Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How I Became a Mom - Part 2

So, we were in the midst of this roller coaster of medical procedures and temperature charting and ovulation-inducing drugs, when I developed a cyst on one of my ovaries. This was in August 2001. The doc said we couldn’t continue with the drugs that month but needed to take a month or two off and let the cyst dissolve (or whatever cysts do when they take their toys and go home). What a relief! It was wonderful to be off that roller coaster. That damn roller coaster that had been beating the hell out of us and making our stomachs drop with every rise and fall of our fortunes on the baby-making trail, had finally stopped. Blessed peace! I felt sane for the first time in years.

Then 9/11 happened. And I felt crazy again. I cried and felt scared and thought, “How can I bring a child into this horrible world, where people would do such things?” I wallowed in that thought for days and then, finally, the lightbulb went on. God whispered in my ear and said, “You dear sweet dodo, there are kids born every day who need good homes! You don’t have to bring a child into this world, you can provide a home to a child that is here.”

We still had all the misconceptions about adoption, but somewhere along the way, we convinced ourselves that international adoption was the answer. We chose Guatemala because many of the children adopted from there are raised in foster families rather than orphanages. We started filling out paperwork and getting documents together. But we just couldn’t get it together. It just wasn’t happening. We just weren’t feeling it.

We struggled for months, getting fingerprinted for the background check, getting statements from our doctors that we were healthy and relatively sane, preparing financial statements of our assets and debts. Still, it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I didn’t expect it to be so hard, either.

Then one day in May 2002, a coworker said, “Why are you adopting from another country? Why aren’t you adopting a kid here?” And I told her all our (wrong) reasons and she said, “Call [Local Adoption Agency]. They have babies running out their ears and they don’t have enough adoptive parents for them all.” So I did. We were able to get our application together very quickly, since we already had a lot of the info together for the now-abandoned Guatemalan adoption.

In mid-May, 2002, I turned in our application to the Local Adoption Agency (LAA). Almost immediately, LAA called and asked us to submit some photos for them to show to women who were considering placing their children for adoption. (In adoption here in the good ol’ USA, birthmoms typically choose the adoptive parents from scrapbooks and “Dear Birthmother” letters submitted by couples wishing to adopt.) LAA told us that they had several birthmoms expecting black or biracial children, and not a lot of prospective adoptive parents open to adopting non-white children. So, even though LAA requested photos knowing we hadn’t had time to put together a scrapbook, I worked until the dawn’s early light to throw together a scrapbook to take to LAA. I wanted to put our best foot forward.

The “Dear Birthmom” letter was hard! What do you say to someone you know nothing about? So many letters I had seen on the internet were presumptuous or condescending or both, and I sure wanted to avoid that! Even harder was filling out the application for the adoption agency—one part of the form asks what race of child you are willing to accept, whether you will accept a child with a correctable medical condition, a non-correctable medical condition, a child conceived by rape or incest, a child whose birthmother used drugs and/or alcohol throughout her pregnancy, and on and on and on. It’s a horrible thing to admit to yourself that you are unwilling to accept a child under certain conditions, particularly when you have waited and wanted so long to have a child. But to have to admit that on paper, in writing, to relative strangers? Ouch. Not easy.

At the end of that month, we attended a two-day adoptive parents seminar. The seminar covered all sorts of things, like the legal aspects of adoption and some basic parenting skills, but the highlights were a panel of birthmoms and a panel of adoptive parents that came in and spoke to us. There also was a compatibility test we had to take, where we each answered certain questions for ourselves, then answered as we thought the other would answer. I guess they were checking to see how well we knew each other. Finally, we had a private interview with one of the adoption counselors. I remember being told that our adoption would probably happen very quickly because we were willing to accept a child of any race. Based on that statement, I was hopeful that we would have a baby by the Fall.


Milly said...

I guess I just needed to cry today.