There is something innately beautiful about loving and caring for a child birthed by someone else and having the opportunity to love them as your own.
I have always wanted to adopt a child because I believe that there is something innately beautiful about loving and caring for a child birthed by someone else and the opportunity to love them as your own — a direct example of God’s unselfish love. For me, adoption was never a question of want, but always a question of timing, and on my very first date with my husband 13 years ago, our mutual desire to adopt and journey to adoption and building a purposely blended familybegan.
Fortunately, fertility was never an issue for me. In fact, I took on the name “Fertile Myrtle” because my first born was a honeymoon baby and three years after that we “planned” my second pregnancy. Despite this being a blessing…
What proved to be challenging was the process of bringing a child home and blending our family via adoption.
The process of adoption is time-consuming and intrusive, to say the least. My husband and I went through home studies and approvals, created adoption profiles, had background checks done and more before we were approved to be adoptive parents. Beyond all of that, searching for a child to be the perfect fit for our family wasn’t as simple as one may think.
A lot of the adoption search was done through websites that are similar to online dating sites. You go through and click on preferred options like the age, gender, and ethnicity of a child. But, more importantly, there is a section where you can select the trauma that you’re willing to “handle” ranging from children with ADHD to those that may be severely handicapped. It was a lot, sometimes overwhelming, and at the end of the day, it can become as obsessive as checking social media hourly. Constantly logging on to see if new profiles were added or if any of the children in our favorites had been adopted. At times we even played around with the criteria selections to be less restrictive in finding a matching in hopes that it would yield more children in our search results.
We did this until we got “the call.”
My husband and I were beyond excited to be called and asked to interview to be the parents of the most beautiful little 5-year-old boy. As we read his profile over and over again, we began to imagine him being in our home. He needed our family and we needed him. In our hearts, we had already said yes to him being the child to complete our family.
Shortly after the interview, we were informed that we were not selected.
After receiving that devastating news, I cried the entire 4-hour drive home while venting to my husband about my overwhelming sense of hurt and, paradoxically, happiness. I was sad for obvious reasons, but I was happy that this child was going to get out. It was his turn to have a chance at life where he would no longer be a ward of the state. He was going to be adopted before the age of 8 which is critical since after that children “age out” and are less likely to be adopted because there are less people willing to adopt older children.
Unfortunately, my happy thoughts were quickly overtaken by thoughts of hurt.
I couldn’t help but flashback to the moment we saw another couple in the waiting area, Caucasian, who were clearly interviewing for the parental job as well. How could this child’s team (caseworker, social worker, psychologists, and foster mother) not believe that my husband and I were the best family for this child? How could a Caucasian family possibly know how to raise a young Black child — a young Black boy in America? What is the quality of his life going to be? How will he form his identity? This rejection was such a blow to my utopian-like thoughts on adoption that I stopped searching.
Over the next year, I still would look at the child’s photo and wonder about his happiness, whether or not he lived in a safe neighborhood, attended a great school, or whether or not he went to a church with people that look like him. Eventually, I realized that I had to let him go, so I just prayed he was well. Once I reached that point, I slowly began logging back into my adoption matching site to see if there were any new children added that fit our family — a boy between the ages of 3 and 7 that may have dealt with mild trauma. We were told by our case managers that our chance of getting a child in that age range was slim to none and that we should consider fostering. We were told that if a child makes it to the website it is typically because they have major trauma or are older.
Despite odds not being in our favor, I kept scrolling through profiles, clicking on photos, looking at videos and wondering what the quality of life was like for each child. I decided to increase the number of siblings to two and increased the age from 8 to 9. We did not initially desire to adopt two children, I just wanted to see what the search would return.
On a random Sunday afternoon, my husband and I were sitting in our loft. I was reading adoption profiles while he was watching some game on TV. I was talking to him and asking him questions about the possibility of adopting two children or potentially adopting a girl. At that moment two of the cutest little brown babies popped up at the top of the page that I was on. I read their profiles, shared that with my husband, and we watched their videos and kept scrolling through their profiles.
The following days were filled with conversations between my husband and I about whether or not we could handle two new children at the same time and how that dynamic would affect our children who were 3 and 6 at the time.
We eventually decided to reach out to their caseworker a week later to see if we’d get a response. We did.
In order for us to fully prepare for our next interview, my husband and I divided and conquered everything and fully dedicated ourselves to the process. I buried myself in research, processes, phone calls, and I contacted and followed up with every person attached to the case. My husband made sure to catch every pass I threw his way. If there was a resource we needed, he provided it. If there was a person we needed to speak to, he arranged it. At this point, we were calling these children “our babies” and were determined to get them out of the system.
We interviewed to be the parents of these beautiful souls for two months and were selected to be their forever home despite encountering lot of hurdles and navigating through Department of Child Services. We had conversations with our children and extended families, bought beds and essentials, and submerged ourselves with information about the new children that would help us all transition more smoothly.
On June 6, 2015, we became a family of six.
The first few months was like bringing home a new baby from the hospital — everyone is gentle. There are lots of family meet and greets, but the only difference is that these children had a life that they remembered, favorite colors and foods that already existed. Not many of us can truly imagine what it is like being passed around from home-to-home and then being told that you’ve now found a home that would be your final destination. This was a whole new world of stability for them, and as a family, we were determined to get through the culture shock together.
Though we blended our family through adoption just three short years ago, it seems like an eternity ago. Many people that meet us don’t know that we adopted. Not because it’s a secret, but not only do people see happy children, they see all four kids as our children.
The truth is, adoption is not for the faint of heart. It is not for families who don’t have a strong family support system, a stable foundation or a willingness to face challenges and problem solve.Adopting children should be an intentional decision in the same way that selecting your partner is.
We are raising and loving our adopted children on purpose and with purpose that has proven to yield blessings that permeate beyond the four walls of our home. Adoption isn’t for every person or every family, but it is something that can change your life and the life of children in need of love forever.