We began Adoption training a few weeks ago, as mandated and facilitated by the agency. We were worried that this would be some sort of ridiculous waste of time. On the contrary. Wow. What we didn’t know…What we weren’t prepared for..What we kind of still wish we didn’t know.
Although we have wondered where the heck September went. Seriously. It’s like going to college as a family.
A little disclaimer: Please don’t judge me here. I’m becoming only knowledgeable in my own little world of domestic infant adoption. I have feelings and they are raw and sometimes insensitive and biased. My experiences really are just my own, and with each day, that world opens up a little bit more. That means that with each day, my compassion level grows some. I grow a bit less judgemental of someone else. My stereotypes are broken down a little bit more than they were the day before. I’m going to start really sharing what we’re going through and what we’re feeling, but you have to understand that that my experience is mine. I’m willing to hear yours, and you can bet that I am willing to do it with an open heart, and I’ll probably admit that it will change me. But go easy on me, ok? Because so far, this has been hard.
The first night of training was, in retrospect, the easiest emotionally. It was interesting, though. Outside in the car, my man and I gave ourselves a pep talk about what we assumed would be the most awkward situation we have faced that I could think of since my last waxing. I felt like we were walking onto the set of a sitcom. There are about 9 other couples in our group, and we are all so different! Many ages and ethnicities were represented in the room. We’ve also found that we range from being couples with no kids, to couples whose children are in their teenage years! The awkwardness has melted away and we’ve bonded quickly over the fact that we are all going through something very unique together. In a world where it seems that international adoption is a very popular trend, these are almost the only people Stu and I know who are going through exactly the same kind of domestic adoptive process that we are. Before we had chosen domestic infant, we had researched the process, and let me tell you, learning about the laws of domestic adoption in our state made traveling to another country to stand in line for a baby seem very appealing. Very. Alas, I had long before felt God telling me to trust Him. I knew He was telling me to lay my fears aside and that this was our process and that this was where our baby was going to be. I also know now that there really is no “easy” way. I know now that international adoption is not simple, either. Most of my incredible support system is built up of families who’ve adopted internationally, and I would never begin to say now that their paths were simple or easy. It’s just that, while researching laws and learning especially about a birth mother’s right to revoke consent, essentially changing her mind, I became absolutely petrified. In this sense, it felt like any other kind of adoption was safer than the kind where someone could “revoke consent”. I’m digressing. And I’m actually jumping ahead a few classes, so I’m going to stop. You can see that I’ve overcome that fear, although I still have to suppress it occasionally.
On this night, we started by seeing the video that the agency shows to most birth mothers as they are preparing to make a plan for their babies. To already be on the other side of the perspective was moving for all of us. After that, the discussion moved to legalities-of which I won’t bore you with. I’ll just enlighten my young male friends with this little tidbit: If you go around sleeping with women and not staying in touch, you might want to be sure you read the paper. Like, the NEWSpaper.
Many have asked about this process and how it will work. So I’ll try to give it to you in a nutshell (disclaimer:I’m not an adoption agent! This is my blog! My social worker friends are probably going to wish they could fact check me on this :)). These classes are a part of our home study requirement through the agency. The home study is a pretty comprehensive process that the agency completes to ensure that our family is completely on the up and up. In good standing. Capable parents. Mentally, spiritually, financially able to parent. It includes everything from doctor’s checks, to finger prints, to making sure the dog has her shots. If we had a skeleton, it would no longer be in the closet. When this process is finished, probably towards the end of the year, we will have made a profile book (which will include letters, information about our family, and pictures). From there, as trivial as I make it sound in my head, I keep feeling like this is a scenario from match.com that the social workers are playing. They have our list of preferences, and a birth mother comes in with her preferences. The social worker gathers that knowledge and hands the birth mother some profile books from which she can choose the family she’d like to adopt her baby. If she wants to meet the prospective parents, and they are willing (which we are), then a meeting happens. How. Very. Surreal. I cannot even imagine how I might manage to put my foot in my mouth at that moment in my life, but just stay tuned.
We’ve also had many questions about open adoption. There is no way, in one blog, that I could cover this topic. I can tell you that the standard for a domestic adoption is to at least be willing to participate in what some might call a “semi” open adoption, which means that you send letters and pictures to the birth family through the agency, which we not only love the idea of, we’ve learned over time that it really contributes to a birth family’s peace of mind. Who wouldn’t want the comfort of knowing that the child you so lovingly and selflessly placed is thriving and happy in their forever family?? We are not feeling like a fully open adoption is for us (which means taking it to levels past picture and letters-such as more open communication and possibly visits). All I can say at this point is that we will be definitely be participating in a semi-open adoption.
It has taken so so long to get this much information out. I keep thinking about what I will share here. I keep wanting to share everything. And then it all feels like too much to say. It’s as if I just can’t get it out. I was, in no way prepared for the emotions that have come from this training and Stu and I are still sorting through them. We are beside ourselves that we get to do this though. We are unswayed, and know that this is the path God has for us. I’ll keep sharing as I can verbalize…and type.