Tuesday, January 31, 2012

5 Secrets about Our Adoption

1. Adoption is our first choice.

Numero Uno. If I had a dollar for every time someone thought otherwise, I would have had our adoption fully funded months ago. I can't tell you how many times people have told me, "I know this couple who was in the adoption process and then they got pregnant." Then they look at me with knowing eyes thinking they are offering me hope. When I hear people say things like that, I hear the equivalent of, "I know this couple who went to the zoo and got their eyes poked out by parakeets." Yep, pregnancy and eyes poked out by parakeets are pretty much the same thing in my book right now.

Contrary to popular belief (or assumption), Zac and I have never been told by a doctor that we cannot have kids, nor have we been hoping this entire adoption process that we will get pregnant.

At one point, we thought our adoption wasn't going to go through and we mourned. We experienced grief, sadness, and loss at the thought that we may not get to adopt. I cried countless times, especially when I saw the bus stop benches with the "You can Adopt!" advertisements. I imagined this little one halfway around the world whom I had let down. I'm so thankful that our adoption IS going through, and we have the privilege of welcoming a little one into our home.

Adoption is amazing, and we are so happy to be a part of it.

2. We are not setting out to save the world by adopting.

The way I see it, orphans are a symptom of a greater problem in society.  The greater problem is hard to pinpoint, but it involves anything that is keeping a biological mom and dad from raising their child together.  It comes in the form of poverty, mental illness, abuse, prejudice, unplanned pregnancy, broken relationships, health problems, and death.

Adoption only treats the symptom. Adoption is not the answer nor the end goal.  We can't fix the issue of orphaned children by having every orphan adopted; we must address the bigger problems causing children to be placed in orphanages in the first place.  During my life, I hope to work toward fixing that. I hope you will work toward that too.

3. There are things you can say that may make me reconsider our friendship. Please take note.

We have been fortunate to have taken courses and read books and papers all on the topic of adoption. We have learned what language to use when talking about adoption so as to call things what they are make children who have been adopted feel welcome. I want to share this information with you so that you too know some good ways in which to talk about adoption.

Here are some things I hope you don't say when you talk about our family:
A.) What not to say: "The Harders have 2 adopted children."
Why this isn't the best choice:
Adoption is a one-time event that takes place in a kid's life. They shouldn't be referred to as someone's "adopted child" for the rest of their lives.  It's like saying of a child who was in the hospital once when they were 3, "This is Jennifer's hospitalized child." We would never say that. They were hospitalized one time and it is over and done with. Now they are healthy and moving on. My children were adopted - one time. Now the adoption is complete and they are my own.
Instead say: "The Harders have 2 children."

B.) What not to say: "The Harders have 2 adopted children and 2 of their own."
Why this isn't the best choice:
My adopted children are my own. If not, whose are they? What message might they hear when someone says this in front of them? I plan on raising all of my children with the same level of love and commitment, regardless of if they came to me through birth or adoption.

Also, why must someone differentiate between children who were adopted or children who were born into a family?  What do they mean and what does it matter? 

Instead say: "The Harders have 4 children."

C.) What not to say: "The Harders have 2 children who were adopted and 2 natural children."

Why this isn't the best choice:
My children who were adopted must have 3 eyes then, to not be natural! I think the word people are looking for there is biological. That is an okay thing for you to say in my book. I someday may have a mix of children who were adopted and biological children. Please don't use "natural" because it implies "unnatural." 
Instead say: "The Harders have 4 children."
Or, if you must differentiate for some reason, please say "The Harders have 2 children who were adopted and 2 biological children."
Bottom Line: I want my children differentiated based on their personalities and interests, not by how they came into our family.  I would love love LOVE it if someday someone said about us, "Those are the Harders.  Ava likes baseball, Micah likes jazz, Lily likes art and Martin likes race cars."  That would be so cool.


4. Adoption doesn't cost as crazy much as you think.

I often hear people say, "I'd be interested in adopting, but it costs too much."  I say that if somebody really wanted to adopt a child, they would make it happen.  It's a matter of will, not finances.

There is currently a tax credit for families who adopt.  Families can get reimbursed for a little over $12,000 of their adoption expenses.  The rules vary with the type of adoption.  A domestic adoption can receive reimbursement on an ongoing basis when the family files taxes, even if the adoption isn't completed yet - an International adoption can only get reimbursed after the adoption has been finalized.  However, whenever it is that you get reimbursed, that's $12,000 that you can get paid back for your adoption!  That's a hefty chunk of the fees!

Additionally, there are a number of grants available to families who are adopting.  If you're interested, please contact me and I will give you a list.  We have not applied for any grants yet because Zac's workplace reimburses up to $10,000 of adoption fees for their employees.  We are so thankful for this program.

There are definitely ways to make this happen.  Also, one great thing we found was that the money wasn't needed all at one time.  We paid for things gradually as they were needed.  An application fee, then a home study, then a court fee, etc.  If there is a serious cash flow problem, people can always take out a loan or ask others for donations.  Many families make a product to sell, such as a t-shirt or jewelry, and raise money for their adoption that way.

It is possible for anyone to adopt!  The secret's out!

5. Our adoption is not self-less.  

Adoption is twofold: it provides a family for a child who doesn't have one, and it provides a child for a family who wants one.  We are so excited that we will be providing a home for a child. We have so much love to give and have a wonderful extended family who our child will be blessed by.

However, we are also excited for us!  We will be welcoming in a child to our home.  We are thrilled to be parents and eagerly anticipating this new chapter in life that will come to us because of this child.

We are receiving a wonderful gift because of this adoption, and our child is receiving a wonderful gift too.  It is not one-sided.

Those are all my secrets today.  But don't worry, I have more secrets to share.  Stay tuned!


  1. Great post Amber! And I must tell you that I'm SO excited to see an adoption update post - I must admit I've been stalking your blog lately to see if there was any "news"! Can't wait for more secrets :)

  2. Amazing! I brought home my daughter from Ethiopia in September. She is beyond my wildest dreams. I have to say that although, by and large, people were very supportive I did hear things like "it's too bad you couldn't have your own" or "are you planning to have real children, too?" Umm, I can have biological children, but adoption was my first choice. And trust me, she's as real as they come. Hang in there - adoption is a crazy ride but worth every second!

  3. Great post! I came here from the CHI group on Facebook. Unfortunately, as of this year, the $12,000 is no longer refunded or reimbursed...it is just a "credit", which stinks. If you were to owe taxes, what you owed would be taken out of the credit. There is a petition out there for the government to change back to the full refund, and I am hoping that happens!! I love how you said an adoption is a matter of will, not finances! Very well said!!!

  4. I learned alot about Amber, and about adoption reading this blog. I learned from a caring and nonjudgemental perspective which helped me to want to learn more.... Congratulations Harder family !! (You'll have some awesome grandparents for that little one, too !)

  5. This is very insightful Amber, and, if read by all your friends and family should help them know how to be the most supportive and encouraging to you, God bless, Laurie

  6. You are amazing!!! I have 3 children whom I have adopted, and it is super hard for me to express in words my thoughts of how my family and friends should and should not "talk" around and about my children about those subjects. Thank you for posting this so I can share with my friends and family!!! THANK YOU!

  7. I can't count the number of times someone says "your adopted child." I generally respond (in a friendly tone) with, "How did you get your children? Do you have a C-section child or a vaginal child?" They stare at me in horror. And I smile gently and, if we are friends, I remind them that "adopted" is not an adjective used to describe people. It's a verb.

  8. I loved reading this. Can't wait to catch up with you. -Matt and Becca