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

Advertisements

Article from a Birth Mom to the Adoptive Parents She Didn’t Choose

I saw this article posted on several sites over the last week or so and finally read it. It was AMAZING to read! We have already talked to several potential birth mothers and some have chosen to parent while others have chosen other couples. Neither scenario is easy to deal with, and it makes you wonder when they choose another family what you could have done/said differently to be chosen. You know in your head that you are who you are and there will be some birth family out there that will love us and choose us to be their child’s adoptive parents, but in your heart you just feel like you could have done something different to have a different result.

This article is from a birth mother who placed a child for adoption and had chosen one family over another that she had talked to. It kind of goes into her struggle during the process of deeming one family as the right one to be chosen, while the other family is not chosen.

As a potential adoptive parent you can sometimes forget all the things that the expecting parents/birth families might be going through other than the biggest piece: of deciding to place their child for adoption in the first place. Birth moms could be faced with family that is not supportive of her choice, she could have a hard time finding and selecting the right family because there are so many choices, trying to figure out how to handle the situation with her other children (if she has them), she could be having a difficult pregnancy, and on and on can be things she is dealing with.

As a potential adoptive parent I haven’t had to face the same challenges as a birth mom in making these decisions, just like she hasn’t had to go through what we have gone through on our adoption journey. It is good to keep it in perspective and when we are matched with a birth mother try and help be her support system if she wants/needs it from us.

The article is here if you want to read it.

Adoption and Super Heroes

Before we started down the path of adoption, I knew the stories behind a lot of the normal comics. I never really thought about the fact that these super heroes were effectively adopted. Now it seems like I am seeing adoption much more in media, television, and movies and it isn’t just another part of the story that fades into the background.

I know that this comes from going through the adoption process and always scouring the internet for more information about adoption.  However, it is awesome to think that there are mainstream stories out there involving adoption. I also like the fact that the super heroes grew up to do exceptional things whether they had super powers or not.

Here are just a few that I know of:

  • Superman – born on Krypton and sent to live on planet Earth by his parents before they and the entire planet was destroyed. A couple in Kansas found his space ship and raised him as their own child.
  • Batman – his parents were killed when he was young and he was raised by his butler Albert.
  • Wolverine – his father and mother died when he was an adolescent and his grandfather would not take him in so he fled to a small mining town, the foreman took him in as a father figure.
  • Spiderman – lost his parents and was raised by his Aunt and Uncle until his Uncle was killed as well and then just by his Aunt.
  • Iron Man – was never actually adopted but his parents were killed shortly after he became an adult and so he was on his own with no support or family to help him

Can you think of any others?

Advice on Transracial adoption

When Andy and I started working with our agency one of the forms we had to complete was a list of criteria we had for an adoption we would consider. On this form were things such as race, drug/alcohol use, physical disability, mental disability, etc. The agency doesn’t want to send your profile to a perspective birth mother if your profile criteria doesn’t match the birth mother’s and risk one or both parties feeling a connection that might not work for a match.

The biggest part of this form is filling out all of the different races you are willing to adopt including going down to the different combinations of bi-racial children as well. After you fill out your profile if you are open to adopting a child that is of a different race you have to complete a trans-racial training course online and read some articles and books on trans-racial adoption. This information is to prepare you for how a trans-racial adoption is different than other adoptions and also to make sure that the adoptive couple is prepared to handle raising a trans-racial child.

One of the biggest things that they stress in everything we have read and gone through is that if you adopt a trans-racial child then you should have role models of the same race of the child in your life. This is so that they can see you interacting with an adult of their race and also to give them a positive reference of other people of the same race. Another thing that they want you to try and incorporate some of the child’s background and culture into your lives. If for instance your child is of Native American race then teach them about the history of their tribe (if you know which tribe they are from) and take them to Native American cultural events in your area.

We decided from the beginning that no matter what race or gender or anything else really we would love whatever child we adopt. Since we don’t know what race we will adopt at this point or even if it will be trans-racial for sure, I every once in a while do research online about what is offered around Atlanta for cultural events. Our community is not very culturally diverse where we live ourselves but with Atlanta being so close by there are chances to interact and learn about many different cultures. We hope that if we adopt trans-racially that we will have a birth mother and birth father that are willing to help us learn about their culture and teach our child about where they come from, but if not then we will do as much as we can to learn ourselves.

Adoption Myths

From a birth mother’s perspective:

You are abandoning your child – When having a child the mother usually starts making a plan for her child so that the child can have the best life that she can give them. In the case of adoption that plan just doesn’t include the birth mother as the one caring for the child and watching them grow every day. They are doing what they can to ensure that the child’s needs are met first and worrying about their needs second. It is a very brave act to decide to place a child for adoption.

