Can I, as an infertile woman, just complain for a minute?? I'm sorting through the MOUND of paperwork that I have to navigate in order to just be QUALIFIED to adopt (our last homestudy was in Texas, so now that we're in Virginia, we've gotta do it all over again...), and today I'm finding myself struggling with my attitude towards it all.
You see, to have a baby, most couples...
- Decide (or don't) to "try"
- Snuggle up close
- Wait a month (or so)
- Announce it to the world
- Endure 9 months of pregnancy (which, in all honesty, I'm not jealous of...)
- Welcome baby to the world!
But if I want a baby, I have to...
- Fill out an adoption application, which includes lots of basic information with proof of birth & marriage certificates and a $100 application fee
- Answer several pages of questions about our personalities, why we want to have a child, why we'd make good parents, etc.
- WAIT. (to see if we've been approved thus far...)
- Okay, we've been approved. NOW we must:
- Sign a corporal punishment statement
- Give a monthly budget.
- Provide our yearly income information
- Go to the police station to be officially fingerprinted, fill out tons more papers, pay $50 each to run a FBI Clearance on us
- Get a criminal history check/disclosure statement
- Go have a notary, pay a fee & send off different papers to the capital of Virginia to release information
(Keep in mind that anyone else just "gets" to have a baby with no questions asked! As we continue...)
- All of us have to go get a physical exam & a tuberculosis screening from our doctors so we're confirmed to be physically fit to handle a baby
- Obtain a driving record for each driver in the home.
- Get a minimum of 3 reference forms of folks who know us & can vouch that we'd be good parents.
- Send in a current credit report.
- Provide a sketch of our home's floorplan, marking where exits, smoke alarms, & fire extinguishers are.
- A copy of our most recent 1040 Tax Form.
- A proof of income and employment verification for each parent.
- 3 homestudy visits with a caseworker (and a $1,600 fee at the first visit), one of which has to be in your home
- WAIT. (while the caseworker finishes and files your homestudy to the state)
- Attend a weekend of mandatory adoption training in March.
- Put together a profile of our family including pictures. (basically a brochure about ourselves for potential birthmoms to compare us with other adopting couples)
- Tell the whole world that we're hoping to adopt in case we are fortunate to meet a birthmom on our own and pursue a private adoption. (vs. a much more expensive agency adoption...) This would be our preference to find someone through word of mouth like we did with Megan. (Caroline's birthmom)
- WAIT another indefinite amount of time.... and WAIT. And WAIT. And hope that someone will see our brochure and want to meet us.
The process could end here. This could all be in vain at this point. But let's assume we find a girl who would like to meet us and begin talking about adoption with us...
- Begin a relationship with a birthmom, talking through expectations, hopes, plans for contact after the birth, etc.
- LOTS OF PRAYER that she would continue to like us & would be committed to making an adoption plan with us. At any point, she has the right (as she should!) to change her mind and parent the baby, so it is truly walking by faith for us at this point.
- Pay money out the wazoo. Thankfully for our last adoption we were able to raise a good chunk of money through a fund at our church to help us out. Plus there's lots of good tax deductions you get when you adopt.
- If the baby is in Virginia, after the birth, Virginia law says a birthmom can change her mind up to 10 days after the birth. (Texas law was 48 hours) Our little adoption agency then has some designated sweet little foster families that care for the baby during that time. (which would be much different for us than how we were able to take Caroline home from the hospital...) After those 10 days are up, there is an adoption placement and you finally...
GET A BABY.
Can you see why I might be a tad bit bitter at this point?? :)
Of course I say all this very light-heartedly, though, for 2 reasons:
1) I know that once a little guy or gal is placed in my arms by another HERO! of a birthmom, I'd do it ALL OVER again for him/her without another thought. I'm not called to have kids like everyone else-- I'm called to adopt! And...
2) The person who has the hardest job in this process is not me. It's the birthmom, because as she's making the most painful and sacrificial decision of her life to place her baby, it's HER that has to grieve. (By the way, we NEVER, NEVER say "give her baby away," as in "she gave her baby away"-- that sounds so uncaring, doesn't it? Birthmoms don't give their babies away-- they PLACE their babies with loving families of their choice to give the child more than they are able to give them at the time. Anyways, back to birthmoms...)
It's HER that has to grieve.
It's HER that has to find the strength to get up the next day without a little one snuggling by her side as her body is screaming to her that she should be providing for a child.
It's HER that has to figure out how to move forward with her dreams in life.
As difficult as it is on my end of the adoption process, it is a cakewalk compared to the pain a birthmommy has to face and deal through.
And with that, my attitude changes from one of bitterness and complaint to utter gratefulness at God's plan. Would you pray with us that we would be given the greatest privilege to welcome a second baby into our home?