Hi friends! Happy Friday.
Today you are going to meet my lovely friend Becki. Becki + I went to high school together. She posted such a sweet announcement on Facebook + that is what spurred me to reach out to here. An enormous thank you to her + her husband Thad for sharing with us.
Here is her story:
My story begins 16 years ago when a devastating earthquake hit Haiti creating tens of thousands of orphans – this was the first time I can remember the “adoption” itch.
Fast forward through countless “Teen Mom” episodes detailing an adoption story, to 2014: After spending the weekend in Minnesota with two of our best friends who both had recently had kiddos, Thad and I decided we were ready to start our family. I went off my birth control immediately – stopped mid-pack – and we had some fun. Some time had passed and I realized I didn’t get my period and there was no doubt in my mind that I was pregnant – yep, on our first try! Woo hoo! That was SO not the case.
Long story short, I went undiagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) for about 11 months before a lovely fertility specialist took one look at me (there are a lot of physical symptoms), LISTENED to me, and confirmed my diagnosis with blood tests and ultrasounds. PCOS could have its own 50-page blog post but I won’t go into the gruesome details. I eventually went back on birth control, the only “treatment” for PCOS, to try to get some control of my body back. We didn’t talk about getting pregnant for a while after that. A few months later, I found out I needed to have surgery to remove cysts on my ovaries and I remember walking away from that appointment with a VERY odd sense of peace. It made NO sense – the surgeon told me that I could even lose one of my ovaries during the surgery. I can’t explain it any other way than I just knew deep down it wasn’t a big deal because I was meant to grow my family using a different avenue right now.
I just want to stop right here and clarify… PCOS is not a fertility death sentence! My doctors think that I have a pretty good chance of getting pregnant with fertility drugs and if those don’t work, then IVF is an option. I like to think of my PCOS as the detour that I was supposed to take all along. PCOS led me to consider adoption and on some weird level, I am thankful for it.
Beginning the night of that fateful doctor appointment, Thad and I started our research. Googling “how to adopt a baby” was our starting point… and not a smart one! It wasn’t until we reached out to some friends from college who had adopted a couple years earlier that we were able to piece together our next steps. I don’t want to bore you with all of the details but if anyone wants any information on the following steps in the process, please feel free to contact me – I love talking about this stuff and could go on and on!
- Identify an agency, consultant or lawyer to sign with. We decided to go with a consultant that came highly recommended. Consultant groups allow you to apply to multiple agencies instead of putting all of your money and hope in one agency which means more situations and shorter wait time (hopefully).
- Complete the home study. A social worker visited our house twice to interview us both together and separately about all different facets of our childhood, adulthood, relationship and hopes for the future. It really isn’t as terrifying it as it sounds.
- Complete a profile book. Birth moms are presented with several books at a time and picks a family that stands out to her (for whatever reason) to raise her baby. It is SO important to make sure the book is an accurate reflection of your life and family and speaks to your unique personality.
- Get your finances in order (read more about that below)
Those four major steps have led us to where we are now… actively waiting to match with a birth mom.
There were several points throughout the process that could have discouraged even the strongest person and I’m sure there are rough patches ahead for us too but this adoption has already changed our lives drastically. It is certainly changing me… for the better. It is amazing how different life can look through someone else’s eyes or when I really take the time to view a situation from a different perspective.
It all started with the home study. It would have been SO easy to take a defiant approach and moan and groan about how we need to “jump through hoops” and have someone approve us to have a baby when anyone can get pregnant whenever they want. It would have been SO easy to disregard the books we were told to read and the seminars we were requested to attend and to complain that pregnant women aren’t required to read 7 books. When we sat down to truly comprehend why these things were being asked of us, it was a no brainer! Yes, we must do this stuff and do it with a happy heart because there is a woman out there that is going to entrust us with raising her baby. HER BABY. We are not entitled to this child in any sense – she will look at a profile picture book about us and make a life altering decision and the very least we can do on our end is make sure we are adequately prepared.
I’ve also noticed that my mind is becoming more enlightened. I find myself being more grateful for the blessings I’ve received in life and judging others who may not have had the same blessings much less. Even if I don’t agree with a birth mom’s life choices, that does not mean I will love her for the gift she will give us, or her child, any less. Holy cow has my mind been opened to the judgments I bestowed on others in the past. I’ve since realized that judging is NOT my job and I don’t need to be anywhere near it. Obviously, I’m not perfect so it still happens but adoption is one of the purest forms of love and how can I love someone if I am too busy judging? I will never truly understand what these women go through when they sign their rights to the child they just gave birth to over to someone they barely know. Please do me one favor and never for a second think that these women don’t love their precious babies – ahh, I have so much more to say on this topic! When we first started this journey, I was so naive and thought most of the birth moms would be teenagers. I was very wrong. Most of the women are my age and already have children and are faced with a heart wrenching realization that maybe they aren’t the best equipped to raise this baby at this moment in time. Can I just say that I admire these women so much? Through whatever trials they are currently facing in life, they are making the most selfless decision for their child.
