The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

Our Adoption Story*

Dear Creative Mama family,

I thought some of you may enjoy reading a brief overview of how we adopted our daughter. I know for us, before we entered into the crazy world of adoption, we felt pretty overwhelmed and totally unsure of what to expect. And, it seems like adoption is such an intriguing thing to so many and something that is not talked about in detail very many places. It makes sense as to why. You enter into it and you come home with a baby, sometimes a child (depending on the type of adoption). Everything in between can be so much it’s hard to give it words. I think this is why families whom have adopted are thick as thieves! Nevertheless, I love sharing our adoption story and thought sharing it here may help one of you who may be considering adoption.

After struggling with infertility my husband and I decided to contact a local adoption agency to seek more information. We had not tried all options to get pregnant, but there was something inside of me that felt like our firstborn would not be biological. My husband had a burning desire to try and conceive on our own, I had a burning desire to be a mother, no matter how that came to be. So, we made the decision that we would continue down the “infertility doctor” path and start the adoption process as well. It was the best decision we ever made. I had no idea how much pressure it took off of me to get pregnant just by pursuing another exciting avenue.

I did a bit of research and quickly found that there were not many adoption agencies here in Cincinnati. I picked the one that felt right and made the call. This was early October 2009. The lady (whom I later found out was the founder) who answered was very matter-of-fact and excited for us. She sent us the initial application in the mail that week which we rather slowly filled out and mailed back weeks later.

After the initial application and application fee (more on money in a minute) we were sent the very clear steps that needed to take place in order to be approved. I feel like forever I’ve heard stories of women having to quit their jobs to try and adopt and/or spending hours upon hours a day for months in order to get everything completed. For us, it was not like that at all.

Our education, minus one, two-hour (rather pointless in my opinion) class, was done by reading books at home and discussing them over dinner with our social worker. The paperwork I filled out in a couple nights and the additional information that had to be collected I dedicated a few days to pick-up and compile.

After very much taking our time through the holidays and without much effort we were sent our “you’re approved!” letter in mid-February 2010.

The particular agency we used is a bit unique because they only work with birth and adoptive parents that reside in the greater Cincinnati area. We knew since we had requested a caucasian baby that it may be awhile.

Two months later we received the call that our profile book had been chosen! Through a very interesting and, in our opinion, supernatural way our birth mother got connected to our agency and ultimately us living in a different city over four hours away. It would be the first time our agency had worked with a birth mom out of the Cincinnati area.

Fast forward less than three months and we were home with our healthy and beautiful baby girl!

