This is a story in multiple parts. If you are just joining me, start at the beginning.
To qualify to adopt we needed to complete a home study first. The staff was amazingly helpful, but the process is amazingly tedious. Background checks, fingerprinting, book reports (not joking), trainings (water safety, sleep training, how to feed and diaper), reading about the birth mother experience, the adoptee experience, learning about open adoptions. It was eye-opening and overwhelming.
We knew that we’d likely adopt a child who wasn’t Caucasian (we are both very Caucasian, despite my Asian heritage) and because we made that decision (yes, it’s a box to check on the forms, as is sex/gender and age) we had special trainings we had to do about interracial adoption as well. Again, very eye-opening and sometimes frustrating and heartbreaking.
We each had to write extensive personal histories, including our feelings on how we were raised, our educational and family background, our beliefs systems, conflict resolution styles and how we would parent. We asked ourselves many times during this process “how could I possibly know this?!”
How could we know how we would discipline our child before we knew them? How could we know how we’d interact with the birth mother before we met her? How could we know how we’d feel about the open adoption before we were discussing it with the birth parents? But these are all questions you have to answer before you can be “approved.”
We had a friend living with us at the time that we’d likely be getting placement of our child, so she had to complete the background checks as well (lucky her, she got to skip out on book reports and sleep training)..
We had to have a number of friends and family write recommendation letters for us, saying that they believe we’d make good parents. It was lovely to see what people had to say about us, but frustrating that they had to say it at all. No one I know that had a baby the “old-fashioned” way had to present a budget and letters of recommendation to the hospital before they were allowed to take their baby home. They didn’t have to endure pool safety videos on the maternity ward.
I’m not negating the experience of pregnancy and birth for others, just putting into perspective what we were feeling as those around us got pregnant, announced, gave birth and brought their beautiful children home. We were truly happy for our friends but full of longing and sadness too. It was complicated.
Next: Part 3- THE WAIT
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