Our Adoption Story: Part Two

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He wasn’t the biggest fan of some random dude in a robe holding him.

It’s official!! On June 1st, 2016, Kendric Scott became a legal part of our family. We had a wonderful “Gotcha Day” celebration last weekend with lots of friends and food. It’s still sort of surreal to be honest. It’s hard to believe that all of the time and work has finally come to fruition. I think now it’s time for me to finish our adoption story. Not that the story is really ever complete. We’ll be working through adoption related issues and celebrating adoption related victories for the rest of our lives, but here is a good place to pause and reflect on the beautiful journey that has brought Kendric into our family.

In the last post, I offered an apology. I apologized for my ignorance and judgmental attitude towards those who’ve adopted privately. I want to make this apology public for the purpose of encouraging others to expand their view of private adoption. I think there is a lot of judgment surrounding adoption and which route couples choose to take. It’s nuanced. It’s out there. I want you to know that private adoption is not “easy.” It was heart breaking at times. No matter which route you take, adoption is not for the faint of heart. There is always some level of sadness around how a child came to be in need of a family. Always. Even in the best case scenario, there is a sense of loss.

This is no different for our situation. The birth mother we were matched with, I’ll call her Ms. L, is an amazing, strong woman of God. She wants the best for Kendric and wishes she could give that to him. Her situation is complicated and I don’t feel right sharing the circumstances here. Maybe without knowing the details you can trust me when I tell you that she is kind, strong, responsible, and has demonstrated a love that I had never witnessed before. I am forever indebted to this woman for bringing Kendric into our lives and for that, I will always have a special place for her in my heart. I am so grateful that she found us.

Now let me tell you how this happened. In my last post, I left off in September of 2014. We didn’t get matched to either of those kids mentioned, as I’m sure you concluded. You’re so smart, smarty pants. In fact, we actually ended up putting the whole process on hold because Caleb got a job in Austin, Texas. We had been trying to move either up to Northern California to be closer to my family or to Texas to be closer to Caleb’s family. Texas was the call so we moved and chose an area close to the church we felt called to be a part of.

Spring 2015: We attended an adoption conference in Austin called “A Future and a Hope.” At the conference we learned of an adoption agency that seemed pretty cool called “Loving Hearts Christian Adoptions.” We jumped on board with them and took all the steps necessary to update our home study. Unfortunately for us, a LOT of couples heard about this agency and jumped on board. We soon discovered that we’d be waiting a LONG time to get matched so we kept our ears open for other options.

June 2015: In one of the Facebook adoption groups I was in, I heard about an agency looking for couples to join their “Agency Assisted Program” which is for couples who are open to adoption African-American children. (We’ll get into the absurdity of this another time.) I spoke with a couple of different people who had experience with this agency and we decided it would be a good fit. Now, Loving Hearts would do our home study and American Adoptions would do the match.

July 2015: American Adoptions doesn’t mess around. They sent us professional video equipment to  capture moments of our daily lives and interviews with ourselves plus family members. Not at all awkward. Zero awkwardness. There may have been one or two staged dog walks. “Pretend not to see the camera Luca!” “Don’t look at the camera!” “Ok, everyone smile normally!” We filled out a billion questionnaires and sent in our best photos. Even though it was a pain, I will say that their method is a great one for making a solid match.

Early October 2015: Luca, my stepmom Sharon, and I are at Disneyland when I get the call that there is a birth mother who may be a good fit for us. Before they show her our profile, they send us information about her to make sure that we are a “go” if she were to choose us. American Adoptions sends over the info and I was amazed. I could tell that this birth mom was special and I truly hoped she would choose us. She wanted a very open relationship and that is something we prayed for. Not only did it seem like a great fit, but the baby would be born in NOVEMBER!! So soon!! Caleb agreed that it seemed like a good fit and we approved the presentation. I was so excited but tried not to get my hopes up.  Continue reading

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Our Adoption Story: Part One and An Apology

We talked about it for almost two years and now it’s finally happened! We would like to formally introduce Kendric Scott Snyder to you all! Thank you so much for the ongoing prayers and support. Every day I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe he’s finally with us. Isn’t he crazy cute??

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Many people ask, how long did the process take? With adoption, this seems to be the question that we all obsess over. Numerous people have even told me that they thought about adoption but are too afraid of the waiting. Well, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably know that we began thinking about adoption two whole years ago. You may be surprised then when I tell you that the process to adopt Kendric was really only EIGHT MONTHS. It wasn’t long at all. What took us a long time was actually finding the right route for us.

Here, I want to chart out our journey. This is something I would have loved to read when we were exploring our options, I hope it is helpful for you prospective adoptive folks. No journey is the same but I still think it is helpful to glean from the experience of others.

January 2014: When we first started out on the adoption journey, it began with a LOT of research. I scoured the web for adoption stories, hoping to have a better understanding of what we were in for. We didn’t even know where to start. There are sooo many options. Internationally, there are a dozen countries to choose from. Each with different requirements. Then, domestically, it seems that your options are either Fost-to-Adopt or Private Adoption. We knew there was NO WAY we were going to do a private adoption, that’s just for “Baby Shoppers,” right? (Spoiler Alert: Kendric was adopted through a private adoption) So we crossed that off the list right away and explored other options.