The in-betweens …

  • From the week we decided to make the initial call to the agency to the week of her due date was exactly 40 weeks. This means she was most likely conceived within days of us contacting the agency for the first time!
  • I always thought I’d have a colorful family. I used to journal about it when I was little (yes, before Hollywood made it trendy). But, somewhere along the way my heart shifted and I started to think more about adopting close to home. It amazes me how many unplanned pregnancies take place every single day here in the USA. For us, we felt like adopting domestically was the way to go. At least for our first go-around.
  • It could possibly be the strangest thing in all the world to meet with someone who is pregnant and talk to them about adopting their baby. I will never forget the first time we sat over dinner with our birth mom watching her rub her belly and grimace from being kicked in the ribs. All the while I sat on the other side nervously smiling and wondering what it all must feel like.
  • What’s normal for one person may be totally abnormal for another. We all know this, right? It’s simply the differences in value systems. So, when you are a birth mom and you are an adoptive mom what’s normal to each of you could be quite different. This filled the almost three-months with some very emotionally exhausting days.
  • A best friend of mine has two adopted children and she passed on some of the best advice to me. She said, “at some point you have to start being that little girl’s mom.” I felt a teeny bit bold enough to do that in the hospital. I remember when I dropped her back off in her birth mom’s room (we both shared the three days with her while we waited for papers to be signed) and giving her all kinds of pointers I had learned. She seems to love to be swaddled tight. The MAM paci is her favorite. If you hold her upright for a bit after eating she doesn’t spit up as much. I could tell our birth mom was comforted by this.
  • If you do decide to adopt domestically (yes, it’s a different ball game then adopting directly from an orphanage, but you get him/her from birth. What a treat!) learn the laws for the state you plan to adopt from. They are insanely different. For Ohio the permanent surrender papers are signed 72-hours after the baby is born and cannot be reversed once signed. We all stayed in the hospital for those 72-hours and then as soon as papers were signed our daughter was discharged and we headed home. For Kansas, it’s 12-hours. For other states it’s 30-days.
  • After doing some research we decided we preferred an open adoption. Luckily, our birth mom wanted one as well. The more I read the more I found that adopted children tend to find a bit more understanding with their adoption if they can see pictures and read letters. So, that is what we do with our birth mom. We email, write letters, text and share photos. I have saved every bit of information (yes, even every single text message) in a box for her to one day have. Our birth mom does not know our last name so she has no way of following us (Facebook, my business, here, etc.) without us knowing it. I think it’s best that way for all parties involved.
  • For our situation, our birth mom’s medical bills were covered by the state. Under Ohio law she can receive help to pay bills while pregnant but only up to $1500. We paid close to $1000 to help with her mortgage, utilities and cell phone and it was all through the agency to keep from letting anything get awkward. This was just one more reason we were grateful for having the agency’s help and protection.
  • And, my favorite thing to share because it always seems to shock people (which makes me so sad it’s not more common knowledge!) is that our adoption cost us about $18,000 for *everything* (I’m including travel + food here … everything!) and the government will be issuing us a $13,171 tax credit. This can be extended over three years if you do not owe that much in taxes in one year. So basically, our adoption – everything, everything, everything – cost us less than $5,000. When we chose to do IVF (after we started the adoption process, it failed) it cost us $9,000. Dang.
  • We do not have biological children so we have no children to “compare”, but seriously our daughter is the most amazing person we have ever been around. She is so beautiful, so full of life, so ridiculously happy and so, so full of love. She is truly the best thing that has ever happened to us and we had NO IDEA one little person could make life feel so glorious. We have full intentions on adopting again.

Please feel free to leave comments with questions or email me anytime at! Our story and our daughter has made us incredibly passionate about the joy found in adoption.

p.s. More of our story can be found on my blog where I wrote quite candidly about our struggle with infertility (check the “I’m new” tab on the right for quick links). Also, the much more detailed story about how we adopted our daughter can be found here.

Jessica Cudzilo

Jessica is a full-time lifestyle photographer mainly focusing on families and children. In her free time she loves a good memoir, is a sucker for reality TV, loves DIY projects and is addicted to traveling the world. Find her at 503 Photography and browse through her blog to get a peek into the girl behind the lens!




About Jessica

Jessica is a full-time lifestyle photographer mainly focusing on families and children. In her free time she loves a good memoir, is a sucker for reality TV, loves DIY projects and is addicted to traveling the world. Find her at 503 Photography and browse through her blog to get a peek into the girl behind the lens!

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  • Elizabeth

    You just wrote about my life lol ! I had problems with my female parts and my husband was infertile so in order to have a family, we had the choice to do ivf ( it was a relatively new thing back then ) or adopt. We chose both. I did not want to to wait so we adopted our daughter in 1994 as a newborn. We then tried successfully ivf in 1996 ( but I miscarried ). My husband and I once again turned to adoption again and got my son in 1997. Fast forward 10 years later I got pregnant with my now husband and we have been blessed with a beautiful daughter who is 7 now. Life sure throws some crazy things at you. Its funy because I had just given up ever being pregnant and was finally ok with it, wouldn’t you know that is when I did get pregnant. I am glad the way I got my children and the timing. I am also adopted myself and only recently found my birth mother. How I wish back then there was such a thing as open adoption. My life would have been so much nicer. I lashed out as a teen I feel because I had no one to turn to who could give me answers obout who I am and I felt abandoned.
    I am so happy for you, your husband and your baby. Nothing can prepare you for the love that comes with being a parent ( now having teenagers is a whole story in itself. It’s been interesting though lol ).

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  • Yvonne W

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful and inspiring story.

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  • Brandy


    Wow! What a wonderful story of adoption. Your baby girl is absolutely beautiful!

  • Stacey Woods

    Your story is so beautiful, Jess, and I’m so glad you shared it here. So many of us (myself included) have struggled with infertility at one point or other in our lives, and it’s comforting to know that there are adoptions that actually do go smoothly… and not simply filled with red tape and court dates. I’m so happy for you and your family!!

