When I reflect on our adoption journey, I am overwhelmed by how many good and bad things had to happen for us to have the opportunity to welcome our daughter Emily into our family. Adoption is truly a paradox. It brings joy and hope to families and children, while at the same time every child and parent in adoption has experienced some kind of loss.
For many years, I wanted nothing more than to have a family and become a mother. Even though my husband was adopted, adoption was not Plan A, Plan B or even Plan C for us! I experienced several years of infertility and miscarriages, yet I kept praying that the next process would finally work. After my last failed IVF, God answered my prayers in a way I never expected – He opened my heart to adoption. When I told my husband I wanted to go to an adoption open house, he told me that it had been on his mind as well.
We decided to work with DCF for our license (instead of a private adoption agency) mainly because my husband was adopted from the DCF foster care system when he was approximately three years old. We learned a lot through our training classes and what stood out the most was the impact of the losses that are part of adoption. I knew I needed to fully process the losses I experienced during infertility before I could truly embrace a child. I also spent a lot of time reflecting on both the birth parents’ grief over terminating their parental rights and wondering how my prospective child might process the loss of the birth family.
We were over the moon when we found out we were chosen as the foster-to-adopt home for Emily! She was three weeks old when she arrived and instantly won our hearts. The legal process to get from foster placement to adoption lasted much longer than we expected and was very stressful. Our case had many twists and turns and there were times when we didn't know if she may be removed from our home and reunited with a family member. From what I have gathered from connecting with other foster-to-adoptive parents, that is a common experience.
Throughout the court proceedings, we believed that Emily was meant to be with us and we felt so fortunate when the court date arrived for her official adoption. She was two years old and three months on adoption day. Emily is now four and is the light of our lives!
In hindsight, it is so clear that she is the child we were meant to have. Everything that happened along the path had to happen to get to this result. We frequently get comments about how lucky she is to be part of our family. Every time we hear that, we are quick to “correct” and point out that we are the lucky ones to get to be her parents. We are navigating the challenges that come with being adoptive parents. Every situation is different, every adopted child is different and we certainly do not have all the answers!
We have a few guiding principles that we are trying to implement. First, we feel strongly that it is important for Emily to know she is adopted. We plan to be open with her, share what we know about her birth family and celebrate her adoption day every year. Second, we have tried to learn as much as we can about her birth family history to better understand any health and behavior issues she may experience. Third and most importantly, we are committed to giving her all the love in our hearts and making every sacrifice we need to make to give her the best life we can possibly provide. She and her birth family are deserving of those efforts.