Caitlin Karl, a fellow mom who’s actually currently pregnant, came on to share all about her journey to adopting her son AJ. Caitlin shares that she and her husband always knew they wanted to grow their family through adoption and biologically, and was never really quite sure in what order it would happen.
Ultimately, they decided to pursue adoption first because they knew there was a lot of time, resources, and energy required to go through the process of adopting a baby. So in the summer of 2019, they started the whole process and by July they brought their sweet baby boy home.
Here’s a look at what we talk about!
- Where would someone first start the adoption process? (6:34)
- What happens after you sign up with an adoption agency or adoption consultant? (9:44)
- The matching process (12:21)
- What happened when you did get your adoption match? (17:52)
- What was the hospital experience like and bringing baby home? (24:56)
- What was the bonding process like with your son? (30:50)
- About Caitlyn
Where would someone first start the adoption process? (6:34)
We start the episode with me asking Caitlin about where the adoption process starts. She explains that there are a few different paths someone can pursue. She says you can use a private infant adoption agency, an international adoption agency, or go through the foster care system.
When you listen in, you’ll hear her talk about how even within those three methods of adoption there are a lot of different avenues you can take.
And then Caitlin shares that she and her husband decided to go the private infant adoption route, and worked with an adoption consultant. Basically, an adoption consultant works with multiple agencies and helps you to navigate the process.
What happens after you sign up with an adoption agency or adoption consultant? (9:44)
Next, I ask Caitlin what happened after they signed up. I explain that the only knowledge I have of adoption is from the show Friends, and I was honestly curious if there is a home assessment and all of that, hah!
Caitlin laughs because Friends is a favorite show of hers too, and she said that it really isn’t too far off from that. She talks about how the next step, no matter which path to adoption you take, is what’s called a “home study”.
This is where someone from the state comes into your home and basically deems your home safe for a child. They also check that you are able and willing to safely provide for and care for a baby. It involves a lot of paperwork and back and forth, and in the end, it took about 4 months for Caitlin to get approved in this capacity.
Tune in to hear a little more about this process, what might make it longer, shorter, etc.
The matching process (12:21)
Once her home study was approved, Caitlin explains that her consultant started to reach out to them with what are known as situations. Situations come up when pregnant mothers contact agencies looking to make an adoption plan, or when mothers give birth and decide to make an adoption plan while they’re in the hospital.
She talks about how situations get approved by both parties. The adopting family can assess a situation and ask to have their profile presented to the birthing mother. And then the birthing mother (or birthing family) goes through and approves potential families for baby. Basically, the adopting family has a little profile that shares info about them, their background, photos, and preferences they have surrounding the adoption.
Caitlin shares that this waiting game after they would send their profile back to a situation was one of the longest parts of the process. For them, the wait was about four and half months – which is actually very short! The wait for adoption can take years in some cases. Caitlin explains that they presented their profile 13 times before finally getting a yes the 14th time!
Her perspective on the adoption process was such an amazing takeaway from the episode,
“Our perspective going into it, [and] a big thing was that we felt we weren’t trying to find a child for our family. We were trying to be the right family for the child. So, it was a little bit easier to have that perspective. When we heard no, we felt like okay, well, we’re just not the right family for that child. And that’s totally okay.”
What happened when you did get your adoption match? (17:52)
Okay, this was definitely my favorite part of the story, because Caitlin explained the story of matching and this final part of the process with so much joy and love! It was just radiating in our conversation.
“It was May 26th, I remember everything about it! I wasn’t expecting anything – I really wasn’t, it was the day after Memorial Day…and I open the email, and it was just like, you know, it was my son’s birth mom and she picked us! And I totally just broke down crying and was not expecting it at all!!”
Caitlin shares all the details of the moment she found out, and how they left for Florida because the birth mom was going to be giving birth very soon.
You’ll also hear about Caitlin’s decision and wishes for an open adoption where they could maintain a relationship with their son’s birth mom and birth family – which they have! Caitlin and her husband were able to be at the hospital during the birth, and the birth mom wanted baby to room with Caitlin after birth.
What was the hospital experience like and bringing baby home? (24:56)
Caitlin shares how the situation was especially unique because this was during COVID. Caitlin and her husband had a postpartum room and during the 3-day hospital stay after birth AJ spent time with his birth mother and with them. He would spend a few hours a day with his birth mother.
They brought AJ home on Father’s Day and had to go through a process called ICPC which is a clearance you need to get when you are adopting from another state that says baby can leave that state. So, at first they brought AJ back to their rental in Florida to await clearance – which ended up taking only 5 days. And they made the drive back up to Illinois with their newborn baby. It was 16 hours!
Tune in to hear more about the hospital stay and final steps of the process!
What was the bonding process like with your son? (30:50)
I wanted to talk to Caitlin about this because I know that for people who haven’t adopted, or are maybe going through the process, this is something that they’re often curious about!
Caitlin shares how for her there was an instant attachment and bond. She talks about how the anticipation and wait built that up, and the moment the papers were signed that said he was their son, she was completely attached.
She also talks about how curious she is personally to give birth to her daughter and compare the experiences! She also touches on what it was like when they found out they were expecting their first biological baby just three months after bringing AJ home.
We round out the episode with a discussion of resources and talk about what an important role education plays in the adoption process – just like birth! Caitlin shares some amazing Instagram accounts, podcasts, websites, books, and more. We have them all linked below!
Caitlyn Karl is a working mom who lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband Jake, son AJ, and soon daughter (due at the beginning of June). Caitlyn and Jake started their family through the adoption of their son this past year.
Connect with her on Instagram @k.adoption.journey
Additional resources related to adoption
- Be the Bridge Transracial Adoption Guide
- The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family Book by David R. Cross, Karyn B. Purvis, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine
- Angela Tucker: Transracial adoptee and Public Speaker. @angieadoptee on Instagram, “The Adoptee Next Door” Podcast, “Closure” documentary
- Brandi Ebersole: Adoptee and Adoptive Mom. @brandi_ebersole on Instagram
- Wreckage and Wonder: Torie is an adoptee who shares her perspective on adoption. @wreckageandwonder on Instagram,
- Cam Lee Small: Adoptee and adoption informed therapist. @therapyredeemed on Instagram,
- Ashley Mitchell: Birth mother, adoption reform advocate, founder of Lifetime Healing Foundation. @bigtoughgirl on Instagram, “Twisted Sisterhood” Podcast
- Adoption Education Keys: Adoption education from the perspective of a birth mother. @adoptioneducationkeys on Instagram
- Adopt Well: Two adoptive moms who educate about adoption. “Adopt Well Podcast”, @adoptwell on Instagram
- Kindredand.Co: Adoption community, blog, profile books, run by adoptive mom Hannah Eloge. @kindredand.co on Instagram
- Susan VanSyckle: This is the adoption consultant Caitlin and her husband worked with