It feels so strange to realize we're coming down the home stretch with our home study, and all the steps we had to complete in order to just get on the waiting list for our new little Spady. We are so close now to getting everything ready that it's hard to believe. Last weekend, we finished one of our final steps in the process, as we traveled to Fredericksburg for a two-day training with Bethany Christian Services.
I really had no idea what to expect going into the training. I knew we would learn a lot and hear from some great speakers, but beyond that I didn't know what each day would look like and what we would walk away with. The first day was a solid, nine-hour day of intense learning. We heard from a lawyer on the legal process - everything from getting a Social Security number for our child to what impact the involvement of the birthmother's family might have on the adoption. We talked about openness with the birthmom after adoption (from emails, to calls, to possible visits) and got some great, practical parenting advice.
The first day was a lot of nitty gritty details. Nathan was absolutely wiped out afterwards because of the loads of information we got. I learned a lot that surprised me - for instance, the average age of a birthmom is 25! I just assumed most were teenagers and young girls who had gotten into a bad situation. It turns out that everyone from teens to young professionals, and even married couples, have made the tough decision to place their child in an adoptive family.
A huge thing I learned was just in the vocabulary. A lot of people (myself included!) use the term 'given up' when talking about the decision the birthmom made. This article explains the heart behind not saying that phrase, with all of its attached connotations. I've had to correct myself multiple times since the training, but I'm learning!
The second day was a breath of fresh air. We heard from a number of speakers, from an adult adoptee, to adoptive parents, and even listened to a birthmom talk about her experience. The amazing thing was that mom's child was adopted by a couple who came to speak as well - they even stood together and answered questions about how to maintain a successful relationship after the placement.
It's hard to condense 14+ hours of training into a blog post, and I'd love to tell you more about it if you have the time. Some big takeaways for me are:
- How big of a struggle it is for birthmoms to place their child, even years later. Their decision is courageous, difficult, and should be commended.
- It's not unlikely that we'll have at least one 'disappointment' - when the birthmom changes her mind before or after her child's birth. I'm still wrapping my head around that one, and prayerfully preparing for it happening.
- We need a network of support. It's been a beautiful thing to have friends along the journey ask about updates and praying for us. One thing I'd love to do is get more connected with other adoptive families and form a mutually encouraging relationship.
- Everybody's process is unique, and each experience will be completely different from another. There is no 'typical' scenario. I am praying that God will prepare our hearts to be flexible, even when the situation is not ideal or when the going gets tough.
- Adoption is a calling for me. I love the heart behind adoption. We are not rescuing babies or birthmoms, we are partnering with our Heavenly Father to raise the children He has placed with us to the best of our abilities.
Adoption is a tough, lengthy, and beautiful process, friends. Thanks for walking with me so far.