Where Are the Babies?

Where Are the Babies?

In honor of November being National Adoption Month, Portrait of an Adoption is running a special series called 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days.  Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, waiting adoptive parents, and foster parents-turned-adoptive parents.  Painful and beautiful, these stories will bring you a deeper understanding of what adoption looks like, allowing you to appreciate the many brushstrokes that comprise a family portrait.

Where Are the Babies?

By Jennifer Allwood

Our adoption process began many months ago.

At this point, our home study is complete.  We are approved with an agency here in Kansas City and another agency in a different state.  We have filled out every adoption form known to man. We have done every physical required. We have been deemed as "not crazy" and actually as "great parents" by the adoption advocate.

We have an attorney ready to go.  We have had friends give us their strollers and their Bumbos. We have a plan in place to execute "musical bedrooms" whenever we get "the call".  We have her name picked out.  We are ready to go.

Except for one thing..... there are no babies up for adoption with either agency.  There are not even any pregnant women/girls considering adoption with either agency.  HUH????

I had a long conversation with my adoption coordinator last week.  She is just as stunned in the low number of adoptions as we are.  While I hope that number is lowering for positive reasons, it's hard to say.  When I asked her what she thinks may be a contributing factor to such few children being placed for adoption, she said the MTV show "16 & Pregnant" is definitely NOT helping by glamorizing teen parents.

I was shocked when last week one of the adoption agencies that I "like" on Facebook posted that the same TV show had contacted the agency to see if they knew of any teens that could be candidates to be on their show.  It gives me a tummy ache.

And so, we have been given the advice to share our story.  To tell as many people as possible that we are trying to adopt in hopes that someone will know someone who will know someone who isn't ready to parent their child.

And so I come to you today.....transparent.....to tell you about our family.

Our only real conviction is that we are to adopt a GIRL.  My dreams have been about a girl. I want another girl. Our boys want a girl. My baby girl wants a girl. My husband just wants me to be happy. So we are unanimous on the "girl" part.

We are open to adopting a child of any race. We are relatively certain based on many circumstances that only God himself could orchestrate, that our next child will NOT be Caucasian and we are 110% on board with that.  We have taken a trans-racial adoption class. We have read information on trans-racial adoptions.  We have friends who have adopted trans-racially. We are certain we will be learning as we go, but we are excited!

After researching the facts and talking to many other adoptive parents, we have decided we are open to an "OPEN" adoption.  Or to a semi-open.  We are nervous about what all of that may look like, but believe it's best for the emotional well-being of our child.  And we are committed to making choices based on fact and our convictions rather than fear.

And finally, we would adopt a child that is NOT a newborn.  We don't think it is wise for our family to mess with the birth order of our home.  So, the little girl would have to be under the age of 3.  Generally, if a child is not a newborn they are tangled up in the foster care system of a state.  And that is something we don't think we have the grace for at this point....but God may change our hearts.

So.....that's our big news.  I will tell you friends....this adoption thing is painful.  It's a waiting game.  It’s a lesson in patience.  It reveals things to yourself about yourself that are hard to look at and acknowledge.  It's scary.  It makes you have tougher skin.

And yet it makes your heart softer.  It's a beautiful dance.  Please pray for our family as we continue this journey. And please tell others about our story. We are so blessed to have this blog following as a platform.....thank you.

By Jennifer Allwood

http://themagicbrushinc.blogspot.com

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  • fb_avatar

    I work in a private child placing agency in Houston, and we are experiencing this culture shift as well. It is unfortunate that we now have so many terrific families out there waiting, just like yours. Our agency can no longer accept new straight adopt families, as the need is primarily for foster care. If you are planning on a domestic adoption, you may want to re-consider fostering. Best of luck on your journey!

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    I honestly think the saddest part of the Teen Mom phenomenon is that the older child adoptions will possibly come about. One of the girls from the first season of the show is/was negligent. She was being investigated for spousal and child abuse. It's THOSE cases which will be the most tragic, because if she'd placed her child at birth, there would be no fostering, no tragic dance with abuse. THAT is what makes me saddest. I truly wish the shift was because of better sexual education, etc, but we all know it's sadly not.

