Getting Started With Adoption

Getting Started On The Adoption Process - A New Kind of Normal Adoption Month


Before John and I were married, we had a conversation about our dreams of family and parenthood and early on in our courtship we knew we had the desire to adopt. We thought we would have two or three biological children and then adopt but when infertility turned our lives upside down, plans changed. The further we got into fertility treatments, the more discussions we had about choosing IVF or adoption as a way to become parents. Many, many hours were spent in prayer as we sought God’s direction. We desperately wanted to experience pregnancy and have a biological child but as we learned the chances of IVF success were growing smaller and the daily impact of my endometriosis becoming greater, we felt a growing peace in our hearts about adoption as the way to grow our family.

The day my hysterectomy was scheduled, we dove into getting started with adoption. Start to finish our adoption journey took just shy of a year. Our formal application was approved in August, our home study was completed in November, and we brought Abby home in June (with two failed placements in between). Abby’s adoption was signed, sealed, and delivered (aka finalized) the following March. Our wait time was impacted by our openness to either gender, any race, and certain health conditions but the average wait time for domestic infant adoption is typically between 12-18 months.

When we first started the adoption process, we quickly went into information overload. After surviving the process, I would offer these three tips on getting started with adoption (and keeping your sanity!):

1- Learn the basics

Believe it or not, I highly recommend Adoption for Dummies as a great starting point. It gives a great overview of the different types of adoption (domestic vs international, open vs closed) as well as the different avenues of adoption (adopting through the foster care system, adopting through a private agency, or adopting through an attorney or facilitator). It also gives tips on how to survive the paper chase (the mountains of paperwork that accompany adoption between submitting a formal application and your home study being approved), how to not freak out during the home study (when you feel like there is no longer any privacy to any facet of your life and you spaz about how clean your house has to be for home visits), and how to prepare to meet potential birth parents without wanting to throw up (ok, you will still want to throw up before such an important meeting). I feel like this book helped us get an understanding of steps involved in adoption and decide which options would work the best for our family.

2- Request as many free information packets and attend as many free information seminars from agencies as you can.

Choosing an agency (or an attorney/facilitator) that is right for you is a huge decision. It may be one of the most important and most personal decisions you make during the process as it is important to chose an agency that best suits your needs (such as your price range, your preference for a national agency vs a smaller local agency or your preference for a religious versus a non-affiliated agency).

Most agencies will send out information packets and host free seminars or open houses as a way to learn more about them and the options they offer. Some agencies focus on international adoptions. Some focus on domestic adoptions. Some offer both.

Not every international agency completes adoptions through the same countries so if you decide to pursue international adoption, you need to be sure to find an agency that specializes in the specific country you would like to pursue. Important note: if you choose to adopt internationally, it is crucial that your agency is Hague accredited (meaning they are in compliance with the Hague Convention and intercountry adoption regulations). If you aren’t sure which country to pursue or would like to check out the specific adoption requirements and adoption fees for different countries (they are all different), agency counselors will gladly help walk you through the process in person or over the phone. With both John and I having health issues, we were had the option to adopt internationally but we were limited to specific countries because of different countries adoption requirements.

After looking at all of our options, reading tons of material, and attending seminars, we decided to pursue domestic infant adoption and chose a private Christian agency in our state. All of the homework and research paid off and we had an excellent and very personal experience with our agency and would 100% chose them again if we decide to adopt again.

3- Find support.

The adoption process is a wild, wild ride and an emotional roller coaster. It was so important to have the support of other couples going through the similar process that could offer advice, share in the excitement, and provide a shoulder to cry on. We had a couple at our church that had adopted (and had actually been the ones to recommend our agency) and John had some friends that he worked with at his diabetic camp that had also gone through the process. I had also been a part of an infertility group on The Bump and before moving over to the adoption group that provided so, so much support. This group most definitely helped me keep my sanity. I am still in contact with many of the ladies that were going through the process at the same time on Facebook and we are able to continue to have support as our children grow and new situations arise. Adoption is most definitely a journey and continues to be a roller coaster at times. We have definitely come into a new season in our family as Abby is getting older and beginning to ask questions. We are lucky to have continued support from our agency, the tools we learned during our adoption classes we took before bringing Abby home (Adoption Learning Partners is an amazing resource), and a group of fellow adoptive parents to help give us some counsel on the new territory we are finding ourselves in.


If you are planning to adopt in the future (or know someone who is), I hope that you will find these tips helpful! Starting the process can be both exciting and overwhelming so having a starting point in mind is always a plus!

