Here are the things that we have accomplished in the past month: we have met with our adoption counselor for a second time, we have taken another in-person class, we have taken a child and infant CPR class, we have submitted our finances for approval from the agency, we have taken two more online classes, we have made our home completely fire safe, we have gotten our fingerprints taken and submitted to DCFS, we have made sure that our friends and family have filled out our reference forms, we have filled out a stack of forms in order to complete background checks, we have submitted our past three years of tax returns, and we have made appointments to see doctors to get our health approved for adoption. And we are still far from being done.
There have been weeks where this adoption process has seemed completely consuming. There have been weeks when every night has been filled with a different task that we need to complete for the adoption process. But we try to just keep on trucking because this is the part that we have control over. Right now, we are in control of how quickly this process moves. Once the paperwork is done, then the control is completely out of our hands. Then we sit and wait for a birthmother to chose us and there is nothing that we can do to make that part go faster. The average wait time for our agency is 18 months and we can expect for that to take longer as a lesbian couple. So we figure that the length of this process can’t be held up by us. We need to get done what needs to get done as quickly as we can.
And right now, that feels good. It feels really productive. It feels like we are moving ourselves closer to adopting a child. I worry about what it will feel like when this part is over. When we have done everything that we need to do, I worry about what it will feel like to just wait. I can only imagine that it will be hard to know that there is nothing left for us to do. I imagine that it will lead to self-doubt and wondering why no one is choosing us. And, though I don’t like to admit it, I worry that it will lead to resentment to think that our wait is longer simply because we are a lesbian couple and that is not who every birthmother is looking for.
These are the kinds of thoughts that have led me to sign us up for an LGBT adoption support group. We have gone three times now and it has been wonderful to talk about these things with other couples that are considering adoption. There are only three couples in the group and we are the only ones who have actually started the adoption process. Though we are in a different place, it has still been wonderful to talk about all that is going on in our process. In fact, being a part of this group has made me see our adoption process in a different way.
When we first started our paperwork, I found it completely stressful. Every item on our checklist seemed so daunting to me and looking at the checklist as a whole was completely overwhelming. But once I started talking more about it with other couples, it started to look different to me. I have started to take some joy in this process. I am starting to see how it is bringing Carla and I even closer together and preparing us for what lies ahead in an incredible way. I have learned an immense amount since this all began and I am thankful for the opportunities that we have had to begin to really think about and plan what our family will be. We have thought about the financial part, we have thought about the emotional part, we have thought about what we will have to do to deal with society’s perceptions of family, and we have thought about what life will look like for our family. We have done such incredible work already and I have truly come to feel thankful for all that we are being asked to do.
The next big task that we have to tackle is writing what is called our “Dear Birthmother Letter.” This is the letter that the birthmothers who come to the agency will see. They will be presented with dear birthmother letters from all of the couples waiting to adopt. From these two-page letters, they will select several families whose longer profiles they want to see. The longer profiles are books that tell the birthmothers about the families. They are supposed to show who we are, what our lives are like, what are families are like, what are homes are like, and essentially all that is great about us. That’s a lot of pressure.
So far, Carla and I have written the introduction. That’s it. We have put the rest of it on hold as we finish up the paperwork that needs to be submitted to the state. It is a really hard letter to write. How on earth do you convince someone that we are the best family to choose over all the other families? All we can really do is be ourselves, but even that is hard to express in a letter. We are planning to start with the long profile first and then shorten that into the two-page letter. We have to find a way to show someone who has never met us all the love that exists in our family and in our home. We have to convey our stability and desire to adopt a child through the words we write and the pictures that we include. This is no small task and one that I sometimes feel ill equipped to complete.
So that is the next phase of our process. There will be more classes, more online trainings, and more meetings with our adoption counselor. We will just keep taking the steps we need to take until the day that there are no more steps for us. And then we will begin the wait for someone else to take her steps that will eventually, one day, bring us a child.