Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Questions & Answers About Adopting

November is National Adoption Month!
In that spirit, this blog post is dedicated to answering some of the many questions that we have been asked as we have made our adoption journey public knowledge. I also hope to dispel some of the myths that many people have heard about adopting and link you up to some resources that you might find interesting.

It did not even occur to us that our "announcement" that we are adopting would come as such a shock for so many of our friends and family. Although we had not really discussed the possibility with anyone but each other, we just thought that there would be a few "oh, that's cool" or "congratulations" and the like. The wave of questions that followed was unexpected, but we were happy to answer. 

"But wait, you guys already have kids! Why would you want to adopt?"
The truth is, adoption is not just for people who cannot have biological children. Adoption is for anyone with the conviction to adopt, and God's command to care for the orphaned is pretty clear. Some scriptures on adopting include:
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Psalm 82:3

Take up the cause of the fatherless...
Isaiah 1:17

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.
James 1:27

"Don't you have to be rich to adopt? I've heard it's very expensive."
You do not have to be rich to adopt through the Department of Social Services (from the foster care system), as we are doing. There is no income minimum, as long as you have "some left over" at the end of the month with which you could care for an additional family member. While private and international adoptions can be quite costly, adopting through the state is absolutely free. The only costs to you are any safety improvements that need to be made to your home in order to pass fire and safety inspections, such as installing a fire extinguisher. The state even gives you a voucher to cover your attorney fees for adoption finalization. The state needs adoptive parents, and they do their best to make it as financially simple as possible.

"Are you adopting a boy or a girl? How old will they be? What if you get a child of a different race/ethnicity than you?"
We have applied to adopt a child between infancy and 4 years old, of any gender and any race/ethnicity. We could not imagine denying an innocent child the opportunity of having a forever family based on race or gender. 
We do not expect to matched with an infant. There are 500 approved and waiting families in our state that are only willing to adopt an infant, and only about 1-3 babies become available each month. 

"Aren't you worried that the child will have problems?"
We are not only aware of the possibility that the child may have issues, we are prepared for the fact that the child will have issues to work through. Children are in the system for a reason, and every single child in the system has been neglected or abused in some way, that is why their parent's rights were terminated. Our heart's are full of mercy for these children. They did nothing to deserve the abuse they have faced, and yet they are looked at as undesirable by much of the community. Again, we are not naive to the challenges that our family will face, but we strongly believe that we are at the center of God's will for our lives, and there is no safer place to be!

"What if the child's biological family resurfaces and takes him/her away from you?"
This question likely stems from the recent public attention in our area involving a child that was adopted and later returned to their biological family. It is important for people to understand that this case involved the Indian Child Welfare Act. With the exception of that particular act, once a child has been deemed legally free for adoption, and is adopted, there is no recourse for a biological family member that later comes out of the woodwork. Before a child can be deemed legally free to adopt, the Department of Social Services has done everything within their power to find and notify anyone that might have a legal claim to that child. Once we have adopted them, they are ours.

"What about how this will affect your other children?"
If you want to hear the answer to this question, ask my son how he feels. He is eager to share his room, his toys, and even his parents. We have educated him extensively on the plight of the orphaned, and in his own way, he has a heart for them too. When we asked him how he would feel about getting a brother or sister that isn't a baby and didn't come out of mommy's tummy, his reply was;
"Yes! Let's go get them right now!"
His four year old mind does not understand the wait that is involved in this process. His reasoning is, "If they don't have a mom and a dad, and you want to be their mom and dad, why can't they come live with us right now?"
His personal request is for a 2 year old brother (and a set of bunk beds for them to share).
As for my younger child, she will likely never remember a time without her adopted sibling. God willing, our next child will come into our family before she is 2 years old, and she will never know any other way.

"How long is this going to take?"
As of the date of this post, we have one more training session and two home inspections, one by the Fire Marshal and one by our Family Worker. We have submitted all necessary paperwork and documentation. If all goes as planned, we hope to be completely certified by Christmas. From that point, it could be one day or one year (or longer!) before we are matched with a child. 

"So this must mean that you are 'done' having kids, right?"
This one always earns a laugh from us. Honestly, we don't yet know what the future of our family holds. We can see ourselves as the parents to a large family. We may adopt again and we likely will have more biological children too. Right now all we can say is that we are taking it one child at a time.

"This is all so sudden! What made you make such an impulsive decision?"
Again, this is one that gets a laugh. Just because we didn't talk about it with you doesn't mean that we weren't talking about it. The Lord has been working on our hearts in this area for many years, I would venture to say before we were even married. Yes, once we came to the conclusion that we wanted to pursue this, we moved quickly, but that is just our personalities. If we are going to do something, we are going to do it. Period. No sense dragging our feet about it. We know without a doubt that this time was right for us, and we went for it.

This process has not been a roller coaster for us, as many people have described it. We wait excitedly, but patiently. We know that our next child is out there, waiting for us, right now. That is absolutely mind blowing. We also know that from the moment that child was conceived, although it was not in my womb, that the Lord knew that he or she belonged in our family. 
We have received both encouragement and criticism, both of which have come from the most surprising people.
In the end, while the praise feels good and the negativity is hurtful, the truth remains that this is a deep, heartfelt calling and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the right choice for our family.
What about you? Maybe you will discover that it is also your purpose and calling to welcome a child into a forever family. Maybe you will find that you are willing to sacrifice some of your space, time, finances, convenience, and routine in order to save a child.
Or maybe you will find another way to help care for the neglected, abused, abandoned, and unwanted in your community. 
I hope that in some way, by reading this, you have been inspired to act on whatever it is that you feel called to do, and I welcome any other questions that you may have.

A few things to leave you with:

  • In South Carolina, about 1500 abused and neglected children are in the care of DSS and awaiting permanent, loving, adoptive homes.
  • 1/3 of these children are preschoolers, 1/3 are grade schoolers, and about 1/4 are teenagers.
  • Of these children, 57% are African American, 36% are Caucasian, and about 7% are other races.
  • About 300 children who are legally free to adopt are pictured at
  • The majority of young men who age out of the foster care system will become criminals and end up in jail. The majority of young women who age out will become prostitutes.
  • Children who are adopted from the state are eligible for Medicare until they are 21 years old. The state may also provide an adoption subsidy to help with the costs of caring for a special needs child.
  • In our state, "Special Needs" is the word used to describe any child that is for any reason more difficult to place for adoption than a "typical" child.
  • To listen to an audio recording of an excellent message about adoption and orphan care, click here and select "Orphan Sunday."


  1. I have always admired you Justine, and I know that any child who joins your family will be blessed. How exciting that He has called you and Jason for this journey! It warms my heart to know that a child in need has been chosen by Him to be loved by you.

  2. Justine, Chad and I were so excited to hear about this! We can't wait to see which child God has in mind for your family. Even though we are still just wrapping our heads around the fact that we are pregnant with our first child, this made me even more excited to one day go through this process ourselves. We can't wait to see how all of this works out for you guys.

  3. Love this, thanks for spreading the truth! As a foster parent future adoptive parent and momma in general this is a true passion.:)

  4. Wow, this is the best post I have read in a long time! I love everything about seem very wise and I think it is so awesome that you are adopting :) I hope the process goes smoothly for you!

  5. I love everything about this post. We are considering adoption in the future too. Every child deserves a loving family. God never rejects us just because we have had a difficult why should we ever reject a child because of that? God adopted us into His family! Why not consider that God may want to grow our families through adoption?