By Smarty Guest Blogger Mercedes Cotchery, wife of former NFL Carolina Panther Jerricho Cotchery, mom of five adopted children, adoption advocate and author of the blog Mommy Moments, Meltdowns & Mercy.
Has the thought of adopting children crossed your mind? Perhaps you are struggling with infertility or you want to reach out and provide a better life for a child in need. Whatever your reasons, you are potentially about to embark on an amazing journey, but one that is not to be taken lightly. As moms and daughters, we all know that raising a child isn’t a brief endeavor. (Who among us, over the age of 30, still calls their mom every day? Consider my hand raised.) Adopting a child will change your life forever.
No matter what path you take to grow your family, in God’s economy, we are all orphans. This is such an important truth to understand as an adoptive family. It gives deep meaning to planning for adoption. At one point we were fatherless. God adopted us into His family. He has taken us to be His sons and daughters without partiality. By His grace, those who believe have a new life through His adoption of us. Adopting children into our lives quietly mirrors this expression of love. We completely change the order of a child’s life. But how do we decide if adoption is the path for us?
1. Why Do You Want to Adopt
Be firm and clear in your rationale. Knowing why you would like to adopt is pivotal. Your reasoning can serve to extinguish your fears when you feel overwhelmed by waves of worry. I wanted to adopt because it was the only way I could ever become a mom.
2. Get Everyone on Board
My husband, Jerricho, and I decided to adopt due to medical issues that I have been aware of for almost my entire life. While I had long been open to adoption, Jerricho understandably took a little longer to come around to the idea. You cannot embark on this adventure unless everyone directly involved is fully on board. Understand this path will look different for everyone.
We personally prayed and asked God to allow our hearts to become equally yoked with the idea of adoption. It was amazing to see how God placed us around people who became the answers to our prayers. In eight short months, we were both on the same page. By the grace of God, we have not looked back since that time.
When we initially began the process of adoption, though our hearts were in the right place, our knowledge was a bit lacking. The very first state that we tried to adopt from was not at all an adoption-friendly place. I naïvely assumed everyone would believe that we were trying to do something wonderful. I soon found that was not the case. Long story short, our first adoption was a failed attempt and ended with two incredibly broken hearts.
The moral of the story is this: begin educating yourself about the process of adoption early. The more educated you are regarding adoption, the better off you will be. Find out if you live in an adoption-friendly state. In addition, research the adoption laws of other nearby states.
Questions are an important part of the research phase. Consult with other families who have adopted. Take the proper time to get all your questions answered before you venture any further in the process—even the embarrassing ones. I am sure you have many fears regarding adoption. Know this—your fears are likely what-if questions in disguise. So what are you waiting for…go ahead, ask away!
Once your questions are answered, you should begin searching for an agency. Thoroughly interview any prospective adoption agency. Investigate the agency’s core beliefs and values. Also, gauge the amount of support provided to birthmothers and adoptive families.
Once you have selected an agency and advanced through the application process, you are well on your way to receiving your new sweet. It is time to nest, time to prepare your heart for the arrival of your child. I encourage you to do this more in mind than in the physical nature of things. To prepare your mind, imagine what your new daily life will look like. Create options in your home for their chair at the table, their toys in the playroom, and their head on a pillow. Imagine what your trips to the grocery store will look like, how you will celebrate birthdays and holidays. Be sure to include other family members in this process as well. Their hearts too need to prepare for your bundle of joy.
Oh, the wonder of adoption! Though it is not a path intended for everyone, for those who are called, it can be an inspiring delight. The key is to be informed, be reasonable, be committed and understand how it fits into the broader context of life.