In March 2013, we filled out the initial online application for Domestic Infant Adoption through Bethany Christian Services. By May 2013, we had completed the formal written application and received approval from them that we were ready to proceed to the Home Study phase!
A few things here regarding why we chose Bethany. Choosing an agency was actually pretty easy for us. (We didn’t look into any other agency, so unfortunately I’m not a good resource as to the different agencies out there.) Being a counseling major in college, I had done a little work with the local Bethany office in Greenville and was very familiar with their services and years of experience. We wanted an agency that was well-established and had a good, ethical reputation. Also, as I mentioned yesterday, on Sanctity of Life Sunday, Matt had become acquainted with one of the employees from the Bethany office nearest us in MI.
One of the questions we asked early on was how they handle expectant mothers who contact them. We were concerned that the expectant mothers not be manipulated in any way to make an adoption plan for their child, unless that was something they initiated. Bethany assured us that their first goal in dealing with calls from expectant mothers is to provide them services and support to keep their family together (if that’s what the expectant mothers want). (And as a side note, they are adequately equipped and have many ways to offer whatever support an expectant mom and her baby may need.) It is only if the mother indicates that she is unable to parent her baby and brings up the option of adoption that it is discussed. We are probably all familiar with horror stories of expectant mothers being forced to make an adoption plan or having their baby basically kidnapped from them for adoption so money can be made. Although we’d like to think that type of thing doesn’t happen in America, our techniques here can be more sophisticated, involving steering expectant moms by verbal manipulation to come to the decision we think they need to make. The rights of those in distress need to be protected. And this is where the true freedom of choice is involved for expectant moms. They should be absolutely free to chose the life they want for their child. Is it in the child’s best interest for them to parent or for them to make an adoption plan for someone else to parent their child? Just because they might be in a difficult, unplanned circumstance, or poor, or even struggling with chemical dependency doesn’t automatically mean that they are incapable of parenting their child and determining what is best for their child. We were thankful for Bethany’s priority in keeping families together and also in supporting expectant mothers and their needs in any way necessary.
Also, we wanted an agency where we could get education and support through the adoption process for ourselves. We came with many questions, but also, in some ways, we didn’t yet know what we didn’t know. Bethany did an excellent job in the trainings they offered in stripping away any romanticized reasons we had for adopting so we could examine our motives and see where we needed to get more education and/or adjust our expectations. They did this in several ways which I plan to explain in my next few posts.