Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Unfolding Path

*Edited: I couldn't take the boring titles anymore. They were totally bugging me. So. I re-named yesterday and today's posts. And I feel much, much better.

Go ahead, read on...

You know you've gone on too long with an answer when you have a part 2 (a) and (b).... I know, I'm appalled at the lack of creativity in my titling.  I can only beg mercy - it smells vaguely of carpet cleaner and anti-bacterial cleaning solution in here and I'm sure it's negatively affecting that creative lobe of my brain... 

"How Did You Know
What Kind of Adoption
Was Right For You?"

So, when someone is sincerely interested in trying to figure out what type of adoption is right for them and they want to know how we came to International Adoption as our answer, and then to the China program, and then to the Special Needs (a.k.a. Waiting Child) program, I try to share what we've learned along the way.  If you will remember, our "along the way" has been a long time coming, since I was in junior high (eons ago, I know!). So I've had lots and lots of years to poke around and answer this question for me. I'm hoping that this helps you at least start the process of finding the answer for YOU.

First, I think it's really important, if you are a family of faith, to seek the Lord and try to hear His leading for your family on the kind of adoption He may be guiding you toward. Spend time in the Word, seek the counsel of trusted advisors and mentors, read up on the stories of others in your faith community who have followed various adoption paths. Hopefully, you've come to this conversation already armed with at least that resource - hang on to it, it will hold you in good stead in the paths to come!!!!

Closely connected to hearing from the Lord is hearing from your family. Include your children (age appropriately) and your siblings and their families. Talk with your parents. Whether those folks are believers in the same vein as you or not, they are family. They know you best. AND, and this is a big AND, they will be family to the child that you choose to bring home. Please don't hear what I'm not saying: these folks can't make the decision for you, but adding to your family via adoption does directly and intimately affect them. And they might have some great insight to offer. At the very least, including them in the conversation acknowledges that you "get" that your choice(s) affect them and vice-versa.

Another really important thing to consider when seeking out the path that your future adoption might take is research.  Throw yourself into it. Attend open houses of adoption agencies. Pore over their websites. Take a class at your local Children's Services agencies. Go to the library and look for books on domestic adoptions. There are tons of different ways to adopt domestically - researching one method often opens up links and connections to other types of adoptions to be considered. The same is true for international adoption. Every country has a distinctly different "taste" to its program. Ask local agencies for referrals and speak to their clients. Make appointments to consult with the administrations of the different offices in your area. Word of mouth is probably the most common "referral" that an agency (both domestic and international) can offer, and is really worth tracking down. Talk to friends. You'll find yourself smack dab in the middle of a whole new community and a whole (sometimes overwhelming!) resource pool. Take advantage of it and take your time with what you are learning!

Whether you feel domestic adoption is the route you are heading or international adoption is for you, it all really depends on you doing your homework. You have to arm yourself with information. Once you've decided on what adoption road you will be traveling, well, that's just the beginning of the process of gathering resources and information for the journey. Often, in conversing with other adoptive parents, I've discovered that the actual path of domestic or international, (or non-special needs or special needs, "as young as possible" or older child adoption, etc.) all comes out of the PROCESS of deciding whether or not to even pursue adoption.

It's almost as if, once you have started the researching and informing of your family about the general idea of adoption as a means for building your family, the path of what kind of adoption often grows naturally out of that. That's not to say that this is how it works out for every family, but I've seen it and heard it over and over in so many families with whom I have connected.  It's as if there's something in the "should we or shouldn't we" that changes once you start digging in to the information that is out there. That's kind of how it happened for us.
For more details on our adoption journey, and how we got to our Li'l Empress, you can start reading HERE and check out the series of posts that flow from it.
When we were ready to start our adoption journey back in the winter of '06, I hopped on-line and started searching for local agencies that had informational sessions coming up in our community. By that point, we knew that the Lord was leading us to international adoption and we were pretty much only looking at nations in Asia. We were fairly set on China (again, because we had many years of thinking about adoption before we actually were able to start the process), but trying very hard to keep our hearts and minds open to other countries. A friend in the neighborhood knew we were interested in Chinese adoption and called to share about an informational meeting being held at her church.  We already had this agency's info packet on our stack, so we sent the kids to my sister's house for the afternoon and went to the meeting. It turns out, the session was being sponsored by a "support group" at this church for adoptive families. So, in addition to getting some really great information, we also made initial contacts with some other families that were living the life we felt God was directing us into.

The next time I share, I'll talk about picking an agency and our experiences with that process. Until then, jump in on the conversation. If you've already adopted, or are in process, how did you know what kind of adoption was right for your family?  If you are still thinking and wondering about adoption, what further questions does this (admittedly, very round-about) attempt at answering the question pose for you? What else are you thinking about?


Andrea said...

Well done.
Thanks for stopping by today!


Aus said...

Morning GM - great stuff here! It's a Blessing that you got to meet a family group that early. One of the great joys and hidden Blessings of adoption is that we are all part of a 'greater family' - I didn't expect that - and I'm glad to have it!

Looking forward to more - hugs - aus and co.