The outbreak of COVID-19 has forever changed life as we know it. Communities around the world continue to work to stay safe and keep loved ones healthy. Many of us have changed our routines, our daily habits, and – in many ways – have put our life plans on hold.
As a hopeful parent, you may have wondered if this pandemic will put your dreams of adopting on hold. You may be questioning how adoption has changed since COVID-19 began. Is now a good time to adopt, or should you delay until a more “normal” time? This is a deeply personal choice. However, it is important for you to know that adoption agencies continue to work hard every day. Babies are still being born. Adoptions are still happening. If you are ready to grow your family, adoption is still an option for you – even during a global pandemic.
Of course, the adoption process is a bit different during this challenging time. Hospital policies have changed to protect patients and staff, travel restrictions continue to be a factor in some states, and, as a result, families trying to adopt are facing new challenges.
Adoptions With Love recently caught up with some families who adopted their baby during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these families had to travel to meet and bring home their newborn baby, despite the looming fear of COVID-19. You may notice that, in all these stories, there is a common thread: The journey was well worth it. Our adoptive families had amazing experiences despite the pandemic and would like to share their stories – and advice – with you.
Here is Paige and Robert’s adoption story.
“I feel like it happened really fast.” New mom Paige knows the exact dates her adoption carried out, explaining it was a very “memorable experience.”
“We met with the agency on March 3rd of 2020, and everything shut down on March 13th. We ended up getting all of our paperwork in, and June 24th was when we officially submitted it. Then baby Jane was born on February 2nd, and now we have a baby.”
It was a quick process from beginning to baby – just 7 months total. Paige and Robert got a call about their baby, Jane, just one week before her arrival. There was, understandably, some disbelief and doubt, because they were told the process could take a year. Still, it was an incredible experience.
“The pandemic is great training to become a parent,” Paige laughs. “Because you don’t go outside, you don’t go out to eat, you don’t go to the gym anymore. All of the things that I would have done, I cut out of my life a year ago. Not because I wanted to, because I had to! I learned to be content and figure out systems at home. So it’s actually been an awesome transition.”
The stay-at-home orders also gave Paige and Robert the time to figure out what they really wanted. They both started working from home. Paige is a teacher and Robert works for the state of Massachusetts.
“We thought, ‘Okay, if we can do this, we can be parents. We’ll just make this more fun.’”
Baby’s Big Arrival
Baby Jane was born on an island in New England, which was, as Paige describes, “a dream.” The couple never entertained the idea that she would be from the same state in which they live. They assumed they would need to travel.
When asked about travel restrictions and precautions, Paige explained that the island really “had it down.”
Jane was born during a snowstorm, which caused a delay in Paige and Robert’s arrival, because they needed to take a ferry to reach the hospital.
“The hospital was awesome. It is small – I mean, the island is tiny; she was the only baby on the ward for the whole time she was there.”
The new adoptive family was given a large, clean room to use for themselves for their Wednesday – Saturday stay.
“We had to wear masks, but… that’s old hat now, so it was fine. But they let both of us into the hospital, and we both took rapid Covid tests. We waited an hour and then went in.”
As for the care, Paige says the staff was great. “They gave Jane so much love and attention. She was the only baby [there at the time], so she got spoiled.”
“The staff was super helpful and really informative. They answered all of our questions, they repeated themselves when necessary, and were just very supportive of the entire process.”
“The benefit of the small hospital was that everyone knew we were coming. Amy [from Adoptions With Love] did a great job of talking to the social worker ahead of time…. they already had it all figured out by the time we got there.”
“The nurses were really excited and caring for both the birth mom and us.”
On Open Adoption
Paige and Robert wanted to have an open adoption plan, but, as they have learned first-hand, an open adoption plan is just that – a plan. Plans can change at any time.
“The birth mother changed her mind and didn’t want to meet us,” Paige said. “Which is fine. I was a little sad, but it’s good. Because we had to come a day late, I know that the birth mother and Jane spent the day together, which I love.” This allowed the birth mother to spend quality time with her daughter before signing the legal adoption papers.
Challenges During the Adoption Process
Just as we have seen in almost every aspect of life, the pandemic has altered the adoption process. However, for Paige and Robert, the challenges were not all that challenging.
“The adoption application was really the hardest part because everything needed to get notarized. Luckily, my neighbor is a notary, because she’s a real estate agent. We ended up refinancing our house, to get the money to pay for the adoption. That took a while, because everything was on hold and nobody really knew if they were doing appraisals and inspections… So that process just took longer than it would have, had there not been a pandemic. But the pandemic also gave us the time to do it, because were both home.”
Unexpected Silver Linings
Paige explained that the family faced other challenges that ended up becoming silver linings in their adoption and new parenthood journey.
“We run into some challenges, like who goes to the grocery store. But, again, the pandemic was really great training for different things. I’m a lot more comfortable ordering online, so I’m like, ‘You know what? I’ll just have the diapers sent to me. That seems really easy.’ Which is not something I would have done two years ago.”
“It’s been good, really because I’m not antsy to get out as much as I used to be. We also go outside a ton. We take walks every day. It’s good for everybody’s mental health! Get outside and stop staring at that wall, somehow. We got a winter car seat cover for the stroller so she just sits in there. We also got a rain cover for the stroller. Finding free, cheap things around the house [or outside] to do is more fun now, because we have a baby to enjoy them with.”
As for balancing work and parenthood, Paige and Robert have, like many parents, worked out a system for the short-term.
“I took my leave from February break to April break. So I’ll go back at the end of April with the kids, but then I only have to be there for two months before summer break. Robert will take his paternity leave at the end of April, and then I get summer. So she’ll be 8 months by the time I have to figure out daycare.”
“So daycare, I will say, the pandemic has affected that. I think I’m going to do whatever I can not to send her to a daycare.”
Advice for Hopeful Parents
When asked to share advice to hopeful adoptive parents, Paige simply said: “Just do it! It’ll be fine. It’s scary now, but it would be scary, anyway. [The pandemic] is just another, added layer.”
It is clear that Paige and Robert are happy with their decision to adopt through Adoptions With Love during this pandemic.
“It’s been really wonderful. And the transition has been I think a lot easier, because I’m so used to being home all the time. So for me, it was all very seamless, because I’m not itching to go out like I was a year ago.”
Baby Jane has added an incredible amount of love and joy to the couple’s life.
Regarding the entire process, Paige explains, “It was wonderful. It really was. I don’t know how it could have been better. I really feel lucky about how it all worked out, and I feel really, really lucky to have Jane. She’s such a good baby!”
In Paige’s words of encouragement to other prospective adoptive parents: “Just do it! You can do it, that’s my advice.”