  • Kate

    This is so beautiful! I’m so glad you have your sweet baby girl. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisa Anderson

    Jess – I’ve known (and loved) your story for some time now – but always love to hear more. Of course you know that adoption is near and dear to my heart as well – as I am the mom to 2 beautiful adopted children. While our process was quite different given that they were adopted from foster care – the end result is the same. We couldn’t imagine our lives without them and couldn’t love them any more or differently otherwise! Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Jessica

      @Lisa – Love to you and happy birthday, too! ; )
      @Kate – Thank you!
      @Stacey – So many misconceptions out there. I guess it’s like everything – the horror stories spread, the success stories don’t. Being very best friends with several girls who have adopted (2 that have adopted 2 in the past year – all domestically) I really want to spread the fact that more success stories happen every single day than people realize.
      @Brandy – Thank you. ; )

  • Alis in Wnderlnd

    I feel like I just read OUR adoption story! Thanks for posting!

    We adopted our daughter in 2005 at birth in Illinois and continue to have a wonderful relationship with her birth mother and extended birth family. We too struggled with infertility, but just wanted to be a family. We worked with a local agency, went thourgh a similar approval process, and we were chosen by a birth mom just a few weeks later. It was quite fast, very smooth, and our blessing. Our daughter is now 6 years old and we recently spent a wonderful day filled with reunions with her birth family.
    When our daughter was 31 months old we gave birth to our son through the miracle of fertility intervention and an egg donor. He’s now 3 1/2 and our family feels complete. Two miracles and two very supportive women who helped us grow our family.

  • erin cobb

    Jessica, this is beautiful. Thank you for being so candid with TCM readers. What an insightful and helpful piece, for those of us who are not part of the adoption “world”, those who are, and those who one day hope to be. Simply fabulous.

    • Jessica

      @Erin – thank you. ; )
      @ Alis in W – Love, love, love it! I adore the fact that both of your children have such unique stories of how they came to be *yours*. It makes the meaning of family all the richer, don’t you think?

  • elizabeth

    Thank you so much for being so transparent about your adoption process. I totally agree that we adoptive moms (I am an adoptive mom of four little ones) are in general pretty tight lipped about our process.

    My mission is to support women who feel called to adopt to make their dream a reality. So I talk about our adoptions all the time.

    I’m so glad you had a great experience! Your daughter looks beautiful. We had four great adoption and so many people find that hard to believe.

    Also, thanks for sharing about the cost. Our two adoptions from Rwanda cost less than $10,000 each and most of that was airfare. And then there’s the adoption tax credit which will cover the whole thing. While adoption can be expensive, it is a myth that you have to be rich in order to adopt.

    It’s so nice to meet another adoptive mom who didn’t come to adoption as a ‘last choice,’ but who sees adoption as the path to the child that is meant for you. Which has to be the greatest miracle in the world!

    xxoo Elizabeth

  • michelle thomas

    Aaaaaannd tears into my coffee.

    What a nice story, and that photo at the end was just the sucker punch.

    • Jessica

      @Michelle – you just made me smile from ear to ear. Thank you. ; )
      @Elizabeth – can’t wait to read over your blog tonight once the itty bitty (and big bitty ; ) is asleep!

  • Julie Martinez

    Beautiful story. I have my miracle baby after many losses, thankfully without the adoption struggle, however two wonderful families I love are going through the worry and ups and downs, and Its so comforting to hear when one actualy works out for the good! passing this to them to brighten their day!

  • Stacy

    This is great! I am adopted, but because the timing coincided with my parents losing both of their biological children, they don’t speak of it often. I know I am adopted and loved, but not a lot of the details. Thank you for sharing your story and pictures of your beautiful daughter.

  • samantha

    Jessica, THANK YOU for writing this. Just last night, my husband and I sat a dinner and discussed IVF vs. adoption since it has become obvious that we will need to do one or the other. We are leaning in different directions and it was obvious that we needed to gain a better understanding of adoption. This came at the exact perfect time. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Jessica

      @Julie – yes, please feel free to pass on our story to whomever!
      @Stacy – thank you for sharing that. Love to you!
      @Samantha – I love how things like this work out. Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions!