Just ask Stephanie and Brian from our adopting parents page. They can’t wait to add another child to their New York family of five. As they write in their adoption profile, “We know that we are not the typical adoptive family, but that makes us even more special. Being part of a large family has so many wonderful benefits and your child will be able to experience them all.”
Recently I had a chance to ask Stephanie and Brian about those benefits and about the challenges they’ve faced in trying to expand their family through open adoption.
1. As you mention, you’re not a typical family. So what made you decide to adopt?
We always wanted to have a large family and as we have adoption threads running through both of our families, it was something we always discussed. After Stephanie’s pregnancies became progressively worse and the doctors advised against another pregnancy, we knew adoption was the right way to complete our family.
2. How do the kids feel about having a new sibling?
Our children are not only excited, but anxious to meet their new sibling. Our oldest daughter, being a teenager, has been an integral part of our adoption journey. Our younger two children have been involved to an appropriate extent based on their age. It is frustrating for them to have to wait without a known end date in sight and we often hear “why haven’t you found our new brother or sister yet” but we remind them that all of the excitement we have waiting for their sibling to find us will make it that much sweeter when they are finally here.
3. You mentioned that other people haven’t been as supportive. Tell me a little about the comments you’ve received…
Since our family and friends have been so completely supportive of our adoption plans, it took us by surprise when complete strangers, attacked us via our Facebook page. Most were not attacking us in particular, but rather adoption in general and it seems as if we simply have completely different views of what a wonderful choice adoption can be. We have also, occasionally come across those who believe that families that have children should not adopt. We disagree and believe that adoption is about finding the right family for a child and not the right child for a family.
Expectant parents choosing adoption should have the option of deciding whether they want their child to grow up as an only child or with siblings much in the same way they should be able to choose other aspects of an adoptive family that they feel would be best for their child. All families are different and all families are special because of their differences and it should be up to those expectant parents and not others to judge who should and should not be able to adopt.
4. You make a great case for large families in your letter. In your view, what are the benefits of having a large family?
What is not great about large families? Siblings can be your first friends and your best friends for your entire life. Your family members are the ones who are there for you when you need them most and when you don’t even know that you need them. We see the relationship our children have with each other, the way they support, care and love each other and know that no matter where their futures lead them, the greatest gift we have given them is each other. According to our children, having a large family is also great because there are more people to vote your way when trying to win an argument and more people to order different types of dessert that you can then try.We have always believed that a child (or a person for that matter) can never be loved and supported by too many people. We have always been supported and loved by our family and extended family and hope that the right expectant family is seeking just that for their child.
5. What are some of the things you’re doing in your networking efforts to overcome the fact that you’re not a typical family?
We are making sure to be open and honest in the type of family that we are and hoping that when the right expectant parents find us, we will be what they are looking for. We are proud of our family and our fantastically awesome kids and know that any child will be as lucky to have them as siblings as our kids will be to have a new sibling. We do not try to downplay or avoid the fact that we are not the typical family and we are just hopeful that the right person(s) will value all of the benefits our family has to offer.
6. Like a lot of people, I know you’ve had a bit of a learning curve with Twitter. What other networking tools are you using, and how easy has it been to use them?
In addition to Twitter, which we really are still getting the hang of, we have a website, a facebook page, participate in message boards and we “advertise” in various locations (our favorite, of course being America Adopts!). Some are easier than others with Twitter being the most difficult overall. Despite the fact that we consider ourselves pretty tech savvy, that one is still a bit tougher to conquer.
7. Which ones have you found most helpful?
Facebook has actually been the most rewarding networking tool because, in addition to connecting us with some wonderful prospective birthparents, we have found a whole community of people all somehow related to adoption. It has helped us learn about different perspectives, connect with others similarly situated or who have been in our shoes and we have found a whole network of support that we would not have otherwise had.
8. What kind of response have you received from prospective birthparents so far?
We have met some absolutely wonderful expectant parents and while we have not yet found our match, we really feel like each one has added something to our adoption journey and we feel lucky to have met each one of them for different reasons. Also having met different expectant parents in different stages of their decision as to whether or not to place, we feel like we have learned a lot of important things that have helped us become even more understanding and knowledgeable about not only how difficult such a decision is, but how truly selfless it is as well.
On the more disappointing side, we have also learned many of the true differences between real expectant parents who are truly considering making an adoption plan and other individuals either pregnant or not, who are simply trying to scam either emotionally or monetarily. We have been fortunate to not have become involved with any significant scams but it is sad that this is a reality in the adoption world in this day and age.
9. What are you doing to handle the wait?
We could say that we are patiently waiting… but that would not be accurate and we are not the type to lie. We are impatiently waiting, knowing that it is not yet time for us but hoping every day that today is that day. In the meantime, we focus on how fortunate we are to have three unbelievably fantastic kids and loving and nurturing them into three good, kind and amazing people who will be ready for their new sibling whenever that sibling comes.
10. What are your expectations about finding a match — do you have a deadline to adopt or are you just taking things one day at a time?
We have not put a deadline on our adoption hopes and expectations. That doesn’t mean that we are not constantly reevaluating what is right for our family but for now, we are just hopeful that our match will come soon and we will not have to take the next step to consider deadlines.
11. What advice do you have for other hopeful parents with a large family who are adopting or thinking of adopting?
For those that are considering adoption, do your research, learn everything you can to make sure that both you and your children understand everything that the adoption process entails not just during the match phase, but for your entire life as adoption does not end at match or placement. Regardless of how much openness your adoption may have, your family is adding not just a new child, but a whole new branch that should be loved and embraced by the entire family.
The road to adoption can be very bumpy and as a parent, it is important to know how much of that to share with your children and how to balance the excitement they may have with a new sibling with the reality that sometimes it takes a really long time. Overall, if you believe that adoption is right for your family, we wish you and your family only the best as you join us and the rest of the hopeful adoption parents on this unpredictable but hopefully successful journey.