Adoption.. I didn’t know that I didn’t know..

Adoption.. I didn’t know that I didn’t know..

Guest Post by Leslie Molloy, Mom of 3, Interior Design Manager 

It was a long journey to get here. It was eight years as a matter a fact. It was eight years to feel complete as a woman, wife, and as a human.  It was countless medical bills, more injections then I could ever count, and more tears then anyone ever deserves to shed.

It has been eight years to feel complete. I certainly don’t mean this in the terms of “Jerry McGuire” but I guess I kinda do. It took 39 years to be exact to feel content. That is how many years it took for my family to be complete.

How I got here is a much longer story then this little snippet from my life. I am beyond happy that my road to through infertility lead me to these darling little ones that are currently napping as I write. I am the mother of three amazing children and I wouldn’t change a moment of what it took to get here.

The blessing of adoption has been an all too humbling experience. Our family is comprised of our 15 year old daughter Emily, my husband’s daughter from a previous marriage; our daughter Charlotte, that is three years old; and lastly our son Owen, that is one. Our two youngest children came to us through domestic adoption. As unique as their personalities, their adoptions were as well. Each situation was different, and how we were chosen was quite different.

Being a bit of a type A personality, the uncertainty of navigating these adoption waters was unsettling each time. Trying to plan, not letting our hearts get too involved, hopes too high. The worry, sleepless nights, and unknowns were limitless. So back then to qualm my fears, I did what any sane person would do. I googled it.

Yeah. That helped. (Insert sarcasm here)

There was hardly any GOOD information out there. That is what googling taught me. The information that I was able to pull together was an accumulation of numerous websites, blogs and articles. Struggling to stitch it all together, we had to put our faith that it would all work out and we jumped in. We jumped in with both feet and were very, very green.

Now, a few years later and my two Littles later, I am here at this moment remembering what it was all like. Looking back, there were definitely things that I wish I knew then that I know now. I wish back then I would have had some guidance. I wish I would have known someone that shared in a similar journey as we were entering into to ask questions.

Looking back there were five things, in particular, I wish I would have known..

  1. It all starts with a home study.

Little did I know, really what I need to adopt in any way shape or form is a homestudy. If you have a homestudy completed, you can adopt through a lawyer, agency, or if you knew someone considering an adoption plan, you could adopt through self-match. (You also need one to adopt through foster care but it is a slightly different version) What is a homestudy and how do you get it? In our instance, we hired an agency to only do our homestudy and that is the only service we paid them for. It consists of a ton of information about you and your family. It also includes background checks, sex offender check, tax information, personal references, and the history of your family through interviews. This document is the golden ticket in getting everything started. So regardless in how you pursue adoption, you want to make sure to start here. You don’t have to move forward with an agency to get this. Many agencies will provide you simply this service.

  1. Not all agencies are Equal.

While the idealistic portion of my brain says “love conquers all” and “where there is a will there is a way” let’s face it, most of us don’t have limitless resources. We didn’t know this but when my husband and I were trying to find out where to start with adoption, we happened to stumble upon an agency about 1 ½ hours away that had an open house one evening. We went. They answered questions of their audience of 15 or so people. Excited, we moved forward with them right away hoping to match through their agency. During our drive home, we were beyond thrilled. Finally! We were getting this started!!! The part we didn’t realize was, the $12,000 they wanted up front just to be considered by an expectant parent wasn’t necessarily a standard procedure for all agencies. With our first adoption we did not match through the agency we hired and were unfortunately “out” of our hard-earned $12,000. That money we paid was not refundable or even partially refundable. When we adopted the second time, we found an agency out of state. They only required a $350 fee to be considered by an expectant parent. If we matched to adopt, that agency then required their additional fees.  That seemed beyond fair to us. Minimal fees. Minimal risk. Gosh I wish I would have known that 2 years earlier.

Bottom line. Interview adoption agencies. Join social media adoption groups and ask others that have gone through it who they chose. What was it like? That may enable you to have more “Poles in the water” simultaneously.

  1. Have many poles in the water, if possible.

One great tid-bit of information we didn’t even think about was how do we increase our odds of being selected as a parent? While the first agency that we worked with was great, they actually gave us that golden nugget of advice which proved to be oh so valuable. They suggested the following which I pass along to any hopeful adoptive parent that is willing to listen:

  • Let everyone “and their grandma” know you’re adopting. The more people that know that you’re hoping to adopt, the better likelihood that someone may know someone considering an adoption plan for their child.
  • If you can financially do it, sign up with multiple agencies or even with an adoption consultant. Once again, the more people that are here cheering you on and sharing your hopes to adopt, the better the chance that you find your perfect match.
  • Start a social media page. This one is close and dear to my heart. When we were just starting out I was talking to a friend of mine about moving forward with our adoption journey. She had suggested starting a page on Facebook and sharing with the world our vulnerable story of infertility and hopes to grow our family. Let me tell you, as a woman that only shared with a handful of people our struggles, the thought of sharing with
  • the world literally made my chest tighten. After thinking it over, we figured, why not? With what we’ve already been through, it really can’t get any harder or scarier. We did it. We made a page, shared our story, posted photos and stories about who we were and BAM! By some miracle, our page from us in Illinois was seen by a woman in Florida that shared our page with another woman in North Carolina. That amazing woman ultimately was our daughter’s birth momma. Our social media journey took us 3 months to be chosen and our daughter was born 2 months later. You just never know who will see it. I encourage you to be vulnerable. As scary as it is.
  1. Adoption scams are not only monetary but more often emotional.

