Today’s very special guest post on domestic adoption is from a wonderful fellow Mom at our church. Their family just recently adopted Cassandra through US domestic adoption. Actually, Cassie was born the day after “Little Miss”. I remember praying fervently for little Cassie and for Christin as she took this little one home, and little did I know that I would be doing the same for Little Miss just a few short weeks later! It has been a blessing to witness this family go through the adoption process and bring Cassie into their worlds. I’ll let Christin tell you a little bit more about their journey through domestic adoption:
- Tell us a little bit about your family. Amos and I met on a mission’s trip in high school but didn’t start dating until my freshman year of college. After dating for three years we married. We have been married for 8 years and have 2 biological children: Andrea (4) and Kenny (2). This past September, we adopted a newborn girl, Cassie. Amos is CEO and a part-owner of his family’s construction company and I work outside the home one day a week as a public health nurse.
- Why did you choose adoption? The short answer is that there is a need for children to have families and we wanted to help meet the need. We discovered that God had impressed adoption on both of our hearts when we began discussing having children. I believe that both of us desiring to adopt only comes from the Lord. Even after we had biological children, we decided we still wanted to adopt. After thinking through our options, praying and discussing them, we decided that adopting an infant from the States was the best option for our family. We knew there are children in America who need families…godly families who will share the gospel with them. Choosing to adopt an infant instead of an older child mainly had to do with already having two young children in our family.
- What is the process for domestic adoption? Every adoption and agency works differently but there are processes like the home study and final appearance in court that are similar to all adoptions. The big starting point for our domestic adoption was to find an agency. We found a Christian adoption agency in Arkansas a couple years ago through the friend of a friend and really resonated with their mission and how they focus on building relationships, sharing Christ, and training the birth parent(s). However, the timing wasn’t right and we didn’t seriously pursue adoption until last fall when the agency contacted us. After a couple phone conferences, we sent them our application in December of 2014. Then we focused on making our profile book that the birth parent(s) use in choosing their adoptive family, completing piles of paperwork, tracking down birth certificates, getting physicals for everyone in the family, etc. Next was our home study which wasn’t actually too hateful since we had already collected most of the paperwork and all our adoption training was readings completed at home. On June 8, 2015, our 8th anniversary, we sent in our final paperwork for the home study and that night we received a phone call from the agency that a birth mom chose us. Twelve weeks later, I was blessed to watch Cassandra Ruth enter the world and be placed into my arms. Then on September 18, 2015, a mere 16 days later, Cassie legally became a permanent part of our family. Our entire adoption process was the length of a typical pregnancy. This timeframe is not typical of American infant adoptions but it is typical for our agency.
- Did you/do you have contact with the birth Mom? Why or why not? American infant adoptions are unique because the birth parent(s) play a large role in choosing the adoptive family and deciding how involved they want to be in the child’s life. Amos and I met Cassie’s birth mom a couple times before Cassie was born. A special moment with her was when we realized that we had chosen the same name for the baby as Cassie’s birth mom. Cassie and I also spent some time with her in the hospital before she was discharged. It was actually a neat time to get to know her a little, see her love for Cassie, and have some special times that I can share with Cassie as she grows. With domestic adoptions, open adoptions are the norm. It is rare to find birth parents who choose a confidential/closed adoption where you have no contact or background information from them. For our future, we have a semi-open adoption which means that we will send the birth mom pictures and updates throughout Cassie’s life. Because Cassie’s birth mom is a 10.5 hour drive (14 hours with kids), we told her that it would be very impractical to have an open adoption but we are open to helping Cassie meet her birth family when the time is right. As Cassie grows and matures, we want her to be secure in her place in our family. She will always know that she is adopted. She will also know that she is fully the daughter of Amos and Christin just like her sister, Andrea.
- How do you explain adoption to your biological children? Our children are still very young (4 and 2) so our explanations are pretty basic. When we first told them we were adopting we said, “We are going to have a baby but the baby is not in Mommy’s tummy.” While we’ve talked about it since then, they have taken everything at face value and haven’t asked a lot of questions. Now that we’re home, Andrea often comes up to me with a stuffed animal and some story like, “Mommy, I found this baby in the forest who doesn’t have a mommy. Can you take care of her?” It was interesting telling the 6 year old daughter of a friend and hearing all of her questions about the birth mom so I am sure that we will share more as they grow and encounter different situations.
- Andrea (and Kenny), how you feel about your new baby sister? Andrea: “I love her. She is the most beautiful baby ever.” Kenny is very proud of “my little sister” and dotes on her constantly. I love how this adoption is very normal for them and they accept Cassie unconditionally.
- What have been some of the best parts of adoption for you? I have loved the support our family, church, and community have shown us as we have gone through this journey. It has also been neat to hear the experiences of friends and family who have been intimately involved with an adoption. The best part, though, has been to see God reveal different aspects of Himself to me and His redemptive story throughout our adoption journey. One of the biggest things that stick out to me is how intentional God had to be when He chose to adopt us into His heavenly family. During this past year, I often camped myself at Ephesians 1:4-11.
“…He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…” (emphasis mine)
God’s adoption of people into His family was not a passive act. It was not even a one-time act. He had to do the preliminary work. Then when the time was right, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to pay the penalty for our sin on the cross. Any time along the way, He could have stopped. He could have decided that it wasn’t worth the cost. But if He had stopped, there would be no adoption as sons and heirs. Similarly, Amos and I had to be intentional with every step along the way to adopt Cassie into our family. I felt like life during pregnancy was adapting because I physically couldn’t do more. When adopting, I had to set aside a specific time to work on the paperwork. We were not going to have a baby until we completed every step to its fullest. At the same time the Lord reinforced that His timing is perfect. I had to trust Him that we wouldn’t miss “our baby” because I was caring for sick kids and couldn’t make time to work on the adoption checklist. He slowed us down and sped us up at different times this past year. He is sovereign and His ways will not be thwarted.
- What have been some of the hardest parts of adoption for you? Looking back the hardest part was to trust God to open and close doors. Despite all our research and conversations, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had to trust God to lead us each step of the way. Currently, I am still processing the reality of adoption. The first month of Cassie’s life, I felt as if I were in mourning. Mourning for what Cassie has lost and how the consequences of someone else’s choices affect her. I also have the physical difficulties of adding a third child into the family: sleep deprivation while still keeping up with the “big kids,” not having time to eat or sleep or shower, etc… motherhood is hard work whether our kids are adopted or biological.
- Do you have any other tips/words of advice or wisdom that you want to share? Cassie is worth it. Our current system, and even the American concept of adoption, is far from perfect but… she is worth it. This past year has shifted my perspective on adoption. I have always been told that adoptive parents are “given a gift” when they adopt a child. While Cassie is a humongous blessing to us and yes, “every good and perfect gift is from the Father,” she wasn’t really a gift to us. Cassie is alive because her birth mother chose to “gift” life to her. Cassie is our daughter because we paid the price. In a very literal sense, we have bought her and redeemed her. She is worth every penny we spent and every sacrifice we made to make her part of our family.
I have LOVED doing this series on adoption throughout this month. Next week I have a special guest post from a child who grew up in the foster care system and was adopted from foster care. I think that it’s really important to have this discussion on adoption. One of my goals has been to open up the conversation about how adoption might look for different families. It NEVER looks the same. To one family, international adoption is what God has laid on their hearts. To another, adoption from foster care. And to another, domestic adoption. So often we as humans (and our culture) is so set on doing it “the right way” that we completely miss out on what we should actually be doing! Just in case you missed it, you can find the other adoption posts here: