By Melissa Miller
In July of 2015 we decided to take one tiny step towards adoption.
Both my husband and I were adopted, myself as a teenager and my husband at birth. We always knew we wanted to adopt, but we weren’t sure on the timing. With three biological children in tow, we weren’t sure if we were ready when we took that small step three years ago. However, we marveled at the peace we felt, so we took another step, and another. After CPR/first aid/pool safety courses, psychological exams, multiple home inspections, stacks of paperwork, and countless training courses and conferences, we finally await a referral from the country we are adopting from. We didn’t realize one tiny step towards adoption can turn into falling in love with a child you’ve never met. They might not grow in your tummy, but they certainly grow in your heart!
Here are a few things we’ve learned through being “paper pregnant.”
• International Adoptions can take a LONG time.
Our agency equipped us well for the long wait, but we still misunderstood how long. When they said the waiting process took about 2 years, we thought that meant from the time of the initial step. Actually, it’s 2 years from the time you submit your dossier (basically after ALL the paperwork is complete, sent, and approved by the other country). Although God’s timing is perfect, knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have announced our adoption quite so early. Everyone always asks “How much longer?” or “Any news?” I give them the same response, “Still waiting!” It’s kind of funny, but definitely a tip I would pass on to anyone interested in international adoption … unless you like answering the same question over and over again … maybe wait a bit to make it Facebook official. Haha!
• Thank God for Birth Mothers and Birth Families
When I first started the adoption process, a part of me feared my child someday wanting to find their birth mother. What would it be like to (gulp) share my child? That’s not something I’ve had to do with my biological children.
But this year held some big surprises for the Miller family. Through Ancestry DNA and a little digging, my husband found his birth mother, Karen. Much to our surprise, Karen went on to marry his birth father…and later they had two daughters. My husband has two full-blood sisters! In one night my husband discovered an entire birth family! In no way did his discovery detract love from his adoptive family. If anything, it brought us more appreciation for the gift of family we’ve been given, all the way around. Love didn’t divide, it multiplied!
The whole process turned our hearts to God with thankfulness again and again. I finally got to say what I’ve always wanted to say to my husband’s birth mother: “THANK YOU for the choice you made! You gave me my best friend, an incredible husband, and he’s an amazing father to our children.”
Even if contact isn’t possible with the birth mother or birth family, one prayer is worth praying: Thank you God for the birth mother who made the choice to give my child LIFE!
My perspective certainly changed. If my child becomes curious about their birth parents, as long as the situation is healthy, I won’t hold them back, I’ll hold their hand.
• Adoption isn’t always expensive
This disclaimer probably goes without saying, but no one should adopt or foster a child because it’s financial beneficial. But I wanted to address this topic because I’ve spoken to many who feel called to adopt, who think they can’t do it because it’s too expensive. That’s not true! Actually, there is no cost for foster-to-adopt directly through your local county or state. In fact, they provide you with monthly financial support for your child. And if my information is still correct, the child’s college is paid for by the state upon graduation.
Depending on the country, you might not pay much for your adoption (in the long run). We didn’t know this at the time we chose the international route, but the tax credit (once the adoption is finalized), will be almost the exact amount of our agency fees/adoption expenses. Another fun fact, is that we are open to a sibling set. Instead of double the fees, it’s $1,000 more per sibling in the country we are adopting from. It’s different for each country and each agency, but we haven’t done any fundraising so far (we may do so when it comes time to book those international flights though!) Private infant adoptions can get expensive, as well as certain countries, but not every scenario is expensive. If there is a calling on your life to adopt, it’s worth gathering information about your options, even if the timing isn’t right now.
If God planted a seed of desire in your heart to adopt, I hope this information helped bring clarity or removed a barrier of intimidation for you. Attend an informational meeting and ask a lot of questions. Maybe, like us, you’ll find your one tiny step leading to another, and another.
Psalm 68:5-6 - A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…
Melissa Miller is married to her best friend and has three children. She serves alongside her husband at Canvas Church in San Diego, CA. Melissa works for a marriage ministry, and is passionate about helping marriages and families thrive. Melissa and her husband are in the process of adopting internationally. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, and beach days with her family. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!