This guest post is by Kathy Rau, an adoptive parent.
Whether you are new to the adoption world or have experience with adoption, the process can set you into a whirlwind of emotions: joy, fear, excitement, anticipation, worry, stress and pure giddiness!
But in the end holding your new child makes it all seem long forgotten.
I am an adoptive mom of four beautiful children. Each and every one of my adoptions was uniquely different.
The final outcome, however, was the same: a family!
I want to share my process with you in hopes that you can walk away with a little more insight into the potential of adopting.
My husband and I made the decision to adopt after learning we were not able to conceive on our own.
I can remember the excitement that followed our decision.
However, once the decision to adopt was made we had so many more decisions ahead of us.
The most important was our adoption plan.
First, we had to decide if we wanted to do an international or domestic adoption. We thought long and hard and chose domestic.
This decision is very personal and only you can make the right choice for your family.
Things we considered were finances, our support system, religion and pure logistics of travel.
The next big decision was whether we wanted closed versus open adoption.
This decision can be very difficult. We chose closed for our first adoption and we also chose to go through our local Department of Social Services.
It was another personal decision based on our life style and finances.
Our foster care/adoption classes lasted nine weeks and were very informative. I remember wondering why everyone wanting children (whether by birth or adoption) didn’t have to take parenting classes.
I really think this would be beneficial. But that’s another subject matter.
Our first adoption was a nine-week-old baby girl. She was placed into foster care during her first week of life and then with us 8 weeks later.
I will never forget the first time we met her. It was emotionally overwhelming. We were able to bring her home two days later.
Her first night home had us feeling full of joy and anxiety. We were new parents and it showed. I remember dragging our queen mattress into her room and sleeping on her floor next to the crib.
Looking back at how naïve we were makes me laugh.
This adoption was considered closed, although we were provided with pretty good background information about her.
When our daughter was two, we moved about 45 minutes away. We called our new local Department of Social Services and requested to register with them.
The social workers were lovely and able to come to our home and register us pretty quickly. However, they informed us that they rarely had infants come through their department.
Two weeks after we were official foster parents in that county we received an unexpected phone call! We were asked if we were interested in a baby boy who was born the day before and needed a family to care for him.
We couldn’t believe it! I remember going to the hospital to pick him up. As we drove away, I told my husband I felt as if I were stealing someone’s baby.
It was just so unexpected. Our support system was great, though, and everyone chipped in to help us with the transition.
I couldn’t believe how blessed we were to now have a boy and a girl.
As we adjusted to having two children we had occasionally fostered children here and there, but they usually returned home.
Those situations were always bittersweet. When my son turned 1 ½ we were contacted by a friend about a potential baby needing a loving family.
This situation was different from our previous social service experiences. A pregnant woman had come into a homeless shelter for women across country and was looking at creating an adoption plan for her baby.
Our friend had received an email inquiring about potential adopters. They immediately called me and explained the situation. They also gave me the number to the facility.
I was nervous but picked up the phone and called her immediately. I spoke directly with the expectant mother and introduced myself. We talked for about 20 minutes and I asked permission to send her information about my family.
She agreed to look it over. I quickly put together a photo album and introduction letter. I really wasn’t sure what I was doing but I took a chance.
The expectant mother called me after receiving the package and agreed to make an adoption plan with our family.
This was a crazy and unexpected miracle.
Our son was born premature a few months later. We flew across the country and spent one month in her hometown.
Originally we had plans to meet her and her other children. However, her circumstances changed and we never met.
She currently knows our names and where we live but we have not been in contact with one another.
Our fourth and final adoption wasn’t until four years later. This particular adoption started out as a foster care situation. We were given the opportunity to care for a nine-month-old baby boy.
During his time as a foster child we met his mother and had her in our home on several occasions. After two years he became available for adoption and we were thrilled.
We were now officially a party of six! Although the birthmother knows us we also have not been in contact with one another.
My husband and I hope that one day our children can reconnect with their birth families if they so desire.
This, too, is a huge personal decision. There are lots of factors in choosing whether or not you should reconnect.
I am not an expert on adoption. I just love to share our story.
I feel it’s important to know all your options and to do your due diligence in researching what is the best scenario for your family.
There is no greater joy than to share your life with a child.
Kathy Rau lives in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia and is raising four children with her husband, Mark. For over 20 years, Kathy has been a licensed veterinary technician and currently works one day a week in emergency medicine. While the kids are in school, Kathy caters to the community by providing help through her business Your Girl Friday FXBG. Learn more here and here.
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