A couple of days ago, I had the awesome opportunity to talk to a group of high school senior girls about our adoption story & how we’ve chosen to raise our three kids. These girls are all planning to pursue child development either through nursing or education, so this was a way for them to hear one perspective about our unique story. I’ve written about our story a few times over the last couple of years, but I thought I’d use this post to cover some Q&A from that day. Adoption is something we advocate for, & I’m an open book about our experience– so I’m always up for conversations about it. Whether you’ve adopted already, hope to adopt one day, or you’re here out of sheer curiosity or maybe procrastinating from a current project, I hope this is helpful!
When did you decide to adopt?
I read Kisses From Katie in college, & that’s when the idea started stirring in my heart– I had always thought people only adopted if they couldn’t have kids biologically– but for the first time I realized it could be part of my story, too, whether I could have kids biologically or not.
Was Blake always on board?
Yes! We were dating when I read Kisses From Katie, & I told him how I felt about it & that I wanted to adopt one day. I was the one who initiated the process when it was time & kept the paperwork train moving, but that’s just how we operate in general. He was always supportive.
What agency did you choose?
We went through Christian Homes & Family Services out of Abilene, Texas. They specialize in domestic, infant adoptions.
What was the process like?
We were required to present nine recommendation letters before being able to attend orientation weekend where we got the whole scoop on the process. Then it’s a lot of paperwork (which is mostly digital now), interviews with our case worker, a home study, & creating a profile & scrapbook for potential birth moms to view. (The birth mom chooses the family.)
How long did you have to wait?
It took us 5-6 months to complete the paperwork, & then we waited around 9 months. The average wait is usually 1 year. (Emma was born 2 days after we were chosen.)
Why did you choose an open adoption?
Even though we were nervous about it in the beginning, we knew it would be the best thing for our child– to know where she came from & to have a relationship with the birth mom as long as she is in a healthy place. To us, being pro-life isn’t just about caring for the baby– it’s about caring for everyone involved, & the birth mom has a major role there. She chose to carry her baby for nine months & give her life, & we wanted to honor that.
Were you scared the birth mom would change her mind?
That’s always a fear, & in Texas, she has 48 hours to sign the paperwork in case she decides to change her mind after the baby is born. It’s a factor in why it took me longer to attach to Emma than our biological babies– it’s hard to love someone you’re afraid you’ll lose. But we knew going into it that adoption requires that risk, but we knew it would be worth it in the end. We would have our baby.
Did you apply for grants? How expensive was your adoption?
We did not use grants for our adoption. However, at our orientation, they did give us options for raising funds & different grants we could look into. The average domestic adoption through a private agency is around $25,000. The silver lining is the federal tax credit, which gets you around $13,000 back. Our payments were spaced from the start of our orientation up to the day she legally became a Winegeart six months after she was born.
Why do you have to wait 6 months to finalize the adoption after the baby has been placed?
A lot has to happen as far as the government processing paperwork– & we had a home study once a month for six months to guarantee we were a healthy environment for the baby. The birth mom can’t change her mind during that period. And honestly, because Emma was part of our family from the day we brought her home, the home studies just felt like an extra thing on our checklist. She was a Winegeart immediately– it just took six months for the government to recognize it.
How often do you interact with the birth mom?
In the beginning, I sent her updates more frequently to help assure her that she had made a wise choice for her baby & because Emma was changing so much in the beginning. Now, I send her an update with pictures every 8-ish weeks. We also meet up for a visit twice a year. She is coming to our home for the first time this month so we can celebrate Christmas together & she can see where Emma is growing up in person! I would never have imagined this at the beginning of Emma’s life. I honestly felt threatened, like I was sharing the mom role & I needed to claim my position– but through a whole lot of patience with myself, time, & counseling, I love that Emma has two moms in her life that love her with our whole hearts & are advocates for her.
When will you tell Emma she’s adopted?
We talk about it now like it’s a very regular part of our lives because that’s exactly what it is. Emma is still little so when we get together with Sierra, Emma’s birth mom, she’s just happy this sweet lady is here to give her a lot of attention. Collins has started asking questions, though– we talk about how she & Jude grew in my body, & Emma grew in my heart while growing in Sierra’s body. That’s the extent of the conversation required right now, but we are always honest & open with our kids about Emma’s adoption. We want her to be proud of Sierra & where she came from as well as being proud of being part of our family. And really, even though we’re open to talking about adoption & don’t keep it a secret, it’s not like we see Emma differently from Collins or Jude or refer to her as our “adopted child” like she’s different. Most people don’t even know she’s adopted until knowing us for a while. Our family is like any other loving family– we were just orchestrated a little differently than some.