They call it “Becoming a Cline Day”.
Apparently, Jacqueline and Jake Cline’s two children have birthdays that fall throughout the year. The Greenwood couple make sure this is big business for their kids.
But Hudson, 8, and Renesmee, 10, also get an extra day. The family makes a special mark on the day each child is officially adopted — April 26 for Renesmee, November 10 for Hudson. They let each child decide how to celebrate.
“You can choose a meal or a dessert. We want them to feel comfortable with what we’re celebrating. It’s not like a birthday party, something everyone has,” said Jacqueline Cline. “We realized that we have to stick to their feelings.”
The Cline family has been transformed through adoption, with two different children finding the forever home they were looking for. They went through two entirely different processes to make Hudson and Renesmee their own, giving them a unique perspective on the complexities of adoption.
“It was a really enlightening experience for an out there world that not many people know about,” said Jake Cline. “Experiencing the hardships they had and the love we were able to give them that they had not experienced before was eye opening for us.”
With November being National Adoption Month, stories like the Clines show the impact adopting families can have on a child’s life.
“It draws attention to adoption and celebrates the continuity of a family. And that permanence is different for every child, for every family, for every adoption,” said Traci Eggleston, regional manager for the Department of Child Services for Region 14, which includes Johnson County.
National Adoption Month is an opportunity each year to honor the children who have been adopted and to thank parents for their commitment to voluntarily augmenting their families. At the same time, the month is a time to raise awareness of the ongoing need for families forever for children in foster care.
In Indiana, 6,119 children have been adopted since 2020, according to the Department of Child Services. More than 1,500 children and young people are still waiting to be adopted.
“There is a significant need, particularly for our older youth,” Eggleston said. “Sometimes some of the kids with more complex trauma are our older teens, and they need a family that’s willing to understand that complex trauma and help the kids deal with it.”
Jacqueline Cline always had adoption in mind. Her mother had been adopted, as had one of her cousins.
After she and her husband struggled to conceive, considering adoption was an easy decision.
“Adoption was never our plan B. We always talked about it,” she said. “When we couldn’t get pregnant, it was just, OK, we’re about to adopt.”
The Clines looked at a variety of different options—international, private, independent, and public adoption. They chose private adoption, where the adoption was directed and supervised by a privately funded, licensed adoption agency.
The process cost nearly $40,000, and they were told the average waiting time before adoption was six months. Still, the Clines had to be prepared as they could be contacted with a match at any time.
Just three months after the trial began, they received the phone call they had been hoping for. A baby boy had been born the night before and the biological mother was considering the Clines as adoptive parents.
Though excited, the couple wasn’t confident they would go home with a son. In the case of private adoption, the decision is not final until the birth parents willingly sign their parental rights over the adoptive family.
The birth parents often change their minds.
“It went back and forth for a day or two. She wasn’t 100% sure, and then it happened,” said Jacqueline Cline.
Despite the birth mother’s fears and hesitations, they agreed. Weeks later, the adoption was approved. Jacqueline and Jake Cline brought their son Hudson home in November 2014.
The experience of raising Hudson was a joy, filled with the ups and downs that all new parents go through as a child grows from infant to toddler to independent little boy.
When Hudson turned 4 in 2019, the Clines were ready to expand their family.
“We wanted to foster to adopt,” said Jacqueline Cline.
This time, they wanted to approach the process differently. They had learned about the need for foster and adoptive parents for older children, especially those older than 8 years.
The couple decided to become licensed foster parents with the goal of adopting an older child. They had three different placements, and while the experience was positive, the Clines wondered if they should take a different route.
“I did not know, what I should do. It’s not that I didn’t want to support reunion or that a kid is going home, but there are so many kids out there that need a home. These are the children I want to love; that’s what we’re looking for,” said Jacqueline Cline.
The family joined the Indiana Adoption Program, a statewide initiative to find loving, committed, safe, and permanent families for children in foster care.
Through the program, adoptive parents can access resources related to the adoption process, request additional information, and find local adoption contacts.
Most importantly, they can access a secure portal that allows them to find out about children who are available for adoption.
“It helps children who don’t already have a pre-identified adoptive family become permanent,” Eggleston said. “It gives a child the opportunity to be shared not just in their community but across the state. You have better accessibility for families forever.”
At a meeting with an adoption counselor, the Clines discussed possible adoption options. They learned about the children in the program; One caught their eye with a bright smile – Renesmee, also nicknamed Nezzy.
“I looked at it and chose Nezzy, then my husband looked at it and chose Nezzy. We were both attracted to her,” Jacqueline Cline said.
The Clines submitted an adoption request, and about a week later the family was offered an interview. Both sides felt that Renesmee would be a great fit and they began the slow transition process. Nezzy met the Clines several times and got to know them while learning more about them. Eventually they would have switched to nocturnal visits.
But the pandemic lockdown complicated the plans. Many places where they would have tried to meet to spend some time together were closed.
Eventually, the Clines and Nezzy were able to hold a handful of meetings before beginning nighttime visits. The adoption was completed in April 2021.
“Everyone has a natural high in those first few months, it’s so exciting, especially for a child who has been in foster care for as long as Nezzy,” said Jacqueline Cline.
Like any other family, there are complexities that come with the positive moments. Nezzy was in foster care for 2,412 days and has many different needs and unknowns, Jacqueline Cline said. They process the trauma they experienced together.
“This is where the feeling begins, this is where the bond begins. I think people assume that, oh she was adopted, the story is over. But there is a new part of their lives that they need to get used to,” she said. “How does it look? It’s different from day to day.”
Adoption in Indiana
types of adoption
There are four basic types of adoption: public adoption, domestic private adoption, international adoption, and independent adoption. Requirements, costs, and timing vary between and within different types of adoption.
How much does the adoption cost?
There are many factors that affect the Indiana adoption cost, but in some cases it can be very affordable. Estimates include $1,500 for public entities, $25,000 for private entities, $30,000 for intercountry adoptions, and $40,000 for independent adoptions.
How long does the adoption process take?
Adoption is a process and can take time. Most adoptive parents can meet all state requirements in 6 to 12 months. Families are selected based on characteristics that indicate they are a good fit for the child-to-be and are able to best meet that child’s individual needs. Once a family and child are compatible, the child’s move to an adoptive family home is based on the child’s need to make a stable and lasting transition. The final decision on placing a child in an adoptive home always rests with the court.