Adopting Zoe: Our Gladney Experience

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When my husband and I decided to adopt, we didn’t realize how many agencies we’d sift through before finding one that fit for our family.  We’re from Oregon and figured we’d select an agency in Oregon–that seemed easy! But as we really started researching and talking with agencies, none of them fit the bill for what we were looking for. We wanted an agency that was transparent about the process and the costs, that didn’t force a religious requirement, that was open to all types of families, helped with expecting mother costs if necessary so no part of our adoption process felt transactional, and one that had positive views on adoptive parents’ pregnancy.  We weren’t infertile and hadn’t even tried to get pregnant, so it was important to understand their views and process had we become pregnant. After eliminating all state-based agencies, we were referred to Gladney by another agency. The second I found their website, I knew this was more in line with what we were looking for. Their website was well designed, professional, informative for hopeful adoptive parents and expectant mothers, and had a lot of resources available. Most agencies required a conversation to gain any sort of information around cost, and Gladney was very upfront about all costs.

After scouring the website and emailing back and forth, we decided to take the next step and fly down for orientation. We were nervous and it felt like a big step in our journey, but we were immediately relieved when we arrived. Someone met us at the door, talked us through what to expect, showed us around, and we got to meet other families considering adoption as well.  We are still friends with the people we sat with at orientation!

Orientation was beyond what we expected: very informative, but also very realistic.  It never felt like they were trying to sugarcoat the process or downplay certain aspects.  They talked about the realities of adoption and for that we were very grateful.  We wanted to be prepared because no two adoption stories are the same. We came out of orientation ready to move forward, excited about the process and our agency, and with a to-do list of things to prepare.

Over the next year, we completed the paperwork, the home studies, and the profile book.  Everything was smooth, even for us being out of state and the Gladney portal made it easy to see our paperwork progress.  Our profile book was completed by a company Glandey partnered with and after some revisions, we got it to a place we loved and were excited to share with expecting moms. And then came the dreaded “waiting” period. It is just that–just waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

My husband and I came into the process with a lot of patience, we weren’t infertile. Adoption was our plan A, but the waiting is still hard. Completing the paperwork and home study process feels like a victory (because that’s a lot of work!), but then you’re in a weird state of being active and approved where it technically could happen very quickly, but statistically, it won’t! You want to be excited but also patient.  For us, we were told Gladney’s average time for active and approved families was 12-18 months and for us, we were matched at 13 months. 

We had a few conversations with expectant mothers via Adoption.com prior to our match that didn’t pan out, but our matching process was pretty unexpected.  We assumed eventually we would make our way down the arbitrary list and have a couple of scenarios of being shown to expecting moms with a handful of other families. 

For us, it didn’t happen that way at all. Our expecting mom found us on Adoption.com, had used filters that narrowed it down to just a few families, and then reached out to Gladney a few months after the original search specifically about us.  Even though she had only been interested in us, we weren’t aware of that when we got the call from our case worker.  While this would not have changed the outcome in our situation, we really respected the fact that Gladney gave us the opportunity to match back without the pressure of knowing we were the only family she was considering.

We matched three months prior to our daughter being born; in those three months, we had time to prepare, connect with the mom three times in person, and via phone and text. We flew down to Texas as soon as there were talks of potentially inducing her so that we could be there for the birth of our daughter: a day we’ll never forget.

For all out-of-state adoptive parents, the process of planning to be there in person was the most stressful part of the entire adoption! For us, the absolute fastest we could get from our house to a hospital in Texas was about seven and a half hours, so we were planning on getting there a few days beforehand to be sure. Planning against someone else’s pregnancy (that had shifting due dates due to the baby’s size!) and the ICPC process was stressful. Our hot tip: Do a month-long Airbnb sublet, there’s a large discount for long stays and it gives you a ton of flexibility in case the baby is born early, late, needs to stay in the hospital, or the ICPC process takes longer than planned.

After texting all day, we were told we should come to the hospital and we arrived just 40 minutes before our daughter was born.  We weren’t sure what to expect from our hospital stay as it can differ from family to family. But for us, we were next door when our daughter was born and got to see her just an hour later. Gladney had prepared the hospital staff for us and made it a very comfortable environment for everyone. The nurses knew who we were and about the adoption, they put us in rooms across the hall which made it easy for us to share moments with Zoe’s mom (bonding, breastfeeding, first bath, etc.); and even though we were discharged hours before her mom, we choose to stay and leave the hospital together.

One thing that was surprising, but in retrospect very nice, was that the case workers weren’t at the hospital during the birth or immediately following. I’m not sure if this was a result of the time of day Zoe was born or that it was policy, but it allowed us to create a unique bond with both Zoe and her mom without any pressure of paperwork.

After leaving the hospital, it took eight days for all paperwork to be complete and the ICPC process to clear. In those eight days, we were busy! We were getting to know Zoe, we met up with Zoe’s mom twice,  we signed paperwork at Gladney, we had Zoe’s first doctor’s appointment, and had to prep for flying home with a newborn. Gladney was super helpful, they walked us through the process, gave us a few baby items, helped pick up and deliver breast milk from Zoe’s mom (which we weren’t expecting but are so grateful she was able to benefit from while we were in Texas).

After flying home, we had to complete 2 post-placement reviews before completing her adoption. We flew back to Texas for Zoe’s finalization and that may have been one of the best days of our life.  Gladney did a really good job of pulling together an event that celebrated the children and again, walked us through the process of what would happen and what was expected of us during our court appearance.  The judge was amazing and included our entire family, including Zoe’s birth family, in the process. 

From start to finish, we were impressed by Gladney, their responsiveness, transparency, willingness to help and educate along the way. We were prepared for a rollercoaster, but in all honesty, we didn’t have that. Our adoption process was very straight forward and we were blessed to be matched with Zoe’s mom who, to this day, we still have a good relationship with. While the process was expensive, it was money well spent to have an agency that helped manage every step; made the process crystal clear; cares for adoptive parents, expecting parents, and birth parents; and of course, helped us adopt our daughter.  We didn’t just add Zoe to our family, we added her birth family as well. 

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