    I wish you great luck with your search. I hope your angel baby comes home soon!

  • In reply to angelbuttons77:

    You make a really good point. In foster care too, what is happening is the birth parents are given so many chances to "get their act together" that by the time they realize the situation is hopeless, the poor child is older and has been through years of needless anguish and/or abuse.

  • In my state, California, even the foster system has very few babies (0-2 yrs.) without major health issues that become freed up for adoption. There is a huge push to reunify children with their birth families, especially with the recent cuts in funding, and the threshold requirements to be considered fit to reunify with your child seem to have gone down (they are also taking in fewer cases into foster care, due to budgetary constraints).

    While I agree by and large that children are best raised by their birth families, I hope there are not too many situations out there where the birth family clearly is unable to care for the child, yet resources are lacking to support the child through the foster system into adoption.

    You have a point about not disrupting the birth order - our county does not place children out of the birth order. Since this means you are looking for a very young child, it might be worth looking into international adoption.

    I wish you and your family the best of luck!

  • Here are my thoughts, which you can take or leave, but I do have some experience with this adoption thing. I don't necessarily believe that things are predetermined and that there's only one way for a scenario to play out, but I do believe that if you're out there banging on a door that won't open, then it's time to step back and really take a look at whether that's the right door. I believe that when something is meant to work out, the opportunities for it to work out will present themselves. Take another look at the foster care adoptions. Just check into it. You might find that your child is right there waiting for you, and if she is, you'll find her.

    When I started my homestudy, there was a little girl on an online photolisting who was available for adoption. I expressed to my Homefinder that I hoped she'd still be available when my homestudy was finished. My Homefinder, a very wise and experienced woman, said, "If she's your daughter, then she'll still be available when you're ready. If she's not, she won't be, but your daughter will come along shortly." Sure enough, she was right. My homestudy was finished at the end of November. On January 2nd, she emailed me about a little girl who needed a home. I was selected for her and was given custody of her on February 6th. Not very long, was it? We finalized the adoption in August of the same year. And there's no doubt in anybody's mind that she's my daughter (see yesterday's post on this blog).

    Take another look at the foster care adoptions. She might be there, and if she is, you'll get her. You have to accept that the process of getting a child is not one that we're in charge of. I don't know what higher-up being makes it happen, but it's not us. I can look back at the decisions I've made over the past several years and see that the choices I made led me on a direct path to getting my daughter. From divorcing my husband, to quitting my job and moving back home to West Virginia from Atlanta, to finally signing up for the adoption classes after three years of tossing the idea around in my head, to finishing my homestudy at the precise time she was ready to come "home". Our process was being driven by something. Yours is too. You must have faith in that and believe that your child is out there. Not A child. YOUR child. You just have to try all the different paths until you find her. If she's not on this path, try that path. Try all the paths until you find her.

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    I did read your post yesterday.......and your daughter does look just like you. Thank you for your comment. God is working out some things in my heart as my husband and I ponder/pray about foster care. The truth is....we are scared. We have 3 other children to worry about and are concerned about a child coming in to our home. And we fall in love. Then they leave. Then they come back. Then they leave. And how would our other kids deal with that?

    In our state, children are only placed in foster care if there has been physical abuse or sexual abuse. Are my husband and I prepared to raise a child who has experienced that? Are we equipped? Could we ever full get equipped? Could our hearts burst at the horrors that our future child could have experienced? It just seems like we have more questions than answers right now.

    I appreciate your comments so much! Bless you all.

  • In reply to Jennifer Allwood:

    Jennifer, the right child will come to you and your family - I know it. While there are lots of children out there who would thrive in a beautiful family like yours, you do need to be confident about each new step you take or each new direction you follow. If you have any reservations at all about following a particular course of action, it would not be fair to the children, especially the one being adopted.

    It is important to ask the questions you and your husband are asking, even though ultimately having any child (natural-born or adopted) is taking a leap of faith. Continue to follow your hearts and your instincts about your family, as you are doing.

