Once you’ve figured out your preferences in your adoption, what is next? The dreaded adoption wait. If you’re working with an adoption advisor (otherwise known as adoption consultant) like Purl, you’re likely getting on the waitlist for many different attorneys and agencies. You might be including some adoption outreach, hoping to connect with an expectant family that way. You are then waiting for an expectant family to choose you or find you through your outreach, typically speeding up your adoption journey. But it can take only a few days, weeks or months, or even a few years to be selected, but your chances are much better in a multi-faceted approach (in fact, none of our Purl families have waited over a year to match with an expectant family).

Each adoption professional does things a little differently, but if you match through an attorney or agency, typically hopeful adoptive parents are getting the opportunity to see a summary of an adoption opportunity, (what I typically call “situations”). Hopeful adoptive families then get to decide whether they want to “present” to that expectant family considering adoption. As I discussed in a previous post, it is awkward that you are basically saying yes or no to a child.

If you decide to present to an expectant family considering adoption, your family profile is typically given to that expectant family when they decide they are ready to choose the adoptive parents for their child, likely when they are relatively comfortable with their adoption plan. After you’ve decided to present your profile, the wait to learn whether you have been selected can be a day up to even a few weeks, and that wait can be excruciating. I have had Purl families be chosen as the adoptive parents the first time they presented (and the same day they presented), and I’ve had others not get chosen until their 20th presentation (some waiting weeks for an answer). The profile matters some, but more often than not it is just the right expectant family connecting the right hopeful adoptive couple at that time. Sometimes the expectant family confirms the match through a telephone call, but sometimes the match is purely made through the review of family profiles.

Once there is a match, typically some amount of adoption expenses are due to the agency or attorney making the match. If it is an agency that has made the match, it can be half of the total cost of the adoption, it can be the total expectant costs if it is close to the birth, or we even work with agencies that don’t take any money until the expectant family signs consents to the adoption. Some agencies or attorneys have a lot of money at risk in the event the expectant family decides to parent, and others you lose little or even none at all. What is interesting is that every adoption professional works completely differently, so we help our Purl families navigate the different adoption professionals’ policies and practices, and determine both the financial and emotional risk of the adoption opportunity. But this is just the beginning of this phase of the adoption, just because you are chosen as adoptive parents for the child, it doesn’t mean that child is yours. I like to think of it as a “promise ring”, with no real commitment to get engaged or set a wedding date. Oftentimes a hopeful adoptive family is walking alongside an expectant woman for half of her pregnancy, but no paperwork is effective or irrevocable until some period after the birth of the child. That woman could have every intent to place her child in the arms of another, but then can’t bring herself to do that once she’s birthed and held her child.

The first time I held CoraThe first time I held Cora

Ray and I were chosen for the first adoption opportunity we presented to, the day after we found out we were home study approved. That match disrupted a little less than two months later after that child was born. Then, we presented to MANY adoption opportunities and heard MANY “no’s” before deciding to present to Cora’s first mother. We first received the adoption opportunity describing Cora’s situation a few days before Thanksgiving, almost four years ago today. I recall Ray and I immediately saying yes to the situation, without the fear and unease that I had had with the probably 10-15 situations we had reviewed or presented to after our disrupted adoption. Cora’s fist mama’s computer wasn’t working well, so she wasn’t able to download the adoption profiles that the agency sent her electronically. So, even though she was only due in a few weeks, she waited more than a week before selecting us as the adoptive parents she wanted for her child, and only after she got to see the hard copy profile books. During that week waiting, Ray and I hosted almost 25 people at our house for Thanksgiving. I think I smiled and laughed for the first time that weekend since our disrupted adoption. Little did I know, one of the happiest days of my life would come on December 3rd, the day after my 38th birthday, when I learned we had been chosen as adoptive parents for a baby girl due in a few weeks. A day later I would find out I was pregnant with Raelyn, only to be told the next day by my fertility doctor that the pregnancy wouldn’t stick. He told me that it would likely result in an ectopic pregnancy so I should make sure to stay close to a hospital. Oddly enough, I stayed close to a hospital because Cora’s first mama went into labor on December 10th,  the day before we planned to meet her over dinner. I was so nervous walking into that hospital to meet the mother of a child that might end up being mine. But I felt that we instantly connected and my nerves went away instantly, I got to discuss potential baby names with her, hold her leg while she pushed, encouraged her through her tears, and I got to cut the cord connecting Cora to her first mama. At Cora’s first mama’s insistence, I took Cora into another room where I immediately did skin to skin with her. Ray met me in there, and then shortly thereafter he got to meet Cora’s first mama for the first time. Sometimes when I look at Cora I can remember looking at that same beautiful smile and Auburn hair looking back at me in that hospital bed.

20191102_211441885_iOS.jpgThe three days before Cora’s first mama signed consents were slow, but in a lot of ways also a blur. We got to know Cora’s first mama, and after each time we talked I wrote down everything I learned about her and her family in our discussions. I wanted to make sure I could remember and tell Cora everything I learned about her first mama when she was old enough, in case we got to be her parents but didn’t get the opportunity to talk or see her again.

Three days later, we met the respite family that was taking care of Cora after her hospital discharge at their church while the agency met with Cora’s first mama to sign consents. I held Cora tightly throughout that church service, and tears ran down my face the entire sermon. I have no idea what the pastor said that day. But shortly thereafter, I learned that child was mine, and that I would get the privilege of holding her for as long as she’d let me. It was one of the happiest days of my life, but my heart also ached for a woman that I had just met a few days later, but I already loved. This began the strange dichotomy that comes with adoption….

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