So what is it like to be a man during/in the adoption process?

In two words…shockingly difficult.

 The beginning…

Our adoption story started when I was 36 years old. That was the age that the adoption paper work began. However, for me, I wanted to be a dad in my late 20s, early 30s. I was ready. Maybe not professionally, or financially, but I wanted children long ago, only Stephanie was missing. Maybe it was babysitting neighborhood kids, maybe it was having so many cousins, I can’t put my finger on the moment it happened, but I have known I wanted to be a dad for a long time.

I realize growing up in Michigan, and then moving to Georgia during prime marriage/kid years and starting over took some wind out of that sail. But it was that move that set me on the path I needed to be on. It set me on a career path that would define me. It sent me down the path that lead me to marrying Stephanie, and ultimately where we are today. It was the right path.

Sure when I met Stephanie I immediately had questions about our ability to have children together, but we were told we had a good chance. We tried and tried. Nothing. This is where things got really tough…even for me, the man. Over there, she was now struggling on the fertility drugs, the testing, and the ups and downs of hormones coursing through her body. She had it rough, but it bothered us both a lot.

Because of the hormones she was hair-triggered sometimes, stressed beyond my calming etc., and I could do nothing to settle her nerves. Damn drugs. I struggled silently with ups and downs of her moods, and her false positives when she took pregnancy tests. We had a bunch of those, and I found out years later during the adoption process, she stopped telling me because she knew it killed us both a little each time. Knowing what I know now, I wish she would have just told me, it was only fair we face the negatives together.

Line in the sand…

We drew a line in the sand during all of the trying, for a place to just say enough is enough, and move on to something different. As the months drew on from fertility drugs, we began to talk more about adoption, and started researching agencies and collecting information. We reached the line.

It was really hard to “give up” on trying to have children of our own flesh and blood…but we’d talked about that possibility for a long time and there was nothing we could really do about it now.

I suppose I had a hard time mentally giving up the idea. I am the only son of my father, he too the only son. Without a blood son, my family name would end. But that is just emotions talking…and it’s stupid. Any son I have will have my name, blood or not. It became less and less important.

 Wheels start turning…

We jumped into open adoption and hit the ground running. You can read about all of that in past posts. Adoption was a simple choice; there are kids out there that need homes and moms sometimes want to know where and who their birth children are in the future…of course, why not? It was a simple choice and we’ve learned so much along the way.

The paperwork is crazy. The hoops are insane. Adoption is hard. But it’s not as hard as the fertility drugs where. Papers get turned in, and you get in “line” and you wait. Ahh the wait. For some people, it’s a month, for some year after year of nothing. In open adoption, we just don’t know when the checkered flag will wave. We are currently at 19 months.

To tell you that waiting 19 months for ANYTHING is easy, I’d be lying. I am a terrible waiter. I want, I want, I want…and I want it now. After all, most of our checks have been cashed; only after we match will we write even more checks. What does the wait feel like? You know those claws at the carnival where you try to get the amazing prize out of a glass box, and you get candy instead… well at least there is candy in that box.

So what does a man’s mind go through during adoption? Where do I start? Of course I think; when will this happen? Why has it NOT happened yet? What is wrong with us? Is it me that is holding us back? Is she really ok? How is she handling this? Did she just yell at me because I am an ass, or because she’s upset it has been 19 months?

Those questions can drive a man or anyone insane. I think about adoption daily. I think about being a dad pretty much everyday. Over the last two years, I started to shoot a lot of youth sports with kids, and I absolutely love it. It’s my calling. What is better than using photography with kids AND sports. It’s a win-win-win deal for me. Watching kids play basketball or Lacrosse competitively hits me in the heart every time I get to do it. I don’t know if it’s watching the kids, or watching the parents watch the kids that get me, but I am a softy…I have sobbed on the sidelines. I have the images of those exact moments etched in my brain, and my hard drive.

Right in the chest…

Facebook is amazing. It is also soul crushing. On one hand, Facebook is how you are reading this. It is how we spread the word fast, and easy, and keep people informed. But it is soul crushing. Everyday I read about friends and family having babies. Being in photographer groups that are full of baby pictures does not help either. It is not so hard to deal with now, but in the beginning it was brutal.

How brutal? In the time that we have been working on adoption, some friends and family have had SEVERAL children. Soul crushing. It is just THAT hard for me. Honestly, I love all of you parents out there, because that is what I want to be. I envy you, I am jealous of you. I wont say I don’t throw my phone down, and walk away from your post about your second or third, I do, but I am happy for you, and it is my WANT to feel that way more than anything in the world.

