New mom Andrea greets Gabrielle for the first time.
By Andrea Kidd
The journey of adoption is one of the most rewarding experiences. The process will take a person through myriad emotions filled with love, joy, tears, fear, and hope, as well as more personal growth than could ever be imagined.
Adoptive parents, who also gave birth biologically, will describe how exceptionally similar the two experiences are. For every stage of adoption, there is a complementary stage of pregnancy and childbirth.
Stages to a family
We know what is involved with natural conception and the process of a fetus growing in a mother’s womb. In adoption, the “genes” of your child are constructed as parents make the following decisions:
• Domestic or international adoption.
• What specific country or race your child will be when international adoption is chosen.
• Choosing an agency to work through.
• Deciding on the sex, age range, and health status of the expected child.
The next step in adoption is what is called your “paper baby.” This paper baby is formally called a dossier and is pulled together over many months of paperwork. This dossier represents you and your family’s history, as well as approval from a social worker who has met with your family several times. Essentially, your pre-natal doctor appointments have taken place and it is time for your baby to grow and develop in your heart!
Just as in biological pregnancies, this wait is fairly predictable, yet very emotional. Any unexpected things, like pre-term labor or an overdue baby, may pop up at any given time. Families may find themselves rushing to pick up their child far earlier than they had planned, or families may feel like they are giving birth to an elephant as they have waited far more than nine months.
For most international adoptions, there is a stage where you receive a referral. The referral is when the agency matches you with a child. In a domestic adoption, this would be when the birth mother chooses your family. When a referral is given, the family receives the most exciting news of who their child is and what he or she looks like. Typically, a picture, medical reports, and history reports are presented at this time. You have seen your child and are in the final stretch. The labor pains have begun!
Adoption labor is quite frankly the longest labor in any delivery. Parents must get through court, travel, and sometimes wait weeks before actually “delivering” their babies. This stage, just as in biological labor, is very necessary as well as the most difficult part to get through. Those last moments before meeting and holding your child are at times unbearable, yet prove to be worth every tear and pain.
The most amazing day has finally arrived! You will finally see your child for the first time and wrap your arms around this precious being. This experience is equivalent to a doctor placing the baby on your chest after delivery. You see that child and it all makes sense. The joy and gratitude flow, as well as the tears. A child has become a son or daughter, a woman becomes a mommy, a man becomes a daddy, and a family is created—beautifully.
Andrea Kidd is an Adoptive Mom
She is also an Associate in the America World Adoption Association
For information about America World Adoption, visit awaa.org