Hi everyone, my name is Kim Wilson, I’m a family photographer in the Central Valley of California and together with my husband and our 4 year old son, we are adopting a little baby at the end of this month!
I traveled with The Archibald Project to Ethiopia in 2017 and thus began my passion for ethical adoption practices. This journey has had incredible highs and deep lows but we are so thankful for everything we’ve learned along the way to ensure that we are best caring for and respecting our future child’s first family.
One of the most asked questions we receive is how we even started the adoption process so I put together a helpful list that I hope you find beneficial.
8 Steps for Starting the Adoption Process
1. Pray, if you pray…
Before jumping into the wild ride of adoption we prayed. A lot. We weren’t waiting on a Devine “sign” from God, because we believe everyone is called to care for orphans in one way or another, but we did ask the Lord to direct our steps. We knew we couldn’t dare take this on with our own strength. This process seemed so daunting, but we knew it was how we wanted to grow our family. Lord willing!
2. If you’re married, be on the same page as your spouse
One of the best pieces of advice we received in marriage counseling was, “never make a move until you are 100% aligned, however long that takes.” When we first started talking about adoption my husband had never considered it before. He needed time and space to process. I was clear in sharing my heart for orphans, then stepped back and let him lead. One day, about six months later, he walked in the kitchen smiling and said, “we have a really great home, we’re adopting” and walked away. I was shocked! But I gave him space to come to that on his own. Throughout the process there were many points in the wait I would check in with him to make sure we were on the same page and moving at the same pace. We are a team!
3. Find people who have adopted (advocate/mentor)
Having a community of people to rally around us is crucial. Adoption is complex and messy and hard. It’s full of paperwork and appointments, laws and ethics, heartache and waiting. But it is so beautiful. Having people who walked the road before you gives you a place to be honest, vulnerable and real. They speak truth and wisdom into the messiness. They can give you red flags to look out for, ask questions to get you thinking and give hope when you loose sight of what you’re fighting for. Find someone who is on your team and understands the road you are embarking on. They will be your biggest cheerleaders! I am so grateful for my adoptive momma friends!!!
4. Decide which type of adoption is best for you (foster care, infant domestic, international)
When starting the process it is important to educate yourself. No one is going to do that for you. Start researching different types of adoption. Talk to your friends who have adopted. Make yourself familiar with all of the adoption lingo. Do you want to go through a non-profit or for profit agency/consultant? Do you want a relationship with you child’s birth mother? Why are ethics in adoption so important? These are just a few of the thousand questions you’ll start asking yourself. But it is important to know why you are choosing your specific option.
5. Research agencies (non profit vs for profit/ethics)
When we first started we didn’t know this was a thing. We used two non-profit agencies. One locally in California and one we found through a friend in Florida. We chose to use these specific agencies because people we trust (who have been in the foster/adoption space for years) had vetted them. We knew ethics were very important to us. But the sad reality of our broken world today is adoption has become a lucrative business. People profiting from the misfortune of others. That’s why education is key in adoption. Not only is educating yourselves on the process, agencies, laws etc., but but also educate yourself on childhood trauma and the long-term effects.
6. Start paperwork
As soon as you choose an agency, start your paperwork! This process alone can take several months. We started in February 2018 and weren’t home study approved (eligible to be matched with a child) until August 2018. That’s 7 months. You are at the mercy of your agency. Buy a binder with dividers and use it to keep/store all of your documents, receipts, applications. It’s important for you to have it all in one place to reference as needed. This seems like a part time job on its own, but now on the other side I am thankful for every piece of it.
7. Have hard conversations (child preference, non-negotiables)
When you start your paperwork/interviews you’ll be asked some hard questions that challenge you to look inward. And thankfully so! Is bi-racial adoption something you are ready for? Are you prepared to take on racism in your home/community? Are you open to medical disabilities? Are you willing to meet with biological family a few times a year? Have these conversations with your spouse, counselor or people you trust. If the answer is no on a few things that’s ok, but be willing to find out why. We had long nights of deep heart conversations about potential scenarios we were willing to take on. Those talks were absolutely necessary to figure out what our boundaries are and where we needed to grow.
8. Rally your people…you’ll need them
I could write a whole blog just on this! My people. The people the Lord has blessed us with in this process blows my mind. From adoptive moms, to church friends, to my OG ride or dies, our people have showed up! They have listened, pursued, given, prayed. They have let me cry at their kitchen tables and scream on the phone. They show up in text messages, sweet letters, small gifts, and pouring a glass of wine. They have loved us through these last two years of endless waiting and mountains of paperwork and we are forever grateful. I cannot stress this enough…find your people. You’ll need them. Adoption is not for the faint of heart. It is hard and messy and oh so beautiful. These kids are worth all of it.
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