I’ll be honest and also say that for the last ten years I’ve kind of forgotten about my faith. This adoption has led me back to the foundation of my life and for a couple different reasons. Admittedly, at first it was because there are SO many unknowns in this process and most of the time there is nothing I can physically do except for pray. I’ve talked to God more times in the last couple months than I have in years… and it helps! It doesn’t give me instant answers or solve all of my problems, but it provides a sense of peace. It also became hard for me to think of unconditional love for a baby without being reminded of God’s love for us and for some reason it surprised me when I researched how many times adoption is mentioned in the Bible. The Bible actually describes our relationship with God as an adoption – he has adopted us as his own. It was too hard for me to not see the parallels in the situation and not gain a new understanding of God’s love for ME.
Our renewed faith has also helped us learn to let go and trust in regards to the finances required for our adoption. The average private domestic adoption costs around $40,000 (or something crazy like that). International adoptions are even more expensive. Thad and I were so clueless about the reason behind the costs and I’m sure a lot of people are scratching their heads right now trying to figure out why it’s so dang expensive. I’m going to try my best to explain here because I think it is also probably the number one reason why some people think they can’t adopt. A large chunk of the cost goes to agency fees – these fees help pay the employees and social workers, fund the resources that help match birth moms to families hoping to adopt, cover advertising, legal fees associated with identifying and finding a birth father, counseling for the birth mother and father and other family members, assist the birth mom in applying for state aid programs, and so many other things. The other chunk goes to helping the birth mom. These women love their babies… don’t think for a second that they are trying to make money from this. They love their babies and want to carry them but let’s be honest… there are options out there that could be way easier financially, such as an abortion. The fees that are associated with the birth moms are for their rent, maternity clothes, and support so they can get to and from doctor appointments while still caring for their other children. These fees give the birth mom choices for her baby. I’m sure I’m forgetting many items and services that these fees go towards, so please forgive me.
I was blessed with a new job last year that has helped us get out of debt (except for the stinkin’ student loans) and gave us the opportunity to start to save money. We were also able to refinance our house and combine the refi with a home equity loan. We still have a ways to go to reach $40,000 but in the meantime we continue to save, we created a fundraising page, and we keep hoping and praying that the situation right for our family will also be right one for our finances. We’ve already received so much support from friends and family via our fundraising page – we continue to be overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity. Even if people are not able to donate money, so many people have offered to lift us up in prayer or send good vibes for Baby Nieman.
If you are considering adoption, here are a couple other important pieces of info in relation to finances. The key is to obtain the liquid cash prior to the adoption however you can. Once the adoption is finalized (approx. 6 months after the baby is born) you will be eligible for a tax credit (approx. $13k over 3 years) and a lot of employers provide a small reimbursement for adoptions (ie: my company will give us $3k). However… maternity leave laws relating to adoption are not great. All of my leave will be unpaid (except for the 2 weeks of PTO I’ve somehow managed not to use yet). Most employers allow moms to use short-term disability to at least receive a percentage of their salary for about 6 weeks after birth but this does not seem to apply for adoptions. It’s pretty unfair if you ask me… but I digress.
I’ll wrap up this post with an update on where we are in the process! We are currently hearing about birth moms and babies from our agencies/consultant and we ask for our profile to presented to situations that we feel would fit our family. Our finances have required us to say “no” way more often than we’d like and we’ve also heard “no” from a couple birth moms so far which is very hard. It is not easy process by any means, but we know it will be so worth it! We’ve really only been legally able to adopt for about 6 weeks and I’m really trying to not let the unknowns get to me but I find myself frantically checking my email every 2 minutes to see if there is a new mom to read about or see if we’ve heard on whether we were picked or not.
I can’t wait to contact Amy hopefully in the near future with an update that we’ve been matched with a mom and we are one step closer to bringing our little bambino home!
Thanks for listening everyone and thank you, Amy, for the opportunity to share our story and adoption from my perspective. Please, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about adoption!
It was my absolute pleasure to have Becki on the blog. Her story has so deeply touched me heart (I was in tears putting it together), especially because I know the joy that she will feel when that baby is in her arms. Drew + I were happy to provide a small chunk of money they need to complete this process. If you find it in your heart to spare ANY amount of money, please visit her fundraising page here. Seriously, every little bit adds up for them at this point.
I hope that you guys are learning as much as I am about the different roads that lead people to mother + fatherhood. The hope is that these posts support other women + men that are currently faced with detours. For me, it has also become an important reminder to be careful with our words + inquiries into people’s family planning. I’ve included this couple + my other friends going through longer than expected waits into my daily prayers. I cannot wait to update you guys when there is good news to be shared! Thanks again Becki (+ Thad) for sharing with us.