THE ADOPTION PROCESS SEVENTH INNING STRETCH
The great thing about writing a blog is that from time to time, I can look back on where I was in my own head in months past. When I sat down to write this post, I went back and took a look at where I was when I started writing this blog. It’s amazing how much I have learned in these past few months. In some ways it seems as if the adoption process has been a part of my life for years now and in other ways it seems as if we are still at the very beginning. Most days though, I just want this phase to be done. I thought we would be done by now. I figured that by the time spring came around, the paperwork and homestudy phase of our adoption process would be over. And though I finally feel as if I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are not quite there yet.
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Since I last wrote, we have certainly accomplished a lot. The piece that I am most proud of is that we have finished a first draft of our adoption profile. We have created the book that a birthmother will look at to learn about our lives and our family. We put the text of our profile together with pictures that capture who we are and what our lives are like. It was an incredibly difficult task and took many hours just to get a first draft. Carla and I still have some finishing touches to put on the book, but for the most part it is done. I am incredibly proud of it mostly because I believe that it so accurately portrays who we are and what we are most proud of in our lives. We felt no need to pretend to be people that we are not and we both know that the birthmother who chooses us will know exactly what kind of a family she is choosing.
We now have the task of editing that longer profile down to a two-page “Dear birthmother” letter, which will be the very first thing that any birthmother sees from us. In two pages we have to convince someone that we are a family worth taking a second look at. If the birthmother selects our letter, then she will be shown our longer profile with several other longer profiles of other families. It is from those longer profiles that a birthmother will select just one family to meet and create an adoption plan with. Carla and I have set aside this coming Saturday to work on both the finishing touches of our longer profile and on creating our two-page letter. With as busy as life can get, it seems like the only way we can get the big tasks done is to schedule time to devote solely to adoption paperwork.
In addition to our creating our profile, we have both had our individual interviews with our adoption counselor. We have also made sure that all of our pets are up-to-date on their rabies shots (this was actually quite an ordeal considering we have two cats who HATE going to the vet). This week we have yet another in-person class to attend, for which we have to first complete another online class. The in-person class will cover information about the matching process and what happens when a birthmother is matched with a potential adoptive family. The online class that we have to take before that is all about networking and the different ways that people are using the internet to make matches with potential birthparents. It is something that I am still somewhat unsure about and so I am glad that we will be getting more information.
And finally, we have scheduled our home visit for April 23rd. This is when our adoption counselor will come to our home and make sure everything looks okay. This is why we bought multiple fire extinguishers and fire detectors. I am not really nervous about the home visit at all. I am so proud of the home we have made together and I trust that she will feel the warmth and love that fill our house. I am slightly worried about the behavior of our two-year-old lab-mix puppy, but I have already confessed this worry to our counselor and she reassured me that I need not worry about it. In fact, she told me that if that was my biggest worry, I was doing really well. She clearly has never met my dog. But anyway, I am happy that it is scheduled and I will be happy to get that over with.
Once that is done, we have one final class about parenting children who are considered “at risk.” That is our last class and it is scheduled for May 5th. That has become a sort of deadline for us. It is one that is VERY flexible, but we would like to be done with everything by that date so that the final class will serve as a final step in this phase of the process. There is still quite a lot to get done before then, so we certainly will be busy for the next few weeks.
So, as you can tell, these next few weeks happen to be adoption-filled weeks. Some weeks are like that and then there are other weeks where not much happens at all. Some days I feel like we are flying through this process and other days I feel like it’s never going to end. Some days I can’t wait for the homestudy phase to be over and then other days I fear when this part is over and all of the control shifts from our hands into the hands of the birthmothers. Some days I feel like there is no way we are going to have to wait for three years to be chosen and then other days I feel like it is a guarantee that we will be waiting forever. I guess the adoption process is just like that. There are all these conflicting emotions and they pull on me without warning. In any given week or day or hour even, I am likely to experience all of them.
But in the end, I know that the emotion that is going to win out is going to be one of pure joy. Someday I will know that this was all so incredibly worth it. This idea really hit home for me this morning. As I was sitting in my classroom early this morning, before my students arrived, a co-worker of mine came in to tell me that her brother and sister-in-law finally adopted a son this weekend, after waiting for a year. She told me of their excitement, of the joy that the whole family felt, and of what it was like the first moment that her sister-in-law saw her new son. I have never met these people, but the story brought me to tears. My heart was warmed by their happiness and I knew that one day someone would be telling a story like that about Carla and I and our new baby. And for now that is enough to keep me going.