Monthly Archives: September 2015

It’s a New Year… Anything Can Happen

Last week I met with the outreach coordinator at the agency to discuss our birthmother outreach. She gave me pointers on the draft I’d started for our letter, helped me pick out the best accompanying pictures,   and showed me some examples of final products for design inspiration. But beyond all of that, she gave me a little insight into a bithmother’s thoughts.

You see, the outreach coordinator is the first person a potential birthmother speaks to at the agency. She calls, scared, unsure of what to do next. Some options are explained to her, and she’s counseled on what it all means. Maybe she chooses adoption as the best future for her baby and herself. The coordinator talks to her about her situation. Is the father in the picture? Has she seen a doctor? Has she done drugs since she’s been pregnant? She’s asked what she’d like in an adoptive family for her child. She’s still scared. That’s when the coordinator pulls a handful of Dear Birthmother letters from her pool of currently waiting families and sends the birthmother a packet. She reads the letters, looks at the pictures, and imagines her baby with these parents. She calls the coordinator back. Just a little of her fear is now replaced with relief. “You mean all these people want my baby?”

It turns out the most common fear birthmothers’ have is one of rejection. The idea hadn’t even crossed my mind. There’s a waiting list of people who are scrambling for each adoptable baby. But birthmothers are often afraid that no one will want theirs. Maybe they’ve had a few drinks during their pregnancy, or they haven’t been to the doctor. Maybe they grew up in a family where they didn’t feel wanted themselves. Or maybe they’re so used to having things go wrong in their life that they can’t imagine this being any different. She isn’t just looking for parents who will love her child, she’s looking for parents who want her child!

For the first time I felt a bit of kinship with the imaginary birthmother that I picture reading our letter. We are both women who are craving something we fear we won’t find. We’re both looking for a life that we’re not sure is possible. She wants it for her child, I want it with that child.

This week I went to synagogue. I’m not an incredibly religious person, but it was the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, one of the two holidays a year that gets me to a gathering of formal prayer. Each year as I read the same words in the prayer-book I find different meaning in them depending on where I am in my life. A few years ago we joined a new group to pray with. The service is somewhat informal, with no Rabi leading things, and in strict Jewish tradition there are no musical instruments. Different members of the congregation take turns leading the prayers, and everyone joins in with the simple melodies. Different voices from all corners of the room join together, and as the verses repeat the voices gain confidence and get louder. The leader thumps on the podium as her body rocks to the beat. Fingers around the room start to drum on prayer books, hands begin to beat on the wooden pews. The prayer gets faster. There’s an electricity in the room that can’t be ignored. Voices get louder and feet pound the wooden floor. I found myself swaying with the energy in the room and a thought occurred to me. It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.

It was said to us at the first orientation we went to as we began to explore adoption. The meaning I was finding in the prayers this year are not for myself, but for our future birthmother, whoever and wherever she may be. Because she’s not imaginary, she’s very, very real. We just don’t know who she is. She may not even be pregnant yet. But she’s out there. I can’t help but wonder, will this be the year we become parents to her child? Will this be the year that she picks us?


All the Beginnings

It’s hard to say when the process of adoption officially begins.  In a way, it started for me when I first googled “how to adopt a baby” in an attempt to figure out what the process was.  That was around six months ago, after loosing our first pregnancy.  What I learned from that google search was that there’s no one way to go through the adoption process, and all the options and different strategies made the whole thing feel overwhelming and scary.  I put the idea aside.

But each time things got frustrating I took another look at adoption options.  Finally I decided it was time to really learn more, and about two months ago we took another big step and attended info sessions at two different agencies. These were insanely helpful, and we finally started to feel like this might be an option we could handle.  They also prompted a lot of thought and conversation, and finally helped us narrow down the type of adoption we wanted.  We knew we wanted an infant, that was for sure.  Foster to adopt, where you act as a foster parent for up to a year before you can adopt the child,  was the first we ruled out.  The goal there is to get the child back to their birth parent, and adoption is the second choice. I just don’t think I have the emotional stamina left in me for that at this point.  International adoption, though intriguing on the surface, lost a lot of its appeal with a closer look.  It could take longer and become more expensive than domestic in many cases, and often the child was 1-2 years old by the time you could bring them home.  In the end, we decided on domestic infant adoption.

We also discussed the different options for outreach, the advertising adoptive parents must do to find a baby.  Different agencies and lawyers all use different techniques, and it’s hard to decipher what will be most effective.  In the end we decided on the agency that made us feel the most comfortable, and came with a strong recommendation from a friend.  We began working on our home study application.

Last week our home study officially began with our first meeting with the social worker.  It was a casual sit down at her office, we told her about ourselves, she let us ask questions about the process and what to expect from raising an adoptive child, and we were given a pile of forms to take home and fill out.  It wasn’t the intimidating beginning that my google search had been, and left us feeling like we were finally moving towards an attainable goal.  We’ll have three more meetings with her before she submits our homestudy report and we’ll be eligible to adopt.

This week will be one more beginning when I meet with the outreach coordinator on Wednesday.  It’s hard to say when it really began, but I think it’s safe to say the process has begun.  Looks like we’re really doing this!