Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Decision to Adopt

This morning we had what will very likely be our last home visit with our adoption case worker. Soon, a two-year process will come to an end. (the process. Not the result. The result is, thankfully, quite permanent.) It's been an often exhausting, always emotional, forever rewarding experience. But how did we decide to take this journey?

For Ryan and I, adoption has always been on the table. Even when we were dating we discussed it. We just knew, somehow, that our family would be at least partially built this way. Maybe because both of our extended families were built this way- the branches of
our family trees that include adoption outnumber by far those that don't. Of course like all young women, I assumed that I would give birth to children first, and adopt later. 

Then, in a moment of frustration in the spring of 2007, I said, "Maybe we should just adopt." I was certain I had solved all of our problems and that my life would soon be complete. So when Ryan answered with, "I don't think it's time yet," I was angry, disappointed, and fearful we were not on the same page when it came to starting a family. I understand now how wise he was being, and how difficult this was for him, as he desperately wanted to adopt. It's what he's always wanted.

But here's a hint concerning adoption readiness. If you phrase it as "maybe we should just adopt," you're not ready.

Then, in May of 2008, I had a very different moment. I don't remember what sparked it. I don't remember what day it was or what time it was or what I was wearing. But I remember the feeling of certainty. I looked at Ryan, and I said, "Oh! We're supposed to adopt!" with a smile on my face and excitement like I've felt about very few things in my life.

"I was just waiting for you to say so," he answered.

But once the decision is made, where in the world do you start?. The Internet, naturally. There is an overwhelming amount of information about adoption available, and I soon became overwhelmed. But I took a deep breath, and I read things carefully, and I reminded myself that I didn't need to have all the answers. In fact, when it comes to adoption, it is impossible to know all the answers, since each case is so completely individual.

We had some decisions to make:

- adopting through an agency vs/ hiring an adoption lawyer or going through the foster system.

- open, semi-open, or closed adoption

- domestic or international adoption

- infant or older child

And there's no right or wrong. We just went with what felt right, and the answer always felt really clear to us. We decided we were interested in a domestic, semi-open, infant adoption through an agency.

I called the agency that sounded like the best fit for us- Bethany Christian Services- and learned that they were not accepting applications for parents looking for Caucasian babies for another several months, as they wanted to serve the families that were already waiting.

Disappointed, I shared the news with Ryan that evening. His response surprised me. "So, there are people
waiting for white babies, but there are babies who aren't white who need homes?"

"Yes-" I said, confused.

"Then why in the world would we wait for a white baby? That doesn't even make sense. What do we care what color the baby is? We want to give a baby a home. That's all that matters."

And I felt like an idiot. Of course it didn't matter. Now please understand that for many people, it would matter. Transracial adoptions can bring a whole slew of issues. But with our family, living where we live, those issues are manageable.

So I called Bethany the next day, and made a reservation to attend their next informational meeting. These meetings are held every month or two. There was one in two days.

Attending the informational meeting just made us all the more ready, so we started to share the news with friends and family. For the most part, the reaction was the same. "We're so glad you know so we can talk about it now. We've all known you were going to adopt for a long time."

And the process began. May, 2008.

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