Adoptive parents see God’s hand at work

The adoption process has been described as tumultuous, but those who successfully navigated the terrain to become parents said the emotional upheaval is worth it in the end.

Donna Pierce and her husband Deacon Robert Pierce have four adopted children, and Mrs. Pierce said she looks at all the trials associated with adoption as labor pains.

But even the longest labor story pales in comparison with the years long wait that precedes most adoptions. Part of the lengthy process is attributed to the growing popularity of adoption.

As more couples struggle with infertility, adoption is promoted as the loving option. Today, more than two million families are actively trying to adopt, according to government statistics.

And almost every couple who has been through the process has stories of red tape, long waits and adoptions that fell through.

“Adoptive parents go through the same pre-attachment as expectant parents do. There is heartache involved,” said Denise Hoppenhauer.

Hoppenhauer and her husband Michael, members of Prince of Peace Church in Taylors, adopted two girls through international channels.

Another couple, Elizabeth and Jim Driscoll from St. Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville, adopted three children, opting for the domestic/private route that allowed them to meet the birth mother.

And the Pierces ended up adopting through all three methods — private, through social services, and intercountry. She said each one had its own tribulations, but she saw God’s presence through it all.

“Hang on to God,” she said. “He’s going to carry you through it.”

When the families talk about the adoption process years later, they describe the anticipation and the great joy of holding their babies for the first time.

“I got to hold her [right after birth] and cry and cry and cry,” said Driscoll happily.

The emotional ups and downs left Hoppenhauer and Driscoll with a desire to help others in their same situation.

Hoppenhauer said there are four main factors couples should look at to help them decide which route to take: desired age, ethnicity, associated costs, and possible medical conditions. She explained that if families are open to older children or those with special needs, the wait could be shorter.

She started Adobaby, LLC, to help would-be parents with the international process, which can be costlier than domestic adoption because of the travel. Hoppenhauer said costs average $30,000 to $40,000 for private adoptions and about $60,000 for intercountry.

She added that overseas adoptions have declined since passage of the Hague Adoption Convention, dropping from about 22,991 in 2004 to 8,668 in 2012. ( She said red tape has grown more complicated and certain countries are no longer open to U.S. adoption.

Some couples who have been through the process are saddened that adoption has turned into such an expensive business, noting that families without financial means — but who still have plenty of love — are often left on the sidelines.

This is where Driscoll tries to help. A former teacher, she now helps people create portfolios and disperses them to public mediums, including brand new efforts on Facebook and Pinterest.

Since birth mothers choose the adoptive parents, Driscoll hopes her efforts will make the couples more visible and more likely to receive a phone call announcing happy baby news. She said waiting for the phone to ring — month after month, year after year — is a grueling process.

“There is a sense of disillusionment that goes with this journey,” she said. “It is up and down.”

She advises couples to pray about it every day, and find someone who’s been through it to be in their corner, adding that churches often have support groups.

“It was a rocky road, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade any of it,” Driscoll said. “We really do feel ‘God has hand-picked our children.”

The Hoppenhauers agree. Their children are now 13 and 16, and despite the red tape and delays in adopting them, all they see now are two great kids.

“We’d do it again if we were able,” she said.

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