In honor or World Adoption Day, I wanted to share with you a little bit about our adoption and why I choose to advocate for others to adopt.
I honestly feel so strongly about adoption because it changed our family, it changed Nate’s life, and just totally blew up my concept of God’s love for each of us. It’s all because we said “yes” to what so many saw as a radical move.
We started our adoption process in January of 2013. I was just 26 years at the time and Clyde was 2 ½. We started out applying to an agency that, at the time, had a domestic, infant, African-American program. We were not accepted due to a declining amount of teen birth mothers entering into the program. That changed our path to looking for local agencies that had a program that was the right fit for us.
After a lot of research & some very eye-opening local CPS meetings, we decided to adopt through Buckner’s Foster-to-Adopt program. Even though our main end goal was adoption, we knew we were going to start as foster parents. So, in addition to a home study, we had a lot of classes to complete, as well as licensing by the state of Texas.
Buckner had just opened up a new branch location near us, so we were one of the first families to go through the program. We flew through the classes, flew through our checklists, and even through all the homestudy interviews.
Our case manager was very, very particular on getting everything just right in our homestudy, but at the same time, families started flooding into the agency. So our process just came to a halt. We were done with everything we, as a family, needed to and physically could do in October but had to wait on the finalization of our home study and State-of-Texas licensing before we could begin even looking at children matching our profile.
It wasn’t until February of 2014 - almost a year after starting - we were even licensed! By this time, we were OVER the process and just READY for a child to be in our home. But it took 7 months and 11 homestudy submissions before we were matched with a little boy named Nathaniel.
What’s funny is I was so, so particular about combing through the files of children we were presented with. The information cannot legally be emailed, so our case manager would call us and read these multi-page files. So I would drive to the agency (about an hour and a half from our house) and examine the file, read between the lines, and look at their picture.
After combing through so many of these files and still being rejected, I finally told Jeremy I was just getting too invested. I was going to have to trust our case manager and trust God to match us with our son. I would no longer be going in and seeing their profiles or their pictures.
So when we got the call that we were chosen to be Nathaniel’s parents at the final meeting, we had never seen his file & didn’t even have a CLUE what our son’s face looked like.
But none of that would have mattered because the information in Nathaniel’s file was not all accurate. We didn’t find everything out until Nate was placed in our home and we became legal guardians. When we got a copy of his birth certificate - we discovered we were told the wrong birthdate for him. What was so crazy was that his actual birthday date was the VERY SAME DAY that we were licensed by the state of Texas to allow children in our home.
THIS WAS NOT AN ACCIDENT.
I was so anxious to have downtime waiting to be licensed. I was ready to be a mom again! I was ready to have a little boy in our home! The wait was excruciating and I questioned if we were making the right decisions.
Yet, God was working in the background. He knew the son He planned for us. He knew the parents He had planned for Nate. And I truly, truly believe that he wanted to make it so abundantly obvious that this was HIS plan and not ours. Hindsight, how very smart of God that we couldn’t start the process until our son was born. How crazy that I started to think that any of this would have anything to do with my planning!!
Looking back now, it seems so surreal that we did choose this path. We did not personally know anyone who had adopted through CPS, and honestly, it was not our original family plan.
People told us we were crazy for:
Being so young and adopting.
Choosing to adopt when we could physically still have children.
For adopting with a young child in the home.
For wanting a mixed family.
For being a working mom and still taking on adoption & a second child.
For adoption through CPS.
Yet, here we are. 3-years-later and the family God planned for us is thriving and growing.
My eyes have been opened up to SO many things. How much hurt there is in the world. Heck, in our own backyards. There are more than 100,000 children in the American Foster Care System who need families. They need us. They need our love. They can be NORMAL too. They just need a loving, family structure to help them do that.
And what a beautiful eye opening view of God’s love. Doesn’t God do that for us? He takes us, right where we are. He doesn’t look at our past, our faults, our blemishes. He takes us as we are, He knows us by name, moves mountains for us, and adopts us into His family to love and grow with Him.
I encourage you today to pray how you can be involved. There is so much you can do without being a foster or adoptive parent. You can donate clothes, food, money to organizations or families trying to adopt, your time, or becoming a respite care provider.
And if nothing else, please share my story. A national survey commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and conducted by Harris Interactive reveals that one in five American adults have considered adoption, and of those, 72 percent, or roughly 47 million Americans have considered adoption from foster care – more so than any other form of adoption, including private adoption of an infant or international adoption. The research indicates that there are many families interested in foster care adoption, but more needs to be done to find ways to connect these families with waiting children.
So on World Adoption Day, we put a spotlight on foster care & adoption in the hope that more people will take steps to adopt as well as to celebrate the power and beauty of family brought together through adoption.
If I have touched 1 family to move their heart to saying “yes” to adoption, my job has been done.
Holly Nicole James