What it's like to adopt while pregnant
Joanna Schlaud is pregnant with her fourth child — and she's in the process of adopting her fifth.
It seems like there are a million and one anecdotes out there about couples trying to conceive who choose adoption — and then, unexpectedly, find out they are pregnant.
"After 'trying' to get pregnant for nearly a decade, here was a positive pregnancy test right in front of me," wrote one such mother. "Then there was a heartbeat. Instead of feeling the joy I expected, I felt totally overwhelmed."
Joanna Schlaud is a mother who understands the complexities that can arise when navigating pregnancy and adoption together. Although she relates that she and her husband discussed having a large family and have "always" felt eventual adoption would be in their plans, they may not have anticipated growing their family so quickly.
After welcoming three biological children, Joanna and her husband decided to move forward with their plans and filed their paperwork to become licensed as foster parents.
Image: Joanna Schlaud
And then Joanna discovered she was pregnant with baby No. 4 — and the couple, understandably so, hesitated a bit. "We talked about delaying our license for a while after we were pregnant with No. 4, but I felt that if we dropped our adoption plans now, we would never pick them up again," says Joanna. "And every time I prayed for a sign from God that we should keep our license, he always sent me a clear one. So we kept at it."
The couple was quickly placed with a young girl, similar in age to their biological daughter, and much to their surprise, her agency proposed adoption very quickly. "We were extremely excited to find out that she was up for adoption immediately, since with foster care, you could have the child in your home for years before parents' rights are taken away," Joanna explains. "Since adoption was always our plan, it seemed like a sign."
With a brood of now four and counting, Joanna and her husband took the move in stride, relying on their experience of parenthood so far to keep them focused on the positives. "We just took it day by day," notes Joanna. "Also, having three kids already helped a lot, [since] we are used to a lot of different behaviors by now."
Currently awaiting her due date for baby No. 4 on Thanksgiving Day and the court's final decision about the adoption placement (there has been some second thoughts from her agency on placement since there is a sibling involved), Joanna says she feels confident in how everything has worked out so far. "If we are given the opportunity, we will adopt her," she says simply. "We are praying for God's will and just taking things one step at a time."
And while Joanna certainly sounds like a saint of a mother in my eyes, she is honest about some accommodations that she has had to make to keep everything running in her household, like sending the girls to a public school instead of homeschooling as she originally intended and falling behind on baby prep. "We still need to buy a car seat and stroller since I finally retired the last ones we had," Joanna laughs. "I have one month, though — so I'm good, right?"
Ultimately, Joanna doesn't feel that what she is doing in pursuing adoption and pregnancy at the same time is any special magic on her part. She maintains that the key is to first "be sure" about the decision to adopt and then, to simply take that leap of faith. "I mean, the reward of having an extra child to love and love you back is pretty remarkable," Joanna says. "In all honesty, at this point, I just want to teach my kids love, and joy and patience with each other, and to the world. World peace — that starts in my kitchen."