Thoughts of adoption has always been close to the hearts of Bree and Bryan Mills, and now the Cordova couple, parents of a six-year old daughter, are hoping to have their new baby at home for Christmas.
The couple, who have one daughter, Everleigh, 6, decided in January that adding to their family through the adoption of an infant was what they wanted to do.
“Growing up in the church, we both had many friends whose families grew through adoption. We always considered it a completely valid way of choosing to grow your family. We had spoken about the idea of adoption before we were even married, as something we’d both thought about exploring more someday, but that plan was expedited when I experienced unexplained secondary infertility after we had Everleigh,” Bree said.
Instead of going through medical treatments in hope of conceiving another child, they decided to adopt an infant.
They soon found that adopting can be complicated and expensive.
To date, the Mills have raised and saved $19,877.01, with help from community fundraising projects, and learned that the cost of adoption could exceed $60,000.
“Depending on the speed of the adoption, we may need to come up with the total amount rather quickly. We’re currently exploring options to take out a loan for the total costs, and we plan on using any funds we’ve raised, and will raise, to make payments on the loan,” said Bryan.
They said the process started in January, when they began researching agencies and discovering how the process works.
“Thankfully we have friends that have been through it who were a great help in getting us started on the right path. No two adoption stories are the same and there are so many different ways it can happen, so it was about finding the right path for our family,” said Bree.
They partnered with Catholic Social Services in Anchorage, and participated in a two-day intensive Domestic Newborn Adoption workshop. Then came the lengthy application process, physical exams to prove they were in good health, background checks and a home study.
Now officially home study approved, they are waiting for a match with a soon to be born or newborn baby.
Meanwhile the couple has begun a relationship with Faithful Adoption Consultants (FAC), a consultancy group who works with adoption agencies and adoption attorneys in states throughout the U.S. to find families for waiting children/birth families. Once they get more information, they can let FAC know if they’d like to proceed with that placement.
“In the world of domestic infant adoption, this part of the process often takes place before the child is born. If the biological family selects our family among any other Hopeful Adoptive Parents (HAPs), who have also expressed interest, we may move forward. Depending on their preferences, this might involve communicating with the expectant family in some way so we can get to know each other better,” Bryan said.
Once they are matched up with a child, or that child’s birth family, their next step is to be where the baby is born, and taking physical custody after the biological parents have voluntarily signed documents that terminate their parental rights.
“If the child is born outside of our home state, we may have to wait two to three weeks for Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) clearance,” Bryan said.
Then, roughly six months to a year after placement, we’ll go to court and a judge will declare the adoption finalized. Finalization ensures that our legal relationship to the child as his or her parents is irreversible and binding in every way, identical to a child who may be born to us biologically,” he said.
For now, Bree and Bryan are holding out hope for a placement by Christmas, and busy converting Bryan’s office into a nursery and baby proofing their home.
The Mills moved to Cordova three years ago, when Bryan was offered a job here.
“We quickly fell in love with the beauty and the people of Cordova. Anyone who has ever spent any time here knows what a unique and special place this is. We knew rather quickly that the job was not the right fit for our family, but Cordova was! So we changed jobs, bought a house and the rest is history,” said Bree.
They’ve discussed their adoption plans with their daughter Everleigh, who will be seven years old in November, since the beginning of the process.
“She’s excited about the adoption,” her dad said. “She’s got a friend in her class who’s adopted, and while we have talked with her about the basics of natural conception and birth, for her adoption is just another way for families to grow.”
The Mills have shared their adoption endeavor with the community through various fundraisers, such as T-shirt sales with graphic designs donated by local artist Cadi Moffitt, and the Mills’ friend Sara Harless; a live Facebook auction; a rummage sale organized by Bree’s coworkers; a hotdog and hamburger sale with food donated by Alaska Commercial Company; a July Fourth dunk tank, put on by the Cordova Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Mills; and a clean comedy show, organized by Little Chapel Church’s pastor, Larry Goodale.
The Mills also have a tax-deductible donation site set up at AdoptTogether.org/bryanandbree.