When John and Jackie Foster of McKinney first saw a photo of their son Joshua, they felt the emotion many adoptive parents describe.
“We saw his photograph, and we just knew. We felt like God had brought him to us. He was immediately integrated into our family,” Jackie says.
According to Dr. Ruth McRoy of the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, 1.7 million American households have adopted children, and the reasons are many.
Sometimes, health issues prevent couples from having a biological child. In other cases, couples wish to help children in less-fortunate parts of the world while adding to their family. When yearning and hope are present, many couples turn to adoption, opening their homes and hearts both domestically and internationally for children to join their lives.
High school sweethearts John and Jackie Foster felt the call to adopt a child from overseas.
The Fosters had experienced a difficult first pregnancy, which blessed them with twins through in vitro fertilization. When concerns arose over a genetic disorder, the Fosters turned to adoption after much prayer.
Jackie explains, “We always felt a calling for adoption and have a heart for children in need.”
They found Chinese Children Adoption International and were impressed with the organized approach and structured program.
“We completed the dossier, which required providing our specific personal information. And through this process, we were asked to indicate if we would accept a special needs child,” she says. “Given our background, we both were completely agreeable to this idea.”
After six months of required document completions, notarizations, and approvals from both the U.S. and Chinese governments, the Fosters received a referral for a child with a cleft lip and palate issues.
When they traveled to China to welcome their new 18-month-old son, “it was such a wonderful feeling to have him placed in my arms,” Jackie says. “He didn’t cry at all. By that evening, he had smiled at us. It was such a precious moment. It’s like he had been in our family forever; the adjustment was amazingly smooth.”
Joshua’s cleft lip was repaired before he left China, and his palate was repaired in May 2011. The Fosters are happy to report that after arriving home with Joshua, everyone adjusted to their new family member very quickly.
While the Fosters chose to adopt internationally, Paula and Scott Birmingham chose to adopt within the United States.
They began their joint lives similarly to others – graduating from college, marrying, and settling down to their careers.
A year later, they began to try for a child. After discovering “issues,” they began a three-year roller coaster ride of infertility, completing seven rounds of in-vitro fertilization with two miscarriages along the way.
“This was an extremely trying time for us, but overall it brought us closer,” Paula says. “Through all of these trials, we realized God gave us the resolve to open our hearts to adoption.”
After a move from Michigan to Texas, Paula received a pamphlet about a local infant adoption program. Just one month after they applied to become adoptive parents, the Birminghams were accepted into the program.
They began the home study process, created a personal storybook about themselves, secured letters of recommendation, participated in multiple interviews with the agency, and allowed a tour of their home. Then, the waiting began.
“Waiting for an entire year to be chosen from a birth mother was extremely stressful for us,” Paula says. “I felt like we had to be perfect. We soon realized it wasn’t up to us. The agency was our advocate, and when the time was right, it just happened.”
The Birminghams received the call from their agency to meet the birth mother in Austin two weeks before her due date. One week later, they were chosen as the parents, and on Oct. 14, 2009, Paula and Scott Birmingham met their baby boy, James. A few days later, they brought James home, and the adoption was final after six months.
Because they chose an open adoption, the Birminghams keep in touch with the birth mother, visiting two to three times a year and sending photos at holidays. Paula notes, “The process was long, but it was so worth it, and we are very thankful for the open adoption. I’m so thankful our birth mom made this decision, as we have our perfect baby boy.”
Throughout the adoption process, both families learned a great deal. They encourage others to seek support and look for funding resources.
Generally, the cost of an adoption can range from $5,000 to $23,000, and many employers will help with expenses. And, a tax credit may be available to help defer some costs. Numerous area support groups will help throughout the process, including the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and Hope Cottage. Both families leaned on church groups, friends and neighbors for support and advice.
Paula recommends having patience through what will likely be a lengthy process.
“For all of those families waiting through the arduous process of adoption, I just want to encourage them,” she says.
Jackie agrees: “Children all over the world long to be part of a forever family, and our journey has brought such joy into our home as we’ve allowed a new life to join us.”
She smiles and says, “I am so thankful.”
About the author: Carolyn Cameron is a local marketer and freelance writer. She enjoys spending time with her three young boys and family, reading and running.