Couples Weary of Domestic Adoption Find Success in Embryo Adoption

 

Domestic adoption has been an incredible choice for many families, but for others it simply does not work out in the end. They become weary of domestic adoption because of long waiting times for the child of their dreams.  That was the experience of Dana and Tim Ericksson, who had two birth mothers change their minds during their domestic adoption journey. The couple went on to successfully give birth through embryo adoption.

After trying to conceive a baby for eight years, Dana and Tim never thought they would see a positive pregnancy test.

Thanks to embryo adoption — an option that allows the adoptive mother to experience pregnancy and give birth to her adopted child through the transfer of donated frozen embryos — Dana became pregnant.

“We had been married 15 years and we had been trying for eight years and never once been pregnant,” Dana said. “I never thought it would happen for us. It was surreal to be able to experience it.

Having a biological parent change their mind is not the only concern, though. For many, the cost of a domestic adoption can be a huge deterrent. Domestic adoption can reach upwards of $30,000 or more. That price simply puts domestic adoption out of reach for many couples without taking on significant loans or personal debt. The health of a child can be a concern, as couples won’t have an opportunity to control the prenatal environment and may be unsure about what conditions their child experienced before they were born. Domestic adoptions can also take years, making the timing of growing a family unpredictable.

Many couples who are pursuing a domestic adoption have not yet learned about the option of embryo adoption. It might be that they have heard of it, but are afraid of entering the world of assisted reproduction again. Most of the couples who choose embryo adoption have experienced failed IVF. They finally find success by adopting embryos. The cost of embryo adoption is about ½ the cost of domestic adoption and takes it about 8-12 months to be matched with a placing family with remaining embryos.

Curious? Learn more about frozen embryo adoption, visit Snowflakes.org.

 

Creating Your Profile Book: 5 Steps to Putting Your Best Foot Forward

 

 

As a family adoption advisor and pregnancy counselor, I get the unique opportunity of working with both adopting families and expectant mothers. It gives me great joy to be a bridge between families and moms, and also gives me a chance to help the two understand each other’s perspectives just a bit more. These two worlds are brought together during the profile viewing and matching processes.

This part of the process can be nerve-wracking for families and expectant mothers alike! As someone that has had the opportunity to review many families’ profile books, and also sit with expectant mothers as they view them, I have come up with five tips to help families create a successful book and put their best foot forward.

Remember that authenticity is key. While the visual appeal of your profile book is very important, remember that the goal of your profile book is to show the expectant mother what life for her baby would be like as part of your family. While it is great to include professionally done family photos you may have or selfies of your lovely faces, it is important to have photos of you being yourselves and enjoying regular family life. Include candid photos, photos of visiting the park, walking the dog, or baking in the kitchen; include put-together photos, casual photos, fun photos, and photos of normal, average life alike. This type of variety shows the down-to-earth humanness of your family, and will make your book feel relatable. Authenticity opens up the door to connection!

Embrace Vulnerability. Putting your life on display for a stranger who is making a big decision to see may feel daunting and overwhelming, but I encourage you to be vulnerable as you create your book. There are a number of reasons why expectant mothers will select family profiles, but many times whether or not the expectant mother feels a connection to the family plays a significant role in this process. There are many wonderful, loving families waiting to adopt, but your story is uniquely yours – share it! Expectant mothers will view many profiles and see photos of many different families, but your story is what sets you apart and makes you unique.

Create a Design that Catches the Eye. While the content of your book is most important, the design and layout of your book can at times be almost equally important. Your profile book shows the expectant mother who your family is, and we want to see you put your best foot forward. If design is not your forte, don’t stress! There are companies, such as Kindred + Co. and Little Ampersand Co., who create custom or semi-custom profile books from start to finish. These companies create lovely, appealing books that are designed with expectant mother’s perspectives in mind. If going this route is not for you, viewing example profile books or browsing Pinterest for inspiration is a great way to create your own book with a little bit of design help from those that have done this before.

Know that your story matters.  Share who you are! Your childhood, love story, interests, faith background, passions, hearts for adoption, thoughts about each other, and day to day life are part of who you are and who you’ll be as parents. This provides more opportunity for connection, and gives expectant mothers an even greater glimpse into who you are. There are many factors and details that may lead an expectant mother to her decision when it comes to choosing a family, but often times it comes down to these details.

Have Fun! While creating your profile book may feel overwhelming or stressful, try to have fun with it and embrace this unique opportunity to creatively share who you are as a family. No family is perfect, and creating profile books is not a contest amongst families; being your authentic selves will go far. You are absolutely not alone; our team is excited to assist you as you prepare to create your profile book and will help you throughout this process. No matter how you choose to create your book, your book and your story will connect with the right expectant mother. Though creating your profile may feel daunting at first, I pray that you are able to have fun and embrace this opportunity of sharing your story!

 

What You Can Do to Become an Adoption Advocate in 2021

 

Advocacy in adoption can be surprisingly easy and straightforward when aware of the available resources. Below you will find some ideas of how you can support families and help orphaned children find their forever families.

  1. Be supportive of adoptive parents going through their adoption process by providing donations, offering respite care, or completing small acts of service. Some examples of small acts of service include cleaning the adoptive family’s house, cutting their grass, preparing a meal for them, or providing them with a listening ear for emotional support. A little goes a long way here! Nightlight Christian Adoptions provides many routes to help financially support prospective adoptive parents and children in need:
  • Click here to view our donation page.
  • Click here to donate to a specific family or child on Adoption Bridge.
  • Click here for more information on respite care.
  • Click here for other ways to give.

 

  1. Become a Foster Family. During COVID-19, there has been a strong need for foster families due to mandatory shutdowns of schools. In turn, this has become detrimental to many at-risk children who would normally view school as their safe haven from difficult family situations such as abuse, neglect, or both.
  • Click here for information on how to become a foster family.

 

  1. Sign up for National Council for Adoption (NCFA) newsletters that will guide you on advocacy efforts through research and best practices.
  • Click here to subscribe to NCFA’s newsletters. Simply scroll to the bottom of their page to subscribe.

 

  1. Write your congressman about the need for permanency for children worldwide and the need to reduce barriers to intercountry adoption. I encourage you to keep it brief, and limit it to only one issue and one page. If you have another adoption issue you’d like to write about, write a separate letter.
  • Click here to find your representative.

 

  1. Attend seminars and workshops to further your knowledge regarding our adoption programs and how you can support the different types of adoption that Nightlight offers. These classes will provide families with useful information and support.
  • Click here to view our schedule of our offered classes.

 

  1. Support children that are hard to place. Generally, Nightlight will place eligible waiting children that are in need of forever families and who are ready to be adopted on the secure site known as Adoption Bridge . We encourage families to be home study ready before inquiring about a specific child. However, you can still inquire without a completed home study. You can also donate to our Bubushka Fund that supports international children that are harder to place.

 

  • Click here to donate to the adoption of hard to place or special needs children. Simply select “Bubushka Fund” from the dropdown menu on the page.

While not every individual or family finds adoption is something they can commit to, there are numerous ways to help vulnerable children and to support prospective adoptive families who wish to provide a forever home for these children.  Understanding that these processes can be emotional and lending support efforts are also extremely valuable to the world of adoption. All efforts towards this end should be acknowledged.

 

McCleary Family Receives “Bright Lights Award”

The Board of Directors of Nightlight Christian Adoptions established the “Bright Lights Award” which is given in recognition of a commitment to adoption which inspires others to adopt, advocates for adoption, or makes a great sacrifice in adoption. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The second recipients of the Bright Lights award are Matthew and Megan McCleary.

In July of 2017, they went to Africa on what was supposed to be a short trip to attend court and bring Enoch home. But at the same time, Ghana signed the Hague convention and implemented new laws that delayed their case.  However, Matthew and Megan already went to court and legally adopted Enoch. At that point, many couples would understandably return to the US and leave their child in the care of the orphanage until they have a date for a visa appointment. But this couple decided to stay the course in Ghana, which turned out to be three years!  Matthew traveled back and forth to Ghana throughout that time, while also working in the US.  They had great support from their church, and faith that all would eventually work out for the best. The decision to stay with one’s child in Ghana is understandable, but what is exceptional in Megan and Matthew’s case is how they summarized the experience:

“Ghana was hard, but will now always be such a big part of our lives. Enoch is very Ghanaian and also so American. We have all grown so much these past three years in ways we never could have foreseen.  We can’t wait to finally start our family together in our home country.”

The McCleary’s perseverance of living three years in Ghana is an inspiration to us.

 

Nightlight Establishes “Bright Lights Award”

The Board of Directors of Nightlight Christian Adoptions established the “Bright Lights Award” which is given in recognition of a commitment to adoption which inspires others to adopt, advocates for adoption, or makes a great sacrifice in adoption. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The first recipients of the Bright Lights award are Jeff and Melissa Smith.

In February, 2018, Nightlight accepted about 20 families from an agency which was losing accreditation.  Their adoption from Malawi involved a sacrifice that no one predicted.  The visa was not granted as soon as expected, so Melissa lived in Malawi for 9 months while her husband and three children were in the US (but they traveled to visit multiple times).   Melissa posted this online:

What a year. What a hard, beautiful year.

2019 was a year of beauty, pain, and triumph. Leaning into God when everything around seemed to crumble. Holding on to His faithfulness when I looked around and couldn’t see clearly.

We stepped out following God’s call in our families lives, and it all seemed to unfurl into chaos. Countless times I asked myself “How can this be God’s plan?”

I see it. I see God’s plan. We’re almost completely through this trial, this season, this valley. And when I encounter the next, I will hold to this time and remember God’s faithfulness.

So often, when people asked me how I can still have faith (a question I was/ am frequently asked) my answer is simple: holding onto God’s character. I don’t know God’s plan, but I KNOW God. He is a loving, gracious God who has a perfect will and plan.

I don’t know if you’re waiting on God for what may feel like the impossible. If you feel like you stepped out in faith following His call and then what seems like all hell broke loose. He’s there, I promise. He’s shaping and in the hard. When all seems chaotic He is the calm.

Happy New Year! I hope this coming year has less valleys and more peaks and a deeper love for others and Jesus!

The Smiths were successful in bringing home two beautiful daughters, and their commitment to adoption is an inspiration to us.

Kurle Family Receives “Bright Lights Award”

The Board of Directors of Nightlight Christian Adoptions established the “Bright Lights Award” which is given in recognition of a commitment to adoption which inspires others to adopt, advocates for adoption, or makes a great sacrifice in adoption. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The third recipients of the Bright Lights award are Joe and Marie Kurle.

Joe and Marie Kurle just recently brought their son Joseph home from Nigeria. They were matched with Joseph in June of 2019 and waited 10 months for their I604 investigation before being approved to bring him home. But this was just the ending to their 5 year adoption journey. The Kurle’s first applied to Nightlight in 2015 to our Uganda program. Then right when they were submitting their dossier, the adoption laws in Uganda changed and the 12 month residency requirement started but was still unclear on how those laws would be interpreted. We explored other options (but did not close the door on Uganda) and they were even sent a file of siblings from Albania as they were open to switching to a new program because Uganda was so unstable. They were interested in the siblings but another family committed to them while they were reviewing the file. They remained in the Uganda program and we later sent a referral of a 6 month old boy. That referral also fell through. That baby was eventually placed with an American family who was living in Uganda. Then they were sent a referral of an adorable little boy named Frank. They committed to him and were excited to move forward. They even received an official match. We later had to take away that referral because we found out the baby home in Uganda was being unethical and we had to immediately stop working with them. The family asked if there were any children at the other baby homes we worked with. There was but it was a child with severe special needs. They reviewed her file but eventually declined. Next they transferred to the Nigeria program in April of 2017. They were matched with a child named Reuben in December of 2017 and couldn’t wait to be united with him. Reuben’s adoption was dragged out for about 18 months due to an aunt coming forward that was contesting the adoption. Unfortunately no one had ever visited Reuben and the aunt was deemed not eligible to adopt him but someone from his village got involved making it impossible for him to be adopted. The Kurles were really torn about giving up on adopting Reuben. They already felt such a connection to him and had sent him letters and messages. They were always so patient and kind during their entire wait with all of these adoptions. But in the end they realized that his case may never be approved by a Nigerian court and decided to be open to another child. In June 2019 they were matched with Joseph from Nigeria. As stated above their wait to bring him home was dragged out by the US Embassy I604 investigation but in September 2020 Joe Kurle finally traveled to bring Joseph home. This family never once complained about the process or said harsh words.  They were so happy and grateful to be home with Joseph. This family is a family strong in their faith. The family understood that sometimes God has plans laid out for us that look much different that the plans we have for ourselves. They kept the faith and persevered.

