Adoption: Building Families And A Culture Of Life

Adoption: Building Families And A Culture Of Life

Adoption: Building Families And A Culture Of Life

Today marks the very first March for Life since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. With the legal battle at the national level now complete, those of us who are pro-life need to turn our attention to a new battle: the rebuilding of a culture of life.

What does rebuilding a culture of life look like? It’s about so much more than simply preventing an abortion. It’s about building a national culture where life is valued. And one of the ways that happens is in the support and reform of adoption. I was privileged to talk to a friend of mine, Rachel Arnold, a mother of two who has built her family through adoption. I met Rachel when she was a college student. She has since gotten married to her husband Matt, became an occupational therapist, and they adopted a daughter in May of 2021. Their family has since grown by one, with a wonderful story that I asked Rachel to share with a larger audience, because it is a beautiful example of what treasuring life, building relationships, and love looks like in the course of pursuing adoption.

Rachel and Matt, once they made the decision to adopt (I intentionally did not discuss their reasons for adopting, as I consider that a personal one), first went to an adoption consultant, who eventually connected them with an adoption lawyer whose firm deals with matching adoptive parents to birth parents. Rachel says that they wanted an open adoption, and the matching process, for them, was about a year to 13 months. They were presented with possible matches, and allowed their file to be submitted to the birth parents, who then chose them to adopt. I should also point out that Rachel and Matt are white, and their daughter is black. The bio parents chose them because Rachel and Matt have family members who are black, which appealed to them.

However, this entire process is expensive, with the lawyer alone costing $32,000 for the time and paperwork involved. Per the research that I have done, that cost is on the lower end of average in the United States for a private adoption. That fee does not include any monetary support for the birth mother, which may or may not be added in per state law, or travel expenses. Not to mention the cost of actually preparing for a baby – a car seat, a crib, clothes, diapers, wipes, etc.

However, when Rachel and Matt adopted their daughter, they had time to prepare for her arrival, both materially and mentally.

Their lives changed on November 25th of last year. As a part of the open adoption agreement, Rachel and Matt were asked to provide updates on their daughter to the biological parents at least once a year. As babies change so rapidly, Rachel has been sending updates more often. After sending an email with pictures and updates in November, the bio father messaged back with a request: “Can we call you?”

Matt made the phone call to the bio father, and in an instant, their lives changed forever. The bio father informed them that he and their daughter’s biological mother were expecting another baby in just a few weeks, and they wanted to know if Rachel and Matt would adopt this child.

When I asked Rachel how long it took them to make the decision to adopt their daughter’s full biological sibling, Rachel said:

“We made the decision before we got off the phone call.”

I asked what her thought process was in making that decision.

“I had already thought about what a great big sister (my daughter) would make someday. Obviously, I didn’t think it would happen this soon. But when we were told about the baby, I kept thinking about her. How we had made this commitment to her, and how I could never look at her later and say, ‘you have a sibling out there that we just couldn’t take in.’ I could never say that to her.”

Even with the match made, the legal expenses meant a huge financial stretch for Rachel and Matt, one that required getting loans and soliciting donations. When Rachel despaired of raising the money, she said Matt said to her:

“You will never forgive yourself if we don’t do this.”

Rachel talked movingly and emotionally about how important it was to her to adopt her daughter’s biological sibling, who ended up being a little boy born on December 10th.

“I really thought about how important it was for both of them. We are giving them each other. The idea of him out there without her, how would he feel about that? How would she feel about that? They are biological siblings being raised together, and I just thought ‘you two need to bond over having crazy white parents!'”

Within the course of just a couple of weeks, Rachel and Matt had gone from being the parents of a toddler, to being the parents of a toddler and a newborn, without the mental adjustment of nine months to prepare. As my own first two kids are only 19 months apart, about the same distance as Rachel and Matt’s two children, we talked a lot about the stress and struggles of having two kids in diapers, where one can walk away from you and the other stays put, and the concept of dividing time and attention between two little ones. But again, I had months to prepare myself for my second baby. Rachel and Matt had just a little over two weeks from that phone call with the bio father until the day their son was born. As you probably tell, it was a financial and emotional roller coaster, but they were determined to do it. Out of a love for their daughter, and their unshakable belief that these two children deserved to be raised together, this family of three became a family of four in just a couple of weeks.

