adoption

Adoption challenges: It's worth it -- but it's not easy

Nov. 5, 2013 at 10:30 AM ET

Video: More than two million families are looking to adopt, a process that can be filled with background checks, high costs and paperwork. But for Rick and Therese Meyer, the years of waiting and thousands spent before they finally began raising their son, Michael, was all worth it. NBC News’ Kate Snow reports.

When a couple struggles with infertility, their well-meaning friends and family might say to them, “Why don’t you just adopt?”

If only it were that simple. More than two million families are actively trying to adopt, according to government statistics. This morning, one family outside of Chicago shared their adoption story with TODAY’s Kate Snow.

Rick and Therese Meyer both grew up in big families and they knew they wanted children of their own. Shortly after getting married, they even started a college fund for the kid they already knew they wanted. But they had trouble getting pregnant, even after trying expensive rounds of in vitro fertilization, and so they decided to adopt.

As they dealt with paperwork, home visits, fingerprints and background checks, they felt almost as if they’d signed up for an online dating service. “You’re marketing yourself,” Rick says.

Years passed, and they spent thousands of dollars, but still, no baby. They came close once, but the birth mother changed her mind at the last minute. “I was getting very disappointed,” Therese says. “I was sort of at the end of my rope.”

At their lowest point, they considered spending their nonexistent child's college fund on a lavish vacation for two. And then, the phone call they'd waited years for. When it finally started, the adoption process only took three weeks, and baby Michael was theirs.

He’s now almost 2 and he’s everything the Meyers wanted. “To be able to raise a child as your own, watch him do everything for the first time … I mean, that’s what it’s all about,” Rick says.

Adoption experts have some tips for families trying to adopt:

1. Choose one agency -- after doing your homework and vetting it, of course -- instead of using multiple agencies.

2. Tell your friends. Often, it’s word of mouth that leads to that phone call.

3. Keep your mind on your end goal. Therese thinks the pain of labor must be similar to the grueling adoption process: It’s horrible while you’re in it, but the memory of the pain fades away when your baby is in your arms.

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