Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My advice for waiting families

After how difficult our adoption journey has been so far, I felt like I should share a few things that I wish we had known when we began waiting for a referral.  This is just my two cents, so take it for what it's worth.  Maybe this will help someone.
  • Remember that you are not obligated to say "yes" to a referral.  Yes, it is an exciting time, but try your best to separate your emotions from the situation.  This may or may not be the child that God has intended for your family.  The matching is done by human hands, which God certainly does work through, but humans are not perfect.  Take a few days and discuss the child's medical reports with a physician, and pray.  Pray that you and your spouse will be in agreement over your decision and that you will have peace about the decision that you make. 
  • Be realistic about what kinds of medical issues you will be open to.  Don't accept a child with special needs if you truly feel that you are not going to be able to address those needs.  The treatment for some medical conditions can be very costly.  Can you afford it?  Will it mean that you will have to modify your home?  Is the child so sick that they might not live long enough for you to bring them home?  These are hard things to wrestle with, but I feel that it is best to be realistic and be prayerful about what God is calling your family to do. 
  • Have a doctor in mind before you get your referral.  We consulted an International Pediatrician regarding our first two referrals.  No, their services are not cheap, but they are very helpful.  You may want to consult a traditional pediatrician first, and then if there are any red flags that you want to talk about with a specialist do so then. 
  • Once you get your referral, remember that the child's medical report is not going to be complete.  We don't know what either of our girls weighed at birth or if they were born premature or full term. The International Pediatrician taught us how to consider the "what ifs?" regarding the rest of the story.
  • If there is something weighing on your mind that you want to talk about with your social worker, do it.  That is what they are there for and they want to help you.
  • Consider how you want to share the good news of a referral with your family and friends.  Do you want to tell them right away, the day you get the call?  Do you want to wait until you speak with a doctor?  Do you want to wait until you have turned in the acceptance papers?  Do you want to wait a month or so until you've gotten an update on the child?  It just depends on what you are comfortable with.
  • Remember that just because you have accepted a referral that your adoption is not a "done deal."  There are a number of things that could happen that could prevent you from bringing that child home.  The child could get sick and die before you even meet them, as has happened to us twice.  The birth family has the right to claim custody until they appear in court.  I know of someone who had a referral fall through just days before their court date because the birthmother picked the child up from the orphanage.  Once you travel for court and meet your child, you might realize that they have a significant special need that you are not going to be able to face.  
  • Hold off on registering for items for the child until you have passed court.  After we got our first referral, we began to talk about when we should register for baby things.  I wanted to wait until we had passed court to register, but for various reasons we went ahead and registered.  I really, really, really wish we had waited.  We've had a nursery pretty much ready since October.  I had never wanted to have that happen.  A crib set up for months with no baby in sight.  Having the room ready so early has not really been a good thing for me psychologically.  If we had this to do over again, I would definitely not register for baby things until we had passed court and I would stick with gender neutral items.  There will be plenty of time to get a baby's room ready in between your court date and embassy date.
I don't mean to scare anyone, I just wanted to share a few things that I wish we had known a year ago.  Be happy and enjoy this time of adding a child to your family, but be realistic.  Just like there can be all kinds of unknowns with a pregnancy, there can be a lot of unknowns with adoption. 


  1. I think this is a very good reminder to all who are waiting. We were fortunate not to have any of these complications, but they are all very possible and wouldn't have been prepared. Praying for you and your husband.

  2. Great entry Stephanie and I continue to pray for you and James during this time. Love you!

  3. Continueing to pray for you.