Adoption Series: Part 1

by April Hunt

This article is the first in a series. Read part two here. Read part three here. Read part four here.

Adoption in Grand Rapids

Who is in your family?

A lot of you come from traditional families: there’s a mom, dad, and maybe some siblings. Many of you come from single parent homes. Or live in homes where Grandma is in charge. Some of you come from multiple families that have spanned out after divorce and possibly remarriage.

But the common thread for all of us is that, if we’re lucky, we all come from homes where we belong. Where someone loves us fiercely and will go to any length to make sure we’re okay.

The same holds true for adoptive families in West Michigan. Some (or all!) of the children in adoptive homes aren’t connected to their parents by blood, but they are connected in another way that us biological families are: by love. Strong love. Belonging love.

If you think that adoption is easier than enduring a long pregnancy and childbirth, consider the lengths parents go through to adopt. They have to fill out seemingly endless piles of paperwork. They have to procure financing to pay for all the workers who along the way help them to find their son or daughter. They allow strangers into their houses for Home Studies, to see if their home is good enough for a child to live in. Classes. Travel. Some people travel two to three times across the globe for international adoption before they can welcome their child home.

And then there’s the part when their son or daughter finally comes home with them. In many cases the children are older and are naturally quite frightened at first. Suddenly they’re being told that they have a new mom and dad and home and none of it makes any sense. Their surroundings are different. The climate. Often the language. Even the smells. And every minute of every day, just like it is with biological parents, adoptive parents are there to comfort and to soothe. To guide. To teach them that this is their home. That they are safe.

Being an adoptive parent is hard. And usually not something you can call your mom about for advice.

So why do they do it?

Why Do People in West Michigan Adopt?

When I set out to find the answer to that question for grkids, I thought I’d get a definitive answer. But as I looked at the responses from my interviews with West Michigan adoptive parents I realized I didn’t have an answer for our readers.

Sure, people threw out things like infertility, growing up with a loved one who’s adopted, feeling “called” to adopt, etc.

But none of those reasons in themselves would really see a mother or father to the end of the tough road to adoption. I think those reasons are why people start to adopt. Why they even consider adopting.

Why do I think people actually adopt?

Love.

Yes, it’s cliched. But how else do you explain what they go through to welcome a child into their home? How else would you explain what you’ve gone through to give birth to a child and bring him or her into your home?

Love.

Perhaps you’ve been considering adoption yourself. Perhaps you’ve seen friends and neighbors adopt and are curious about the different avenues for adopting children. Why do some people choose international adoption and while others add to their families domestically? What about children born with special needs? Or the children who are in the foster care system? What kind of questions are okay to ask parents about their adoptions? What ones rub them the wrong way?

grkids recognizes that our virtual family is made up of all sorts of families, including adoptive ones. In the next few weeks we’re hoping to bring you some informative stories about adoption in West Michigan.

How about you? What’s your story? Have you adopted? Are you adopted? Let us know in the comments!

20 thoughts on “Adoption Series: Part 1”

  1. Pingback: Adopting a Foster Child…Adoption Series Part 4 | grkids.com

  2. Pingback: 9 Things NOT to Say to Adoptive Parents: Adoption Series part 3 | grkids.com

  3. We have a biological son and a younger son adopted from China. We adopted because it felt like what we were supposed to do. There are so many children already in this world who need loving homes; it felt like the way we were supposed to complete our family. Some people assume that there was a biological reason that we didn’t go through a second pregnancy; it wasn’t the case at all. Adoption was the only way we were meant to complete our family and I can’t imagine our second son as anything but mine.

  4. I am the Grandma! I have 2 biological children. They are both adults now. I have never had the desire to adopt any children. I know it may sound selfish to some people but my husband and I had done our job in raising our children to adulthood and now it was time for us to enjoy each other! We were preparing to take another cruise! However, in 2003 we received a phone call and were told that our beautiful granddaughter was in foster care and our journey to adoption began!! My heart was instantly changed forever! Our journey to adoption was not easy and it brought about feelings of resentment, sadness, anger and depression. In order to move through these feelings, we knew we needed to find people who understood what we were going through. As others have said, adoption is not an easy journey! In some cases, it brings you to your knees! Sometimes you need help and support from those who “get it” I found that support in my grandparents support group and AFSN!

  5. As a mom of 5 (3 biological sons and 2 daughters adopted from China), I can honestly say that adoption is not the “easy” way to have a child. The paperwork and wait is endless and, unlike pregnancy, you (the prospective adoptive parents) are in control of such a small part of it, it can be overwhelming and scary at the same time. So many unknowns, so many things not in your control (the timing of the wait to referral, and in many cases, the child him or herself, his/her history, medical needs, etc). Unlike a pregnancy when you visit your doctor monthly/weekly, hear the heartbeat and get measured for size, and know — approximately — when baby is going to arrive. None of that is true for adoptive families and the wait is hard.

