Our journey to adoption was long and hard, just like many journeys to adoption. After suffering from infertility for years, we never dreamed our dream would come true. 17 months ago we received an email asking us if we would consider 'fostering with a view’. They had a little baby due in just 4 days. We were over the moon excited and unbelievably anxious. We had always said we would never foster because we felt like were just not strong enough. But when we heard the story and talked to our family, we knew that we had to take the chance! One month later (there was some miscommunication about the original due date) our little guy was born. We stayed in hospital over night with him and supervised his visits with birth family in hospital and then we took him home at just over 24 hours old.
At 16 months old, after many ups, downs, and bumps, we were finally able to finalize his adoption. It was one of the best days of our lives. Before his adoption we were lucky enough to attend an adoption of a very close friend and it made planning and preparing for an adoption so much easier as I knew exactly what to expect.
Here are a few quick tips:
1. Hire a Photographer to take photos in court
During our adoption hearing we were allowed to take photos. So we hired a photographer to take photos throughout the day. Our photographer not only took group photos after the finalization with the judge but took some amazing photos full of emotion of our family members as they heard the judge say that he would be ours forever!
2. Make a list of group photos you would like (each side of the family, with the workers, friends etc.)
Just like at a wedding, it is good to have a mental or written list of what groups of people you would like to have photos with. Our adoption worker had mentioned that most adoptive families just have her take photos for them but we wanted to make sure we got great group and candid photos so we hired a professional. Immediately after court we had some family photos taken. We had some photos taken as an 'official' family and we had some extended family photos taken. I'm sure we are like most families, and it's hard to get everyone together for good photos so we took the opportunity to take some extended family photos while everyone was dressed up nicely and were really happy.
3. Don't forget to invite previous foster parents and/or workers involved in your little ones journey
We were lucky enough to be the foster parents to our little guy before adoption, so we knew all of the workers that were involved in his journey. We invited all of his workers to court with us and took photos with them so that our little guy could remember and look back on the people that helped him in his journey to adoption. We were surprised to hear that this was the first adoption that our workers had attended. In the adoption that we attended before, the foster parents attended court as well and they all took photos as a group. So don't forget the workers and foster parents when creating a list of people to attend court.
4. Find out how many people can attend court and make a list of attendees
Ask your adoption worker just how many people can attend court. In our area, the court room is very small so we had to be selective with who we asked to attend.
5. Plan a celebration meal after court and invite people that couldn't attend court
For those who could not make it to court we planned a large celebration lunch immediately after court so we could celebrate with all of our close friends and family members.
6. Look online and on Pinterest for various adoption/gotcha day ideas so that you don't miss out on any fun ways to celebrate that suits your family.
As an extra, we planned to have the photographer take some specific photos for social media and for his life book. We bought a decorative chalkboard and left it blank; we took pictures with the chalkboard and digitally put in cute adoption quotes. We also planned to take different photos, like photos of us walking out of court together as our first family photo. I made him an "it’s my gotcha day" shirt that he wore out to lunch, as we plan on celebrating his "gotcha day" every year. Look online for various ideas that suit your family so you don't feel like you missed anything