How To Build A Family Through Adoption.

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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We have been adoptive parents for 13 years now, and I can honestly say that it has been the greatest journey of our life. We continually reminisce back to our college days, before we were married, and agree that there's no way we could have scripted our life any better. I say that in-spite of many difficult days and seasons. However, we have learned what sacrificial love looks like, how much we still have to learn as parents, and the unique beauty that comes from building a family through adoption.

Over the years we’ve been asked a simple question: how do you build a family through adoption? While I wouldn’t consider us the foremost experts on this, we have learned a thing or two, and we’ve discovered some do’s and don’ts. We have learned by trial and error, a lot. But we have also had the unique opportunity to build our family from a few different angles.

If you are considering adoption, I first want to say, congratulations! Don’t give up, even when the process gets long and difficult, not to mention costly. It is so worth it.

With all that said, here’s my answer to the question:

1. Plan for imperfection.

This is the first, and most important step, as far as I’m concerned. Bottom line: we are imperfect people (all 7 billion of us) and this process is far from perfect. Do not get caught up in the glamour of adoption. It’s not real, at least most of it. No offense to Brad or Angelina, but most of us will not have cameras capturing our every move, a magazine art department air brushing the heck out of us and our children as we arrive home, or a lier jet to fly us to and from the country we are adopting from. Make it a part of your plan to be imperfect.

[Tweet “Do not get caught up in the glamour of adoption. It’s not real, at least most of it.”]

2. Research everything. 

Know the different types, the processes involved, and financial costs of adoption. Earlier this year, I wrote an article for Hamilton County Family magazine (in Indiana) about the different types of adoption and understanding the process (you can read the full article here). Spend time reading up on the process (from credible sources like licensed agencies), and dialoging with couples who have gone before you. It is also important to research the different laws and requirements that foreign countries have in place if you’re adopting internationally. Working with an agency like Bethany Christian Services or Adoption Support Center can help with all of this.

3. Ignore (most of) the internet. 

In-spite of researching everything, stay away from most discussion forums (unless they are with credible agencies), opinion articles, or un-reliable sources. The internet is full of garbage, and this is as much the case with adoption as anything else. Stick to blogs (wink-wink) and agency websites that give honest and genuine perspectives on adoption.

4. Do not go into debt. 

Do not take out loans to pay for your adoption. I know this causes many to baulk because of the costs involved, but, there are ways to raise funds without taking out loans. Many agencies and personnel connected with the adoption process can give you creative ideas. Do fund-raisers like walk-a-thons, yard sales, or even car washes to pay for your adoption with cash. Plan to do this over time. It may take you a year or 2 to raise the necessary funds to pay for your adoption but it’s worth it.

As a family pastor it is also my conviction that prayer and trust in a higher power than you have are huge parts of this process. You have to trust that the right amount of funds will come to you and the child you are supposed to adopt, at the perfect time, will be brought into your home.

5. Connect yourself to a community.

Before and after the adoption is complete, this is so vital. You need people in your life who understand what you’re going through- people who have been there and done that and have the scars to prove it. Your local adoption agency, as well as your local foster-care agency, should have support group listings and contacts they can provide you.

6. Open your heart and mind to anything.

It’s not a matter of “if you’ll be thrown some curve balls”, it’s a matter of “when you’re thrown some curve balls.” The adoption process is a rollar-coaster of emotions, good and bad. It has it’s ups and downs. There are a lot of beautiful moments but also a lot of frustrating or difficult moments involved. Remember, this is a journey. Most likely, unless you adopt a child the moment they’re born, you will be adopting children from difficult backgrounds. Even if you bring home a newborn, difficulties can arise later on. Buckle up. The ride could get bumpy. Keep your heart and mind open to anything that comes your way.

I can promise you this: it is an adventure, but, it’s also filled with a ton of beauty and fulfillment. I say that in-spite of [sometimes] tough circumstances and seasons. However, it’s all worth it.

If you find yourself with more questions than this post has answered, feel free to contact us. Both of us love to discuss adoption and foster care. You can send emails to me at [email protected] or Kristin at [email protected]

Adoptive families, it’s your time to share: what are some other ways you’ve built your family through adoption 

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.