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A Bloomington couple takes the first step toward parenthood

Craig and Ken Hart-Rohlfs are hoping to start their family through adoption.

There are many roads to starting a family. Craig and Ken Hart-Rohlfs of Bloomington have always known they wanted to be parents. The only question was how.

After marrying in 2020, the Hart-Rohlfses began to explore their options. They first looked into surrogacy, an arrangement in which a gestational surrogate carries a baby for another person or couple. But the process comes with many associated costs and the Hart-Rolfs’ quickly realized it would be too expensive.

They looked next at fostering a child, which is something the Hart-Rohlfses said appeals to both of them. But after completing most of the application process, the couple decided that fostering wasn’t the right emotional fit at this stage of their lives.

With foster care, the ultimate goal is the reunification of the child with their birth family. But the idea of forming a connection to a child, only to have to let them go wasn’t how the Hart-Rolfses wanted to begin their journey into parenthood.

“We didn't feel like that was something we could handle at the time, especially wanting our own child,” said Craig.

“It's one of those things that still in the back of our mind that we hope to do in the future. But for now, we felt adoption was the safest and best option for us,” he explained.

So, the couple partnered with Angel Adoption with the hope of being paired with a birth mother. They created a profile that begins with a letter to an expectant mother, reading, in part:

As two men, we can never fully relate to your current experience. Yet we can tell you that we respect your choice, recognize the difficulty of your decision, and appreciate your consideration of us in one of the most difficult decisions of your life.

At this point in the process, the Hart-Rohlfses have completed their home visit and are waiting to be picked by a mother. Ken describes it as a somewhat surreal place to be.

“Because the phone call could happen at any time. It could happen while we're sitting here right now talking,” he said.

In the meantime, Ken said he tries to temper his expectations. Adopting an infant through an agency takes 1-2 years on average. For some families, it doesn’t happen at all. So, for Ken, the process involves trying “not to get your hopes up too much. Because obviously it's always a possibility that it doesn't happen,” he said.

But if it does, the Hart-Rohlfses are prepared to welcome not only a child, but the birth mother, into their lives.

“Based off of most of what we've read and been told by different people involved in adoptions, most are open adoptions going forward from this point,” Craig said.

That means not only is the biological parent involved in placing the child for adoption, she also may continue to be a part of the child’s life moving forward.

That involvement can involve anything from sending the birth mother a yearly photo and update, to integrating both the biological and adoptive families into the child’s life.

“So, there are just a lot of levels to it,” Craig said. “But as far as our comfort with it, we have already told Angel Adoption to mark us as being fully supportive of an open relationship with the birth mother.”

The Hart-Rohlfses also are open to the child they eventually welcome into their home. Prospective parents have the option of choosing whether they prefer a child of a specific race or gender.

“We didn't really have any specifications,” Craig said. “We’re just hoping for a child.”

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Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
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