The biggest road block we faced was finding a program that would help us adopt a child younger than Luca who at the time, wasn’t even 2 yet. We were holding fast to this stipulation because we had strong feelings about maintaining birth order. This is a concept we had learned about in grad school and also through many adoption advisors. We knew that was something that would be important to us. Luca would remain the eldest. Don’t get me wrong, this decision came with much torment and revisiting multiple times throughout our adoption journey. Knowing that there are so many older children who need to be adopted was tearing our hearts apart. But we also just couldn’t find peace in our hearts about bringing in an older child at that time. We had many friends who are in the adoption world remind us that we can always adopt older children later, when our young kids are older. They are a lot of work and we have to feel called to that, we can’t just do it out of guilt. I am so thankful they gave us permission to do what is best for our family. I know there are cases where families adopt out of birth order and do just fine but we couldn’t feel peace about it.

February 2014: So, now we’re trying to see what options are available to find a baby. But we want to adopt a baby that really “needs” to be adopted, you know. Not just any old healthy baby that those “baby shoppers” would want. (Spoiler Alert: I’m about to blow the lid off of our whole “baby shopper” assumption so hold tight.) Somewhere in my research, I came across the China Special Needs program. China seemed to have their stuff together and I took comfort in that. To adopt a “healthy” baby however would mean a significant wait. Like 7 years. So the Special Needs program seemed to be a good fit because we’d be adopting a baby who really *needed* to be adopted and it would be a much shorter wait.

May 2014: We found an amazing agency, Chinese Children Adoption International, with supportive staff and a good track record. We were so excited! Caleb bought me Rosetta Stone in Chinese for Mother’s Day in hopes that we would learn Mandarin together. The paperwork was intense but we handled it. We began trucking away on our home study.

June-August 2014: Then, when we decided to buy a house, we pushed pause on the process. That pause button was unclicked pretty quickly when we got a call from our agency. They had found a “match.” A little boy born on the same day as Luca but a year later. (Note to all you adoptive families: when you get a “match” before your home study is complete, it means the child is being considered as “hard to place.”) We didn’t realize that at the time and were ecstatic. I mean, we were signed-up through a special needs program so we knew that there would be something going on but what we didn’t expect was a tragic disappointment.

The agency gave us 48 hours to review his file. They recommended that we have his medical records reviewed by a cardiologist. We did. In fact, we had it reviewed by multiple medical professionals. We were devastated when we learned that this sweet boy had so many issues with his heart that it was unlikely he would even be alive by the time we could bring him home. Even if we did get him here, he would be removed from a foster home that he seemed to be very happy in and thrown into multiple surgeries and forced to live with a “family” whom he had never met. It seemed cruel to consider doing that just so that we could feel like heroes. We cried so much those 48 hours. It was heart-breaking.

The whole situation made us completely re-think international adoption but we weren’t sure what to do. We spoke with the local agency director who was conducting our home study and she said they wouldn’t even consider us for their foster-to-adopt program if we wanted a child under 5 years old. Most children in that program are at least 5 before their parents’ rights have been terminated. We felt stuck.

September 2014: Out of nowhere, I see a Facebook post that an adoption agency is looking for families for two babies, both of mixed race. I thought that was strange that they wouldn’t have families for these babies until something from our adoption training (they’re required for your home study) stood out. Non-white babies, specifically babies of African-American descent, aren’t chosen for adoption as often as their white counterparts. Then I remembered a news article I had seen back when we first started the process. The news article stated that Europeans often adopt African-American babies, mostly baby boys, from the U.S. because agencies have difficulty finding homes for them here. Suddenly, everything became clear, there are babies in the US who need to be adopted that are not in the Foster Care system. But that isn’t even what really sealed the deal for us. When we looked into this agency who has posted about needing families, we discovered a whole side to private adoption that we were oblivious to.

Now is when I show you my ugly. I need to apologize publicly for my judgment of private adoptive parents. I assumed that private adoption was so easy and that it was really just for families who wanted a healthy baby fast. I had NO clue of the brokenness and struggle woven throughout this process. I had no idea that this was going to be a beautiful story of redemption and outreach. Not just for the hurting birth mother or for the unborn child, but for me.

To be continued…

Waiting for the Plus Sign

I remember holding that pregnancy stick ever so carefully, concentrating on peeing just right. Setting it down as if it were a ticking bomb and then backing away tentatively, knowing that it could change my life forever. That cheap little plastic stick would be the prophet of my destiny. Two minutes seemed like a really, really long time to wait. And when month after month, the prophet pee sticks would deny my dreams, the two minutes became progressively longer.

We have been in the adoption process from the “we’re seriously researching stage” to the “oh yeah, this is really happening stage” for about 18 months now. That is a loooong time to wait for a plus sign. Now, granted we’ve had a switch from international adoption to domestic and two moves (including a cross-country move) in the midst of our adoption pregnancy. You could say that all of that delayed things or that it was what led us to where we are supposed to be. Depending on the day, I feel differently.

Luca holding one of his babies. Cute.
Luca holding one of his babies. Cute.

Today, it’s just hard. Our son, Luca, is constantly asking us, “Where’s our baby?” “Can we go get our baby now??” It’s so cute, right? As cute as me poking my own eyeball with a chicken skewer. Repeatedly. Just precious. I’m over it. Every time my phone buzzes or hums or spouts off “Playtime” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this could be it!” Alas, the pee stick is negatory yet again. I have this feeling that “the call” is coming soon so I’ve got myself all pumped-up. But I’m playing it totally cool. I’m so chill about it. I packed a suitcase full of newborn stuff (after washing everything, some things twice) and made an Amazon Baby Registry (less work went into my graduate thesis). I’m like ice. Continue reading