    Having said the above, I will end with two thoughts: (1) Be prepared for the unexpected (we were so set on wanting only a girl and now when I look at my beautiful adopted boy, those thoughts seem so distant and unimportant) and (2) As our wise adoptions worker said, "our primary focus is on finding the right families for these children, not finding you your tailor-made child."

    I wonder if today's writer can help you, with her organization?

  • Those are all good questions. Can you raise a child that's experienced that sort of trauma? Yes, you can. You absolutely can. What if you found out that one of your biological children had been molested? You would do whatever you had to do to help your child. You would continue to raise that child and you would not give up on him or her. You would crawl through broken glass if you had to. Of course you would. No question. So can you do that for a child you didn't give birth to? Yes. Is it easy? No. If it was easy, everybody would do it.

    Will your heart break for the horrors your child has seen? Absolutely. But you will be strong, and you will mend what you can mend, and you will learn to live with the rest. You will hear things you never thought you'd have to hear and say things you never thought you'd have to say. When your new daughter takes a break from watching a movie to ask, "Do you think my daddy meant to kill my sister?", you will not allow the expression on your face to change, you will swallow the horror that you feel, and you will look her in the eye and give her an honest answer, because that's what she needs and she's depending on you.

    You are right to consider your other children and their feelings. Be open with them and let them know that you might only be keeping this child for a short time, or it could be a long time, and that it's up to the judge. Kids, we're going to keep this little person for as long as she needs us, and we're going to love her and cherish her, and if she goes back to her birth family, we're going to be happy for her and never forget her. Sometimes people come into our lives and stay a long time, sometimes only a short time. We cherish that person no matter how long they're with us.

    There's no handbook for where you're going. Every child is different and they all respond differently to a new family. Some are happy and go on to lead successful lives. Others struggle always. For some, the best you can do is keep them from hurting themselves or someone else while they're in your care. All you can do is the best you can do. It's hard when you want to help the child and fix all the problems and make all the hurt go away, and then the reality sets in that you can't undo what's been done. This does not make you a failure. I didn't create the problems my daughter has. I'm doing my best to help her heal the hurt, to teach her what it means to be part of a family, to guide her as she becomes the person she's meant to become. She may always need therapy. She may turn 18 and go back to her biological family and make the same poor choices they made. All of that is out of my control. I can only do the best I can do, and that's it. It will either work or it won't. Either way, she's better off than if I'd never tried.

    I'm sad to say that we have a bit of a drug problem here in rural West Virginia. Many children are in our foster care system because of their parents' drug use. Those children rarely get returned to their parents. The parents may be addicted and don't/can't get clean, or they may be in prison for manufacturing drugs like meth. If you're considering taking a child who's not yet free for adoption, you can at least ask the worker what the chances are that the child will be returned to the parents. An experienced worker will probably know.

    Adopting is risky business. Scary business. So is giving birth. There aren't any guarantees and nothing is certain. If you gave birth to your other three children, when you went to the hospital to deliver them, you didn't have any guarantees that you would come home with a healthy child, or even a live child. You may have come home with a child who later turned out to be autistic, or have a learning disability, or a personality disorder. Adopting is no different. At least when you adopt, you already know if they have all their fingers and toes. Yes, it's scary. This is not the same as getting a puppy from the animal shelter. Lives are at stake. But somebody has to raise these children. Hundreds, probably thousands of children age out of the foster care system each year. Not adopted. No family. No ties. No roots. No sense of what it means to be in a family or to give and receive love.

    I'm not an extraordinary person. If I can do it, you can do it. Everybody out there reading this, IT CAN BE DONE. It's not easy. It's damn hard. But so are most other things that are worth doing. Take the first step and see if your daughter is there. Then you'll know what to do and you'll have the strength to do it.

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    Jiyer and Abengal...I DO think you are extraordinary people. Thank you for taking the time to write such thoughtful comments. I appreciate your honestly and transparency so much!!! Jennifer

  • In reply to Jennifer Allwood:

    Don't sell yourself short :) Clearly, you care for the children, and that is what matters in the end. I hope good things happen for you this holiday season!

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