Adoption: For the Love of a Child
What would you do for the love of a child?
- Would you pay someone to do a psychological assessment of you, your spouse, and your family of which the results are provided to strangers?
- Would you pay for a complete medical exam, of which the results would be provided to strangers?
- Would you pay for a criminal background check, on yourself, with the results going to a stranger?
- Would you make copies of your last income tax filing and give that to a stranger?
- Would you pay for and attend parenting and cultural sensitivity classes?
- Would you and your spouse, each, fill out a detailed and invasive 8 page form and give that to a stranger?
- Would you write a letter to a stranger telling her about you and your family? (A birth parent letter)
- Would you build a photo collage of your home and family? (For the birth family)
- Allow a stranger into your home to do a safety inspection? Then implement the required changes? *
- Would you do all these things...twice? Three times?
People who have adopted have done all those things. ** As I watch the privacy debates raging across the news and Internet I am reminded of how unimportant my privacy was when I was hoping to become a parent. If I had to bare my soul to a group of strangers, some of whom I would never meet, so be it. If I had to put my life on paper to be read by people I had never met, so be it. If that is what it took to become a prospective adoptive parent, I would do it. And I did do it. Twice.
Becoming an adoptive parent has a couple major steps. First you have to decide that you want to adopt. For some people this is a very easy decision, but for others it can be agonizing. Some people spend thousands of dollars in an effort to have biological children and only come to adoption after a great deal of pain. Some families will have a biological child or two and then adopt. For others, adoption was the only plan from the beginning. We made a few half hearted attempts at getting pregnant. I had wanted the experience of it, but after a few months of worrying about my ovulation schedule, I decided that I really wasn’t THAT attached to being pregnant. So we started our adoption journey.
Once you make the decision to adopt you then have to decide what type of adoption you will do. International, private domestic, foster-adopt, transracial, open, closed, special-needs, etc... These decisions dictate which type of adoption agency you will engage with. We decided that our first adoption would be domestic, private, transracial, and open. We live in a very racially and culturally diverse area so the race of our child didn’t seem important. We also didn’t care what the child’s gender was and we wanted an open adoption. This led us to Pact. Pact is an adoption facilitator located in Oakland, CA. They have a repository of prospective adoptive parents who are interested in transracial adoption. Birth families of color can contact Pact directly or come to Pact through an adoption agency local to them. The birth family provides Pact with several attributes that they are looking for in an adoptive family, Pact provides them with candidates that match those criteria, and the birth family selects the prospective adoptive families they would like to know more about. The placement of a child for adoption is an act of love and a gift from the birth parent to the child. The birth families are often very concerned about placing their child in a home that matches their values and interests. The birth family then meets with or talks with the prospective families in an attempt to narrow down the choice to one adoptive family. Then we all wait for the baby.
Then begins the third step. While the adoptive parents are waiting for the birth of the child, they busily engage in the completion of their homestudy which involves all the fun things listed above: psychological evaluations, physicals, financial checks, sex offender checks, paperwork, classes, etc...
A foster-adopt adoption is very similar except for two things. First, your home must be licensed as a foster care facility. A social worker will come to your house to evaluate it for safety and if necessary request changes. Which you will implement as quickly as possible. The second difference is that you will have to select the children you are interested in adopting. Their social worker will receive your homestudy and decide if you are a good fit. Further information about the child is exchanged and if you are selected the child will move into your home as a foster child before adoption can be pursued. ***
The odd thing about foster-adopt is that you select your potential child from books containing profiles on all the children currently available by county. Sometimes there isn’t a picture. You will read profiles from these books with lots of big medical words and make your best guess from that profile. You will ask yourself: Can I raise that child? Can I love that child? I feel fortunate that our social worker submitted us for our son before we saw anything about him. Looking at the books made me feel like I was shopping for a kid. I didn’t like that feeling.
With all that adoptive parents go through to gain a family there are a few thing you know for sure:
- The children are very, very wanted.
- Because of the homestudy process, the classes, and the soul searching that often occurs, I consider adoptive parents more likely to be reliable and stable parents. We have the paperwork to prove it!
I didn’t adopt my children to save the world. I adopted them because I wanted a family. I wanted my own children to love and be loved by. And I can tell you for certain that although my children were not born from my womb, they are firmly entrenched in my heart.
If you are a birth parent reading this, know that if you decide to place your child that your child will be loved; deeply and profoundly. If you are considering adopting it is a journey...but one well worth taking.
* This was only required for the foster-adopt program.
** My adoption experience is limited to domestic private and foster-adopt.
*** This was the State of California in 2004, things may be different in other states.