When I was ten years old, my mom, sister and I saw a movie called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness starring Ingrid Bergman. The 1958 movie is based on the true story of a missionary in China who leads 100 Chinese children from one area of China to another during the Japanese-Chinese war. The movie impacted me so much so that ever since that night, I wanted to adopt.
Fast forward to many years later. I got married, had three biological children, and continued to foster the idea of adopting a child who needed a stable home. When my children were 1, 3 and 5, I started collecting information from different adoption agencies (without my husband’s knowledge.) I was mainly focused on China or Korea because that was the image God placed on my heart many years before.
I collected information about adoption for a good year before talking to my husband about it. I didn’t want him to squelch my dream. When I finally gathered my nerve and talked to him, he said, “You talked about wanting to adopt in college. This isn’t a secret.” I was stunned. I didn’t remember sharing this piece of my heart. The best part about opening up and sharing my desire was that my husband joined my quest with open arms.
As we began to pursue adoption seriously, a friend from church, who did respite care, helped us to see the need for foster-adopt families. This was the right choice for us financially. We could obey God’s call without going into debt.
We went to several orientation meetings from different agencies before deciding on a local Christian non-profit agency. Four months after completing our home study, we saw our future daughter’s picture in a photolisting book. She was Filipino, had been born 10 weeks early, weighing only 2 pounds, 12 ounces, and had a high risk of having cerebral palsy due to her premature birth. She was not yet legally free for adoption, but the termination of parental rights were scheduled to happen within a short time.
Our social worker submitted our home study, our family was chosen (after waiting three long weeks), and after a month of visitations Grace came to live with us. Because of some complications with the termination of the birth parents’ rights, Grace’s adoption was not finalized until almost two years later. Grace always felt like she was mine, but when we stood before the judge and promised to take care of her, she truly became one of us.
Here are some tips if you and your spouse are considering adoption:
* Attend at least three different adoption agency information meetings to see what different agencies have to offer.
- What is the geographic range from which children are available (the wider the range, the more opportunities for you to begin fostering a child).
- What age range do you see most?
- What’s your policy on sibling group adoption?
- What limits are there on the ages of children available (for example, some agencies facilitate adoptions of children aged 5 and up; others work with children under age 2).
- Is the child a member of a sibling group?
- How many prospective parents are in your waiting ‘pool’?
- Describe the type of personal attention the prospective adoptive family receives.
Consider what type of child you are open to adopting. There are many things to consider, such as medical issues; abuse, neglect or abandonment issues; drug exposure; learning disabilities, single or sibling groups, etc. My husband and I prayed every night for specific things we thought we could handle. Our criterion was to adopt a child who was at least a year younger than our youngest in school. We were open to all races, but wanted a child who could blend with our active family. We ended up submitting our home study for a child that we probably wouldn’t have considered at the beginning of the process. The bottom line is to be open to what God has for you. He knows best.
* Adoption professionals recommend, “Don’t fall in love with a picture,” but how can you not? Don’t be afraid to love your child from the very beginning.
* Find a support group. Talk with a friend when the days of waiting to be matched with a child get tough. Share information only with people who you are certain will be positive and supportive. Stay strong and pray a lot.
* Foster-adoption is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard and emotionally draining. But it’s also rewarding when you’re blessed with a child who you know God has for your family.
Sherry Kyle is a graduate of Biola University with a degree in Communications, and a minor in Bible. Her award-winning book for tween girls titled The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style was released from Legacy Press in September 2010, and her debut contemporary novel, Delivered with Love, was released from Abingdon Press in the spring of 2011. Currently, she has contracts for three more books, two books for 8-12 year old girls, as well as another contemporary novel titled The Heart Stone (Abingdon Press, spring 2013). When Sherry isn’t writing, she enjoys going out to dinner and a movie with her husband, Douglas, walking along the beach with a friend, or spending time with her family. They live by the coast in California. You can find her on the web at: www.sherrykyle.com.