Will COVID-19 Cease International Adoption?

 

Borders closed and lockdown began. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early last year many countries suspended their foreign adoption programs as borders closed and lockdowns began. While many view this as a reaction to the inability to travel, it was also necessary as many countries temporarily closed courts and adoption central authorities – or determined how to move cases forward with new work-from-home protocols. Countries with weak infrastructures, particularly the third world countries we work in, were truly challenged by this due to lack of technology and processes that required in person contact. We had many families whose cases came to a standstill while others were impacted by additional quarantine time in country–requiring safety protocols such as testing prior to travel.

Accommodations were made. Some countries made adjustments that loosened some of their adoption requirements. For example, Haiti accommodated the required bonding time between the adoptive parent and child through virtual meetings. A Jamaica family also had their court process take place over Zoom.

COVID-19 will not cease intercountry adoption. Intercountry adoption is an emotional journey for parents so understandably many of the unknown obstacles from COVID-19 were, and continue to be, difficult for families working to bring their child home. But COVID-19 will not cease intercountry adoption. It is apparent that adoption central authorities and other countries’ commitment to working toward the best interest of children who need families has not waivered.

COID-19 has strengthened our resolve: If anything, the pandemic has strengthened the adoption communities’ resolve to work harder for waiting children. We have been successful in matching more waiting children and moving families through the home study and dossier process. It seems as though the time at home has allowed parents to make a decision to adopt and focus on the plethora of paperwork required. We are very optimistic that we will see travel restrictions lifted and processes moving at a more normal pace by summer.

The time to adopt international is NOW. Orphans are mentioned in the bible over 40 times which tells us there will unfortunately always be children who need safe and nurturing families. We are called to take care of these children because, for whatever reason, they have become orphaned from their biological family. If ever there was a time to adopt internationally, it is now. This is the perfect time to prepare, start a home study process and review waiting child profiles. While the effects of the pandemic may slow the process, delay travel, or worse, add risk to the process, we cannot become apathetic toward the needs of children all over the world.

Learn more about how to help. Intercountry adoptions have declined by 87% in the past 15 years while the number of orphans in the world has increased to over 140 million*. The pandemic adds another layer to this juxtaposition that potentially increases children’s need for families both domestically and abroad. At the least, please visit www.saveadoption.org/the-crisis and learn more about how you can help intercountry adoptions to the United States continue to place children who have not been able to find families in their own countries.

Is 2021 Your Year to Donate?

 

The turn of a new year tends to bring about themes of renewal, fresh starts, decision making, and conquering goals. For those of you who have found yourself at the end of your IVF journey, you may have come face to face with the decision this past year of what is to be done with your remaining embryos. This decision may be one you never thought you’d have to face and wish you didn’t have to. It may seem daunting, or you may not feel emotionally prepared, but it is never too early to search out the answers you seek. Now is a good time to take the first step.

The Donation Option

Have you ever looked into embryo donation and adoption? Did you know there was such a thing as an adoption model for donating your embryos? The thought of your embryos belonging to someone else may be one that seems unbearable, but many who have faced these fears have found placement through an adoption program was right for them.

