Dear Mum Network readers,
I asked Lisa Henderson who is a travel writer, photographer and full time mother (and my cousin) to write about her extraordinary journey and feel so honoured that she has taken the time to write her story for publication on The Mum Network. I have been on the journey with her for most of the adoption process albeit on different sides of the world. If I hadn’t been there reading daily messages from her, it would have been hard to believe.
It’s often said that “it’s so easy to adopt in America” but Lisa and her husband have gone through an enormous amount of heartbreak before becoming adoptive parents.
I am publishing her story in three parts purely because it’s long but worth every word.
Grab a cup of tea, sit down and read. Links to part 2 and 3 are at the end of each post.
My Incredible Adoption Story By Lisa Henderson
It was my husband who pulled the plug on trying naturally for any more children.I had just had my sixth miscarriage and lost our ninth baby – the last, deciding miscarriage being particularly traumatic, losing twins at 14 weeks. It wasn’t that my husband didn’t want to stop trying; he just couldn’t handle watching me go through another miscarriage. He was struggling seeing me cry so much. What’s more, we were hemorrhaging money on fertility treatments and we had to finally admit a condition I’d inherited that causes spontaneous miscarriage meant we had really got lucky with the two healthy boys we already had.
But we weren’t ‘done’.
For both of us coming from large families, having just two children just didn’t feel right to either of us. We ached for at least one more.
So we decided to adopt.
We made the conscious decision to adopt domestically within the US – we felt America had been really good to us as New Zealanders and we knew there were plenty of babies right here that needed love and a family.
I knew about an advisory service based out of Atlanta from friends who had adopted a newborn. Founded by a woman who had adopted twice, she saw a need for prospective Adoptive Parents to be able to connect with Agencies and Birth Moms all over the country. If we hadn’t found this company I’m certain we would still be floundering trying to find a baby.
There are numerous ways you can adopt a baby in America, some go it alone and simply create their own website. Many have been known to advertise on social media and adopt privately. Mostly people go directly through an agency in their local area. We chose to go with this advisory service to connect us with a local agency and agencies around the country. Their connections meant the process would be quicker than waiting for something to crop up in our State. Essentially, if you are willing to get on a plane and travel, then your chances of finding a match are heightened exponentially.
We signed with this service for 12 months. They send you information packs with details of the process, recommended agencies in your area that are authorized to “approve” you and then they connect you with agencies around the country that may have a match. You receive two detailed phone calls giving you a full outline of what lies ahead for you, they answer questions and then (what I found most valuable), you are assigned a support person. This person becomes your “adoption-buddy”, who rings you every ten days to check in to make sure you are doing OK, answer any questions, offer advice, or just be an outlet if you need to vent.
To this day, I have never met my buddy live, but over the phone, in text and email, she became my lifeline, my solace, my councilor, and ultimately, it was my buddy who found us our baby. I doubt anyone will ever appreciate the gratitude and appreciation I have for this woman, and the respect for the work this small group of professionals do everyday; helping families connect with their future children.
In order to be able to even be considered by a Birth Mom, you need have completed a “Home Study”. This is basically a report that has to be compiled to evaluate the adoptive family in order for them to become ‘adoption ready’. It’s also designed to educate and prepare the family for the adoption. In most cases this can take up to six months. We took just under four. We met with our chosen Social worker who gave us a checklist of all that had to be completed.
2.Child services checks
3.State checks in Virginia and New York (we had been in VA less than five years)
4.Social Worker visits to the home
5.Adoptive parenting courses
6.Write an essay on how we were raised, which included covering topics such as how we plan to raise / educate our child. Our views on sex education, punishment, how we handle stress and conflict. (I wrote 36 pages, my husband wrote three)
7.Our profile book was the most fun for me. We had to put together a “book” advertising us as a family and explaining why we wanted to adopt in the first place.
We had to include stories of how we met, photos of us as a family, our home and extended family, and show what we do for fun. Intended for a Birth Mother to view and see what we are about at a glance, I made several copies and sent them to agencies around the country.
Things really gained momentum once the Home Study was done. Now that we were “approved” we found ourselves on the client list for our Advisory Service with instant connection to the adoption community across the US. Our Advisory Service are in touch with lawyers and agencies all over the country and there were some days I would receive 6 or 7 emails, with an overall summary of a situation so you could decide if it was worth further enquiry.
An average email would look something like this –
- New birth Mom due date XX
- Age, race of both birth parents
- Medical issues (if any) and prenatal care undertaken to date
- Expected cost
- The ‘at-risk’ cost.
- The type of Adoptive parents the Birth Mom is looking for (often religion was an issue. Whether you have children or not was an issue but not always. Lifestyle and outlooks on life was a factor as well)
To continue to part 2 please CLICK HERE