Before Heidi even got here, I was meaning to do a FAQ-style post on how all of this came to be. Here's me stretching back into some blogging with answers to some of the most common responses we get when we shared we were adopting.
First, here are some of my favorite pictures of Heidi:
I think she looks like something from Calvin and Hobbes in those! Ok, moving on.
Why did you decide to adopt?
Markus and I are something called "preferential adopters," meaning adoption was decided on in our family before we pursued fertility treatments or even really getting pregnant. When we were first dating I had told Markus that I always pictured myself adopting children, and he shared that was something he had always thought highly of as well. It continued to come up as we talked about our family, and soon we kind of connected that we got more excited talking about our family, our future children and our "one day" adoption than we did when talking about pregnancy or anything related to that. In fact, we basically never talked about that at all. So we felt like that was a sign to explore adoption first as we were ready to add to our family.
As for how we both came to know we wanted to adopt, I kind of picture someone scribbling a crazy formula on a chalkboard so complicated that pretty much only Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting could figure it out. One thing that really cemented the idea with me was meeting Markus and just being totally crazy about him. He is my favorite person in the world and he is basically the total opposite of me, and our meeting was so random that it is nothing short of divinely inspired. I even told my friends a few times that he was super nice and I loved him as a person, but I wouldn't date him because he wasn't a list of things I was expecting. Turns out he was a million times better than any life I could have expected from someone my "type" or from the same background as me. So in my mind, I was no longer attached to the idea of my little people being a genetic blend of the two of us. Different is working for us around here.
Not that it is not a lovely sentiment, but one thing Markus and I did NOT talk about as motivation was the idea that we were saving some baby's life, making things wonderful when they would have been so horrible. We are normal people, and parents who are going to try so, so hard. I love adoption for the opportunity it brings to families, children and women. I also am interested in supporting social issues, education and more opportunities for women where foster care, and especially international orphanages, are not needed because families are resourced to stay together. Adoption is amazing, but I would be a little haughty to think that raising my family is some sort of special ministry outside of the work we all put in to raising our families. So "I want to be an amazing person" wasn't really on our list.
|Heidi says, "Come to think about it those are pretty good reasons."|
Isn't adoption a lot of work and...expensive? (Side eyes my vagabond outfit)
The short answer to this question is yes and yes, but it didn't really phase us enough to stop us. The paperwork and home study was pretty daunting, but it was comparable to working on a home renovation, buying or selling a house or studying for a professional exam (Fun fact: Markus studied for his PE while we were doing our home study, so I suppose we are extra crazy). You can't really imagine how stupid it is going to be until you are so done with it that you want to puke, which is about half way. And I didn't find many of the aspects of it to be invasive as much as they are stupid (For example: A question asking me what color Band-aid I would put on my Black child when there was no option for licensed characters, specifically MUPPETS. - This was for real a real question.)
As for financial stuff, adopting a baby through an agency costs money. We were fortunate enough to have a way to make it work and not one time did I ever look at that sum of money and wonder if I should be doing something else with it. It was just supposed to all happen like this, and there is no question. I mean Mumford and Sons said it y'all, "Where you invest your love, you invest your life."
For anyone trying to get there financially, I would never advise anything against the best choice for your family, but do not let it deter you from exploring adoption! I have seen the coolest fundraisers. Working with Noonday Collection was an added income that hugely benefitted us, and I have been lucky to host fundraiser trunk shows that have been a phenomenal success. If you have any questions on how to raise funds for an adoption, feel free to email me.
How long did everything take?
We first decided on adoption a while back, and decided to start looking early so we had a chapter of time before we were impatient or similar. We took a few months to look at agencies here, and it was pretty much Goldilocks style of nothing fitting quite right with size, structure or timing (some agencies only do mandatory information nights about twice a year, so if we missed one we weren't sure if we needed to wait that long or if we should keep looking in the meantime.) We had one seriously horrific experience with a popular adoption agency in Dallas, and one day when I was driving I thought about looking in Austin. That is where I found our agency, Adoption Advocates.
We went to the information weekend on January 25 last year, and very very slowly began getting information together and working on a home study, mostly due to our jobs - Markus was studying for the PE and I moved interviews twice to work in the West, Texas explosion and the North Texas tornadoes last year. This was when I kind of realized a baby wasn't going to jive well with my current job. We were officially done, accepted and waiting on October 15, 2013 and were called about Heidi 10.5 weeks later. Basically, you should go no slower than our snail's pace (we were all pretty tired of each other by the end), but if you have someone that can really take the lead in your family on the process, the approval can actually move pretty quickly (more like two months from what I've heard from normal people).
|Home studies: Hashtag over it.|
What is the number one piece of advice to someone thinking about adoption or in the process?
I think the best thing that helped us through this adventure is knowing and trusting my gut. I just knew we were supposed to do things this way, I had a feeling about looking into agencies in Austin. I was totally wrong on the details I wanted to foresee in an effort to control things in my mind, like guessing when we would be placed or what it would be like. To give a better example of the gut thing, we had actually been referred to another birth mom a few weeks before Heidi. We were really open to her and liked her, talking to her on the phone. And then, after hearing a few things that we really hadn't thought about before but that worried us, we just had a feeling it wasn't right so we passed. It was a really hard call to feel like we were letting people down, but we just knew. The relationship I enjoy with Heidi's birth mom is 100% different than if we hadn't trusted our guts, another family was placed with another perfect baby before Christmas - I would have never been able to know how it would come together when I made that call, but something was telling me to.
Other advice - BUY A CARSEAT. Like the second you're approved. Because apparently you never know. :o)