Call it the dark-side of adoption, if you will. You’re a hopeful adoptive parent just hoping to have your dreams come true and grow your family. The desire to be a parent literally hurts. Frequently, the sorrow that it may not be in the cards for you becomes a more and more regular thought. That’s when you get the news that you’re chosen as the parents of a little girl due in two months. You and your partner are OVER THE MOON excited. Finally, it’s your turn. Soon the daydreams about what your future life is going to look like, how you’re going to share the news with your family, and what you hope to name her consume your every thought.

By this time, you’re about to put down your deposit for a lawyer and even have printed the ultrasound photos they sent and put it on the refrigerator. They are such a great couple and are so happy that they found you. The connection you all have is absolutely amazing.

Then, one day you they stop responding to your texts. Ok, time to hit them up on messenger. Where her name once was, it now says “Anonymous User.” What is going on?! This was one of the many times my husband and I were scammed during trying our adoption journey. We were emotionally scammed.

Things like that happened a lot to us. Please, don’t let that scare you. I swear not everyone is a scammer and there are some people out there that simply change their minds in choosing adoption. All of that set aside, there are people out there that do do this.

Starting our adoption journey we knew from the beginning here were no guarantees. Sometimes things don’t work out and that is no one’s “fault.” We also understood that sometimes people would try to exploit “the system” out of financial gain. Maybe they were not actually pregnant, maybe they were pregnant but never had any intention of moving forward with an adoption plan. We knew that that was out there too.

What we were really unprepared for, but quickly learned, is there are some people in the world that don’t scam you for monetary reasons but rather for your attention. These emotional scammers tug at your heartstrings and consume your time. They play to the sympathy you have to the sad story they have shared with you and do anything to make sure to keep your attention. This is probably the most horrific adoption scam of them all because of the time it takes to understand if that is truly what is going on. What if you’re wrong? What if you threw an opportunity of your dream away? They play to this which makes it very hard to walk away. What type of a person could be so cruel? One can only speculate but regardless this is something you may face. In this situation, trust your gut and know if you walk away, that is not the end.

  1. Open adoption, it is not something to be scared of but rather a blessing.

Where do I even begin? Leading up to the adoption of our daughter, I remember our social worker and our agency talking about how important open adoption was for our child. My husband and I agreed with this concept because we trusted people that knew more about this then us. That said, we didn’t entirely understand what this meant. I remember talking with a friend of mine at work about open adoption. I remember feeling I would be beyond grateful to be chosen to adopt but it felt unfair. After several years of infertility, the only way I could be a mom was to have to “share” my child.

First, let me say every situation is different. That said, let me tell you. I am beyond ashamed that that is how I felt. In retrospect, was worried and scared of the unknown. Will my child not love me as much as someone they are biologically connected to?  Will my child’s biological parents interfere with the choices we make. Will my child abandon me? I adopted a child to complete my family.. I didn’t adopt a family.

This is all simply not true.

My family has two open adoptions. We share photos, milestones, special occasions, and funny moments with both of my children’s biological parents and extended families. We even have some family that comes to stay with us for visits. We genuinely LOVE sharing this all with them. Who is going to be just as excited as you when your child uses the potty the first time? When they get their first tooth? Who is going to gush over the pic of your child cuddling with their kitten? They do.  Both of our adoptions look very different and I could talk about this forever but the bottom line with both of them is very much the same. No child ever said,  “Too many people love me.”

My life was forever changed when each of my two little ones were born. It was the face of my son’s birth momma introducing him to me in his hospital nursery bed. We both looked over him in awe. There were tears running down both our faces. My tears were of joy and her tears were of sadness. With the birth of my daughter, there were those same amazingly loving emotions. I went into her birth mom’s hospital room to visit her and our daughter. As I walked into the room, I saw her cuddling our sweet swaddled burrito baby, staring at her sleeping face. The fierce love I saw in that moment was truly indescribable. In those two moments, I fell in love with these women. I knew then, there was no way I could take away the reassurance that their babies were safe and happy. My happiness was their sadness. Whatever their reasons for choosing adoption or their heartache, they still did it. I love these women and admire their strength.

On the other side of open adoption, my husband and I never want our children to not know where they come from.  Their adoption is a part of their story. How could we ever take that from them. Of course, depending on circumstance, open adoption sometimes can’t be or. sometimes a child’s birth family doesn’t want that and that is ok. But, as my child’s parent, it is my job to protect them not only physically and emotionally but also protect their hearts. We never want them to have their questions go unanswered. We never want them to think they weren’t loved. This is about them. This is also about the families that brought them life. Remember, adoption might not always impact just the birth parent and child. There are grandparents and great grandparents, aunts and uncles. They didn’t chose this but mig love this child too. As an adoptive parent, it’s important to not dismiss the responsibility of that power, the power of family, and also what that means.

Leslie Molloy lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband of eight years, three children, dog and cat. While being recognized professionally by her work in the kitchen and bath industry, life experience led her to her other passion, adoption. 

“Life is a crazy, crazy ride but this journey is not one that we have to travel alone. I will give anyone 10 minutes, an hour, or a conversation over coffee if it means I have helped someone understand how amazing family can be, even if it might look a little different than theirs.”

When Leslie isn’t sharing her insight on adoption, you can find her working on DIY house projects, expressing herself through cooking, or getting her “cuddle on” with her littles.

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