We’ve always assumed that we’d be a family larger than just three. In both of our families, the siblings were all relatively close in age, with 3 years being about the average gap. So when Seth turned 3 this last winter, we were already starting to think pretty seriously about the plans for the next kid in the family.

The question became, how?

Here are the potential options, in roughly the order we dismissed them:

Biological
Still ain’t happening.

Older kid adoption
Having to start sharing the spotlight is going to be tough enough for Seth. Having a new sibling who is an older brother or sister? He would really struggle with that, and it doesn’t seem fair to him.

Domestic infant open adoption
And here’s where the decisions started getting tougher. We had an amazing experience the first time with our open adoption – why would we not want to do it again for kid #2? Well, there were 3 reasons:

  1. Our experience the first time was so amazing, that it seemed that a repeat would be doomed to fall short in some way.  We struck gold the first time out, with an amazing birth mom and birth dad, and their families and communities, and they have been/still are so generous with their time and care above and beyond what can be reasonably expected.  If we tried to form an open relationship again, it might not go as smoothly, and there might be some resentment or frustration associated with that.
  2. For healthy American infants, there is a waiting list of parents wanting children.  For the next two options on the list, there are waiting lists of children who need families.  We felt called to pursue the path where we were most needed.
  3. The first time out, the idea of becoming parents scared the heck out of us, and the idea of having a child who had anything but immaculate mental, emotional and physical health was a complete terror. But now, while we’re still learning everyday about how to be parents (and failing multiple times each day), we’re a little more prepared for kid #2, and maybe more ready for a child that needs some special attention and care.

International Adoption
This was the first option we started looking at for Kid #2, and we very easily could have gone that route. It’s more that we felt called to the next option on the list, than anything disqualifying International Adoption. But there are some tricky parts to international which would have been tough. Some countries have very stringent requirements on adoptive parent ages, net worth, or number of people in the family already. And almost all international adoptions require significant time (several weeks or even months) in the country, which would be difficult for my work and would have been tough on Seth.

Maybe someday (I wouldn’t completely rule out kid #3, although that’s not the current plan), but not this time.

Foster-to-Adopt
We’ve been talking about being part of the foster system when we grew older for a while now. My vision was more along the lines of waiting until Seth was 12 or so, and we were well-established in home and career and parenting, but… why not now?

The top priority of the foster program is to reunite birth families, meaning that the children only stay with the foster family for a short period of time before going back home. But that’s not always feasible, and there are children for whom the case workers know that reunification is unlikely, or children who are already “legally free” at the time they need foster placement. At the time we started our research (around April/May this year), King County had a Foster program which focuses specifically on children for whom adoption was the most likely outcome, and matched them with parents who had an interest in adopting.

There’s a lot of risk in this adoption route, between dealing with the impacts of the child’s early life to high risk of a ‘disruption’ in the adoption planning, but the more we thought about it and prayed about it, it felt like the right path for us. So that’s what we’ve been preparing for.

Next step: Foster classes and foster paperwork.