It’s been a little over a year since my husband and I adopted our baby son.
And during this first year, I’ve had the same conversation dozens of times with curious strangers, family, and friends wondering why we chose adoption and how the process works.
Most times, I don’t mind. In fact, I have my standard answers all ready to go — short, sweet, and to the point. But there’s also so much more that I'd like to say.
That's why I'd like to share my extended answers to the six questions I typically get asked about adoption. Of course, this is just my personal experience and I respect and honor that each family’s story is different. But I hope that by sharing my thoughts here, we can create better awareness and understanding of what adoption's really like.
1. Oh, cool, you adopted! Were you not able to get pregnant?
Actually, I always knew I wanted to adopt.
What I'd Also Like To Say: I didn’t even try to get pregnant, because I never wanted to be. More and more women are choosing to adopt, foster, and use surrogates to create their families. Not every woman dreams of breastfeeding, wearing maternity clothes, and going through the process of child birth.
I knew I never wanted to be pregnant, so adoption was the perfect path for my family.
2. So, what country did your son come from?
He was actually born about 15 minutes away from our house in Chicago, right here in the United States.
What I'd Also Like To Say: Most people assume that when you adopt, you travel to a faraway place where you fill out mountains of paperwork in a language you don’t understand. But thousands of families adopt domestically every year.
For us, domestic adoption meant staying closer to home. Which meant less traveling. Which meant less expenses and less time off from work.
It also meant that during the process, we could easily lean on our family and friends for support. If things didn’t work out, we wouldn’t be thousands of miles away. And that felt comforting.
Another great reason for adopting domestically is you can more easily have an open adoption.
3. But it was really expensive, right?
I mean it wasn't “cheap," but I don’t really think about the cost too much now.
What I'd Also Like To Say: Depending on if you adopt through a private or public agency (foster care), the average domestic adoption in the United States ranges from $0 to $40,000. That's actually a very similar cost range of delivering a baby in a hospital, depending on health insurance and birth complications.
But there are other factors that affect the bottom line for adoption — in a good way. For starters, after your child’s adoption is finalized, there's a federal adoption tax credit of around $13,000 per child. For a lot of families, this can cut the cost in half.
In addition to the tax credit, a lot of companies offer adoption assistance to their employees ranging anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000. And depending on your agency and how quickly the process takes, the cost of the adoption could be spread out over a year’s time.
4. If he was born nearby, did you meet his mom?
I did meet his birth mom. She actually chose us to be his parents, which was really cool!
We have an open adoption and see her twice a year.
5. Isn’t open adoption weird? I don’t think I could do that.
I get how it might seem weird. But it’s right for us. His mom is smart, beautiful and has the same weird sense of humor as my husband. It’s one of the “weirdest” normal relationships I’ve ever had.
What I'd Also Like To Say: Openness means something different for every family. There are some families that have zero contact with their child’s birth parents and some that share birthday celebrations together.
Regardless of the relationship terms, open adoptions aren’t as scary as Lifetime Movies make them out to be. But, I get that it can seem like a really scary concept.
I was definitely not on board with an open adoption before I truly understood it. Wouldn’t it be really confusing for the baby? How would the relationship work? And most importantly, I was going to be the mom — I didn’t want someone else in the picture.
I was totally wrong. With openness, my babe would know from day one where he came from. He would have a clearer sense of identity. He would have access to his medical history. He would know that his birth mother chose the family that would love him forever.
Every open relationship is different, but I feel really lucky to have a very close one with my son’s birth mom.
6. So, are you going to adopt again?
If we do, I think we’ll foster and then adopt a child that’s a little older.
What I'd Also Like To Say: My family is pretty damn perfect the way it is.
Cover photo credit: Eva Deitch