The Truth About Adoption

Nearly every one of my fellow adoptive mama friends who are on Facebook shared a blog post recently that gives some really excellent insight into the world of the waiting adoptive mama. It’s good, accurate, honest information. I’ve both said and been told by others that I could have written it myself. But, I didn’t.

So, here’s my truth – the good, the bad, the brutally honest:


As the adoption journey begins, we mamas idealize what the process will be like, just as biological mamas idealize what their birth story will be like, how their children will behave, how not one ounce of refined sugar will ever touch the lips of their angelic offspring.

Adoptive mamas imagine that, no matter how many horror stories people seem to enjoy telling us, our story will be different; better. We’ll announce our plan to adopt a baby, a black baby, and our family, our friends, our people will embrace us and cry and share our joy. We’ll be more organized than the fools whose stories somehow went so terribly off track. Our perfectly organized, color coded, ridiculously cute, chevron printed owl folders will be the key to keeping us on track, ensuring that not one document is misplaced. Our case worker at the adoption agency will be so impressed with our great attitude and attention to detail that we’ll surely be the client they look forward to hearing from. They’ll call weekly to give detailed updates and, sometimes, even just to check in.

We’ll receive a referral quickly and the entire family will gather around the computer and open the email together. The picture will appear on the screen and everyone will squeal and cry tears of joy because we all just know that this is the one – the one little person who is meant for our family.

Each step beyond that first picture will fall into place beautifully. Donations will pour in, because there are so many lovely and wonderful people in our lives who love us, who love Jesus, who want to live out the commandment of James 1:27, who will be honored and delighted to give to such a worthy endeavor.

It took nearly no time at all before the reality of the process smacked us upside the head.

There’s no way we could have predicted the varying responses from our friends and family to our adoption announcement. Most were happy and excited, others questioned bluntly why we weren’t pursuing a domestic adoption, some wondered aloud how difficult it might be to welcome a child of a different race into our family. One friend barely reacted at all and nearly stopped speaking to me altogether. When I confronted her about it, I learned that she was jealous and hurt that we planned to adopt a baby. To this day, I don’t truly understand what happened. Things only went downhill from that point and we’re no longer in one another’s lives.

I organized and color coded and gathered every required document into the prettiest binder you’ve ever seen. At first, our case worker was in constant contact with me, asking for paperwork, just “checking in”, making us feel pretty darn important. As we turned in our paperwork and began waiting for a referral, the phone calls and emails nearly came to a dead stop and I began to wonder if we’d been forgotten or replaced by a friendlier and more organized family.

When we finally did receive a referral, my girls and I were in the car and Brad was at work. I pulled over on the side of the road, put Brad on speaker phone and we opened the picture “together”. Staring back at us were three beautiful boys. Even as we accepted the referral, I knew that they would never be our sons. But, we felt that we were being obedient to what God had called us to do. It was not the joyfully overwhelming and beautiful experience I’d had my heart set on. It was scary and full of uncertainties which were only magnified by the fact that Brad and I felt so completely unqualified to take on such a tremendous responsibility. After all, we were already parents to three bio daughters and, some days, we weren’t so sure we were qualified to parent them!

Within just a couple months after we accepted the referral for the triplets, my ideals began to unravel even more. We learned that the agency we were working with had come under a great deal of scrutiny and it became more and more clear that it was time to terminate our contract, forfeit our referral and move on to a different agency. And, just like that, we were no longer trying to wrap our heads around parenting six children. Just like that, we signed on with the agency that had done our home study and just. like. that… We had a new referral.

This time, I was the first one to see his picture. The girls were at school and Brad was at work. My mom was cleaning my kitchen and I was in front of the computer. The most beautiful baby boy I’d ever seen appeared on my screen and, instantly, I was smitten.

That was last July. Over one year ago. July of Two-Thousand-TWELVE. I’ll never forget my case worker telling me to, “Pray for Thanksgiving, but count on Christmas” to welcome him home.

When the holidays passed with absolutely no progress in our case, I was heart-broken. “Hang in there, Shellie – just a couple more months.” In February, we learned that the US Embassy was changing the way they conducted investigations, a crucial step just before the last few steps happen to finally bring a child home. It would add an additional 3-6 months on to our timeline. Again, I was crushed.

About six weeks ago, I got the call that we would “likely travel” to bring our guy home in “3-4 weeks”. Ummm… Did I mention that that was about 6 weeks ago?

Several other things have caused delays throughout the process, from Jecoah’s uncle protesting the adoption to his birth mother being unable to get away from her job to sign relinquishment papers. Throughout each setback, I’ve found myself being taken in by the lies that we tell ourselves, the lies that the deceiver wants badly for us to buy into: If I just had a little more faith, this wouldn’t be happening. Or, if I pray harder, this will all work out and he’ll be home soon. As if God can be manipulated into operating on my timeline.

There have been many times over the last few years when I’ve questioned the promise of Romans 8:28 ” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That’s me, right? I love God. I’ve been called. How can it be good for me that my son languish in an orphanage for even one more minute?

Here’s the good stuff: The last two words of the verse. HIS purpose. Not mine.

I don’t understand it, I don’t like it, I don’t want to wait anymore. But, I will. And, I will continue to have faith in my God, who has never, who will never disappoint. Ever. I will continue to pray that His will be done, no matter what.



One thought on “The Truth About Adoption

  1. A wonderful, heartfelt article, Shellie. You are dead on track, where no doubt others have “lost it.” Three questions: Is your boy in an orphanage or foster home? I thought it was the latter. Does his uncle have the clout to gum up the works, should he decide to? Ditto the birth mother. Is she so busy or blasé that her inaction could stop the process? Nevertheless, God knows the answers and He’s the Director, as you said.


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