We celebrate our Family Day (sometimes called Gotcha Day) June 22 so I decided to make June adoption month here at A New Kind of Normal! Every week will be a different blog post about various aspects of the adoption process and will end the month with a Q&A post (maybe I’ll get brave and do a video!) so if there are any specific questions that you would like answers to, you can leave the question in the comments, send me an email, or find me on Twitter

chronic illnessinfertility

Your Ask Me Anything Questions Answered!

It is finally time to answer all of the Ask Me Anything questions you all asked about living with chronic illness! Wow, you guys did not take it easy on me at all! These were some good ones!

Alicia asked:

How can others support you as you begin considering a ministry to others with chronic illness? What resources could we help provide? How specifically can we pray for you with this?

Thank you so much for your support as I pray about this endeavor! I definitely want to put a lot of prayer and preparation into building this ministry as I do not consider it something to be taken lightly. I ask for prayer for not only myself but for the community as God would go before even the first meeting and prepare the hearts of those who will take part. Lisa Copen’s book How to Start A Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry has provided a wonderful foundation and I plan to follow the HopeKeepers model that is a part of Rest Ministries. My goal is to start the local ministry this fall!

Also, any advice for someone, like me, who wants to blog more but struggles to find prompts, time, etc.

This is a struggle for me too! I think being a part of a blogging community, like SITS, is a great way to find blogging support. I know that they are a big part of why I continue to blog! If you check out my blogging resources page, I have listed my favorite sites and ebooks that I have found helpful over the years. I have also found Pinterest to be a HUGE resource in finding ways to organize my blogging and better manage my time as well as find endless prompts and writing tips. I have a list of my blogging pin boards on my resource page as well! I am working with another blogger to start a Bloggers Book Club (where we will work through various blogging books as a group) so keep an eye out for more information as it comes!

Mary Fran asked:

Maybe this is too big of a question, but how do you hold on to your faith through the pain?

This is definitely a big one but it is a big part of my journey and a big part of why I blog. I grew up in a church where you didn’t ask questions (especially not God) so when I started struggling with chronic illness, I had a hard time trying to figure out how to balance my faith and my illness. I had to figure out how suffering and pain fit in with my understanding of who God is. Was my illness part of God’s will? More importantly, did He cause me to be sick? I wrestled with this question for some time. Thankfully I had professors and a peer group that helped me work through it (I was working a chaplain intern at a hospital when everything hit the fan so to speak). In my journey, I came to the place where I accepted that I would not always have the answers and that was ok. Instead I could trust in the character of God and His promises. I don’t believe that He willed me to be sick but I do think He gives me the choice of how to respond to my sickness. I can either allow it to make me bitter and shut down or I can choose to find a way to honor Him through it. Being conscious of that choice helps me hold onto my faith even through the darkest times. It doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle or get angry because I totally do. Its during those times that I cling to His promises even tighter.

The Norwegian Girl asked:

What is your biggest dream in life?

That is such a tough question! One of my biggest dreams came to life when I became a mom. During our infertility struggles, I was not sure it was ever gong to happen so when they placed Abby in my arms, my greatest dream became a reality. Outside of that, I think my biggest dream is to grow A New Kind of Normal into a full-scale chronic illness ministry!

Alisha asked:

I know you were blessed with a daughter through adoption (I actually have 2 adopted siblings, so I understand the gift of adoption) but is it hard to not be able to be pregnant and carry a child inside of you for 9 months? How do you deal with it?

I am incredibly blessed to be a mom through adoption. I could not love Abby any more if she had come from my body. But I would be lying if I said that I did not still grieve the loss of my fertility and the inability to carry a child. It still hurts very much. My family seems to be very fertile (I’m the only one in my generation that I know of that has struggled to get pregnant) so I feel like an outsider at times. I think my hysterectomy was much harder on me mentally and emotionally than it was physically. My scar is a permanent reminder of what will never be. Everyone jokes about how you always get pregnant after you adopt and knowing that even the greatest amount of  medical intervention would allow me to experience pregnancy hurts. The way I deal with it is that I recognize my loss and give myself permission to grieve when necessary. Grieving my loss of fertility does not mean that I love Abby any less or that I am not thankful for her. It took me awhile to accept that. The sting has gotten less and the moments of grief occur less often as time goes by but I don’t think it will ever go away completely. It is now a part of my story and hopefully being able to help others who are traveling a similar journey will help give my pain purpose.

