I have never before thought of myself as someone who needs, or even really likes, to be in control. Usually, I am more than happy to give up control to someone else and simply go along for the ride. I suppose that works for me in most situations because the things that are at stake are never of too much importance. But this adoption process has taught me just how hard it is to loose so much control over the things that are taking place.
Since the beginning of our journey, I had prepared myself to give up control over when a birthparent would choose us. I understood from the very start that once we were on the waitlist, we would have zero control over when we were picked. I made peace with the fact that we would simply have to wait until the right birthparent came along and chose us. That would be the baby that we are supposed to be with. That would be the one who was supposed to be a part of our family. I was, and continue to be, okay with all of that.
What I did not expect and what I did not prepare for was that we would have to give up control of things way before we even made it to the waitlist. And that is where we are right now. Carla and I are inches away from being on the waitlist and at this point there is nothing else that we can do to get ourselves the rest of the way. The control lies completely in the hands of our adoption counselor.
Let me take a few steps back. At the end of April, we had our home visit. I was so nervous about the visit. I am not totally sure why I was so nervous, but I definitely lost sleep over it. Well, the home visit itself was no big deal at all. Our adoption counselor basically just took a walk around our home, which was at its very cleanest, and she made sure that there were working fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Luckily, the dog was on her best behavior, the cats kept their distance, and everything went smoothly. That part of the visit was extremely easy.
The difficult part came when our adoption counselor sat down with us to go over the first draft of our family profile. Carla and I had spent hours working on this document and were so proud of the final product. We felt that the profile was a true and honest reflection of who we are and what we value. We were thrilled with it, until our counselor started to go through each and every paragraph and tell us what was wrong in each section of the profile. Her overall impression was that we were too happy and too upbeat. She worried that we did not come off as serious, thoughtful, or reflective enough. She worried that we didn’t share enough of our struggles in our profile. Carla and I both sat somewhat quietly and nodded along with her feedback. I took multiple pages of notes and with each passing comment, I lost a small bit of the pride that I had moments ago for our profile.
Our adoption counselor finally left. Now, I knew that I was seriously pissed off, but I also knew that I am usually the more emotional one of the two of us. I am much more likely to take things personally and get offended. So I knew that while I was seething, Carla was probably looking at things in a much more levelheaded way. And that’s how I knew that things were bad. Carla was pissed too. Carla was pissed that we had sent our first draft to our adoption counselor months earlier and she had not said a single thing to us about it. She let us believe that the profile was just fine and she never mentioned any corrections that she wanted us to make. It was the first incident that showed me that we could move as quickly as we wanted through the paperwork phase of this process, but until our adoption counselor did what she had to do, nothing was going to get finished.
So, we took a few weeks off. We got some distance from the day and then we came back to the profile and made some changes that still felt honest and authentic to us, but that also seemed to satisfy some of what our adoption counselor had suggested. We sent another draft. She sent another email telling us that she had more feedback. We scheduled a phone meeting with her and she told us that we used too many words to say what we were trying to say. Okay. That kind of feedback I could handle. So she made some suggestions about what we could cut out. We hung up that day thinking that we were almost done.
That was three weeks ago. Carla and I are now done with our profile. We have written the short “Dear Birthmother” letter. We have put together the files that will need to go to the agency for our online profile. We have turned in all the forms. We have signed all the documents. And now we are just waiting for our adoption counselor.
After the home visit, our adoption counselor told us that she now had to write up our formal home study report. It is this document that will clear us to be ready to go on the waiting list. At our home visit, our counselor told us that she technically had thirty days to write the report. Again, that was a month and a half ago.
Last week, I emailed the last few forms into our counselor. I asked her if these were the last of the forms we needed. She wrote back. She didn’t answer the question that I had asked, but she did inform me that she had only had the chance to start our home study report because work had been very busy. She also asked that we send ANOTHER draft of our profile so that she could give us more feedback.
That email alone brought me to a pretty ugly place. I was frustrated and angry and felt like we were being overlooked. I talked with multiple people about what I could say to our counselor so that she knew how I was feeling without offending her and possibly making things even worse for us. As I was making it through my last week of school and thinking of what I would say to her, we got another email. This one told us that our adoption counselor would be out of the office until June 18th. She wanted to let us know that she was halfway done with our home study report and that we would be her first priority when she returned. And then she asked again for us to send her another draft of our profile.
Now, I realize that at this point I sound pretty bitter. It takes a lot to get me to this point. I am usually a pretty understanding person and rarely do I make complaints to people who are in any sort of service providing position. As a teacher, I know how demanding people can be and so I try to always give people the benefit of the doubt. But this is different. This is too much. This is our family and our future child that we are dealing with.
As I said earlier, I have completely accepted the waiting that we will be forced to do once we are on the waitlist. That kind of waiting makes total sense to me. That kind of waiting ensures that we end up with the right birthparent and the right child. That kind of waiting is the waiting that we have chosen to do in order to build our family through adoption. I am okay with that kind of waiting. This kind of waiting is harder. This kind of waiting feels unfair.
So. That is where we are currently. Carla, who once again proved to be the more rational one amongst us, talked me off the ledge after the last email. We decided that we wouldn’t be sending our adoption counselor another draft of our profile. We are going to put the finishing touches on it ourselves and then go ahead and order the photo books that will contain the text of our profile. We will go ahead and print off the thirteen copies of the “Dear Birthparent” letter that are needed. We will go ahead and submit the files that are needed for the agency to post our online profile. And we will make sure that as soon as our adoption counselor is back in the office, she knows that all that we are waiting for is her report.
When we began this process, I read many things that talked about how grueling the paperwork phase of adoption was. I didn’t get it. It sounded like it would be something we could handle. What I didn’t understand is how much emotion was involved in this part of the process. What I didn’t understand is how much we would come to depend on someone else to get us through the process. What I didn’t understand was how much control was out of our hands so early on in the process. Hopefully, this part will soon be over and we will move on from this. I try so hard not to become disillusioned or bitter. Some days I am more successful than others. On the worst of days, I seek comfort from those around me and I simply remind myself why we are doing this and that one-day it will be more than worth it.
Jess and Carla live in the suburbs of Chicago, where they think more and more about babies every day. You can follow Jess’ adoption adventure here in her previous posts or at her blog, Two Mommies Trying to Adopt.