Our case worker said that we should hopefully receive our approval within a month or so. After that we officially become available to be picked by a birth mom. At this point there is really no time line for how long or short it might be - our case worker said it might be 2 months or 18 months. The longest anyone has waited (at our agency) is 3 years.
The way the process works is when a birth mom is ready to pick her family, she is given the profiles of all the families. (We had to prayerfully decide what we felt the Lord was calling us to consider and mark it in our application. This consisted of health conditions and family backgrounds, starting with cancer and ranging all the way from HIV to mental illness. It also included things the baby might be exposed to like drugs and alcohol.) As the birth mom or birth parents look through our profiles, they will rank their top 3 choices. If we are picked as the first choice then we will receive a phone call from our case worker giving us the all the background information that they know and then we will again prayerfully consider whether we want to meet the birth mom.
The next step is meeting her to see if we (both us and her) feel it is a match. Since we have chosen open adoption we really have to decide if we feel it is a good match because she will most likely be a part of our lives for a very long time. After that we must give it 24-48 hours and then let the agency know if we would like to match with her (she does the same thing). Our case worker also said that they typically like to wait to match birth moms with families when she has only 3 months or less left in her pregnancy. The reason for this is because they want to be fully certain (as much as possible) that she is ready to choose adoption versus keeping her baby. She has the option of changing her mind up until the end, but they try to guard our hearts as much as possible by not matching us until they feel she is ready.
If we do happen to match with a birth mom that has a few months left in her pregnancy the next step is making a plan about what this will look like. Will we go with her to doctor's appointments? Will we be there when she gives birth? We did find out that one of the hospitals here in town (if she happens to give birth here) is very good about giving the adoptive families a room at the hospital of their own. That makes me super thankful for hospitals that understand and support adoption.
After the baby is born, the birth mom must wait 48 hours before she can legally sign the Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights form (and we will wait the 48 hours to take our baby home). If the birth father is not there to sign the relinquishment form then the birth is listed at the courthouse and the birth father has 31 days to sign the paternity registry. If he does not sign the registry indicating that he wishes to preserve his rights as a parent then a court date will be set to terminate rights. I tell you all of this just to help you understand the many unknown factors associated with adoption so that you can know how to better support adoptive families through the challenges of the process.
Naturally people constantly ask us, "Are you so excited?!?" The answer is we are very hopeful, but this process is very intense and emotionally draining. There are so many unknowns and we just have to be really careful to guard our hearts. After 7+ years of infertility and 2+ years of walking down the road to adoption, the road does not seem as exciting as you might think. Yes, we know that there is joy coming and we fully trust that God is in control, but it's actually really hard. Thank you for praying for our family, our birth mother, birth father, their families, and our sweet baby while we wait.