out because this is real now. Just kidding!! Kind of! Once we brought Jaylen home we started our 90 day probationary period. Probation has such a negative connotation, but basically we have to prove to a social worker for 90 days that we are fit parents. You can look at this little chunky monkey and see that he loves to eat and has never missed a feeding! There is some other paperwork that is involved just to state that you have permission to make medical decisions, life decisions, etc. as his legal guardian. During this 90 days we also have 3 home studies. These have been different due to COVID, so take what I say with a grain of salt. All of ours have been via FaceTime. How weird is that?! Our social worker asks to see Jaylen, then asks his stats from the doctor visits, sends us a report to approve and then we wait for the next one! We have successfully completed our three studies so now we wait for a court date to finalize the adoption!!!!
How involved is birth family after you the birth?
This is different with each and every adoption. Back to that "openness" document. There are questions about how comfortable you are with different stages of openness with the birth family. We were comfortable with open. We want Jaylen to know and love his birth family. We have been extremely blessed with a wonderful birth mother who is level headed, smart, encouraging, and incredibly loving and understanding. We communicate with her about twice a week, sending texts back and forth with pictures! We still have not met face to face (other than the hospital), but plan to at some point in time.
How does naming the baby work? Is that something birth family has a say in?
Again, each situation is different. For us, his birth mother just asked that we used Lee in the name somewhere. That is a family name for her side of the family. We explained Jaylen and why we wanted that name, and she loved it! So there you have it...Jaylen Lee! For a dear friend of ours, the child's birth mother already had a biblical name picked out and she requested that the family keep that name. Birth mothers have their own desires for the children, just like the adoptive parents do! Being respectful to their wishes simply shows how much you love and appreciate them.
Why would you want a relationship with the birth mother?
To us, this is easy. Have you ever felt that constant, annoying feeling that someone doesn't like you? Or that you think people know something and are leaving you out? Feels pretty terrible, right? We had zero desire for adoption to be a surprise to Jaylen. We never want him to wonder about his story, after all we didn't write it. Our mighty God did and is. We never want him to feel like we've hidden information from him. And for the birth mother, we never want her to feel like she sacrificed a ton and then got cut off. There would be zero healing in that for her. We also want to make sure we have the communication open with her if something came up medically/genetically and we had to get some answers. But most of all, we want to continue to show her that we are keeping our promises and loving and caring for Jaylen to the best of our ability. It's a confusing relationship to have. But we are stumbling our way through awkward questions to each other as we learn what it means to have boundaries, yet continue to be open and loving.