    Our daughters were born in China, a country where it is illegal to make the choice to put your child up for adoption. Therefore, children are left in a place (usually) where they will be found quickly with very little, if any, identifying information. Sometimes (if you are really “lucky”) your child will be found with a note identifying the actual date of birth, but most children are found with nothing.

    I have no information to give my daughters. They know their adoption stories and know how they came to be in our family. But they have questions, as all adopted children do, about their first families, their birth parents and why they didn’t keep them and raise them themselves. We have no idea and it is humbling to repeat over an over again, “I’m so sorry, but we just don’t know.”

    When we first discussed adopting, we chose China’s program because it was steady, predictable and the children were relatively ‘healthy’ and, I am ashamed to admit, because I was more comfortable with the anonymity of it — we were pretty sure we would never have the unwelcome intrusion of a birth family coming to “take” our child away from us. Of course, that was when we were new to the realities of raising adopted children. How I wish I had some sliver of information to give my girls! I dream of a reunion between their first families and our family along with the chance to ask those difficult questions and get some answers that satisfy (or are at least more than “I don’t know”). How I wish I could look into my daughters’ birth parents eyes and tell them what amazing children they produced, how much we adore them and tell them a heartfelt, but pathetic “thank you” for allowing us to raise their children.

  6. Pingback: Adoption Series: Part 2 | grkids.com

  7. Besides my daughter, one of the most amazing gifts and blessings that has come with her adoption is the relationship we have with her birth family. They have become another group of extended family for us and I can never wait until we get to see them again. When we’re over at their house it’s so comfortable and I love to see my daughter interact with her birth mom and birth grandma and all her aunts. It’s so awesome to see the similarities they all share along with the personality traits she’s gotten from my husband and I all coming together to make such an amazing little girl.

    My daughter can tell you all about her adoption. She is proud of it, she loves her birth mom like crazy and will tell people about it if they ask. Most domestic adoptions are so different than they were, even a decade ago, and so much healthier for everyone involved. And if they can be open–it’s even more amazing! Open adoption has helped to eliminate mystery about where a child has come from, for them, and allowed birth families to play a role in watching their great kids grow up.

    As an adoptive mom I don’t really feel like any questions are off limits. If the answers to them will help to cultivate a culture of adoption, making it a more accepted, understood and celebrated institution–then they need to be answered! I always tell people who ask me about it, read what I write about it, and are looking for advice about it that I never get sick of talking about. It’s become my passion and so much of who I am…..and I consider myself so lucky because of it!

  8. We have two biological sons and two daughters from Korea. The feelings of being pregnant and going through the adoption process are almost identical (except the weight gain!). The same anticipation, the same fears, the same excitement, the same joy, the same love! Any way a child enters your life is a blessing. We found our youngest daughter on a website called Rainbow Kids. Don’t go there if you don’t want to fall in love. So many children waiting for a forever family. My husband tries to delete email updates before I see them!.

  9. I’m an adoptive mom of twins. We did international adoption. When I was just 8 years old, I knew that someday, I wanted to adopt children. It was a dream / desire that stayed with me as I grew up and after I was married. It took my husband and I several years of praying, working, saving and researching before we felt ready to begin. Once we began the adoption process, it was as if we could almost hear God saying “just trust me”. It felt so right. We knew in our hearts that our children would come from Kazakhstan. We felt very blessed to be able to travel and stay in Kazakhstan, bond with our daughters and finalize our adoption in one trip. My two amazing and beautiful daughters are a dream come true. Even though my babies were 8 months old before I was able to hold them in my arms, it felt like they belonged to me always. Being an “adoptive” parent has never really felt hard…it just feels right. Being a parent can be hard work and being the mom of twins comes with it’s own set of challenges (like sometimes feeling like I didn’t have enough arms when they were babies and toddlers, lol). With adoption, obviously, there was a loss before there was a gain. We are open, honest and gentle with our girls regarding adoption but we focus most on the gain. My girls will turn 9 years old next month and I’m still humbled, blessed and in awe that God chose me to be their mom. Adoption is amazing. Adoption is love and family. Many nights after bedtime prayers, I will say to my girls “do you know what my greatest treasure is?” They both giggle and say “us!!!”. Most definitely.

  10. Thank you Deidra and Paula for making people aware of AFSN! You ladies are both amazing and I count it an honor and privilege to know you.

