Today’s blog post is a special treat! One of our adopting families, Derek and Richard, who adopted their daughter, Avery, through Adoption & Beyond, graciously agreed to be interviewed. We have the opportunity to listen to their story of adoption and glean from their experiences. Here’s some of what they had to say about the process (to watch the full interview, head to our YouTube channel:
Steffany: Why did you guys choose to adopt a child versus going with a surrogate or something like that?
Derek & Richard: Originally, we knew we wanted to have a family. So that was kind of step one. We got married and knew we wanted a family. And then we met with a local attorney in town to kind of understand our options. So whether that was adoption, whether that was a surrogate or whatever, we just wanted to make sure we were kind of clear on all of that. We didn’t really know exactly what we wanted. And then after meeting with him, we got a lot of resources, and it really came down to what is gonna be the best fit for us. We knew that adoption really felt the most right. So out of all of our options, that one really felt just [like the best option] to grow our family. And there are so many children out there that need a home and care. We just felt like, although we could go the surrogate route, we wanted to bring a little baby home with us that we could love forever and knew that that child needed a home.
Steffany: So what are your feelings about the birth family, and what is your relationship like with them?
Derek & Richard: We get along great with the birth mom. We text frequently, we send her pictures and stuff like that via text. And she’s actually coming to [Avery’s] first birthday party. So it’s just been a really great relationship with her. We’ve never met the birth father just because he wasn’t in the picture. But that’s okay. We did have her whole family over for Christmas, and we did some cookie making and things like that. So we’ve really gained an extended family, which is great. And we’ve been really blessed with this family because they had adoption already in their family; [the] birth mom’s grandmother was adopted and it’s been a very positive experience. So it’s been a little bit easier, I would say, probably than the norm or compared to most, but it’s been really great. Like we’ve just really enjoyed that ease of sharing and not worrying about hurting each other’s feelings or having to put up too many boundaries, we’ve been really comfortable together.
Steffany: So what do you wish you knew before going into the adoption process that you know now?
Derek & Richard: The first thing that we went right into was the home study. It is bigger than I think we realized initially, but it’s manageable. It’s not something that is just outside of the norm, but I mean it’s a lot. It’s gonna ask you a lot of questions and really make you think through your reasons. Why do you wanna be a parent? Why are you capable, or have you thought about this? So I think that kind of got me off guard. I thought it was just like we said, “We wanna do it.” What’s funny is you all have been so wonderful and told us everything, like this is gonna be hard… it just doesn’t really click until you’re in the heat of it all. So I would just say listen to Adoption & Beyond, they’re telling you everything and it’s all true. It’s very intrusive. Let’s just be real.
Steffany: What do you wanna share with others to help calm their nerves about the home study process?
Derek & Richard: So I think for us, the biggest thing was to take it in chunks. Don’t try to boil the ocean. It can get really overwhelming, really fast. So what we did was we set a goal a few months out and see how much we can get through in that amount of time. And then on the weekends, we would say, all right, let’s take this section and let’s work through it. And so we would take a section at a time and really just kind of work through that.
And then you’re really feeling like you’re making progress versus [starting] all these different pieces, but [not] really making it very far. Doing that and staying really organized [because] there’s just a lot of moving pieces. The book that you provide is very helpful, very organized. Stick to the manual, chapter by chapter, and what you need to do, that’s really been the way that we got through it. Use your resources. We had Shawna and she was amazing [because] we could call at any given moment and she’d be like, “Yep, it’s right here.” Just use those resources. They’re really there to help you. So just to clarify, break it down into chunks that you can manage and chew on and move through.
Steffany: Just to bring some clarification for families who are just starting the process, our home study is now in a portal, so it’s online. So there’s no longer that notebook of materials. Shawna was the home study coordinator. She was one of our case workers. So just to bring clarification on who Shawna was.
Why did you choose to work with Adoption & Beyond? And can you talk a little bit about your experience with Adoption & Beyond?
Derek & Richard: I originally chose Adoption & Beyond because we met with the same lawyer a couple of times, and he recommended you. He recommended two different places. So we obviously Googled both of you and did our research. We also had a family friend that has adopted two children. And so I sent both links to her and she said Adoption & Beyond was by far the best. We really wanted a family-friendly agency for same-sex couples. We’re probably a little different from a larger audience, but it was important that we were treated with the same respect that other couples would be treated with as well.
There are a lot of agencies today that are very faith-based which is fine. We were concerned that we could be potentially discriminated against in a sense of being a same-sex couple. So it was just good to get a recommendation. And then, like we said, we did our research and absolutely it was the best fit for us. And obviously, you, Steffany, are extremely thorough. You helped us along the way. You never judged us. You were great to work with. And we just are very thankful that it was good to have someone that was very sympathetic to everything we were asking and didn’t treat us differently.
Steffany: We had you attend an in-person workshop which is actually now an online course. So it’s basically taking the same content and putting it online. What did you find most informative about Adoption & Beyond’s adoption training?
Derek & Richard: It was the in-person class that was probably our most eye-opening experience. And I think it’s the content. It took a lot of the preconceived notions around what we expected a birth mother to look like in her experiences and the things that you kind of learn. You learn it more through that content. I think for me personally, the course work was helpful, but there was also a video that was shown that really kind of showed somebody going through the process in the hospital and understanding the different rooms and the dynamic. It’s hard to visualize if you’ve never gone through that… For us to see that in a video was really helpful because we knew what was coming. It wasn’t a surprise…we knew that [it was] gonna be a stressful time regardless.
Steffany: So what was the best part of your adoption process?
Derek & Richard: Meeting Avery in the hospital. We got the call from you that she [the birth moth] was ready to sign the papers.
And it was just like a breath of fresh air. We rushed to the hospital and had everything and they let us in and we went up to the room and the whole family was there which was wonderful. But it was also a little bit stressful as well. But just seeing her for the first time,and she needed to be changed and Derek got to change her for the first time and it just was incredible to look at her and see her and know that she is ours and to feel in that moment our birth mom was supportive of that. It felt good. I think the biggest thing for me was leaving the hospital.
Watch the full interview on our YouTube channel.
When looking at adoption, just remember, you gotta start somewhere.If you haven’t already, take the first step and learn about adoption and all that comes with it by taking the All About Adoption 101 course.