What It’s Like to
Adopt a Child

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In Short: Wonderful and emotional.

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My wife and I have two children. Our first is biological.

However, my wife had complications in the pregnancy that meant she didn’t want to go through it again. We did want another child. I have a couple of cousins who were adopted, so we looked into adoption.

There are several different ways to go. We chose to work with our county’s social services and do a foster-adoption. We first had to be trained and certified as foster parents, including home inspection. We were then assigned a social worker who would advocate for us. We put together a little scrapbook for our social worker with pictures of us, our first child, and our home.

When children come into the foster system, they are also assigned a social worker. That social worker then meets with the social workers of the parents who are willing to work with a child in that category (age, gender, foster only or foster-adopt). After we were foster approved, we waited for several months before being selected at one of these meetings. When foster parents are called with the details, they are given the option to accept or decline.

Man holding baby as little girl looks on.
The author with both of his children (family photo).

When we got our call, we said “Yes!” right away.

We got to meet our second child as an infant still in the hospital, when he was one day old. His teen-aged birth mother had arranged with the social workers there to put him into the foster system, as she wanted him to have a better life than she could provide.

When he was ready to leave the hospital, we brought him home. From then, his social worker made regular visits with us to see how he was doing, and to notify us of the progress of our case. She was actually the one who told us about September 11th as it was happening, as we were home with the kids and weren’t listening to the news. We had to get her permission to take him out of state to visit family.

Though the birth mother signed over her parental rights at the hospital, the county still had to follow the procedures to get that legally recognized, and to terminate the parental rights of the birth father. The county tried several ways to contact him, but he never responded. This process took nearly a year.

At the time, the guideline for foster-adopting an infant (under 2) was supposed to be six months. Sometimes we felt like our case was so straightforward, it was not the most urgent case for his social worker. All birth parental rights were terminated when our son was 11 months old. Shortly after his first birthday, we finally received our court date for adoption. We met with the judge in chambers, and the papers were signed. His birth certificate was revised so that our names are on there.

I have had friends who also did foster-adoption, and their road was not as smooth as ours. They had to return the first child to the birth parents before eventually adopting from their second placement. I don’t know if I’d be able to handle that steep of an emotional roller-coaster.

Our son has been with us since he came home from the hospital. We don’t think of him as any different from our biological child in worth or relationship. He looks more like me than our biological child does. We feel very blessed to have him as our child.

Robert Carvalho is a father and family person in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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4 thoughts on “Adopt a Child”

  1. We adopted three, all newborn infants. One came to us via foster care at age two weeks. The other two were private adoptions, which we met at the hospital on the days of their births. All three are now adults, ages 27-31.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. The negative adoption stories seem to get all the attention (and I know some personally) when there are so many more wonderful stories out there — I know several of those, too. My sister, as an unwed teen in the 1960s, was forced to give up a daughter at birth. Thanks to DNA testing, they have met and established a relationship, and my sister is so grateful for the couple who adopted the girl and raised her in a loving home. My sis has no problem understanding who the “real” mom is.

  3. My wife and I did foster-adopt for both of our children. We received our son when he was five months old and he was officially adopted in 12 months. The mother, a meth addict, gave him up but there was confusion about who the father was. She had an affair and the birth father was in jail. It took twice as much time for the adoption to finalize due to the birth father.

    My daughter’s birth parents, addicts as well, did as little as possible and then begged the judge each time to continue with their reunification. Even though the mom admitted that she is an addict and will never get clean and she was also in & out of rehab centers the judge had a bleeding heart and allowed it. It took years to finalize the adoption and it was an emotional rollercoaster for us.


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