    I have adopted 5 children from foster care….the youngest being autistic. It is life changing for sure, something you should not attempt to do without support. In addition to being challenging, it can also be your greatest joy. 🙂

    If adoption is something you are considering, educate yourself and get as prepared as you can before the child(ren) come home to you.

    We at AFSN are there to support you, free of charge! Just contact us at 616-458-7945.

  11. My daughter is adopted through a domestic adoption. Her birth mother passed away a few months after the adoption was finalized. She was in foster care for the first 6 months of her life and her legal name was Baby Girl until her adoption was finalized. Strangers often tell me how lucky she is and what good people my husband and I must be for considering adoption. In truth, it was a completely selfish decision on my part. The only thing I ever KNEW I wanted to be when I grew up was a mom. After four open heart surgeries, I was told that I would not be able to survive the stresses of a pregnancy. Six months later, we started the process of adoption.

    I am told by other parents how lucky we were to not have a newborn and not have to “go through” that period of adjustment. In reality, we missed the first 6 months of her life. We didn’t even know she existed when she laughed for the first time. When she did finally come home with us, everything was different for her. She didn’t know who we were, we didn’t smell right to her, nothing even sounded familiar to her at our house.

    Now she is three and a half and thriving. I truly believe that I could not have made a person as amazing as her. She is everything to me. I would not change anything about her or our adoption process. I found a quote that fits perfectly, “When I first saw you, my soul kind of said, ‘there you are! I’ve been looking for you.'”

  12. We adopted our son domestically and took him home from the hospital 9 years ago. He was a dream come true after problems with infertility He is definitely a blessing from God and done according to His will. Being older parents, it was and is a challenge at times and it certainly hasn’t been an easy journey but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Agreeing with Diedra, AFSN is a wonderful and supportive agency and would encourage anyone who has adopted, no matter how or from where, to seek support and help thru them also.

  13. I adopted my daughter domestically and brought her home from the hospital. That was almost 3 years ago. We did ivf for our son and had said we would go through that process once. We longed to adopt after that, but were already in debt. My father passed away quickly in 2008 and we knew the money he left was for adoption. It was a long and very tough road waiting and we almost gave up. But God had a plan and our daughter was born in February of 2010. I often reflect on how things happen. If my father (who was a single parent of me and my sisters) would not have passed, I would not have my daughter. It’s crazy to think about, but life brings all sorts of things. More than being a mom to this wonderful young girl, domestic adoption has brought her birthparents into our lives. We also feel that we were picked to be in their lives too. I am also very open to anyone who has questions about infertility or domestic infant adoption.

  14. We are in the middle of an international (China) special needs adoption. We are learning a LOT about the process and about ourselves. We have been matched with our daughter who is two and has Down Syndrome. There are many unanswered questions at this point about how life will look when she comes home but I can tell you that whatever our family has to offer her is much better than a life in an orphanage (or foster home) with no mom or dad (or siblings). I would love to connect with other parents who are also in the process and answer any questions that others might have about the process.

  15. I recently adopted a child from the foster care system– a former preschool student of mine who I fell in love with. It was not a selfless act– I was a mom without a child and he was a child without a mom and we just kind of fit. I was fortunate to have the chance to get to know him and fall in love with him before he was brought to my home. It’s still hard– I can’t take back his past and I can never be the mom who “hatched” him (in his words)– but all we can do is have a great life from now forward. Adopting my son was the best decision I ever made, but being his mom is also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Grand Rapids is really unique and fortunate to have AMAZING supports for adoptive families– including AFSN which offers support groups for parents, training for parents and caregivers, and special events for families. Every family is a little bit different and the stories of how they came to be are varied, but it’s not hard to find people who you connect with and who understand. Getting to meet other families that look more like ours goes a long way to helping us both feel that our family is “normal” and “special” rather than “different.” Adoption isn’t easy by any means, but if you’re considering it, please reach out to a support group such as AFSN. One of the best things you can do as a parent is seek out the support you need

    1. I was checking out adoption websites and look who I ran into! I LOVED your announcement. What a beautiful family!!! Your words are so touching here and so true. I miss your little guy more than you know. He wiggled his way into my heart and never left. Take care and God bless!

      1. He so misses you, too! He lost a tooth last week and begged me to send you a picture (which I forgot to do– but it’s on its way now).

  16. I have not adopted or been adopted but I have thought about adopting through the foster care system. It makes me so nervous though because I know how hard it has to be for adopted kids to feel accepted and I would want them to feel loved and accepted and I know that has to be a hard road.

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