National Adoption Month is here to remind us that it only takes “a baby step” to start a family.
A Baby Step Adoption Agency, 527 Elm Street, Reading, unites children with parents in their forever home.
“Fit is very important,” Linda Carlson, paralegal and caseworker at A Baby Step Adoption, said about placing parents with a child. The agency provides families with as much information as they can gather about the biological parents.
The domestic adoption agency offers services like full service adoption, individual caseworkers, counseling and support.
Through A Baby Step Adoption agency, eight families were able to finalize their adoptions Oct. 16 at the Berks County Courthouse by Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim.
In the entire month of October, A Baby Step assisted with 15 adoptions.
Annually, there are around 60 to 80 adoptions through the agency.
Laura and Bryan Spencer, Avendale, chose adoption because they were unable to have their own children.
“We were trying to have our own children,” Laura Spencer said, but with no results of pregnancy, the Spencers said they “could keep moving on or try a different path.”
“We knew they’re going to be our own children whether they’re naturally from us or not,” Spencer said.
The couple looked into adoption and found A Baby Step Adoption. “They had a good statistic of successful matching,” she recalled.
The Spencers started the adoption process just one year ago, and for them, the adoption process was very quick. This is not the case for all adoptive parents.
The couple was matched with the birth mother in March, Logan was born in May. The Spencers officially adopted Logan, 5 1/2 months old, on Oct. 16, but have had him with them, in their home, since his birth.
“We are very, very happy. Logan has no issues health wise, he’s the perfect little boy,” his mother said.
The adoption process can be rigorous, as the agency needs to complete a home study and background checks.
But The Spencers strongly encourage any one considering adoption to find an agency and ask questions.
“Definitely look into it. Go to an agency. The agency we had was wonderful. They are so passionate about their work and want to [place] parents with a child,” Spencer said.
Like the Spencers, the McAfees also looked to adoption because they were unable to have children naturally.
“Adoption was an easy decision,” Kristine McAfee said. “We realized we weren’t going to have our own, and considered adoption in the future.”
Kristine and Dayne McAfee, Pottstown, officially adopted Avery, 4 months old, on Oct. 16. The couple got to be at the hospital for the birth.
The McAfees suggest getting to know other couples who have gone through adoption, if you are considering it as an option.
“It helps the more information you know, the more informed you are,” McAfee said. The couple initially went through a failed adoption.
“It’s not easy but it’s worth it in the end,” McAfee said. “Everyone around us knew, which helped, to have a support system.”
Through the adoption agencies, support groups are also available.
Even with support from family and friends, the adoption process can be difficult.
One family came all the way from Connecticut for their adoption.
Sasha and Chris Hemingway adopted twins Jase Logan and Abigail Grace, born in June at Lankenau Hospital, Wynnewood.
The Hemingways started with the agency in August and were matched with the birth parents in February. The couple’s experience with adoption is unique as they were adopting from a married couple.
But with expecting twins at the ages of 19 and 23, they knew they could not provide financially for the twins.
“We have so much love and respect for [the birth parents.] We could never do this ourselves. It’s because of them that we have a family,” Sasha Hemingway said.
The Hemingways and the birth parents have a close relationship and would get together to hangout and get to know one another prior to the birth.
“We knew it was twins from the beginning,” Hemingway said. “But a boy and a girl -- it was the answer to our prayers.”
The couple even took the birth mother to the hospital when she was in labor.
For families considering adoption, Chris Hemingway says “Do it.”
The Hemingways and the birthday parents “feel blessed” by each other and have a very symbiotic relationship.
“I know it’s an emotional journey, you can feel drained, but keep the faith,” Sasha Hemingway said.
Like the Hemingways, the DeFrees family are also very pleased with their adoption finalization.
Jennifer and Scott DeFrees, Bernville, said they “tried for years to get pregnant.”
But with pregnancy not proving to be an option, they leaned towards adoption.
The DeFrees found their birth mother through “a friend of a friend of a friend.”
They met with the birth parents at a diner and made a great connection. In this case, the birth mother is already parenting a little boy and could not financially handle another child.
“It’s a selfless thing to do for the child, [the biological parents] will always be special,” DeFrees said.
The birth parents invited the DeFrees to the hospital where they met Mason, who is now 4 months old.
“We were meant to find Mason,” Jennifer DeFrees said, tearing up. “We have an incredible amount of gratitude. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience”
The DrFrees are more than happy with their son. “There was never a moment that he wasn’t ours, you feel instant love,” she said. “Once you take him home and care for him, nurture him, he’s ours.”
Although adoption can be an overwhelming experience, A Baby Step Adoption provides direction, support and fulfillment for forever families.
If you are considering adoption, or have further inquiries on the process, visit ababystepadoption.com