Cheryl asked:

How are you telling people about the leave decision and filing for disability? I find it hard and feel like I get this “slacker” look from folks when I say the pain leaves me in bed much of the time and all I can mangage is a small bit of writing….probably b/c so many people abuse the system which makes it harder for those who truly need the help.

I completely understand what you mean. I have been more vocal about my decision to pursue disability online than I have in person. I did have some “but you don’t look sick” comments from individuals at work when they heard about my medical leave but those close to me knew the truth. I think my surgical history (and my recurrent hospitalizations last summer) maybe made it a little easier for some to understand. I do think the abuse of the system makes it harder on those who really need it to not only get the help they need but receive the validation about the reality of their illness. I am not hiding my decision to file for disability but I’m not sharing many of the details. At this point in my journey, I need support not criticism and judgement.

Thank you to everyone who left questions! I really enjoyed it! As always, if you have other questions or want to chat, please feel free to email me or contact me via Twitter or Facebook!



Being Infertile in a Fertile Family

Infertility & Family Relationships
Growing up the thought of never being able to have children or that I would struggle with infertility never crossed my mind. Aunt Flo decided to her monthly visits the month before starting eighth grade. My cycles were like clockwork and I could have easily marked a calendar. The only time there was a missed cycle was during my heavy long distance training my senior year which was not a surprise because of the mileage I was logging. So, if you had asked the 17 year old me that I would have issues getting pregnant, I would have laughed.

You see, I come from a fertile family. My cousins seemed to have no problem at all getting pregnant (and continuing to get pregnant multiple times). My mom didn’t have any trouble getting pregnant so my genetics were ok, right? Even when I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I didn’t want count myself out because 70% of women with endo are able to get pregnant (sometimes with the help of fertility treatments) so my logical self found the statistics to be in our favor.

So when the decision was made to try to make our family grow to three, we were feeling positive. I had an understanding that maybe we wouldn’t get lucky on the first try but that was ok. We knew our time would come and it would be our turn to make a baby announcement that so many of my family members had made.

When  you start trying to conceive (TTC) begin to plan your time in 28 day increments, the calendar can move slowly. We had to change it up a bit as some cycles were 35 days, some were 60, so it seemed we were in a perpetual state of “what if.”

Time clicked by and knowing my pain from endometriosis would creep up not being on birth control, we decided to step up the game by tracking my cycles.  Every day began by checking my basal body temperature and entering it in  onto my fertility calendar. This calendar also dictated when we should be intimate. Surely with all that knowledge, I would be able to get pregnant right?

Months ticked pass. Soon it was six months. Then right in time for my 25th birthday, we were branded. INFERTILE.

I cried as John and I sat in my doctor’s office making decisions about what to try next. Trying to get pregnant became a roller coaster of emotions. We would start every cycle hopeful as we would be using a treatment/medications to increase the chances of getting pregnant. Midcycle we would be anxious about the multiple numbers (follicles, lining, etc) and what they meant for us. Then the next two weeks we waited with baited breath on what the verdict would be. I would over-analyze every feeling and emotion wondering if it meant I was pregnant. A small fortune was spent on ovulation and pregnancy tests. Then the day came – NOT PREGNANT.

This went on for three years. I am typically a fan of roller coasters but this was one that I would have liked to get off. We cried. We searched for answers. We wondered why we were infertile when no one else in our family was. Had we done something wrong? Everyone in our families could have kids so why couldn’t we?

It was hard to be surrounded with babies and pregnancy announcements in the three years that we waited. My struggle with infertility became very lonely. The “just relax” and “your time will come” comments which were once  meant as comfort became words of hurt. We felt isolated as it seemed like everyone but us was able to get pregnant or others had gotten to a point where they didn’t know anything else to say.

Becoming a parent through the miracle of adoption has been a tremendous blessing. Words cannot describe how much I love my daughter and words cannot express the gratitude I have for her birth family who gave us the honor of being her parents.

However, it does not erase the scars left behind by infertility. In my case, I have a very literal and visible scar from my infertility. There are the still the questions of what it would have been like had we been able to get pregnant. Its not the same as saying we would have rather have a different family that didn’t not include adoption so don’t read it wrong. Those questions include what it would have been like to see pregnant on a pregnancy test or seeing the heartbeat on an ultrasound for the first time or feeling the baby moving. These are the experiences that we grieve. We would not trade our family for anything but please do not forget what we have had to go through to get here.

This week is the National Infertility  Awareness Week. Please check out more about NIAW week at!