What I Wish I Knew Before Adopting

Adoption. It seems simple enough, right? There’s more information that one couple can possibly consume about adoption right at your fingertips, on education websites, in books, Instagram and Facebook. I would argue the answer is - yes AND no! Let me elaborate— There are a few things my husband and I wish someone had explained to us before we got to the “matched” stage, simply so we could prepare our hearts... things that aren’t in the “adoption education courses”. Everything I personally thought I knew about adoption was skewed. I was missing the perspective I have now, coming out on the other side officially as an adoptive parent. This whole experience of adoption has been such an eye opener.

That first week, when we first met our baby and her mama, it was extremely rough emotionally! As someone who had never adopted before and has struggled with infertility for years, you don’t expect there to be so much heartache when you finally hold your precious baby. You picture pure joy. Throughout the whole process, with all of the grueling paperwork and the multiple home visits, the background checks and fingerprinting, all you can think about is the moment you will finally hold your baby in your arms. It can be very easy to overlook the fact that your gain in this whole process is someone else's loss! Before you meet a mom and her child, it’s easy to just think of the baby. But after you spend multiple days with that mom and share meals together, laugh and cry together, talk about your childhood, your dreams and aspirations, your fears and heartaches.... it’s not so easy anymore. I wish someone would have told me the heartache I’d feel, too.

Days later, as we stood in court with our baby's first mom, I was overcome with emotion and I wasn’t prepared for what I felt: there was love and grief. Happiness and sadness. Joy and pain. On the one hand, there’s the overwhelming pain. A mom made the very hard decision to give her a baby a better life, a life she didn’t think she could provide. I witnessed first hand the grief that mom experienced in the moment she signed her rights away. The tears that she shed and the kisses she bestowed upon her baby girl in that moment will forever be impressed upon my heart. She chose a broken heart for herself so that her baby could experience a childhood of comfort and happiness and my heart completely broke with hers. That’s pure and undefiled love my friends, what she chose to do for her baby. My heart was so heavy in that moment, all I could do was cry with her. I had no words. This was most definitely the part I was prepared for the least. I wish someone had told me how much these moms who choose adoption for their babies really love their children and how hard it would be to experience that alongside her.

Then, the other hand, there’s joy. She chose to trust US with her precious baby girl, and our hearts overflow with gratitude and thankfulness over that decision! There is immense joy that you get the opportunity to step into this mom's life and care for her baby. You get to walk alongside this mom and intentionally love her well for the years to come. What a privilege!

These two opposing emotions are beautifully interwoven into the adoption experience and you can’t avoid them. They simply belong together. They are meant to coexist. It’s just the nature of adoption.

Please don’t get me wrong, friends. Our adoption was the most beautiful experience of our lives. It isn’t all heartache and sadness, but that is a part of the experience that I feel needs to be talked more about. It needs to be acknowledged that you will feel absolutely broken into a million pieces for that mom and what she is experiencing!

I also didn’t expect to love the birth mom the way that I do. No one told me how attached I’d feel to this woman. My prayer coming out on the other side of this adoption process is no longer about me, my family, or this baby; it’s about HER. As I sat in her home state, 1000 miles away from our home and family, I prayed for her heart. I prayed for my relationship with her. I prayed that above all else, we would make her feel how honored and cherished she is and will forever be in our lives, and that ultimately she would see Christ in us. And I still pray those things today. As we text and video each other daily, I pray for her sweet, sweet soul. She calls me when she’s missing her baby so badly that all she can do is sob. So, I sit and cry with her and tell her how much we love her. I reassure her that she’s not alone and that the decision she made was brave and loving. I am here for her and always will be. Bluntly, we need each other.

Last but most certainly not least, I wish someone had told us how absolutely beautiful open adoption could be. Like many, the idea used to terrify me and my husband. We selfishly didn’t want to have to “co-parent” with her or worry about how that would look years down the road. But friends, let me assure you, we were so wrong in these worries. The moment I saw our baby girl in her mom's arms, we knew we wanted an adoption that was as open as possible. We knew that we wanted our baby girl to be reminded every single chance by her birth mom that she is loved, chosen, and cherished by her. It’s one thing coming from our mouth, but it means something totally different to our daughter coming from the woman who chose the adoption plan that altered the course of her life forever.

Guest blog written by: Amanda Lively

Follow on Instagram at: @mrsamandalively

Amanda is mama to two precious girls and wife to her sweet husband. They have expanded their family with a biological daughter and a daughter who came by way of adoption. Amanda's heart for her daughter's birth parents is beautiful and we are so thankful she shared such raw insight with us here today!

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