In 1995, Bill Clinton expanded Nation Adoption Week to include the whole month of November. Each year there is a different theme centered around National Adoption Month, with 2017 being “Teens Need Family, No Matter What.” Every adoption story is as unique as the child being adopted, and no two are ever alike. Whether it is an open, private, agency, same-sex couple, stepparent, relative, or international adoption, each one means one more child receives the love and stability they deserve.
I had the privilege of chatting with Lita Jordan. She is a mother of 5; one stepson, two biological children, and two adopted children. Below is a summary of our conversation about her family’s journey and experience.
Tell us a bit of your story.
“It’s common knowledge that adoption costs thousands of dollars, but we felt that somehow God would put us in a place where we could adopt. We just didn’t know what that would look like. In May of 2015, an acquaintance asked us to adopt her child. She was pregnant at the time. We said yes because we really felt like this was the time that God was leading us to adopt. Unfortunately, she changed her mind shortly after asking us. We did not get any of our ducks in a row because we thought that she was going to parent. We were happy for her at that time because the goal is always for the parent to be able to parent their child. However, on the day that the baby was born, she decided that it would be best for us to go ahead and go through with the adoption. Due to circumstances beyond our control, she had to go into foster care for 3 months before she came home with us. The same acquaintance then asked us to adopt again. Our second child’s adoption happened in a similar fashion, but we were able to bring him home at birth.”
Before the opportunity came about, did you have a desire to adopt?
“It was always part of the plan, but we never planned to adopt twice. We also never planned to adopt the way we did. We really felt like we had to be at a place where we had money to adopt.”
What was the process like each time?
“Each time was very different even though the mother asked us to adopt both times. Because my daughter went into foster care, the process was way different than it was with my son. We still had to go through the home study and things of that nature, but the cost was substantially less because it was an adoption from foster care. We only dealt with fees for an attorney because we wanted to make sure that we did everything right. It was very difficult for the court to hear us and consider us to be adoptive parents for her. We were working with an agency in another state, and the system is very broken. There are some fantastic social workers and we have dealt with a lot of fantastic people, but at the end of the day, we really struggled to get her out of foster care. The process for her looked like 3 months of her in foster care. We had to be heard by the court and were finally able to after about a month. Her foster family contacted us at about 2 months old, and then we got pictures and updates. So even though we saw her the first day she was born, we didn’t actually get to see her again until she was about two and a half months old. We brought her home at three and a half months. For my son, we knew from the beginning that we would adopt him at birth. His mom asked us to adopt when she was about 7 months pregnant. This time we were able to do everything we needed to do and get all the ducks in a row. The day he was born we traveled down and I saw the birth. I was able to spend time with him and his mom. My husband and I stayed in the hospital with them until he was discharged, then we were able to bring him back to a hotel. When you adopt from another state, you have to stay until state officials clear you. It’s called ICPC. We were in the other state for about a week with him in a hotel. We then brought him home, and after 6 months the adoption was official. In that 6 months, we had to have a social worker from our adoption agency come visit us once a month to check in.”
How did your children adjust to both adoptions?
“My stepson was 15 at the time we first adopted. He loves kids, so he was very on board. He’s always been amazing about everything and just goes with the flow. Our middle son didn’t understand what was going to happen, but he was enamored with her immediately. Our youngest son at the time was only twenty-one months when we brought our daughter home, and he was kind of neither here nor there about it. He didn’t really pay attention to her, but he was jealous at times. Now, when we brought our son home, he was very upset. He definitely went through some jealousy and struggled, but he’s doing really well now. Our daughter was around 18 months when we brought her baby brother home, and she was mostly indifferent. She loved him, but let him do his own thing. Now we have to watch her because she will try to carry him around the house!”
What are some misconceptions about adoption?
“I think one misconception about adoption is it’s unaffordable. Let me clarify, adoption is incredibly expensive. But it is something that people can afford if they want to. We, by no means, make even the average that people in the U.S. make, but we were able to figure out a way to afford loan payments. If you adopt from foster care, that itself is free. I know other misconceptions people have are with foster care itself. People assume that it is awful, and parents are just in it for the money. Most do it because they have a love for children and want to give them a home. Are there awful foster parents out there? Absolutely. But there are way more loving wonderful parents. Another misconception about adoption is the idea of being worried about your child having another mother or father. No one wants to have to share their children, but at the end of the day, my two youngest kids have another mom and dad. That is completely okay with me. It means there are more people who love them, and that should never be hindered. We protect them from things and we make sure that they’re safe, but they will always know about their parents. They did something amazing for their children, and we certainly want to remain open and have them in their lives. The relationship that I have with my daughter is not going to be the same as a relationship she has with her birth mom and vice versa. Relationships are not defined by the title. I’m no less her mom because she has another.”
What would your advice be to anyone considering adoption?
“I would say the best step to take is to talk to others who have adopted. There are websites to go to like https://adoption.com/ with people to talk to who have gone through it. It’s really important to find out as much information as you can before diving in. There are also different ways to see if it is the right decision for you. One is something called respite care for foster care. It allows you to care for foster children in a temporary situation, such as if their foster families want to to have a night out or are traveling out of town. There are also ways to come alongside and help families going through the adoption process, such as donate money, provide childcare, or give gift cards. And again, don’t let the cost scare you. If you’re drowning in debt it’s probably not the best time to adopt. But, If you are good at budgeting and figuring out priorities then you can certainly do it.”