I am interested in seeing how I am as a dad. I have always wondered how I would stack up. Will I be the best dad ever? No, clearly not. I don’t have the attention span or patience for that, but I will be the best dad I am capable of. I learned parenthood from my parents, and they raised me pretty well. Combined with Stephanie and her mad skills, our children will have a great home to grow up in.

So I sit here typing, pouring out my soul, letting you in, because it is easy, I love to talk. People tell me I could/should write a book about the adoption process…but it would not be that interesting. It would have 18 chapters of waiting. It is brutal.

Thanks to all who support us, it helps immensely.

-Andy

Struggling With the Adoption Wait

The wait for a placement is a roller-coaster of emotion that you hope will end soon. Most days everything is fine, we are both so busy with life in general that I don’t think or dwell too much on the fact that we are still not parents. Other days though it hits me like a ton of bricks, whether it is from hearing someone is now expecting, being around children, thinking about how ‘easy’ compared to us some people have at becoming parents, etc. Although we are always happy for those friends and family that have children already or are blessed to be expecting a child, we can get a little disheartened for ourselves.

I am trying to be positive that it will happen and that we will soon be a family of 3 (or more) instead of just 2 but sometimes no matter what I do I can’t get out of that funk. I try and think about all the good things we do have in our lives right now and remember all the things we are working on while we have time. The problem usually ends up being that we are expecting too just with an undetermined length of pregnancy. Without knowing when that end date is it can feel like it might never happen. I think that even if we had for example another year to wait until we adopt I could deal easier knowing the date than not having any date for sure but actually adopting in 3 months.

Hopefully, my current state of anger/sadness/frustration with everything will pass just as quickly as it started. If it doesn’t I will be spending a lot of time with family and friends this weekend and will be too busy to stress over it so I know it will pass soon.

Adoption Ruling for ‘Baby Veronica’

After watching and reading information about the baby Veronica case I am saddened by what has happened to that child. This custody battle has never been about what is in the best interest of the child but what is in the best interest of the parents involved in it.

I understand how difficult it is for the adoptive parents to bring home a baby and then have the birth father contest the adoption before it was finalized and how heart wrenching that must be. However, with the adoption not finalized things could and still did prevent them from adopting the baby at that time and wouldn’t it be more heart wrenching to go through years of a court battle that might not come out in your favor and put that child you have come to love through so much emotional pain than to let her grow up in a home with her birth father?

I don’t know how my actions would have been different from theirs if I was put in the same situation but I do know that sitting on the outside I think about the fact that the birth father wanted his daughter and as the girl grows up and finds out all this information (even if there wasn’t a huge court battle she would still find out) how would she feel about her adoptive parents. If it was me, I would be mad at them for keeping me from my birth father if he truly wanted to take care of me and it would be hard to trust that they have my best interest at heart on anything they say or do.

At this point in that girls short life she was living with an adoptive couple as an infant and then transferred custody to her birth father after a long battle in the state court system. Now she is going to be torn from her birth father’s home to go back to a home that she is likely not going to remember much about and to people she is not familiar with anymore. How do you care about a child and want to put her through that type of pain when there is no reason for the birth father to not be able to parent his daughter?

I hope that the little girl is allowed a good open relationship between all of her parents to try to grow up happy and healthy.

Children of Different Races

During our journey through adoption we had to fill out our profile for selection by birth mother. In this profile at our agency there was all kinds of information for things such as race, genetic physical or mental disabilities (could be passed on not necessarily that the child has an issue), whether we will accept multiples, drug and alcohol use during pregnancy by the birth mother, etc. We really kept our profile wide open when we filled it out because to us we don’t care about that in choosing to adopt a specific baby.

Since we selected that we would adopt a baby of a different race than ours (Caucasian) we had to do a course and a test on trans-racial adoption. The course seemed to be fairly straight forward going through it and before filling it out I always thought we were fairly diverse in what we do and who we interact with.

Now though I am worried what will happen if after we have adopted two kids (since we plan on adopting a second after the first one) of different races and how we will make sure that they both get what they need from us and the rest of their environment. I know that I shouldn’t be worried about this now but like usual I like to worry ahead of schedule :). We live in a primarily Caucasian area and at the very least will need to look into ways to introduce our children to other venues where they will meet people of the same race as themselves so they can see people that look like them to relate to.

History of Open Adoption

So today I was doing some more research and reading and came across this blog about the history of open adoption within the US. The article really helps to shed some light about how our society has started to come back to the origins of adoption in the US and how as always there are times when it is two steps forward and one step back.

