By Jenny Morgan
My husband, Eliot, and I weren’t seeking out adoption in any form. The opportunity actually came to us. In 2015, we had suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage that led to me taking a four-month sabbatical from ministry. As difficult as that time was, God gave me a promise in the midst of my pain. “I will give you a daughter, and she will restore your joy.” Notice He didn’t say, “You will conceive a daughter…” God’s promises are so precise!
We got the first phone call in February of 2017 completely unexpectedly. A dear brother in the Lord shared with us the story of a young lady going through a difficult season in her life. Due to prior legal issues and unhealthy lifestyle habits, she wouldn’t be able to keep her unborn child. The only option she felt was available to her had been abortion. So he discussed with her the option of placing her child up for adoption. After some hesitation, she contacted him to say that she would be willing to move forward if he connected her with a family. Through a time of prayerful consideration, he eventually ended up dialing our number.
Even though I had always known I wanted to adopt, I assumed the path we would go through would be through foster care. It seems God had a different plan. And so we began a very emotional journey into a world of the unknown–at least for us!
Private adoption, as in through an agency or attorney, is not a one-sided affair. Rather, it is a kind-of match between two sets of people. And it’s important for both parties to understand that there is a legal structure set in place to protect everyone involved in the process, including the unborn child. It’s crucial for women who have unplanned pregnancies to know this because fear and concern for the future safety of their unborn child plays a huge role in their decision. This is especially true if there is no one in her immediate family who has the ability to adopt her child, and she must figure out how she can trust her baby with strangers. My hope is that if more women know about the legal process then more of them will feel the confidence to choose life!
One of the first things to know is that the birthmother chooses the family that is going to be adopting based on profiles that are provided to them through the adoption agency. A person can choose what type of agency they would like to handle their adoption, including faith-based options. Profiles show family members, including pictures, their hobbies and other interesting facts that may be more desirable or attractive based on the individual.
Second, all families who’s profiles are being viewed have been pre-screened through the same agency by a certified social worker. Families looking to adopt are required to show financial statements going back for a certain time period to ensure that the family is able to support their adopted child and provide basic needs. Household square footage is taken into account. Background checks are run on a local, state, and national level. Any criminal records are examined for prior issues that may affect a person’s ability to adopt. The nature of activity on a person’s record may disqualify them from being able to adopt, but is not automatically disqualified.
The last thing I’ll mention here that heavily weighs on the adoption decision is that all expenses are paid for by the adoptive family. This includes medical expenses for women without insurance and counseling services, which are required by law. It may also include living expenses for the birthmother if for some reason she cannot work.
The process takes time and there are other factors that will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. I pray that as you walk forward in your decision-making process that the information provided will be a starting point to help you to make an empowered decision for the adoption option.