BY ERICA JOURDAN
“I think adoption is amazing — and I have 11 years’ experience with it. Thanks to adoption, I have a home that I otherwise wouldn’t have, and an awesome mom, dad and brother.”
— Julian, age 11
Adoption starts with wanting to parent. And the ever-changing, perplexing and intriguing world of parenting is quite an adventure, no matter how you go about it!
Now, some folks are able to (and want to) birth their own children. But for others, whether intentionally or due to life circumstances, the decision becomes whether to parent others’ children.
Some choose to adopt a baby; some prefer an older youth or teen. Many others choose to explore foster parenting. There are also paths within those paths. All this can be horribly confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.
When my husband and I first talked about marriage, we also discussed parenting, as many couples do. We both knew we wanted to be parents, but interestingly (and fortunately), we both preferred adoption if at all possible and felt we’d explore birthing our own children only as a last resort. How backward, you might be thinking — but then neither of us has ever been very traditional.
Many years later, we’re the honored parents of three amazing children, all adopted — one privately, one through foster care and one via an attorney.
And parenting? As predicted, it’s been a roller coaster! But it’s truly been worth every exhilarating, sleep-deprived, loving and sometimes anxiety-filled minute. And it’s also created a new career path for me as an adoption consultant.
When I started out as a “to-be” parent, I would have given so much to have someone untangle the overwhelming array of information that’s out there for me. In the midst of the adoption process, I dreamed of having someone who could help me clearly see the next steps and keep me from feeling discouraged. And as things progressed, I needed someone knowledgeable but neutral, who could help me make hard choices.
Three children and a decade of social service work later, I launched Adoption Options Consulting LLC to help others who, like me when I got started, don’t know where to begin, what questions to ask, how to decide or even whether adoption is the right choice for them. From there, the Adoption Options Expo was born (see box).
The expo helps families explore the world of adoption with no pressure and no cost. Professionals from all aspects of adoption (international, domestic and foster care) are there to answer questions and provide information. Meanwhile, youths and families can offer a personal perspective. And as families circulate, they can also talk to adoption attorneys, post-adoption support folks and more.
As a mom, I now know firsthand that adoption is amazing, overwhelming — and definitely possible. I invite anyone who’s even remotely interested to drop in, whether you’re in a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage; have no kids or several; are single, young or old; or are just plain curious. It’s free and fun!
For those who are just starting out, my advice is to forget what you know from Disney: Make your own happy endings — and don’t worry if they don’t look like what you saw in the movies growing up.
In the meantime, do drop by the Adoption Options Expo to explore and learn without any pressure. There are lots of ways to build your family!