I remember when I first researched adoption online.
Within minutes, I felt completely overwhelmed. There was so much information, so many choices, so much money and paperwork involved.
How would we ever know which direction to pursue?
Well, we eventually found our way. But my hope is to make it a bit easier for those walking a similar path.
Many of you have requested this series. I hope these posts will provide a gentle introduction to those of you who are interested in building your family this beautiful way.
Today I'd like to start by unpacking a few myths and stereotypes concerning adoption.
1. Adoption is a good way to "rescue" a child.
Steve and I began considering adoption shortly after having our biological son Jonathan.
Clearly we didn't feel "forced" into it because of infertility; we honestly hoped to offer a family to a child who might not otherwise find one.
So we did start down this path for humanitarian reasons, but we really wanted another child in our family. And then another.
Feelings of wanting to "help" alone are not enough to guide you through the ups and downs of raising any child.
Doubts are okay (I had many as we stumbled through the unknowns of the process), but ultimately I knew we wanted more children in our family.
2. Adoption is only for the wealthy.
If adoption has ever flickered through your mind, please, please, PLEASE do not let the costs frighten you off.
Many people think nothing of financing a car payment for a few years, but they hesitate to invest the same in a child. Yet which is worth more?
Adoption costs vary drastically. An adoption from US Foster Care will have virtually no expenses, while an international adoption costs over $20,000.
If that is the first time you've seen that number, then yes, it may seem scary.
But there is always a way.
We received grants and donations to contribute toward our two international adoptions--and we have absolutely no debt from either of them.
It came together right when we needed it, as the important things in life tend to do.
3. Adoptions should not cost that much.
Private domestic adoptions and international adoptions often cost upwards of $20,000.
I couldn't believe it when I first saw that figure. Who is getting rich from this process?
Well, there are instances of corruption, which typically receive plenty of media attention.
But the truth is that there are many legitimate costs involved when you're trying to facilitate the safe, legal adoption of a child.
In an international adoption, travel often accounts for almost a third of the cost. Your adoption funds also help care for your child and others while they remain in the orphanage during the adoption process.
Providing you're using a reputable, non-profit agency, part of your fees are used to provide the necessary background checks to ensure your child is legally free for adoption (And trust me, you want to have that assurance). It also covers the necessary immigration costs.
Foster care adoptions have plenty of expenses involved as well, but they are typically absorbed by the state.
4. Adoption is only for those struggling with infertility--a Plan B when they have been unable to conceive.
This stereotype existed years ago, but is simply not the case anymore.
It's wonderful that those who would like to have children but can't biologically still have adoption as an option.
But more and more couples are considering adoption as a way to both add a child to their family and offer a child a family, whether or not they have biological children.
I feel extremely honored to have built my family in both beautiful ways.
5. I could never love an adopted child as much as "one of my own."
An adopted child becomes "your own" in every sense of the word.
No matter how a child joins your family, it takes time to get to know them. If you give birth to a biological child, months pass by before his or her personality truly begins to unfold.
I experienced a similar process with my adopted children.
The circumstances bringing an adopted child to you may look radically different, but when it comes down to it, the process is the same.
I've spent years developing relationships with all my children--through highs and lows, good and challenging phases--no matter which child or how they joined our family.
But when my daughter says, "Thank you, Mommy, for coming to get me from India," or when my African son lays his head on my lap--I know without any hesitation that they are most definitely "my own."
For those of you who are also adoptive parents, I'd love for you to join this conversation in the comments. Please share your experiences and thoughts of what you wish you could have known before you started the process.
And for those of you considering adoption, please feel free to leave your questions in the comments--I'll try to answer them in future posts.
I'll share more on adoption next month.