Even as a child, Peoples Bank Director of Mortgage Banking Jennifer Evans Thompson always knew she was going to adopt. Growing up, she told her mom that her heart was set on adoption. True to her young self, Jennifer is now a parent to two daughters through adoption.
This National Adoption Month, Jennifer is thankful for the process that completed her family. Created as a week of awareness in 1984, it was expanded into a month-long initiative to bring attention to adoption across the country.
A Family in Waiting No More
When Jennifer started her journey seven years ago, the process was both exciting and daunting. Upon completing the paperwork, she and her husband Will were considered a “family in waiting.” Despite working with someone who had a broad network, some adoptions closed before they could even submit their names. As Jennifer explains, “We were emailed scenarios and had to make quick decisions. They might take 50 prospective parent names, or only 5.”
There was also a lot of ‘hurry up and wait.’ “There’s excitement as you sit on pins and needles waiting for the call,” Jennifer remembers. “There’s also sadness when you’re not selected, and it can happen over and over again.”
Eventually, the call did come and months later, daughter Charliee was born. Jennifer and Will flew to Kentucky that day and brought their daughter home two weeks later. Charliee’s adoption was finalized a year later on her first birthday.
With daughter Blakely’s adoption two years later, Jennifer and Will opted to work with a local individual connected to a small agency in Florida. While they thought their chances quite slim, they got the call that they’d been selected almost immediately after submitting their paperwork. Later that year, Blakely came home to complete the family.
Expect the Unexpected
For those interested in adopting, Jennifer recommends talking with those who’ve been through the process. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” she says. “Even though I had both a relative and a friend with adoption experience, there were still surprises.”
Every situation and state is different, for example. Paperwork typically has many rules, while things like cost do not. A prospective parent might be financially obligated for a substantial amount and still not come home with the child. Knowing your financial limits ahead of time is helpful.
There’s also a lot of paperwork. There are interviews, background checks, and – in Jennifer’s case – even a well water sample to ensure the water was suitable for drinking. Most paperwork is only good for a year, with some requiring updates or resubmissions sooner.
Even so, Jennifer says without hesitation that adoption is a wonderful thing. There’s such a need with so many children requiring a home or foster care. The U.S. Children’s Bureau estimates that more than 117,000 children and youth were waiting for adoption at the end of 2020.
Prioritizing Family and Customers
Jennifer had only been with Peoples Bank a few months when Charliee arrived. As a new employee, she was concerned she might not qualify for family leave. She was immediately assured when the Bank offered its enthusiastic support and a plan for the day when she’d have to drop everything to be on a plane to meet her daughter.
This experience reminds Jennifer why she chose to come to Peoples Bank. “How you’re treated as an employee is how you treat others,” she says. “Everyone here thinks of the customer first, understanding their needs and finding the best solutions. It’s how we operate.”
Jennifer adds that when it comes to adoption, that same understanding applies. Support and encouragement are vital for those going through or just contemplating the process. “It’s a journey, with lots of highs and lows.”