Reasons to Donate:

  • Embryo donation is a life-giving option for your embryos!
  • Through embryo donation with adoption agencies such as the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, you have the ability to choose who will adopt your embryos and the peace of mind that they have been deemed physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared to raise a family by adoption agency professionals.
  • You created your embryos because you wanted a family. Now you can help someone else do the same.
  • Certain embryo adoption agencies (like Snowflakes) allow for communication with adoptive families and updates on children born from the embryos.
  • Many clinics will not accept embryos that have been frozen before a certain date. The sooner you donate your embryos, the more likely they are to be accepted by an adoptive family’s clinic.
  • Storage costs have become difficult to manage.

Take the First Step

It all starts with one simple step: asking questions. Often, it is the fear of the unknown that keeps us from moving forward.

Where to Start:

In this New Year, make your resolution one of gaining knowledge, educating yourself, and taking time to reflect on tough questions and emotions you may have been avoiding. The fear of the unknown can be crippling. The good news is that one small step can be all you need to allow yourself to take another, and then another, and then just one more until you find the answers and peace of mind you have been seeking.

To learn more about embryo donation, visit EmbyroAdoption.org.

 

Nightlight’s History

Founding
The Evangelical Welfare Agency (EWA) was incorporated on May 1, 1963, but was originally licensed as a non-profit organization in 1959. The organization was founded by a group of churches belonging to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) who determined that there was a need to find Christian homes for babies abandoned due to unplanned pregnancy. The first office was opened in Whittier, CA. Nightlight maintains its affiliation with the NAE to this day (our Articles of Incorporation designate the NAE as the beneficiary of our assets upon our dissolution).

Domestic Adoption
James and Shirley Dobson adopted their son Ryan through EWA and have maintained a special relationship with our organization since then, as has Focus on the Family. In 1973, the name was changed to Family Ministries, and then in 1981 to Christian Adoption and Family Services (CAFS). Domestic adoption was, and continues to be a central program for Nightlight. During this era, our organization placed over 1500 infants in Southern California. Prior to Roe v. Wade being decided in 1973, an average of 8% of pregnancies resulted in adoption. But since that date, only 1% of pregnancies now result in adoption. Consequently, the mission of our organization had to change from focusing exclusively on domestic adoption. In this era, CAFS assisted with adoptions from the Cambodian Air Lift.

International Adoption
Ron Stoddart had a thriving domestic adoption law practice, but with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, Ron knew that there must be an opportunity for adoption from Russia. So in 1992 Ron began facilitating adoptions from the former Soviet Union. To support this international effort, he created the Nightlight Foundation. The word Nightlight connotes a warm, safe home for children. In 1994 Ron was named Executive Director of CAFS, and subsequently merged his law practice and international foundation with our organization. The name was changed in 2000 to Nightlight Christian Adoptions. Nearly 1000 children were adopted from Russia through Nightlight during this era with a strong focus on school age children. The majority were adopted by families in Southern California, who reunited each summer at our picnic. Some of these picnics had several hundred children in attendance.

Orphan Host Program and Humanitarian Aid
To assist with international adoption, Ron began Detsky Dom Partners (Russian for Children’s Home) which became a separate non-profit organization in 2009. Detsky Dom Partners raised money for and organized orphan host tours. These were primarily from Russia but later from Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Colombia, Taiwan, and China. It occurred to Ron that people would adopt older children if they could only see them. But getting a large group of adopting parents to go to Russia would be difficult….easier to bring the kids to the US! With that vision, the concept of orphan host programs was born, and later turned into a global phenomenon and gave birth to other organizations and agencies doing the same. The first tour was in 1995 and over the subsequent twenty-five years, Nightlight has brought 600 kids on tours: most of whom got adopted. Most of the host programs included well-rehearsed dance and song routines with children in traditional cultural costumes. In 2011, Detsky Dom Partners changed its name to Every Child has a Name (ECHAN), in order to reflect the more global reach of our organization. ECHAN continues to be active with its own board of directors. The organization hosts an annual Monte Carlo Night as its primary fundraiser to support orphan host programs with Nightlight.
One of the couples who watched the host kids perform (the Nixons, from Southern California) were inspired to give a tithe of their estate to Nightlight in their will. We received this gift in 2015 and were able to purchase our California building which put us in a much better financial position as owners rather than renters. The host program enabled Nightlight to form strong partnerships with churches, especially Calvary Chapel of Anaheim.
In 2011 we also began Orphan Galaxy, a humanitarian fund for orphanage support, anti-trafficking efforts, vocational training, and adoption scholarships. This fund is primarily comprised of monthly $25 donors.

Snowflakes®
In 1997, John & Marlene Strege (who Ron Stoddart knew from his work with youth at a local church) were interested in adopting. They had learned that frozen embryos were being donated anonymously through clinics, but they were not comfortable with the impersonal approach to transferring the parental rights of unborn babies. They asked Ron if it was possible to “adopt” embryos. As Nightlight has proven over the years, the question wasn’t whether or not it could be done, but if this is God’s plan, how can we do it. Ron wondered, “What do people do with their left over embryos from IVF? Do you think we could get them to donate them for adoption?” The Streges reached out to Dr. Dobson at Focus on the Family about the ethical and biblical allowance for embryo adoption. Ron had committed to applying social work best-practice to embryo donation, which to that point had always been anonymous. This best practice includes a home study, matching by social workers, and openness afterward. The biggest hurdle, of course, would be getting people to donate. To this point, most clinics in the nation were lucky to have a handful of embryos available. In partnership with Focus on the Family radio broadcasts, Nightlight was able to get hundreds, and later thousands of families to donate embryos. So, where did the name “Snowflakes” come from? At Christmas time in 1997, Ron and his wife had dinner with John & Marlene Strege at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. During dinner, the Lamb’s Players gave a soliloquy about the beauty of snowflakes and how they were frozen, unique, tiny and a gift from God. (We later trademarked the name Snowflakes in 2007.) In 2002 pro-life groups asked President George Bush to halt funding of embryonic stem cell research, and Nightlight was named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the federal government over this issue. Mr. Bush took the extra step of creating the Embryo Adoption Awareness Grant. Nightlight has received this grant every year since its inception. President Bush hosted three birthday parties at the White House for Snowflakes babies, and mentions Nightlight twice in his autobiography.

Adoption Bridge
In 2013 Nightlight created Adoption Bridge as the only crowd-funding site with no overhead fee, and to also offer “Dear Birthmother” profiles and Waiting Child profiles. Since that time, the site has raised over $300,000 in adoption funding, featured nearly a thousand waiting children, and twenty thousand users, with over 6000 visits per month.

Mergers
In 2008 Laura Beauvais approached Ron Stoddart about Nightlight merging with Carolina Hope Adoptions, which had a history of work in Guatemala, Cambodia, and Vietnam. This greatly increased the reach of our domestic program as we opened our SC office. In 2011 A Helping Hand Adoption found itself in sudden need of an executive director, so Ron asked Lisa Prather (who was working in the SC office) if she would help lead the agency in KY. We formally merged with AHH in 2014 after transferring the license to work in China, which became Nightlight’s largest international program. In 2015 Mike and Debbie Nomura approached Nightlight about a merger of Heritage Family Services (OK), followed by Frank Block from Love Basket in 2016, Cathy Sones from Generations Adoptions (TX) in 2017, and Michele Jackson from MLJ Adoptions (IN) in 2020. We also acquired the staff from Children’s Hope International (MO) in 2019, which strengthened our India program. We acquired the files and some assets from Embraced by Grace (FL) in 2019 and Life for Kids (FL) in 2020, which helped establish our Florida office. When asked why agencies approach Nightlight about merger, one executive director said, “the organization’s business savvy and risk tolerance.” We have also acquired a reputation among the adoption agency community as “open source” and non-competitive. Nearly all of the mergers were the result of personal relationships built in the National Christian Adoption Fellowship, a group of about a dozen agencies founded in 2009. The mergers have also been the result of an overall decline in the field of adoption, where consolidation makes sense for an economy of scale, and Nightlight stands out as having a full diversity of services to offer clients and provide for economic stability.

Foster Care
In 2012 Daniel Nehrbass joined Nightlight as the Executive director of the California office of Nightlight and Ron Stoddart focused on the Colorado office. Ron retired in 2013 and Daniel became Nightlight’s President. Ron later joined Nightlight’s Board of Directors. In 2012, Russia ceased intercountry adoption with the United States, forcing Nightlight to plan for a future of diverse services. In addition to a dozen other countries, Daniel made the decision to open international programs in Colombia and Haiti, which became central to our International adoption program. But the board of directors also decided to amend our mission to include foster care. We opened a foster program first in Colorado in 2013, and today each office has a foster program in the works. Nightlight added other initiatives to make the client experience more stable in the midst of a volatile field, such as “portability” of their case from one type of adoption to the next, which includes financial incentive to move to the program that will be most successful. In 2019 the Colorado accepted a challenge from the state to innovate a new type of foster placement called Homes for Hope, where permanent foster family resides in a home provided to them, and accepts emergency placements supervised by Nightlight. This partnership characterizes our organization’s commitment to “find the Yes,” boldly believing that all problems are surmountable.

Facing the Unknowns in Adoption

 

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. Unpredictability and unknowns often leaves us uneasy and uncomfortable. This causes us to find ourselves trying our best to control situations because control leads to more security and less anxiety. It’s our human nature to desire a clear picture of how things are going to happen, but the truth is, adoption is an unpredictable process and no two cases or situations are the same.

 

As a social worker in the domestic adoption field, here is some advice I would give to potential adoptive families:

 

  1. Prepare for every situation.

When working with prospective adoptive families, sometimes I hear them say things like, “I don’t even want to think about the possibility of the expectant mother changing her mind because it’s too hard to think about.” Instead of this mind set, I want to encourage any potential adoptive families to prepare for the outcome of the expectant mother choosing to parent, because it does happen, and that should be celebrated and not dreaded. Before birth. expectant mothers can make an adoption plan, but this plan cannot become concrete until she signs relinquishments. It is important to understand the struggle and hardships the expectant mother is going through while she makes this decision and love her through the process despite what the outcome may be.

 

  1. Be flexible and understanding.

When you are going through the adoption process, your social worker is not going to be able to tell you exactly how things are going to happen, because even they do not know how things will unfold. Adoption is a fluid process and although we can do our best to educate and prepare for the birth and hospital time, there is no way to clearly know how that time will look. For example, before birth, an expectant mother might make a tentative hospital plan stating she does not want to spend time with the baby, but post-delivery, she may decide she wants the baby in her hospital room.  Don’t be alarmed by this kind of change, but be understanding of the mother’s wishes and desires. Changes like this does not necessarily mean the mother is choosing to parent, but she may realize time with the baby is the best thing for her emotional and mental health. It is helpful to remember that she is the child’s legal mother until relinquishments are signed, and it is our job to best support her in any way possible.

 

  1. Realize that when you are struggling, she is as well.

Adoption is scary for potential adoptive parents, but it is scary for the biological parents as well. While you are thinking about your lack of control in the situation, the expectant mother often feels the same way. Many women pursuing an adoption plan are in crisis situations, feeling out of control of their life as they never thought this would be a chapter in their story. This can be terrifying and they often fear that the adoptive family will not like them, will not love their child as their own, and the post adoption plan and contact they are being promised will not come to fruition. As a potential adoptive parent, make it your goal to get to know the expectant mother and ease some of these fears for her. Often, this will also make you more at peace with the situation as you get to know and love her during the process.

 

With all this being said, here is one thing that you can rest assured in- everything will work out and will fall into place the way God intended it to. Despite the fears and unknowns in adoption, take peace in the fact that God has already written your story, and He knows the exact plans for you and your family. The staff of Nightlight Christian Adoptions is excited and honored to walk through your adoption journey with you and support you in any way that we can.