NEMESIA Hood and Rob Currie are waiting on a phone call that is going to turn their world upside down.
The Newcastle couple is soon to be given a baby. Or a toddler. Or a young child. They don't actually know which one yet.
"If you were going to have a biological child, you'd have the pram, the car seat, the nappies, but we don't know if they'll be walking or talking, we don't know anything," Hood says.
"It's hard to know what to be excited for!"
People adopt for a lot of reasons: couples can face fertility problems, one person can have a medical complication, or the biological clock can simply have run out.
Hood, 30, and Currie, 35, fall into none of these categories.
"I think I probably wanted to adopt since I was a child," Hood, a family lawyer, says.
She says she was probably influenced by advertisements that showed impoverished children overseas, and movies where white American families adopt non-white children.
"You think you could be this wonderful saviour, doing this wonderful thing ... for children in other countries that need our help, that would have a better life in Australia," Hood explains.
"But the more you look into it, and understand the needs we have in Australia, your whole view changes."
In Australia, adoptions are strictly "open". That means children grow up knowing they were adopted and maintain a relationship with their origin family where possible.
The couple support this approach wholeheartedly, but Hood says it did make her grapple with the idea that "the child may never accept or attach to me as a mother".
"Now I don't view it so much as wanting to replace that in their lives, I view it as being an extra person in their lives," she says.
"It's definitely another element on top of raising a child ... but what you're doing is bigger than you.
"The child needs a lot of things, but they need to know where they come from, they need that to be a part of their identity."
Currie says he never thought about adoption until he met his wife, who he describes fondly as having "a bit of a bleeding heart", but he quickly warmed to the idea.
"I've come to realise that these things can be a product of the generation that came before," he says.
"Nothing would give me greater joy, to step in and end that intergenerational disadvantage in families, to step in and steer a child onto a different path in life."
But it's been a gruelling three-year process for the couple.
In August 2018, they sent a money order to receive an information pack from the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), then filled in an expression of interest form.
Then the pair attended a compulsory three-day seminar in Sydney hosted by DCJ - which took place a full 12 months after they began their enquiries.
Shortly after, Hood and Currie were posted a 40-page application form, which included background screening like a full police check and reference checks.
Hood estimates the total cost to have exceeded $2000.
Following that, government inspectors visited the couple's home four or five times over a series of months, conducting interviews and assessments to gauge their suitability as adoptive parents.
They were organised and prepared, but the assessments were still tough.
There was one particularly difficult call from the department, where a woman grilled them on their preparedness for a child with substantial medical conditions.
It was the final straw that led them to place their dream of adopting on hold last February.
"They try really hard to prepare you but some tactics are very confrontational," Hood says.
But they continued on and were ecstatic when they were approved as adoptive parents earlier this year. Their profile now goes into a pool, to be considered by caseworkers and parents who are relinquishing their rights to their children.
"It could be two weeks, it could be two months, it could be a year," Hood says.
Overall it's been a period of "immense emotional and spiritual growth" for the couple, something they say brought them so much closer.
Just have faith in the process and let it run its course.Rob Currie
For people thinking about adopting, Currie says, "expect that you'll be asked a lot of questions that a lot of other people who are going to become parents aren't necessarily asked.
"Just have faith in the process and let it run its course," he advises.
Hood says people should be prepared for the process to "crack open everything" from a person's own childhood.
"It's actually such a beautiful and healing process if you have had a difficult life," she says.
The couple both agree the years of hard work was worth it when they received the green light.
But for now, it's a waiting game.