Rachel and I talked about the reforms that she would like to see within the adoption process itself. This is something that she has clearly given a lot of thought to, and came up with several points immediately. First, she would like the laws to change so adoptees can easily get access to their records, including their original birth certificate. She pointed out that her two children’s birth certificates now have her name and Matt’s name listed as the parents, and while she understands the legal reasons why, she also feels that the original should still be an accessible part of an adoptee’s history. Second, she would like to see some legal reforms that take the “big business” element out of adoptions. There’s no doubt that it is a money maker for those in the business, but is that ethical? Is this the buying and selling of children, all wrapped up in a legal bow? We often talk about the ethics of surrogacy, but rarely about the ethics of adoption. Third, Rachel wants to see the shame taken out of adoption. For so many older adoptees in this country, their origins are shrouded in mystery because their very existence was to be hidden and forgotten. If we are to build a culture of life, the shame and secrecy needs to be excised. Not every adoption is going to be open, but as Rachel succinctly pointed out:

“The child has no say in an adoption. We need to find some balance in the entire constellation of adoption, from the legal process to the parents adopting to the biological parents. We need to be doing more to support mothers who find themselves with unexpected pregnancies. AND we need to find ways to encourage minority parents to enter the adoption process.”

When I asked Rachel what she would tell first-time prospective adoptive parents, she stopped. With a voice full of emotion and a hint of tears, she said:

“Your family will be created in the way that it’s meant to, and sometimes it’s a lot longer journey than you think.”

Rachel and Matt are now the proud parents of a toddler daughter and a newborn son, brought together in the bonds of love and commitment. And while it is obvious that their daughter and son are not biologically theirs, this sister and brother are going to be raised together with parents who love them beyond measure. The kids will have each other, and they will have parents who have saved and sacrificed to make that happen.

And now, dear readers, I ask for your help. If, on this day, you too believe that the pro-life movement needs to switch gears from the legal to the practical, from the courtroom to the family room, from tearing down the institutions of death to building a culture of life, then I ask you to support this one family who has stretched themselves financially to give their daughter her biological brother in the safety of their forever family. So often we donate to big causes and never see what impact it might make. If you visit Rachel and Matt’s AdoptTogether link (a crowdfunding platform dedicated to families raising funds for adoption), you can make a positive impact on them. If you believe in building up families, then I encourage you to donate to this one set of parents, who followed their hearts and opened up their home in an insanely short period of time. And thank you to Rachel for this interview, and allowing us all a look into her family’s life and her own heart. On this day when we celebrate life, may you all be encouraged by their story.

Featured image via Pixabay, cropped, Pixabay license

Written by

  • GWB says:

    Thank you, Deanna, for a great post.
    Adoption is absolutely a culture of life. We would have loved to adopt, but couldn’t ever make the finances happen. And that really shouldn’t be the limiting factor it currently is. But regulatory “barriers to entry” make it so.

    But we need to go back before the point of adoption for that culture of life. Who are these women getting pregnant who can’t or won’t be able to care for a child? Who or where are their partners? What culture have we set up so that adoption is as necessary as it is today? We need to go back into our society and reform it from the beginning upward to value human life – not just as an abstract notion, but one connected to the Creator, where every human being’s life is valued for its origin, and it is understood “you are not your own.” Then, maybe, children will stop being a fashion accessory and return to being our posterity and legacy.

    Deanna, I would be interested in your take on foster care, the how, the why, from beginning to end.

    • Deanna Fisher says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting, GWB. I have many opinions on the foster care system. I have seen friends successfully adopt within that system, and I have seen the hope of adopting be taken away, and I have seen those resolve after disappointment to simply become a caretaking stop. I am also pretty convinced that the foster care system is broken and in need of huge reforms that no one in political power has the guts to do. I am planning on tuning in later this month to this particular AEI livestream (or watching it after the fact):

  • Toni Williams says:

    Amen, GWB.

  • agimarc says:

    “Your family will be created in the way that it’s meant to, and sometimes it’s a lot longer journey than you think.”

    Friendly amendment: It is ALWAYS a different journey than expected. Up to you whether it is horrific or fabulous. Either way, God put us chose us for this journey for a reason. Cheers –

  • Nina Bookout says:

    I have an amazing niece and nephew who are adopted. They are two of the most amazing blessings our family could have. We are so grateful to their birth parents for choosing life for and choosing my sister and brother-in-law to help them grow into the outstanding young people they are.

  • Cameron says:

    A cousin of mine adopted his sister’s two kids who were living in bad conditions and the sister is a drug addict. It was rough but they became some of the sweetest kids once they got into a good home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become a Victory Girl!

Are you interested in writing for Victory Girls? If you’d like to blog about politics and current events from a conservative POV, send us a writing sample here.
Ava Gardner