After facing the challenges of infertility, the Matthews family decided to pursue a different path to building a family. Surprises and rewarding connections awaited them throughout the process, from navigating the uncertain 30-day revocation period to building a strong bond with their daughter’s birth family. Prepare to be moved as the Matthews family invites us into their lives, sharing the impact of adoption and the power of finding a supportive community of fellow adoptive parents.

Tell us a little bit about your adoption story! What made you decide that adoption was right for you?

My husband and I started discussing adoption while still dating. I had a suspicion at the time that I probably had endometriosis and might have trouble with fertility, but it took many years to actually get diagnosed. When we realized that it was pretty unlikely that I would get pregnant, we decided to go and apply for adoption. We did that when we were about five or six years married.

We applied to adopt in March 2019, and our baby girl was born in May 2020. She was born already when we got the call, she was only six days old or so at the time, and we went and picked her up the day after that. Once we completed our profile, we got chosen very quickly, within about three months. The home study took a lot longer, though, it was 10 or 11 months to do our home study and have that complete. Once we had our adoption profile available to be shown, it was just over three months until we were chosen, so we were very lucky because I know a lot of other people who have waited a lot longer.

Did you have experience with adoption previous to adopting your child?

I have some friends that have adopted, and my boss that I’ve worked with for 15 years has adopted as well. I’ve known his family since his daughter was three, so for a long time.

It was helpful to know people in real life who have adopted, whether it is someone you know well or even people you only kind of know. It was helpful to know other people and their experiences because if you go online and do research that way, there’s a lot of negativity. I find that when I’m talking to people in real life, there’s a lot of positivity around adoption. So, I found that it was much better when you talk to someone you know in real life than someone you don’t know on the internet.

I found especially now that we have gone through the adoption and our daughter is three, it’s opened up a lot of doors to have met a lot more people too. When we first started, we only knew maybe three people with some sort of tie to adoption, but now it’s expanded, and I know quite a few more people with adoption stories. Partly because we’re also in the community with other adoptive families, but I see lots of other families now that have adopted in the same or similar scenarios as us. We have a Facebook group of some of us who have adopted from the same background.

What has surprised you most about going through the adoption process?

Before I started the process, I was pretty nervous about a lot of it. I heard from other people that the process was going to be very invasive and they were going to ask so many questions, but I didn’t actually end up finding the process that bad, and that surprised me. I’m probably more of an open person anyway, but I didn’t find the process too invasive. I found it to be pretty natural, and I didn’t think it was super hard to go through.

Putting together the profile was a bit tricky, though, because it’s hard to try and summarize yourself in such small paragraphs. I remember we had to do a two-page profile, and I found it challenging to put who we are and who our family is on two pages. Also, trying to find pictures that give an authentic view of who you are.

What has been the most rewarding/challenging thing about your adoption experience?

The hardest part about the adoption experience is the 30-day revocation period just because you have the baby and you can bring it home, and you do connect with the baby. I remember being very nervous every day throughout that period that the birth parents would change their minds. I fully support and believe that people have the right to, of course, change their minds. However, I felt kind of scared about it, and even after that, I still felt a little bit nervous until we got to about the six-month point where we were allowed to apply for adoption. It took a couple more months, so it felt like I was slightly on edge the whole time, waiting for everything to be finalized.

For us, the most rewarding part is we’ve had a really good relationship with the birth parents. They feel like part of the family too, they’re kind of like a distant part of the family, like cousins that you see somewhat infrequently. I was a bit worried at first about having an open adoption, but it’s been really good, and I enjoy seeing my daughter with her birth parents and family. We’re really lucky that we have a good relationship with them, and I know not everyone does because I’ve talked to lots of other people. It’s not the same for everyone across the board.

How did you hear about the Belonging Network?

We originally heard about the Belonging Network when we were going through the adoption process after we had been given some resources to look up. When we were going through the home study, that’s when we ended up doing the Safe Babies course, and we did some other webinars on substance abuse, openness, and mixed-race adoptions.

How has the Belonging Network made a difference to your family?

Allowing us to find a community to be part of has been most helpful to us. Not that we do all that much anyways, but the fact that you guys have webinars, so there’s something that I can go and watch or participate in, especially if there’s something I have questions about. You also have lots of content that you publish and articles that keep me informed about what’s going on in the world or what’s being said about adoption.

Generally, I find with adoption that it’s good to hear from other people even though their story will be completely different from yours. Having that community is nice because it can be isolating going through the adoption process. You’re always a bit different from the other parents in the world who are biologically related. Your experiences aren’t the same as theirs, so you can’t always share everything with these families.

What is one bit of advice you would share to those who are considering adoption or just starting their journey?

My biggest advice is to make sure that you have a few core people that you can talk to throughout the process because it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s good to keep some things private when it comes to adoption, and you should. But you should also make sure that you have some people you’re not being private with, and you can vent or talk to them about anything. This doesn’t always have to be your partner either, and I think you almost need one person outside of the family to talk to about everything. If they have experience with adoption, that’s probably even better, but even if they don’t, just having someone there to spill everything on your mind to.

What is something about adoption that you wish people knew?

I wish people knew that it’s a good way to build a family and it’s not as scary as I think it feels. I do get a lot of comments from people saying things like, “oh that must have been so hard to go through,” and I’m not saying it was easy to go through, but it wasn’t exactly hard either. It’s very fruitful, and there’s a lot of hope in adoption, and that’s a beautiful thing. Overall, just the fact that it is a great choice and it’s not as hard as what I think maybe it’s portrayed to be like.