On this blog when we interview adoptive families, we typically speak to those who have already gone through the adoption process. A lot of effort goes into adoption that soon fades away once the child or children arrive.
We thought it would be helpful for our readers to hear from a family in the midst of the journey. This post is an attempt to capture that side of the process. For those of you considering adoption, we hope this is particularly insightful for you. To listen to the podcast about the Martin family adoption, click here. Please keep in mind this is the unique experience of one family, and not necessarily a template for everyone. Every adoption process has similarities, but also differences.
Brandon and Kelsea discussed adoption even before they were married.
“We were having conversations when we were getting ready for the wedding,” Brandon told us. “[We were] thinking about what we wanted our lives to look like, what we wanted our family to look like. Before we talked about it, it was something we wanted to do. We both have a heart for adoptions. Before we got married, it was something we wanted to experience, a way we wanted to grow our family.”
Yet, it would be a few years before the Martins started the adoption process. Ever the careful planner, Brandon wanted to make sure he and Kelsea had certain ducks in a row before they added a child to their family.
Today, Brandon and Kelsea Martin live in the small town of Thayer, Missouri. Brandon works in sales and logistics here at Real Wood Floors. A high school English teacher, Kelsea has decided to take time off from teaching to stay at home and raise their son.
But this has been some time coming.
During the initial research, Brandon was reticent.
Kelsea began looking into adoption in 2013. A year later she and Brandon started to have sincere conversations about it, but Brandon kept pushing back on the topic.
They had some family friends who were adopting at that time. At lunch with a hopeful adoptive mother, Kelsea learned about All Blessings International Agency, and she promptly pulled up the agency on her phone and added it to her tabs where it remains seven years later. She looked at programs and talked with Brandon about her research. Initially, they planned to have biological children first, but that didn’t happen, so adoption became a priority.
Kelsea and Brandon commit to the next step.
The adoption process is challenging, and each family member has to embrace it on his or her own terms.
Brandon was hesitant about adopting too quickly and provided legitimate reasons. He wanted both he and Kelsea to finish their college degrees. When Kelsea landed a job, he felt it wise for her to focus on her first year of teaching.
In 2018 on Orphan Sunday (a day dedicated to increasing awareness for orphans worldwide and encouraging adoption in the Christian faith), Kelsea came to Brandon and said, “I think it’s time. I think we’re ready.”
While Brandon wished to revisit the topic in April, Kelsea was reluctant to wait that long. In January, she had a strong feeling it was time for them to put their application in for a child.
“At the time I had a sense of urgency and would bring it [adoption] up at least three times a day. Like, he’d say, ‘What’s for dinner,’ and I’d say, ‘Spaghetti. Hey, do you want to start that paperwork today?’”
Kelsea didn’t have to wait until April. Brandon felt like there were no more excuses. He too believed it was time and that it was God’s calling for them to do this as a family. In February, they officially started the process and began filling out paperwork.
The paperwork beast.
When the Martins started their adoption process in early 2019, several programs were available to them. However, because they were both under the age of 30, their options were limited.. The Martins had always wanted to adopt from Asia, and a good number of families they knew had adopted from there. Though Brandon and Kelsea were too young for China, they were not too young for Korea, who allowed parents to adopt at the age of 25, and they shifted their focus.
As with any adoption, there is a paperwork beast. “You fill out your big giant stack of paperwork,” Kelsea said. “It is very giant!” They also had to fill out psychological evaluations.
The Martins then sent their dossier (the giant stack of paperwork) to Korea and the adoption agency began the process of attempting to match families with a particular child, given the family’s personality.
The Martins, very caring, salt-of-the-earth Midwestern folks, had a little difficulty with the agency-matching strategy but ultimately understood its value. Brandon said, “This was hard for us to imagine what that looks like, just seeing paperwork, and not meeting us or us not meeting the kid. But they’ve been doing the process for a while, so we trust them in that.”
Working with an adoption coordinator, the Martins sent their dossier to Korea on September 30, 2019. The coordinator informed them that it would be two to four months before the Martins would receive a referral for a particular child.
Brandon and Kelsea checked their email frequently (they might say obsessively). A month and a day later, they received word: Did they have time for a phone call because the coordinator had “exciting news”?
“I didn’t exactly know what ‘exciting news’ meant,” Brandon said, “so I was skeptical that it could be faster than two to four months.” Kelsea’s school principal kindly allowed her to take time off on a teaching day, and she and Brandon met in a Real Wood Floors conference room to take the agency call.
On the phone with their coordinator, they learned they were already matched with an infant boy named Han. On the call Brandon and Kelsea felt like it was an eternity before the coordinator sent them Han’s picture. Seeing their future son, the Martins were joyous and tearful.
Though they were matched quickly and ecstatic, they didn’t have to wait a full four months, Kelsea remembered some wisdom from material she had read: Don’t get too attached; this is only a referral. So the Martins tried to keep perspective while Korea sent their file to a doctor for review. After a doctor’s approval, the agency can give a hard yes to the adoption. But Kelsea and Brandon felt committed and hopeful.
After the call, they sent in their confirmation to the agency that they’d like to adopt Han and did some more paperwork, which included fingerprinting. Then Korea granted them exit permission (EP), which is the government allowing Han to leave the country.
The Martins filed this round of paperwork on November 29, 2019, but it took more than three months, until March of 2020, before their file was submitted to the Korean agency for the beginning stages of the EP process. Following that, in June they got EP approval for Han to leave Korea.
Their adoption request was then submitted to the court where a judge will review the file and provide a court date. Currently, Brandon and Kelsea are waiting on that court date.
* As with most of our adoption stories, the journey isn't simple, so we like to use two blog entries to fully show each step as best we can. Check back soon to find Part 2 of the Martin's story.