You don’t know where your child will end up – In open adoption the birth mother (and father) select the adoptive parents that will be receiving the child after placement. They can decide what type of family they want their child to be in and can select people that have similar interests/hobbies as they themselves have. This allows them to know exactly where their child will end up and know the people that are going to raise them.

You won’t know if your child is doing well – Luckily we are doing an open adoption and this myth should never come into play. There will be photos and updates of how the child and family are doing whenever the birth mother wants and depending on the match arrangement there could also be in person contact as well. They will get to see their child and get affirmation as to how well their child is doing as they grow up.

From an adoptive mother’s perspective:

The birth mother will try and take the child back – If you have an agency that will work to make sure that the birth mother and birth father are making the right decision for themselves and that they are truly making their decision for themselves then the chance of having them change their mind after placement is much smaller.

Adoption takes a long time – The process of adoption can take a long time depending on what your circumstances are for the adoption. However, if you go into the process without having a lot of restrictions on gender, race, disability (physical or mental), expenses, etc. then the adoption might not take as long as some people will think. Our agency has an average wait time for expecting families of 14 months only. That means it is just a few months longer than a pregnancy would take.

You might not love your adopted child – You might not pick the child up and immediately feel undying love for your child after placement but as you bond with the child you will have the same connection to them as any other child and parent has. I don’t think Andy or I  will have any issues with loving whatever child we adopt as we already feel so much and we don’t even have a match or placement yet.

From the child’s perspective:

My birth parents didn’t love me – They will actually have information directly from the birth parents in an open adoption usually of why they were placed for adopted and that the reason had nothing to do with how much or how little they loved them but with other parts of their lives not being ready for a child.

Article on What to Know Before Adoption

Even though we are adopting a baby with this adoption, I read the following article on adopting an older child and some of the issues and things that they should have done differently. Mainly because we don’t know what will happen in the future and if we decide to adopt an older child it would be good information to know. The article also was talking about an international adoption as well which has a different subset of issues and things to think about with it. I know adoption is never easy but it seems like trying to adopt a domestic infant is easier for us at this point since we don’t have to worry about some of the things that come with other adoptions.

At the beginning of the article it talks about being able to choose the child they are adopting which is a stark contrast to what is happening in our adoption process now because we are the ones that need to be chosen. If we had a list of children to choose from how do you decide which one is the right one and how do you not sit there and wish that you could take them all?

Every once in a while I go online and look at the foster care children that are ready to adopt in our state and sometimes reading about them makes me wish that we could take them in and give them a home with us but then I worry about being prepared to take in an older child and not knowing what to do once they were in our home. Most parents get to build up to the issues children face as they grow up and to start from scratch with someone who is 8 for example would be stressful.

I hope that every child can find a home to grow up in and feel safe and secure in but I know that it just isn’t an option that is given to some children.

Trans-racial Adoption Reading

Oh my gosh! I just love the book I read on the plane this morning. It was an easy read compared to some of the other books we had to read for the adoption agency but I feel like I got so much out of this one now that I had read those books.

This book helped me to realize that everyone going through adoption has the same feelings that I am having and that it is normal to wish for more control of a situation that I have no control in. It is hard to imagine other people going through the same thoughts and situations as you when you don’t know people with the same problems.

I like that this book had good information but didn’t seem clinical since it was written by an adoptive mom on her views and what she went through in the process of finding a baby to love and raise. I can’t wait for us to be selected but now I at least know I am not alone in my fears and feelings.

secret thoughts of an adoptive mother

Adoption Reading

While reading one of our books we got from the agency I came across the following poem written by an adoptive parent. I don’t see how anyone else can sum up the feelings that I am feeling and that I know I will continue to feel.

“It’s my child’s birthday today
I have no memories of the pain and struggle, as he entered this life
As he fought for his first breath
I have no memories of his life growing inside of me and fighting to be released
I have no memories from the beginning months of his life
Another “someone” was there – Another “someone” suffered for my joy”

Doing the reading suggested by the adoption agency has really helped me to not only understand some of the things we should expect but also to get validation that the things I am feeling are normal. Looking forward to a few more books we got from them and then it is on to more searching for blogs or other books to read.

Dear-Birthmother

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.

Domestic vs. International

So after looking online and doing as much research as possible into domestic vs. international adoption and the different agencies that offer adoption services we have finally narrowed down our agency search to domestic. What it comes down to in the end for us is wanting to experience the entire childhood from birth to toddler to teenager and beyond. Although that might be possible with some agencies in some countries, the amount of time we would have to wait on a list is either much longer than some of the domestic options or it requires us to stay in that country for months after placement that we just can’t afford to do logistically or monetarily.

Now the search continues as we look at the different options out there for domestic agencies. We are looking at four or five different agencies that all offer very similar views of adoption however some of them have more open policies than others and offer different support services as well that they offer to both the birth mother and adoptive parents. Hoping to soon find the right agency for us so we can begin the paperwork process and get even closer to bringing home a child into our lives.