Adoption started out as being more for practical reasons than for the desire/want of a child. In the beginning families that had too many children to feed or take care of would give one of their children to a family that had none or needed more because of their economic situation (think someone on a farm could always use more hands to help out whereas someone in the city might have a hard time raising more than a couple children). At this time it wasn’t a legal proceeding or handled by some third party that didn’t know what was going on but between families.

As time progressed though the government got more involved and started putting rules together to offer security to all those involved in the adoption to avoid any issues down the road. The laws made things more secure and more cut and dry in an adoption but it also fed to people’s fears around adoption. It made the subject of adoption and being adopted taboo where it was something to try and hide rather than just being a part of their history.

Luckily people like those that work at our current agency have gotten to know the parents (both adoptive and birth) and the adopted children and realized that what might have seemed like a good idea wasn’t really helping anyone involved. There was still the fears that people had and now there were doubts and questions in their minds; how is my child growing up are they well and taken care of, will the birth mother take away my child, who are my birth parents and where do I come from?

Although when we first took a step at open adoption it was scary, the more information we get and read the more secure we feel in our decision. I don’t want to adopt a child and have them afraid to tell me they wish they knew who gave birth to them because they have so many questions. I would rather know the person myself so I could thank them for all that they are giving to us and get to know them so that even if we lose touch with them (like sometimes happens) I can tell my child the story of them and where they come from.

Friends and Pregnancy

Found out today that some friends of ours are pregnant. While I am trying to be happy for them my gut reaction was jealousy. I am kind of glad I didn’t find out in person with them or I might not have been able to hide my feelings and just show the happiness that I do have that they are going to have a baby.

The first thing I thought about and had a hard time getting over in my head was why it was so easy for them. We know that they had not been trying for long before getting pregnant and it just makes me realize just how unfair things can be at times. When I start thinking like that I inevitably start thinking about my disability and all my surgeries and how things might have been different if I hadn’t needed all of those surgeries. I know that I can’t change what has already happened but I still sit there and stew over the possibilities.

It is actually kind of cute though because they are excited we are at the point we are in the adoption process so that our first kids will hopefully be close in age to each other. She is still early in her pregnancy and isn’t due until the beginning of October so even if it takes us the normal 14 months once active to adopt then our kids would only be about seven months apart and would effectively be able to grow up together.

Fertility Issues

I’m sitting here at work and should really be actually doing work but all I seem to be able to do is think about the adoption process and Google articles online on adoption. I can’t stop reading articles written by those mothers and fathers that have adopted a child and are dealing with all the things that most parents don’t have to deal with.

While I am excited to be a mother and can’t wait for that day when we find out we will be adopting a precious little boy or girl I am at the same time terrified on what will come next. I know I can take care of a baby and have had lots of practice over the years with cousins, nieces, nephews, kids that I babysat, and etc. but that isn’t what I am worried about.

What I am worrying about is the years to follow and the questions that are inevitable to be asked of us as they start to be more curious of their past. We walked into open adoption so that we would either know the answers or have a connection to someone who could get those answers. How will I deal with those questions and the feelings that I am sure I will have when asked why they aren’t with their birth parents or who they would have been if we hadn’t adopted them.

I know from doing my own research that I would not be comfortable with a closed adoption and not telling my child from the very beginning that they are adopted. It is bound to cause even more problems for them and us if we are carrying around this huge secret and hiding a part of their past. At the same time knowing I couldn’t do it I also am thinking how emotionally it would be easier if I could pretend that the child we adopted was not given to us by someone who couldn’t take care of their own child but also that I had given birth to them.

Tonight we are going to a seminar with our adoption agency that is going to be about fertility issues with adoption. I hadn’t thought about this being another obstacle we would have to face as parents until we found our agency and had our first several meetings with them. I had a hard time with all the fertility issues we had and the fact that we couldn’t get pregnant on our own let alone with the help of medicine and professionals. We came to the decision of adoption being the best path for us when I couldn’t take the emotional rollercoaster of trying any longer.

The hard part about the fertility issues is that the doctors all said that it would be difficult for us to get pregnant but not that we wouldn’t be able to have a child of our own. Part of me feels like I gave up too soon and what would have happened if we had kept trying to conceive. It almost would have been easier if we had too many issues and were told outright that it was not possible for us to have our own child. That doubt in my head is so hard to deal with as it is, what about when we adopt a child will all those emotions just be magnified and greater?

These thoughts make it a good thing that we will have a group meeting tonight on the topic of fertility issues at least and it might allow me to put some of my fears to rest or at any rate learn some things we could do to make the transition easier and cope with the thoughts we have. I also am interested in finding out how Andy feels about this and if he has some of the same fears about fertility that I have been having.