I’m dedicating this post to the biggest change in our lives, which is our journey toward growing our family. I wrote about this last year when we had officially come to the conclusion of doing so. Since then, we’ve attended classes, networked with those we know and quite a few folks we’ve come to know about what our options are, what others have experienced and just how complex these decisions can be for a family like ours.
After much careful thought, reading, consideration and attending panel discussions on both surrogacy and adoption, we settled on newborn adoption. We took an 8-week course through our local children’s hospital that clued us into the process with a very specific focus on Ohio’s and Franklin county’s requirements. That class was extremely helpful as it gave us a concrete structure so we were both on the same page with respect to our understanding of what to expect.
Next came the choice of which type of method to pursue–foster-to-adopt (public adoption), private adoption (via an attorney) or private agency adoption (domestic or international). For us, the choice was easy because we knew we wanted to adopt a child immediately after birth–or as close to it as possible. We also wanted to be led through the process by someone who’s helped others do the same. Therefore, we chose domestic newborn adoption through an agency who specializes in just that.
Picking an agency was relatively easy for us, too. We chose an agency that specializes in domestic newborn adoption, that has significant experience in this process and most importantly, came highly recommended by friends and colleagues. The agency also happens to be within walking distance of our house.
On July 14, we dropped off our application to the agency, which they promptly approved. Then, the great wait…
The next orientation/education session wasn’t until September 11. We passed the time living life as normal, but very eager to get the process moving.
Orientation was a mixed bag for us–we had already learned a lot about the process from the 8-week course we took at the hospital so about half of the day’s content was a repeat for us. Still, there was plenty we learned about the agency itself, its staff and how they recommended we set our expectations. They gave us a giant 3-ring binder, in which we will store all of our education materials and paperwork. Most importantly, though, we got to connect with other families starting the process. Most of them were in their late 20s to early 40s. Some had gone through infertility issues, some not. There was one other gay male couple, which made us feel grateful. Our process will be a little different than others, mostly from a legal and emotional perspective since only one husband from each couple can adopt due to Ohio not recognizing our marriages. Overall, the day was a great next step and we finally felt like we had a firm foot forward on the journey after the seemingly unending two-month period between the application process and orientation. The next day was significantly more eventful.
I got a frantic call from Chad around noon the day after orientation.
He told me a social worker had called him and told him there was a new birthmom she was working with who specifically hoped to have her baby placed with a gay male couple. We were told her first name, her race, the race of the father, the month she was due and whether she had taken any drugs–that’s it. We were asked to put together a profile over the weekend so the social worker could deliver it to the mom the next week. WHAT?! We literally juuuuuust did orientation the day before! We had been told long ago and all along the way that the process would be an emotional roller coaster. Looks like it starts right away!
We worked hard that weekend and the first few days of the next week, choosing photos, formatting a profile (thankfully, I’m not a total newbie to making documents like this) and incorporating lots of feedback from family & friends. Honestly, I wish I had them write the profile. Their input was way better than what we first wrote. Thanks, all! Trying to do that ourselves while knowing so little about our reader(s) was a bit unnerving. Still, writing about oneself and one’s relationship is a great exercise in love, reflection, gratitude and humility.
So, we finalized the profile, printed it on glossy card stock in booklet format and dropped it off to the social worker with hearts racing. And then… the wait. Again.
We went back to the agency on October 9 for our small group class. For this, they split the entire class of 20 into two groups of 10. In our group, one couple dropped out because they got pregnant. That news got mixed reactions, as you might imagine. We were thrilled for them, but for some who had been through infertility issues it was like a dagger to the heart. We spent the day talking a lot about transracial adoption, learning more about legal processes and what to expect throughout the home study. (What’s a home study, you ask?)
After that class, we got to work on some of our paperwork. We already had our profile done and the agency pretty much loved it. We were thankful to have that done, though we still wondered if the birthmom who had our profile ended up choosing anyone yet. You don’t really find out anything unless she picks you. Plus, she isn’t due until February so there’s no rush for her to pick. Still, the question lingered in our minds.
On November 8, we took our next step–the baby care class. This was a highly amusing hoop to jump through because I’m a pediatric nurse with ICU experience, mostly with infants. Beyond all of that, I’ve been around and cared for babies since I was about 5 years old. Changing diapers, bathing a baby, doing cord care and circumcision care were not new to me. As I’ve been reminded multiple times, I’ve always done this care while well-rested and fully functional. True story! I’ve also never been the sole provider of care 24/7 so there are definitely things I’ll learn along the way. Plus, the state has mandatory requirements so I jumped on board and watched as Chad took the driver’s seat and did most of the care in the class. It was so fun seeing all the parents-to-be in the class hand off the baby dolls as though they were actual infants. You could just feel the love these people have stored up in their hearts, ready to pour it out on their own child. That may have been my favorite part of this process yet.
Fast forward to this week
November 20 & 21. We finished our individual and combined interviews with the social worker, a home safety audit and lots more paperwork. Things still on the to-do list:
- fire safety inspection
- physicals and obtaining clearance from our physician that we’re healthy enough to adopt
- statements from other health professionals for any treatment we’ve gotten
- references from non-family members
- employer references (does Chad write his own? haha!)
- copies of documents (taxes, marriage certificate, drivers license, proof of insurance, etc.)
- financial statements
- personal questionnaire
- finalized state form of “child characteristics”
The child characteristics form is quite possibly the hardest part of the process so far. It feels like we’re ordering a child from a menu. The direction we’ve been given is to basically identify the characteristics of a child that we don’t feel we could safely/adequately handle. That’s extremely challenging because I feel like there are a lot of things we could handle together–between Chad’s emotional stability and my professional experience. Still, we’re taking the opportunity to consider what we feel is best for our family, especially our child. Who knew checking yes or no could be such a challenge?
We also finally got an answer to what’s going on with the birthmom to whom we had submitted our profile. She ended up choosing a different family for reasons we don’t know and aren’t questioning. We never expected to be picked so we never got our hearts set on it. Still, even a tiny disappointment weighs on the soul a bit.
We know to expect the ups and the downs. We know there will be many. Thankfully, we’re on a journey with the support of many loved ones–several of whom have traveled this path before. We’re ever so grateful for the outpouring from our family & friends!
Chad and I are solid in our support and love for each other and our respect for letting life take its course as it needs to. We have firm trust in the fact that we’ll have the right child placed with us at the right time and for the right reasons. For now, we’re moving forward with life as normal and continuing to build more and more love in our hearts for the child who will one day be ours.